Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota’


What Did Tennessee

2016.02.choochooLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, ArkansasWhat did Tennessee, boys, what did Tennessee? Remember that old Scout song? Entertainment around the campfire, roast a weinie, toast a marshmallow, sing nonsense till you pass out in your tent. What did Delaware? What does Iowa? Where has Oregon? These and other intellectual questions (What does Mississip?) kept me smiling as I sang my way across Mississippi into Tennessee and then back to Arkansas this month (she saw what Arkansas.) My turnaround point for a little vacation was Chattanooga, where I lived when my children were growing up, and again later 2016.02.betty and linda pwhen I became “Ms Chattanooga,” a spokeperson for a beautiful city; so precious to me I wrote a guidebook about it (Chattanooga Great Places) and a second guidebook about the surrounding area (SE Great Trips). And then (it follows) a weekly travel column for the Chattanooga Times entitled “Here or There” which focused on things to experience in and around that lovely town. (Me, left, with books and illustrator Betty Harrelson, Books A Million in Chattanooga, 1996.)

Those were very happy days, living in a place I loved and then pointing out to everyone how wonderful it was! That’s what we all should do, I believe. Just think, if every single person in the US of A really cared about their homeplace, and bragged about it, and worked to make it the absolute finest place in their part of the world, then – well gee! No urban blight, no rural downtrod, no crumbling infrastructures; you get the idea. So here’s my message, wherever you are. TODAY, do these three things: » read more


Swimming Upstream

05 Alex Jack sleepingLinda Burton posting from Albany, New York – The cats are snoozing but I’m busy. Today I’m wrapping up 80% of the Journey Across America as we end our stay in the 40th capital city. For the last two months, I feel like I’ve been a salmon swimming upstream, going backwards in history. In Saint Paul, I learned about Pigs Eye Parrant and Lucien Galtier, two names that are part of the city’s beginnings. Pigs Eye moved west from Michigan; Father Galtier came from France by order of Rome and only stayed long enough to establish a church and push for the city name of Saint Paul instead of Pigs Eye. Remember them? In Madison, I learned about James Doty, who came from New York; he lived in Detroit before he bought the land that he platted into the city of Madison; then he 05 sailboats madisonworked for Wisconsin statehood. (Wisconsin is still miffed over the fact that a huge chunk of land to the north belongs to Michigan, even though it is not connected to Michigan, but is a part of Wisconsin’s geography.) From there I continued east to Michigan, and Lansing, (where that huge chunk of land is justified in the land divvy-up because “Ohio got the Toledo Strip, so we got the Upper Peninsula!”). Lansing was settled because in 1835 two slick-talkers scammed some folks in Lansing, New York, who then came and settled that part of Michigan and named their new city Lansing. Meanwhile, down in Ohio, 05 Schuyler houseColumbus was settled by miners and farmers and entrepreneurs coming in via the National Road from Maryland, and a lot of former New Yorkers. Now I’m in New York; here everybody talks about Henry Hudson; Dutch names such as Van Rensselaer and Schuyler are on every post; and events of the 1600s are common conversation. History is a long-running soap opera. And I love it! » read more


