June 29, 2021

#08-102: Lake Wobegon

a middle-aged man with bushy eyebrows, glasses, a lock of hair on his forehead, a mischievous grin, and an open-collared shirt with a sports coat
Garrison Keillor, creator of Lake Wobegon

Note: "Well, it's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon" Garrison Keillor always starts out his monologue, before going on to tell hilarious stories of his Minnesotan "hometown."

Get Ready: Garrison Keillor made a career out of telling stories based in childhood memories. Do you have any memories that would make a good story, one that would be interesting to others?

On many a Saturday night in my twenties and thirties, I would make sure I was near a radio so I could listen to the "News from Lake Wobegon." I would catch up on the doings of the Minnesota town's various colorful individuals, like some small-town rivals: the Bunsen brothers, who owned the Ford dealership; and their natural enemy, Florian Krebsbach, at Krebsbach Chevrolet. (Complicating matters is that the Bunsens attended Lake Wobegon Lutheran Church, and the Krebsbachs were die-hard members of Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility Catholic Church.)

Other local businesspeople included Harold Starr, owner, editor, and reporter at the town newspaper, The Herald Star; Bob, who owned Bob's Bank ("Save at the sign of the sock"), located in a mobile home on Main Street; and Jack, owner of Jack's Auto Repair ("In God we trust, all others pay cash").

There was also a local salon, The Curl Up and Dye.

Each shop had its own clever slogan. Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery said, "If you can't find it at Ralph's, you can probably get along without it." Dorothy's Chatterbox Café called itself "The place to go that's just like home--provided you were raised that way." And the local bar, The Sidetrack Tap, "where Wally and Evelyn wait to welcome you," was "the dim little place in the dark where the pinball machine never tilts, the clock is a half-hour slow, and love never dies."

Where can you find this interesting little town? Well, you can't. Like King Arthur's Camelot, or Tolkien's Shire, it was a product of the imagination, in this case that of Garrison Keillor, who calls himself "America's tallest radio comedian." A native Minnesotan, he made up the town to tell stories that reflected the memories he had of growing up in similar small towns.

Even the name is funny. "Wobegon" looks like a local Indian name, but it sounds like the word "woebegone," which means "affected by sadness," and especially having the appearance of sadness. Keillor called it, "the little town that time forgot, that the decades cannot improve, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above-average."


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Wobegon

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. chatterbox
  2. die-hard
  3. dim
  4. doings
  5. dye
  6. Lutheran
  7. perpetual
  8. salon
  9. sidetrack
  10. tap

  1. a place for people (usually women) to have their hair cut and styled
  2. a person who talks a lot
  3. a Protestant group
  4. color one's hair
  5. things that are happening
  6. eternal; never-ending
  7. poorly-lit 
  8. never giving up; stubborn
  9. a faucet (like the one on a barrel of beer)
  10. a secondary train line next to the main train line

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for June 29, 2021

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. b; 2. h; 3. g; 4. e; 5. d; 6. c; 7. f; 8. a; 9. j; 10. i