Top Billing

Today is the birthday of Wayne King, otherwise known as “America’s Waltz King”.   I hadn’t realized until reading it that our nation has been blessed with Waltz Royalty.  Unfortunately for Wayne, American waltzing takes place in a very tiny kingdom.

King’s band is known for a number of old tunes, including this one.

King himself is the pride of Savanna, Illinois, a river town crammed so tightly into the northwestern corner of the state there was no room for an H at the end of its name.  Savanna’s wikipedia page gives Wayne King top billing on its list of noteworthy residents.

  1. “America’s Waltz King” Wayne King
  2. Professional wrestler Tommy Treichel
  3.  Billy Zoom (Tyson Kindell) founding member of the punk band X
  4. Major League Baseball player Pete Lister
  5. Former NASA astronaut Dale Gardner.

Of course we all have our specific areas of interest and personal preferences that we bring to the creation of any pecking order.  Which is why I’m baffled that the astronaut is last on the list.   Don’t get me wrong, waltzing is lovely and professional wrestling is fun, but Gardner wrestled satellites while weightless, and weightless is how the best waltzers look when they’re doing it right, so I figure he should get extra points for combining skills.

Who should get top billing as the most noteworthy resident of your town? 




61 thoughts on “Top Billing”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Which town do I choose as mine? In my home town of LeMars, Iowa, an old steakhouse, Archie’s Wayside Inn, is getting famous after being reviewed repeatedly as the best steak house in the country. It started in 2006, when Jane and Michael Stern reviewed them on Road Food. Recently, the Iowa Caucuses reinforced this, and it was noticed in the magazine, “The Week” as one of the great places to eat
    (as identified by journalists and campaign staff) in Iowa. As a kid, we ate there regularly, and I still eat there when I visit. If you want to know who is in town, meet and greet your classmates from High School, that is where one goes.

    Where I live today, Eden Prairie, MN, The Big Celebrity from here is none other than Prince. But, alas, the city tore down Graffiti Bridge.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. I suppose Fred Manfred would be the most illustrious citizen of Luverne, although he was really from Doone, IA. DIck Wildung was an all-american football player from Luverne, and Jerilyn Britz was a pro-golfer. In Winnipeg, Monty Hall, The Guess Who, and Neil Young com to mind.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. When I was growing up they wouldn’t allow his books in the school library since people thought they were “dirty books”. If you tried to take them out of the public library, the librarian wouldn’t let you unless you were 18.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I took an interest in the writings of Fredrick Manfred because my father’s family was from Friesland and he is from that background. Also, some of his books are about rural life and farming which is one of my big interests. I especially like two of his early books, The Golden Bowl and The Chokecherry Tree which are about rural life.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. During my childhood on our many,many trips from Iowa to Pipestone, we would always drive by the hill on which Manfred’s house was perched over Highway 75. It got a mention every time.

      Luverne also had those WWII Vets that Ken Burns found for his WWII documentary.


      1. How great to live near Manfred’s house. Where I grew up (near Peekskill, New York), the local celebrity was Jackie Gleason. Is there anyone more NOT Fredrick Manfred than that? I’m not sure how Manfred would have fit into the cast of The Honeymooners.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I was raised in Jackson, Michigan. The most famous person from Jackson that comes first to my mind is Larry Bicy. He lead the 1955 high school basketball team to a state championship. After graduating from high school he played for the Harlem Globetrotters. I remember him because I had a big interest in basketball when I was young.

    The professional golfer, Dave Hill, actually is probably the most famous person from Jackson I remember, but I am not a big fan of golf. Also, I found out that Jack Parr was raise in Jackson. He is not at the top of my list because I just found out this morning about him.


  4. I grew up mostly in Hudson, Wisconsin. Hudson’s Wikipedia page has a section headed “Notable People”, which is completely blank. Noah Adams lived there briefly, but no one famous is from Hudson.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I grew up in Robbinsdale. A quick look at the Wikipedia entry for Robbinsdale lists an inordinate number of professional wrestlers as notable natives. To my mind, that’s less than nothing.
      Curiously, beat poet Gregory Corso died there in 2001.


      1. Craig Blacklock lives next to where his folks built a home south of Moose Lake…some 20 miles from Mahtowa. Could I still claim them? Both Robert and Carol Bly lived in Moose Lake for many years, but not in the same house. He used to give free readings for the community.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. ran across a great ts elliott poem the other day

      Let us go then, you and I,
      When the evening is spread out against the sky
      Like a patient etherized upon a table;
      Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
      The muttering retreats
      Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
      And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
      Streets that follow like a tedious argument
      Of insidious intent
      To lead you to an overwhelming question …
      Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
      Let us go and make our visit.

