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Dear Mr. Keillor, My in-laws

November 3, 2005 |

Dear Mr. Keillor, My in-laws in Eastern Pennsylvania went to see you perform outside of Philly October 25th and were thrilled to meet you, take pictures, and listen to your story-telling. As my sister in law put it - "It was better than a rock concert."
As Mennonites, we like to keep our pride deep within ourselves, but my in-laws were proud to send us their pictures. I must ask, where do you get your red ties? They are a little too flashy for my home town in Holmes County, Ohio, but they fit right in in Cincinnati.

Trent Hummel

Trent, The event outside Philadelphia was the 50th anniversary of the Penn Foundation, an exemplary community mental-health program, privately funded, run by Mennonites for the good of all, and it was good to hear about its good work in identifying and offering treatment for depression and chemical dependency and other ills that beset us. Christian people, especially those of conservative bent, have been slow to address mental health problems, and what the Mennonites have done is so merciful and thoughtful. A man named Dr. Loux started the program there, and he attended the program, and he and I came to the conclusion that we are related, though my people spelled the name Loucks, but they're pronounced the same.

The crowd included a lot of Lutherans, I might add, who are also strong in eastern Pennsylvania, so naturally we sang some hymns acapella, impromptu, and everybody knew the words ----- the Doxology, of course, and "Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior" and "Softly and Tenderly" and "How Great Thou Art".

As for the red tie, it's my favorite, bright red but not shiny, cotton, and I bought it in Bergdorf's in New York. I went in there and bought a bunch of stuff about five years ago and saw Ross Perot, very natty, ramrod straight, all alone, standing by the shirt counter, waiting to be waited on. I said good morning and he said good morning back. A sunny spring day on Fifth Avenue and I walked south past where those bookstores used to be, Doubleday's and Scribner's, and the Hotel Seymour, the dive where I stayed when I went to New York to apply for a job at The New Yorker in 1966, and I wound up working for a few hours at the General Mechanics Library on 44th Street, across from the Harvard Club, and then got a sandwich and ate it in Bryant Park. A wonderful New York day, and it's all encapsulated in a red tie.

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