A Prairie Home Companion’s 50th Anniversary Tour comes to Akron, OH with Heather Masse, Christine DiGiallonardo, Rich Dworsky, Sue Scott, Fred Newman and Tim Russell.
New Philadelphia, OH
Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to Kent State University. Poetry, Limericks, Sing-Along and the News from Lake Wobegon.
A Prairie Home Companion’s 50th Anniversary Tour comes to the Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston, TX with our favorite regulars, Rich Dworsky, Sue Scott, Tim Russell and Fred Newman. Additional guests to be announced.
A Prairie Home Companion’s 50th Anniversary Tour comes to the McCain Auditorium in Manhattan, Kansas with our favorite regulars, Rich Dworsky, Sue Scott, Tim Russell and Fred Newman. Additional guests to be announced.
A Prairie Home Companion’s 50th Anniversary Tour comes to Nashville with Heather Masse, Christine DiGiallonardo, Rich Dworsky, Sam Bush, Stuart Duncan, Sue Scott, Fred Newman and Tim Russell.
Milady and I are trying to sell our apartment in Minneapolis and become full-time New Yorkers, which is hard for an old Minnesotan such as I, but so be it, time to delete and disperse and join the Minnesota diaspora in Manhattan. People have walked up to me there and said, “I’m from Minnesota, too!” and it’s instant friendship. This never happens to me in Minneapolis.
It’s fascinating to come back home and observe the tides of change. Rural Minnesota is still Lake Wobegon except more fiercely so, more defensive, as they watch Democratic socialists take over Minneapolis, which Republicans call “woke” and dismiss out of hand, but it’s the young overthrowing the old, and there’s a sort of inevitability about it.
They take a dim view of corporate interests just as I did when I was their age, back when I was broke and IRA to me meant “Irish Republican Army.” I was a writer and dressed like a revolutionary though I was, and still am, a confirmed coward, but then people bought my books and I was shoved into the middle class. So here I am.
On Memorial Day, some relatives and I went up to the country graveyard north of Anoka where my dad’s family is buried, his parents James and Dora, the seven siblings and their spouses, and some young ones, tragic deaths, Alec and Shannon, and we put flowers on some graves and then went to Susie’s for rhubarb pie. Rhubarb pie is not found in Manhattan that I’m aware of and it was a staple in the Keillor family, a sour weed stalk sweetened by strawberries, a delicacy known to rural people of limited means.
They were devout gardeners who loved the Lord and studied the Bible and knew something about hard times and I was lucky to know them. I spent time in homes with outhouses where cooking was done on a woodstove and you took a bath in a tin tub of hot water on the kitchen floor. A glimpse of the 19th century.
I don’t need Memorial Day to remind me of my ancestors, I think of them all the time because there were storytellers in the family who loved to visit and talk about their great-grandfather who went to Colorado for the silver rush, a farmer with the urge to keep moving, a self-contradiction, and of his father-in-law, a British seaman who jumped ship and escaped hanging, and how James Keillor, a skilled carpenter left New Brunswick to help his sister Mary whose husband died of TB and took over the farm and raised her kids and then married Dora, the schoolteacher in the school across the road.
I was a boy when I heard the stories and they stick with me. Uncle Lew and Aunt Ruth sat in our living room and talked and talked and I lay on the floor and hung on every word. They were circumspect and much was not mentioned — their cousin Berniece Keillor is in the cemetery, dead from a botched abortion, and there were some hasty marriages in which the woman was already pregnant. And I’m sure there’s more. As my mother, in her 90s, once said to me, “There’s so much I’d still like to know and there’s nobody left to ask.”
It has nothing to do with pride, everything to do with sympathy and feeling our common humanity. They endured, they prayed for their children, they enjoyed their piece of pie. Grandpa James bought the first Model T in Ramsey township, drove it home and turned in at the yard and forgot what he was dealing with, and he pulled back hard on the wheel and shouted “Whoa!” and the car went in the ditch and he had to hitch up his horses and pull himself out. He was laughing when the car went into the ditch and he was laughing as he towed it out. Aunt Ruth told me.
I want to imitate him. Crash and see it as a joke. Old age is just a continuous comedy. So I feel. I’ve done dumber things than you can imagine and someday if you’re nice I’ll tell you about them.
But I’m off to New York. My dad took me to see it when I was 11 and I loved it then and it’s still pretty magnificent. Every day there’s a good chance you’ll see something that knocks your socks off. New Yorkers make a point of being cool and unimpressed: it takes a Minnesotan to show proper astonishment. So here I go, carrying an extra pair of socks.