Hometown Fame

I was never so proud to be from Luverne, MN when it was chosen to be featured in The War documentary.  Luverne wasn’t famous for much of anything before that, except for being where Fred Manfred lived, and for its marching band festival.  It really boosted the town and seemed to make the residents more cohesive somehow

Recently,  two North Dakota towns have been highlighted in the media-Minot in a Feb. 15-22 New Yorker article by Atul Gawande , and Williston in the book The Good Hand (2021) by Michael Patrick F. Smith. Gawande is a surgeon and public health researcher who was part of  the Biden Transition Advisory Board for COVID 19.  He wrote about the struggle in Minot city council over a mask mandate, and all the the antimask rhetoric and hysteria that swept through the community, a community that was severely impacted by the virus.

Smith’s book highlights what it was like to work in Williston during the oil boom, and what he writes about is pretty awful.  He is a a folksinger, actor, and playwright who left Brooklyn  to experience life on the rigs. Much of the book is about his own self discovery, but I don’t think many people would want to move to Williston after reading the book. I wonder what folks in Williston and Minot are thinking about all the publicity.

What is your hometown famous for? What would you write about in a book or article about your hometown or places you have called home?

57 thoughts on “Hometown Fame”

    1. I went to college right across the street. It didn’t seem to be very well maintained. A much older friend of mine who also attended my college said in his day it was a good spot to go drinking.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. Oh yes, I remember when one of their waste ponds leaked into the Red River. Tap water was really smelly and awful for a week.

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  1. My hometown for 18 years was Ames, Iowa. Two books celebrate it as a place to grow up. A 1998 book called Blooming, A Small-Town Girlhood was written by a girl I had a crush on in high school, Susan Allen Toth. In 2010 another national bestseller appeared called The Girls From Ames. Jeffrey Zaslow’s book described a group of 11 young women who grew up supporting each other.

    I went to college with smug pride about my wholesome hometown. A cynical roommate made me blush about my provincialism. I’ve recovered from that now (and so has he). My town was a great place to be young. I was fortunate.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I don’t think I have any particular pride about any of the places I’ve lived. I lived in Webster Groves Missouri (more than once as I was growing up, as I think I’ve mentioned we moved around a lot when I was a kid.). And sometime in the 60s there was a film that came out about Webster Groves ( I think it was by Jonathan Franzen. I didn’t know that at the time but figured it out later.) Apparently it didn’t make Webster Groves look too good and there were people who were embarrassed about it. I’ve never seen the film.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your comment, vs, reminds me of The Music Man (which we talked about yesterday). As a young Iowan, a state that gets little respect, I was puffed up about my home state starring in a Broadway musical. Then my drama teacher told me the musical portrays Iowans as a bunch of rubes!

      Liked by 4 people

        1. Actually, it is mentioned in Ought to Give Iowa a Try, along with Dubuque, Des Moines, Davenport, Mason City, Keokuk, Ames, and Clear Lake.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. St. Louis Park isn’t famous for much as a town other than producing some “celebrities” of roughly my age: The Coen Brothers, Mark Rose (WCCO sportscaster), Tom Friedman (NYT columnist and author), Marc Trestman (former Chicago Bears head coach and Vikings ass’t coach), former Senator Al Franken, classical guitarist Sharon Isbin, former NBA player Jim Peterson (who my wife babysat when she was a teen!).

    We also had the Parkettes, who served as the Vikings’ cheerleaders in the early days (until cheering converted to something more akin to organized and choreographed stripper dancing).

    There are a few other notables that many might not recognize. However, we had one “mega-landmark” when I was growing up: the Skippy Peanut Butter factory on Highway 7 near Highway 100. When the wind was from the southeast, I could smell PB at my house about two miles away. MMMM!

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 6 people

      1. Not on my block but on many others. Our street was surprisingly gentile. Point of fact, the Jewish families tended to congregate either on the east or west ends of town. Not 100%, but they found the “nicer” neighborhoods for the most part.

        Chris

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      1. Back in 1979 when we first moved into our house, once in a while when we’d get a southeasterly wing it carried with it a stench from the stockyards in South St. Paul. Don’t think I’ve ever smelled anything so foul, before or since. Can’t imagine how anyone who lived closer could tolerate it.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. The Sioux Falls stockyards were no picnic to drive past, nor was Luverne’s local meat packing plant. It was west of town, and we smelled it frequently.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. My tiny hometown was not noted for anything. But when the wind was from the north, we got the smell from a turkey and pig farm just a couple miles north of town. I went to UMD for two years and if the wind was right, we were assaulted by the stench of the Cloquet paper mills when we headed out of our dorms to the cafeteria for breakfast. What a way to put off your appetite.

