Chuck Berry 1926 – 2017

I didn’t realize until last week that Chuck Berry was from St. Louis, my home town. He grew up in what we would call “the city” and then moved to the burbs in the 60s.  This made me curious to find out who else was from what I usually refer to as “the armpit of the nation”. Here are just a few: Yogi Berra, Lou Brock, Vincent Price, Kevin Kline, Dick Gregory, Miles Davis, Harry Truman and Scott Joplin.  Some St. Louis folks also like to claim Maya Angelou, but she didn’t live in St. Louis all that long, so I’m not sure claiming her is playing fair.

I didn’t grow up in a musical family; while I knew who Chuck Berry was, I didn’t know very much about him or his musical history. I’ve honed my little bit of knowledge on Wikipedia and YouTube so now I wish I had paid more attention when he was alive.

 

What celebrity do you miss from your hometown?

 

56 thoughts on “Chuck Berry 1926 – 2017”

      1. From Robbinsdale (he wasn’t born there but we take what we can get) and he published Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang.
        As you know, unless your home town is a big city, you don’t have many celebreties to choose from and even fewer that you miss.
        I had a choice between Captain Billy and Verne Gagne.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. I see that Whiz Bang Day is FOUR days long and they even have a website. Might be something I need to check out this year!!

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        2. verne was in the resthome in Bloomington when he did the piledriver bodyslam to the concert violinist and killed him when he was about earlier into his dementia and the help didnt realize the danger

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  1. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    My hometown LeMars, Iowa (near Sioux City in the NW corner) was too small to have beat the odds of fame–not much going on there. But the fame there is as follows:

    The Blue Bunny–yes it is the hometown of Blue Bunny Dairy which dominates the economy there. The “boys” who now run it were are neighbors who used to lay in the street gutter in front of their house pretending that they had been hit by a car.

    Dr. Thomas Starzl (just died last week in his 90’s) who settled in Philadelphia and pioneered organ transplant technology.

    Archie’s Waeside Inn which is a much awarded steakhouse there (known on a national basis for the finest steaks. Jane and Michael Stern did a Road Food column on them, as well as other national awarders). When we expats go home to visit, we gather there. Archie was Archie Jackson. HIs youngest two daughters were my age: Punkin’ and Pudding’. I loved their names.

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  2. Prince. Hubert Humphrey (can I claim him as a Twin Cities denizen? He was born in South Dakota but was mayor of Mpls and he’s buried here). Terry Gilliam (okay, he’s still alive, but renounced is US Citizenship…which doesn’t make him dead, just, um, smart?).

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  3. My hometown is small, blue collar and unexceptional. The only celebrity I know is still alive and a recent rumor says she has moved back to the area….Jessica Lange graduated from high school here, her grandparents and other relatives live/lived here. I didn’t/don’t know her as she is quite a bit younger than I am. My favorite local story about her is when she would shop at my dad’s store and the workers treated her like a normal person but would ask for an autograph. One time a couple women overheard them asking and was heard saying “Who is she?” When they then asked her for an autograph she refused them saying, “You don’t even know who I am…”
    I was in the natural food store once and was besotten by one of her daughters, didn’t even notice Jessica. She also visits the county fair often, when she comes to the old log cabin where I volunteer, people say “did you see Jessica?” I still don’t recognize her, so, no, I never see her.(Jessica with no make-up, simple hairdo and non-descript clothing doesn’t stand out in the crowd….)

    So, in spite of her being alive and well, I still do “miss” her….

    I have to say, there have been several celebrities I don’t noticed when in the same place…eg, Rock Hudson in Aspen. Too self absorbed, am I?

    Robert Bly was a celebrity in Moose Lake for many years. I do miss him since he moved to Mpls.

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  4. Jean Seberg, who “made her film debut in 1957 in the title role of Saint Joan, from the George Bernard Shaw play, after being chosen from 18,000 hopefuls by director Otto Preminger in a $150,000 talent search.” Will be back later with more.

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  5. My home town–Ames, Iowa–is a bit thin in the celebrity area. We could claim Neta Snook if we wanted to, but who remembers the first woman to fly in Iowa? Her bigger claim to fame was that she taught Amelia Earheart to fly. She apparently forgot to teach Amelia to navigate.

    I’d prefer to mention that Ames was the birthplace of poet Ted Kooser. For years that has been a source of shame for me. On Parents Day of 1959 I stood to deliver a report in my economics class. My comments inflamed one of the parents, Ted Kooser, who jumped to his feet and delivered a loud denunciation of me. (Some of you might remember that I once ticked off Harry Truman. I seem to have a gift for annoying famous people.)

    After feeling rotten about this for years, I researched Ted Kooser. It turns out that the man I infuriated was his dad, not the poet. The guy who denounced me in my econ class was a local merchant, the head of our Younkers store. I felt better after learning that.

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      1. I dissed two local men’s clothing stores as being dark and gloomy. I praised a bright place that catered to young people (like me) with clothing like the orange and black shirt with wood pegs that I once bought there. I liked the overhead fluorescent lights in the store that appealed to the younger clientele.

        My report was ignorant, of course. I knew nothing about economics, which had something to do with the fact the Econ teacher knew nothing about economics. His real job was to be our track coach, but coaches had to teach “something,” so he chose that.

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      2. Bill, at the time I clashed with Kooser I was a Republican. I wonder if we could do a blog in which the daily question would be about how we acquired our political point of view. The first political act of my life was to sit on a curb waving a pennant that proclaimed I LIKE IKE!