Turn The Radio On

05 gk w mike cLinda Burton posting from Lansing, Michigan – First he had us stand and sing the Star Spangled Banner. There was no fanfare, no “Here’s…….Johnny!” introduction, no curtain raised. Garrison Keillor simply walked out on the stage and asked us to stand and sing. At the end of two hours, he asked us to stand and sing again; this time it was Amazing Grace; and we did it, respectfully and, I’d say, rather enthusiastically. “What is such a tactic supposed to do for the show?” I was thinking, as I stood between two guys whose baritone voices completely drowned me out. I guess it served two purposes; a method of getting audience involvement so we’d stop chatting with each other and pay attention to the show in the beginning; a seventh-inning stretch after we’d sat so long. Or maybe he’s just patriotic. He is that; patriotic, I mean; and irreverent too. Somehow he picks out exactly how 05 radiowe feel about something even when we think we have gracefully covered it up. And he tells on us. Faithful listeners of Prairie Home Companion know just what I mean. Pastor Liz. The Lutherans. Those folks who endure a Minnesota winter. Garrison Keillor knows about contentment, and he knows about longing; he gives the two a humorous twist; that’s the way to survive. He ended the show with a singy-song burst of advice for happy living – “If you want something to get done…do it…if you don’t want to do it, don’t worry a-bout it…tell 05 rr tour signyour kids not to wear their baseball cap back-wards and not to use four-letter words on their res-u-me….” If you haven’t figured it out, I was in the audience for Garrison Keillor’s Radio Romance Summer Tour. I was front row balcony in Lansing’s Wharton Center, and I was loving it. » read more


Hmong Americans

17 mapLinda Burton posting from Saint Paul, Minnesota –Saint Paul’s population is 15% Asian, third highest Asian population in the list of capital cities. That’s according to the 2010 US Census, which also denotes specific ethnicity; it tells us that 260,073 people of Hmong descent live in the United States, with the largest Hmong American community right here in Saint Paul. The United States opened its doors to Hmong war refugees with the Refugee Assistance Act of 1975 following the communist takeover of Laos; more than 18,000 Hmong had died in support of US forces during the Vietnam conflict. By 1978 about 30,000 Hmong had immigrated; primarily men directly associated with the war efforts. When the Refugee Act of 1980 was passed, families 17 h american daywere permitted to come. Political controversy surrounded the remaining Hmong refugees after the 1980 immigration wave – should they be repatriated, allowed to immigrate, or left in the refugee camps in Thailand? Eventually tens of thousands of Thai-based Hmong refugees were granted US immigration rights, leading to highly emotional reunions of long-separated Hmong families. As of the 2010 US Census, the largest Hmong American populations were in California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Michigan, with the Saint Paul metro area being home to the largest group. It is a strong and tightly woven community, as immigrants adapt to American culture while still maintaining their homeland 17 mcdonaldsroots. Organizations in Saint Paul that serve the Hmong community are the Hmong American Partnership, founded in 1990 to help Hmong refugees adjust to life in America; the Hmong Cultural Center, founded in 1992 to enhance cross-cultural awareness; and the Hmong Archives, founded in 1999 to collect and preserve Hmong heritage. And the Hmong Village on Johnson Boulevard is a favored destination for any resident of Saint Paul who loves papaya salad, or Pho. » read more


Mighty Myths and Facts

15 padelfordLinda Burton posting from Saint Paul, Minnesota – I went on a cruise today. A Mississippi River Cruise, on a diesel-powered make-believe paddle-wheeler; complete with banjo and song and a few good stories along the way. It was the Lunch and Lock Cruise, a four-hour trip departing from Harriet Island just across the Wabasha Street Bridge from downtown Saint Paul. I’ll tell you some of the tall tales, and I’ll tell you about the river, and the locks; I now hold bragging rights to “locking through Lock #1” on the Mississippi. But first, a tale. As we approached a 15 rr bridge openlow-built railroad bridge, you know, the kind that swings open to allow tall boats to come through, our narrator directed us to look at the heavy concrete weight on the short end of it. “It took a year to build,” our storyteller said, “and the man who owned the land next to the right-of-way came out every day and sat in his chair to watch construction. Every day, all day. Finally, it was dedication day, and the man attended the ceremonies, at the conclusion of which he notified the railroad that, when open, the bridge encroached on his 15 sing onland by a few feet; therefore it could not be used. Railroad officials quickly put their heads together and offered to buy that few feet of land, at the price they paid for land before the bridge was built. The man refused. ‘So now your price has gone up,’ they said. ‘Oh no, my price is the same as it would have been before,’ he replied. ‘And what is that?’ they asked. ‘My price is priceless. The railroad took away my job and ruined my life years ago. I will never sell my land to you, under any conditions.’ The bridge was rebuilt.” » read more