          Liked by 2 people

        3. K-Two a friend worked in Cloquet for about two years. He liked the town and the people, but learned that local pride dictated that people could not even mention the pulp mill stench. At first Bill thought it was okay to joke about it, but . . . no. People who were gagging would just say, “Smell? I don’t notice any smell!”

          Liked by 1 person

        4. We lived in Cloquet for 2 years, then Carlton for 4 years. Papermill’s stench was not pleasant but I was an “outsider” so I mentioned it to people. *phewwww!*

          Chris

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  4. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    My home town is not famous for much. It is the home of Blue Bunny and Tyson. The little college it once housed is long gone. My parents no longer live there.

    The way it got its name is interesting. LeMars, Iowa. It was named after the first 6 women who departed the stage coach: Laura, Elizabeth, Mary, Anne, Rebecca, Sarah. Also, the transplant surgeon, Tom Starzl was born and raised there and attended the little college with my parents. HIs career took place in Pennsylvania.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. No. My extended family lives there now, but never have. Born in Nevada, which was intended by my parents to be my home town. But in 1954 my grandma was diagnosed with colon cancer. Dad and Grandpa sold the Stratton shorthorn herd and the farm to pay for her medical care(it was prior to health insurance), and they moved back to LeMars where Dad took an extension service job.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Well, Rochester, first off, it’s almost always going to be recognized as home of the ‘World Famous Mayo Clinic’. WFMC but don’t use that to their face; it’s mostly used facetiously.
    IBM was big if you weren’t Mayo. But that’s faded.
    We had the geese for a long time, they’re not so enamored anymore either.
    Rochester has the big ear of corn water tower.
    Actor Lea Thompson is from Rochester.
    Archibald “Moonlight” Graham is buried here in town. Kelly and I just found his marker last month walking around a cemetery.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Ah, but see, it’s not a corn “cob”- that’s the left over inside part, after you eat your sweet corn you’re left with the cob. This is an “Ear” of corn! 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

  6. Off the top of my head, Marshalltown IA is the birthplace of Ina May Gaskin, author of the home-birthing “bible” called Spiritual Midwifery in the 60s.

    And Storm Lake IA, where I spent my first 11 years, ushered in Marjorie Holmes, a Christian author who wrote the Two From Galilee trilogy, et al. Also Art Cullen: “a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, editor of The Storm Lake Times, and author of the new book, Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience, and Hope from a Heartland Newspaper.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I grew up in Minneapolis, so there are a few things I could point to – for good or ill. It can be more fun to find closer connections – like Prince went to the first high school I attended (and my older brother was in band with him for a couple of years). Eric Sevareid and Peter Graves also attended that same high school. That high school was closed in 1982 and the grand old building torn down – more’s the pity. I wound up graduating from a different high school with a decidedly less elegant building and fewer famous graduates.

    Liked by 6 people

        1. James Arness is 6′ 7″, which is pretty durn tall. I think his first role was the monster in The Thing From Another World, which came out in 1951. I was so terrified by it that I had trouble sleeping for several days.

          Liked by 2 people

  8. My birthplace is rather famous. MLK marched to Selma from Montgomery in 1965 but the family had left long before then yet kept informed about civil rights in Alabama. My Dad and I went to see the movie Selma and he provided some context to the scenes shot at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Nothing too dramatic. In the springtime, millions of insect bodies made the steep approaches to the bridge treacherously difficult to navigate by car. Pilots from Craig Air Force Base would violate flight protocol by flying P-51s UNDER the bridge.

    Liked by 6 people

        1. I attended a reading by his daughter, Freya Manfred, back in 1999 or 2000, and she, too, was tall, though not 6’9″.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. OT. Interesting development considering what’s going on with Dr. Seuss right now. I’ve been channel surfing and found that TCM is showing Gone with the Wind right now but in the information in the TV Guide it says “presented as originally released in 1939. Includes themes and character depictions which may be offensive and problematic to contemporary audiences.”

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I have decided not to watch tonight, mostly because I don’t wanna stay up that late. Right now I’m watching Laura with Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews. Boy, could Dana Andrews wear a hat.

        Liked by 3 people

    1. I don’t remember the movie all that well, but read the book a number of times. The book could have served as a United Daughters of the Confederacy textbook, explaining the Lost Cause to a post-Civil War audience. It is a book that should really be read by everyone, or at least those readers who can entertain the concepts without being indoctrinated.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. I grew up mostly in Hudson, which is the birthplace of the Little Free Library.

    I also lived in Livermore, California, which is where Cupcake wines are made.

    My birthplace is St. Paul. Home of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Charles Schultz, and the place where Wanda Gag went to art school.

    Liked by 5 people

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