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      3. Pardon me for posting so often. The man I outraged had a daughter in my class at school. Pretty girl. In our junior year she disappeared for about six months. The explanation was that she was “visiting her grandmother.” The more cynical kids figured out that she was pregnant. Abortion wasn’t an option, so she spent half a year “visiting her grandmother.” We might be returning to those days again 😦

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  6. Last week when I was at the theater conference I saw “famous theater people”. Meaning, they’re a big deal in the theater world, but not so much elsewhere.
    Like Fred Foster who started ETC Lighting. And Rocky Paulson who was really the first guy to start an actual ‘rigging’ company and specialize in it and not just string something up with block and tackle. (He worked for Pink Floyd back in the ’70’s and has a great story about pulling the inflatable pig across the arena. Also, Blowing up an inflatable pig out in the parking lot.)

    Actress Lea Thompson is from Rochester. Her brother is still a cameraman for the local TV station.
    We have a few athletes… Marcus Sherels the most recent well known one.
    There’s probably famous doctors…

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      1. Oh that’s right. His parents lived near us in a development that the elder Gjelten co-platted. One of those places I remember being a field and meadow when I was a kid. Now it’s houses and practically on the edge of town.

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      1. My hairdresser (as they were called back then) in Copenhagen also did the hair of the author Karen Blixen. I never ran into her at the salon, or elsewhere, so guess I “missed” her. He did tell me that she would never let him wash what little hair she had with soap and water. Instead he degreased it with alcohol.

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  7. Well, the writer Fred Manfred was from Doone, IA, but is claimed by Luverne. He was a tall, thin presence around town and he loved the Blue Mounds State Park north of town. He built a home there that is a disaster of mold and flooding, as it is built of natural stone which oozes water, and the living room flooded on a regular basis. He gave the home to the State Park for an Interpretive Center, but it will have to be demolished as it can’t be repaired. He was about 7 feet tall, and would roam the park wearing nothing but a speedo. I guess he was quite alarming to encounter thus attired.

    We also had Geralyn Britz, a professional golfer on the WPGA circuit.

    Do you think any of our home towns claim us as famous?

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    1. Luverne had a famous high school basketball team one year, as I recall. I don’t know why I remember that since I have never paid the least attention to basketball, high school or otherwise, even at my own high school.

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      1. Dick Wildung (August 16, 1921 – March 15, 2006) was an American football tackle in the National Football League for the Green Bay Packers. He was from Luverne, too.

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  8. From the ‘art world’….
    I did not know but his daughter and son-in-law were as family…painter & printmaker Birger Sandzen. I have a signed wood block print and book he owned on wood printmaking….with his name penned as in possession.

    My neighbor who left a box ‘from Santa’ on our front porch the first Christmas in Lindsborg KS…Anton Pearson a wood carver. Inside the box were items for all us kids…the best being furniture for my sister & my 8″ dolls. Traveling from Lund Sweden & on his way to SanFrancisco he stopped to see Birger Sandzen…and stayed. I have a woman & man carving molded in plaster and one of his wood carvings. His home /yard=garden with ponds & pathways was an absolute wonderland to me as a child. A facination to me as an adult.

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  9. Marshalltown also produced
    – Mary Beth Hurt, a lesser known actor I knew as Mary Beth Supinger – she was married for a time to actor William Hurt.
    and
    – Ina Mae Gaskin, author of Spiritual Midwifery and: “In 1971 Gaskin, with her husband Stephen, founded a commune called The Farm in Summertown Tennessee. There, she and the midwives of the Farm created The Farm Midwifery Center, one of the first out-of-hospital birthing centers in the United States.”

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  10. Ames, my home town, had an uneasy relationship with one of its local stars: Billy Sunday. At one time he was a prominent athlete and then in the early decades of the 20th century he was a famous evangelical preacher. Folks in Ames weren’t eager to claim him. He was born “in Story County” and not Ames. But mostly his reputation had gone gray over time as people began to feel uncomfortable about evangelical stars. Prominent intellectuals of the 1920s took shots at Sunday. Carl Sandberg called Billy Sunday a “four-flusher” and “bunkshooter.” I have no idea what those words mean, but I’m sure Sandberg wasn’t praising him.

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  11. Had to look up Farmington, Connecticut famous sons and daughters. Not a lot there (of whom I have heard). Jackie Kennedy went to private school there.
    Down the road from my house, Mike Tyson built a huge estate, later sold to 50 Cent. It has been amusing to imagine these guys and the blue blood, DAR members rubbing shoulders in the grocery store.

    As I did my research, I found that there is a corporation located there called Trumpf. Gag!

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  12. Most of the celebs from St. Louis Park are still alive–the Coen brothers, Tom Friedman, Mark Rosen, Sharon Isbin (guitarist), Jim Peterson (basketball), Mark Trestman (football player–U of M, pro football coach), Al Franken (grew up here at least. No one on that list will inspire much missing by me if they die before I do. I’ll be sad for the loss to the world, as I am for anyone who made any positive contribution to the world. Of course, a positive contribution is always in the eye of the beholder.

    Halsey Hall (longtime Twins announcer) has been dead for years, and I certainly enjoyed his old-school announcing style–reputedly drunk on the job fairly often, but interesting and had a unique voice. I sort of miss him, but it’s not as if he was my all-time favorite sportscaster.

    Chris in O-town

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