Three Men And A Quadriga

13 horse towards st paul cathedralLinda Burton posting from Saint Paul, Minnesota – I won’t lie to you. I was way too chicken to walk out on that upper balcony for a picture of the famous Quadriga. I met two nice women who did though, and shared their pictures with me, so I can show you the awesome sight from high atop the capitol building in downtown Saint Paul. I did take the picture of my car out front, so you can get a perspective of everything I want you to see – the location and size of the Quadriga, and the proximity of the two fabulous domed buildings that bookend John Ireland Boulevard in Saint 13 capitol and carPaul – the State Capitol, which was completed in 1905, and the Cathedral of Saint Paul; construction began on it in 1906. But I’m focusing on the capitol today, and I’ll start with the Quadriga, the shimmery-gold group of sculptural figures named “Progress of the State” perched above the main entrance to the capitol. The grouping consists of a chariot pulled by four horses, and three human figures – two women and a man. The horses represent the classical elements of earth, air, fire and water. The women represent industry and agriculture; together that depicts civilization. The male charioteer represents prosperity; he holds a variation of a Roman Legion standard 13 quadriga frontinscribed with the state name Minnesota. The Quadriga is made of copper and gilded in gold, with a few regildings since it first appeared; it was definitely putting on a shine in today’s blazing sun. The quadriga sculptural arrangement goes back over 2000 years to the Roman republic; an emblem of triumph, you’ll find quadrigas on European buildings from Paris to Rome. Sculptors Daniel Chester French and Edward Clark Potter get credit for this one; credit for the capitol goes to Cass Gilbert. » read more


The Scoundrel And The Saint

11 pigs eye sketchLinda Burton posting from Saint Paul, Minnesota –Every city has both scoundrels and saints in its past, and Saint Paul is no exception. It may have a “saintly” name today, but it started out as Pig’s Eye. Sit back and listen to this tale of two men, and the legacy they left behind. The first character I introduce is Pierre Parrant, a French Canadian born near Sault Ste Marie, Michigan around 1777; he made his living as a fur trapper. He acquired the name “Pig’s Eye” when he became blind in one eye; he began to have troubles with the law when he started bootlegging. Pig’s Eye Parrant claims two distinctions – he was the first person of European descent to live in what became Saint Paul; and he operated the first business there. The second character I want you to meet is Lucien Galtier. He was born around 1811 in Saint Affrique, in the south of France. He became a Roman Catholic priest, and was sent to the 11 lucien galtierUnited States as a missionary at the time people were settling near Fort Snelling in Minnesota territory; he arrived at his new post in April 1840. The distinctions he claims are several – he was the first missionary in the area, he built the first churches in what are now the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and he is responsible for the name of the city of Saint Paul. The church he began in Saint Paul now occupies its fourth building in the city; sitting atop Cathedral Hill and overlooking downtown, it is the third largest church in the United States and a National Shrine. The city of Saint Paul, beginning with the contributions of two men who tackled the wilderness in strikingly different ways, became capital of the state of Minnesota. » read more