      In the room the women come and go
      Talking of Michelangelo.

      The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
      The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
      Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
      Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
      Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
      Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
      And seeing that it was a soft October night,
      Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

      And indeed there will be time
      For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
      Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
      There will be time, there will be time
      To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
      There will be time to murder and create,
      And time for all the works and days of hands
      That lift and drop a question on your plate;
      Time for you and time for me,
      And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
      And for a hundred visions and revisions,
      Before the taking of a toast and tea.

      In the room the women come and go
      Talking of Michelangelo.

      And indeed there will be time
      To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
      Time to turn back and descend the stair,
      With a bald spot in the middle of my hair —
      (They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
      My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
      My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —
      (They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
      Do I dare
      Disturb the universe?
      In a minute there is time
      For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

      For I have known them all already, known them all:
      Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
      I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
      I know the voices dying with a dying fall
      Beneath the music from a farther room.
      So how should I presume?

      And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
      The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
      And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
      When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
      Then how should I begin
      To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
      And how should I presume?

      And I have known the arms already, known them all—
      Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
      (But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
      Is it perfume from a dress
      That makes me so digress?
      Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
      And should I then presume?
      And how should I begin?

      Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
      And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
      Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? …

      I should have been a pair of ragged claws
      Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

      And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
      Smoothed by long fingers,
      Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
      Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
      Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
      Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
      But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
      Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
      I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter;
      I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
      And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
      And in short, I was afraid.

      And would it have been worth it, after all,
      After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
      Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
      Would it have been worth while,
      To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
      To have squeezed the universe into a ball
      To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
      To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
      Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
      If one, settling a pillow by her head
      Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;
      That is not it, at all.”

      And would it have been worth it, after all,
      Would it have been worth while,
      After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
      After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
      And this, and so much more?—
      It is impossible to say just what I mean!
      But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
      Would it have been worth while
      If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
      And turning toward the window, should say:
      “That is not it at all,
      That is not what I meant, at all.”

      No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
      Am an attendant lord, one that will do
      To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
      Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
      Deferential, glad to be of use,
      Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
      Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
      At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
      Almost, at times, the Fool.

      I grow old … I grow old …
      I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

      Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
      I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
      I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

      I do not think that they will sing to me.

      I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
      Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
      When the wind blows the water white and black.
      We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
      By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
      Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

      that old ts he can really write them poems

      Liked by 3 people

      1. One of my all time favorites. A former boyfriend and I used to read it to each other when we were in our twenties. I recently read it again wondering if it how it would affect me at this age. Still grabs me but…with a more of an understanding. perhaps.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I was born and raised in Ames, Iowa. The list of famous people born there is not loaded with sparkling personalities, although it does include an astronaut (Laura Clark, somewhat obscure because she was blown up in the Columbia disaster).

    It amuses me that Ames produced Sara Paretsky, the detective novelist who gave us V I Warshawski. I think when I was a kid you could have fit all the town’s Jews in one room. But Sara was one.

    Ames can also claim Neta Snook, famous as a “pioneering aviatrix.” Neta learned to fly after rehabilitating a “wrecked Canuck,” which sounds like she sobered up a Canadian but actually means she fixed a wrecked Curtiss Jenny airplane. Neta’s big claim to fame is that she taught Amelia Earhart to fly. Do you suppose those lessons included teaching navigation?

    The biggest celebrity born in Ames has to be Billy Sunday. He was born in a shack just south of town on the site of the sewage plant today. Billy gained fame as a professional baseball player who competed on the Chicago team then called the “White Stockings” and now called the Cubs. One day Billy had an epiphany and decided to change his life. He became one of the most famous tent show revivalists in a time when that was a big thing. Some folks say Sinclair Lewis modeled Elmer Gantry on Billy Sunday.

    Finally we come to Ted Kooser, the 13th US Poet Laureate. I used to cringe when I heard that, for I once had a very embarrassing public fight with Ted Kooser. But I’ve determined that the Kooser I tangled with was not the poet but rather his father. Whew!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marshalltown also claims Billy Sunday, Steve, later on:
      “In 1880, Sunday relocated to Marshalltown, Iowa, where, because of his athleticism, he had been recruited for a fire brigade team. In Marshalltown, Sunday worked at odd jobs, competed in fire brigade tournaments, and played for the town baseball team… In 1882, with Sunday in left field, the Marshalltown team defeated the state champion Des Moines team 13–4.”


