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Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.

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March 27, 2008 | 3 Comments

Dear Mr. Keillor:
We are excited to see the show in Milwaukee on May 10 at the Milwaukee Theater. Did you know you will be performing in the same venue where Theodore Roosevelt gave an 80-minute speech moments after he was shot in the chest, in October of 1912? You're familiar with the story, of course, that the manuscript of his speech was stowed in his breast pocket and slowed the bullet enough to save his life. There's a plaque in front of the Hyatt, where the shooting took place a couple of blocks away. It was the Gilpatrick Hotel back then. The Milwaukee Theater was the Milwaukee Auditorium at the time. It's since been beautifully redone.

John T.

There is a nice symmetry to the story, John. The length of the speech made for a thick manuscript which saved his life and in gratitude he gave the entire thing, unabridged, and no doubt enjoyed the tremendous fuss and anxiety in the wings. It's hard to imagine a time when presidents travelled about with only a couple of plainclothesmen to protect them and a few city cops. But when the show was in Iceland a couple years ago, I was invited to dine with the president of Iceland, Olafur Grimsson, and drove out to the presidential mansion, which sits at the end of a long straight driveway with no visible security. I walked to the front door and knocked and the president opened it. There was a uniformed naval attache with him but very little other security that I could see. The Scandinavian countries are rather proud of their low security, even after the assassination of the Swedish prime minister Olof Palme who was attending a movie with his wife, no bodyguards. The ability of a leader to walk freely among the people is, I suppose, a test of the national civility. But the shock and horror of an assassination is too much for a country to bear. Anyway, we're looking forward to Milwaukee and I hope to get over to the Pfister Hotel and sit in the lounge in the lobby and listen to that terrific piano player. If there is a song about Theodore Roosevelt, I'll bet he knows it.



As a follow-up to the Bible dilemma, here is another recommendation. Marcus Borg's "Heart of Christianity" is an easy read and has an excellent section on the Bible. You may find it enlightening.

Dear Mr. Keillor,
I enjoyed the post from John T. and your response, especially the reference to the Pfister Hotel. A few years back I was scheduled to attend a conference in Milwaukee and had a choice of hotels. Never having been to that fair city, I called one of my many cousins in Prairie du Chien (my mother's people hail from Wisconsin, though I am a native Californian). When I asked my cousin about the Pfister, she replied in the quintessential brevity and common sense of a Midwesterner, "The Pfister? Oh yes, very nice. . .lots of chandeliers." One reason why I love my Wisconsin relatives!

Long ago I learned that people who had to use 4-letter words or other bad language did so because they did not have intelligence or vocabulary to express themselves in a more acceptable fashion. I know that is not your excuse ---- but you seem to think they are necessary to keep your listeners happy. I cannot believe you want your lovely little girl to grow up using such words -- nor do your listeners care to have their children hear them. You have the ability to express yourself beautifully and are letting many of your long-time fans down by subjecting us to such language. A word now and then (if it adds to the quality of the story) does not offend any of us, but they have been used far too frequently lately.

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