Narration By Ruth

09 mall of america jLinda Burton posting from Saint Paul, Minnesota – “The Bible refers to Saint Paul often, but it never mentions Minneapolis.” So goes the good-natured banter between the Twin Cities of Minnesota. I signed up for a Highlights Tour of both; from a Grayline air-conditioned bus I’d listen and try to learn. Minnesota’s oldest tourist attraction and oldest park were promised features of the tour; legends and landmarks and the State Capitol too. But first I had to find the bus, a fear-instilling feat. Because boarding took place at the Transit Center at the Mall of America. And the Mall of America, you see, has 12,550 parking spaces, stacked in cavernous concrete layers on either side of the giant complex. Wrap your head around these numbers – 7 Yankee Stadiums could fit inside the Mall, or 32 Boeing 747’s; 285 Statues of Liberty could lie down for a nap inside the Mall; and if you pulled the President’s heads off Mt Rushmore and hauled them to Minnesota, you could fit one into each of the four courts that make up the Mall. They say if you spent 10 minutes in each store, it would take you 86 hours to complete your visit; there are more than Enjoy the thrill of SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge, Pepsi Orange Streak, Splat-O-Sphere, Avatar Airbender and Fairly Odd Coaster.  Our younger guests can enjoy family rides on El Circulo del Cielo, Log Shoot, Naked Brothers Crazy Cars or The Carousel.Experience one-of-a-kind shopping in Nickelodeon Universe featuring the Nickelodeon Store, showcasing the largest selection of Nickelodeon merchandise in the country; TOYS, filled with appealing games and toys; and NU Stuff, featuring an exclusive signature line of Nickelodeon merchandise.500 stores and 4.3 miles of storefronts; employees number 11,000. Even though “no sales tax on clothing” is a big part of the draw, shopping isn’t the only thing people come for. There are 25 rides and attractions in Nickelodeon Universe, and it’s a huge events center, staging everything from celebrity shows to weddings. Out of the 40 million annual visitors, 4 out of 10 are tourists; today I was one of them. I found the Transit Center by asking a passerby; “Six posts that way,” he said; I parked in Maine 2 East and ventured in. » read more


Pretty As A Picture

07 sunriseLinda Burton posting from Saint Paul, Minnesota – The sun was up at 5:47, and I was too. I got the first load into the car even before the outside lights shut down; I was determined to beat the heat. Four loads and one orange juice later, we were on the road. The cats went back to sleep right away; I nibbled on the blueberry muffin I’d grabbed, and enjoyed the ease of the drive. A blue sky, a highway stretching straight in front of me, and mile after mile of corn; I could almost hear it growing. If I were a photographer, this is where I’d come for my postcard shots; the farm scenes were pretty as a picture – farmers 07 barn and wind turbineshouses tucked in their own personal clump of trees; their barns and silos near; all set in their personal fields of green. I-35 north from Des Moines to Saint Paul, 244 miles on a Sunday in July. I passed the sign to Ames, home of Iowa State University; a little further west is the birthplace of Mamie Doud Eisenhower. It must be hilly there in Boone County; The Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad is there, and Ledges State Park. I stopped for gas in Thornton, two miles off the freeway; no fountain drinks but the friendly lady 07 coop silosbehind the counter directed me to the ice cream freezer where she kept a bag of ice and a scoop; with her scissors she enlarged the hole in the coffee cup lid so I could poke the straw through for my ice-cold Coke. “Too hot for coffee,” we agreed. She was intrigued by the car; wanted to hear about the Journey. I asked about the giant storage silos in the middle of town. “Corn, and soybeans,” was the answer. » read more


Beyond Numbers

Linda Burton posting from Bismarck, North Dakota – “Over 80 percent of this capitol building is usable space,” the tour guide said. “As compared to Minnesota, say, where they can use only 29 percent. They have that big dome.” The guide has more numbers and comparisons; the North Dakota capitol cost $2 million to build in 1934, the Nebraska capitol, also a highrise, cost $11 million, she says. That’s $.46 per square foot vs $1.10. Frugality was a major consideration when building the North Dakota capitol; this is a state that simply doesn’t spend what it doesn’t have. After the old capitol burned in 1930, they sold 160 acres of land and used insurance money from the burned building to pay for the new capitol. Workers threatened a strike part-way through; laborers asked for a raise from 30 cents an hour to 50. The governor called out the National Guard to protect the partially constructed building; workers were granted a 10 cent raise. Work continued, and the building was first occupied in January 1935. On time, and on budget. One thing I noticed right away; planning may have focused on frugal, and the outside may appear plain, but the building is impressive in its indoor elegance, and its streamlined efficiency. » read more