  6. Yes, interesting which one we think of as “our town” – where we grew up or where we are now… Storm Lake, Iowa, where I spent my first 11 years launched:
    – Gene Hackman, Actor resided in 1945 (in high school)
    – Joe Decker (1947–2003) Major League Baseball player
    – Janet Dailey, Romance novelist
    – Marjorie Holmes, author of, i.e., Two from Galilee
    (She lived just down the street from us)
    Storm Lake was also mentioned in an episode of M*A*S*H and in a Star Trek novelization!

    Marshalltown, IA was home to :
    – actors Jean Seberg and Mary Beth Hurt,
    – Major League Baseball players Cap Anson (Baseball Hall of Fame 1939) and Jeff Clement, and other sports figures
    There’s someone else not listed in Wiki – I’ll have to think more.


  7. I’m from south Minneapolis, the list is likely long. My first high school (Minneapolis Central) claimed Sharon Sayles Belton, Prince and Eric Sevareid as alums. I think Eddie Albert might also be on that list. While I’m sure kids I grew up with have gone on to do good things, last I checked none of them were famous.


  8. Well, I was actually born in Sandstone. Not much in the way of famous people from there. But we moved to Duluth when I was 5, so that’s -home- for me.

    Of course, everyone knows Bob Dylan. Born in Duluth, raised in Hibbing, etc, etc, etc.

    But for it’s size, I still find it surprising (and relevant) that Duluth was the birthplace of 2 legendary and outstanding voiceover talents: Lorenzo (Garfield and Carlton, Your Doorman) Music and Don (In A World…) LaFontaine. They both have those kinds of voices that are ‘born, not made’ but I’d like to hope that I could join them on that short list of World-Class VO Talent from Duluth…and so I keep working toward that.

    (Had my first on-camera gig yesterday…a non-speaking extra in an Edina Realty infomercial.)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Sinclair Lewis also lived in Duluth for a while.

      Lorenzo “Jerry” spent a summer in Duluth and used MPR studio space to do voice-overs. He and his wife were contemplating divorce, but they did reconcile, I think. He died not too long after.


  9. Mankato–Glen Taylor and his billions I guess is the most famous, despite his inept basketball team. In history it is famous for 38 Lakota who did not live her long.
    Two Harbors–only a few minor folks. Lute Olson coached there from 59-62. One of the minor ones was the man who wrote and sang “Have gun will travel reads the card of man . . .”


  10. Farmington, Connecticut – Jackie Kennedy went to Miss Porter’s School (as did my grandmother).
    About 1/2 mile from my growing-up-house, Mike Tyson built a HUGE house at the end of a cul-de-sac. He was an odd addition to the rather white, yuppie town. According to wikipedia, he later sold the house to 50 Cent (an improvement?)
    Also an actor on Mad Men (which I haven’t watched), Michael Gladis.
    I sang in the choir there with John Coolidge, son of a president.

    Minneapolis, MN – my two sweet sons


  11. As for Rochester, there’s those Mayo people of course…

    Archibald “Moonlight” Graham is buried here.

    The actress Lea Thompson was born in Rochester. Her brother, Chuck Sibley is a photographer with the local TV station. And has been for 35 years or something…

    We got Marcus Sherels, as well as former NHL-er Shjon Podein.

    There’s a kid named Jayke Workman; look for him onstage somewhere famous soon.

    There’s my AC/DC roadie buddy Jason– he’ll be behind a lighting console for some big act soon enough.


  12. I remembered the other Marshalltown – Ina Mae Gaskin, author of Spiritual Midwifery. Most any hippie would have read it before giving birth in the 70s or 80s. She and her husband started up the Gaskin Farm, a large commune in Tennessee…


  13. OT: I ran into Baboon Beth-Ann at the St Anthony Park community sing (led by Dan Choinard and Ann Reed). The sing had a love/Valentine’s slant, of course, and she said that she requested You Are My Sunshine because it was around Valentine’s Day when the OTHER community sing had a contest asking that people come up with verses in favor of same-sex marriage and against the nasty amendment 4 years ago. We had a blog on the subject, many of us wrote verses and Beth-Ann and someone (Linda, BiR, ljb?) were both winners.
    Who was the other winner?
    The prizes were rhyming dictionaries, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Roger Erickson, broadcaster on WCCO for many years was from the Winthrop area. I spent five of my young years in Bernadotte…attending K-1 in Lafayette….both in the Winthrop area. Bernadotte was Lutheran Church, cemetery & church ‘band stand’ park, a creamery and a gas station…in the 1950’s. Roger Erickson often mentioned the International Airport in Bernadotte. So he made a lasting and fun impression on our family.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.