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May 31, 2006 |

Dear Mr. Keillor
What a joy it was to hear your "Icelandic Home Companion" from May, 20th. Your song about the stillness found in that island sanctuary was most apt and conveyed the spirit of that place and people so well.

I thought you'd like to know, given your penchant for the American immigrant experience, that the oldest Icelandic community in the United States is here in Spanish Fork. A group of Mormon converts from the island immigrated to Utah in 1855 and Brigham Young sent them here, about 55 miles south of Salt Lake City, where they settled and have retained their identity and sense of community to this day.

Last year the president of Iceland came to commemorate the sesquicentennial and rededicate a monument that has stood here since 1938 to honor those first Icelandic pioneers. It's a lighthouse with a Viking ship for a weather vane—quite an incongruous sight in our mountain fastness!

We are counting the days until you bring PHC to Salt Lake city in June. We've had our tickets for a month. The people you come from in Minnesota and we here in Utah are much more alike than you might suppose, given the politics of the majority around here. We hope you enjoy your visit with us as much as we undoubtedly will with you.

Kenneth P.
Spanish Fork, UT

The president of Iceland, Olafur Grimsson, is very funny on the subject of Icelandic emigrants to the U.S. He says that they left home because it was so poor and then, once in America, passed up the good farmland to find land that reminded them of Iceland, near the sea or near the mountains, and so not much changed for them except that they were forced to learn English. I look forward to Salt Lake City, too, and hope you'll come around afterward and say hello.

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