Tales of the Road: Highway 61

Keynote address: Cathy Wurzer.  Host of “Morning Edition”, Minnesota Public Radio.

Book, and documentary for Minnesota Public television.

6-year road trip visiting places in Minnesota.  The highway actually goes from northern Minnesota all the way to New Orleans.  Won two Emmys for the documentary.  Picked up some souveniers along the way:

Pottery from Moose Lake, MN.  The pottery is supposedly made by Namaji Indians – which as it turns out, is not a tribe at all.  Wally and Dorothy Walstrom are of the original owners, and now live in Duluth.  Dorothy painted all the pots, and then told the story of how she painted those pots.

Bottle of Bub’s Beer.  At Winona County Historical Society meeting, and asked about Sugarloaf Brewery in Winona and Bub’s Beer.  Was told it’s pronounced “boob’s!”

Holds up hunk of Hwy 61, sent by listener.

Calls the trip the “roadtrip of a lifetime.”  Life-changing experience.  Motivated by the American Guide series of books, written in the 1930’s by the WPA.  First tour she opened the book to was of Highway 61. Goes through some of the most beautiful scenery in Minnesota, from the north shore to the southeast.

Shows clip of the documentary…lovely footage and interesting history.  Talked about the Sheldon Theater in Red Wing and its ghost, and the apple orchards in LaCrescent.

The book has been out for a year now; different experience for a broadcaster.  Was approached by the publisher to write a companion piece for the documentary: “Sure!  How hard could it be?”  (Big laughs on that one.)  Was touched when the book was published – as a broadcaster, her work is transient.  “But a book – a book?  That lasts.”

Has enjoyed the book signings and readings across the state.  Met a number of interesting people, author and poet JoAnn Hart among them.

Has gathered so many stories, is planning to do a part 2, and solicits stories from the audience.  Part 3 will be a documentary taking the road all the way down to   New Orleans.  Stories can be sent to talesoftheroad.net.

Encourages everyone to get their own stories down, and those of our families.

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