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You Deserve No Less

November 13, 2008 | 26 Comments

Mr. Keillor,
After many years of listening, my wife and I will make our first trip to the Fitzgerald this weekend. We've never been to St. Paul before — what should we see on our way to the show, and where should we eat after?

It's our 15th wedding anniversary, which means it should be someplace special, but because 15 years on has us brimming with kids, pets and monthly payments of all kinds, not too expensive.

Liam C.


Liam, we are deeply honored that you and your wife would go through all the rigmarole of arranging child care and farming out pets and make the long trek to St. Paul at a cold and dreary time of year, and though you are a proud man and likely to put up a fight, we are going to twist your arm and make you accept a gift certificate to the St. Paul Grill in downtown St. Paul. It's a good restaurant and the staff is friendly and you'll like it. After fifteen years, you deserve no less. The Grill is a bright spot downtown and from a window table you can see the statue of F. Scott Fitzgerald in Rice Park. He is standing, coat over his arm, as if waiting for his ride. Beyond him is the old courthouse with its lighted clock tower and across the square from it is the public library. On the hill above and beyond the courthouse you can spot the lighted dome of the St. Paul Cathedral up on Ramsey Hill with Selby Avenue running alongside it. If, in the afternoon, you want to climb that hill and walk up Selby, you'd want to step into Nina's Coffeeshop on the corner of Western & Selby to warm up, and if you go to the bookstore in the cellar below the coffeeshop, you will find a gift certificate in your name so that you can purchase a decent St. Paul guidebook to tell you more about the city. There's a nice little guidebook to Fitzgerald sites in town, if that interests you, one of which is W.A. Frost's across the street, a restaurant that used to be a drugstore where the impoverished young Fitzgerald used to buy his cigarettes in 1919 while he was working on the novel that made him famous. Or you can spend it on anything you like. I own the bookstore, Common Good Books, so it's no problem. Enjoy your time and my best to you both.


GK-your kind offers to that nice couple are just about the sweetest thing I've heard all week. And all links to the local sights make me want to plan a trip to your fair city. Thanks for being such a bright light!

One of the most thoughtful, creative and delightful anniversary gifts I've ever heard of. I hope all your readers take note. I've listened to your programs and read your books and felt connected to my country through your creativity and I'm celebrating this couple's anniversary in spirit.

As I write this, I am sitting in my cubaffice (just made up that word!) and I can see the river and the highbridge (Smith Bridge to some in Saint Paul) from my window. I am thinking about walking to take another look at the statue of F. Scott Fitzgerald. The response from Garrison reminds me to appreciate the beauty, natural and manufactured, in my fair city, and also to appreciate the kindness of its inhabitants. The science museum and the Minnesota Historical Society are also lovely places to spend a few hours, and within walking distance of everything Garrison mentions. I hope Liam and his wife have a wonderful aniversary. Anna

Your kindness to this couple on the celebration of 15 years of marriage makes a long-time APHC listener smile! Time to enjoy!

My hubby and I had a beautiful dinner at WA Frost's a few years ago. We were in St. Paul for the NYE broadcast at the Fitzgerald. It was a wonderful, wonderful evening.

You go Garrison!

Mr. Keillor,

I've already copied and pasted into an email your exchange with Liam C., so I could save it in my Travel folder for our eventual visit to St. Paul. My husband & I have talked often about seeing the show in person, and now we'll know all the local-favorite things to do in town in addition to seeing your performance.

But my husband's from Alabama, so perhaps we'll wait 'til the weather is a bit ... um ... warmer. :)

Thanks for everything you do.
Marie & Brigham Young
(yes, Brigham Young - we met you after your show at Meadowbrook in New Hampshire a couple of years ago)

I'm truly touched! In these tough times associated with the vast consequences of the financial meltdown, your generosity benefits not only Liam and his bride. I have no doubt that businesses throughout St. Paul will be beneficiaries ... including those businesses associated with your gift certificates. I sincerely hope your gesture is the first measure of "Change" beyond the $700 billion "bailout."

Wow...what a great letter from Liam. Your response, Mr. Keillor, was perfect, and your generosity an unexpected suprise I'm sure. This weekend APHC listeners all over the world will be celebrating this couple's 15 wedding anniversary! Since I work for our local Convention and Visitors Bureau I especially like the fact that you suggested they check out all the "unique to St Paul sites". Everyone should take time to explore when visiting a new area.



This lovely act of generosity and celebration brought tears to my eyes over my morning oatmeal. Way to go Garrison! Also, the date you set up for them is my idea of a perfect day. Food, books and snuggled up in a coffee shop on a cold day. Cheers!

Damn nice! And you own a bookstore! Who knew?

Mr. Keillor,

As an aspiring writer, I drool at the thought of one day hearing your voice read any piece of my writing aloud. With a voice like yours you could make even a piece of dung sound sweet. Not too shabby of a writer either, you that is, not me.

What a kind gesture indeed, and I hope Liam and his wife enjoy their trip, meal, and show. I have yet to see your show in person, but indeed I will someday. Don't do anything stupid like retire before then!

Benjamin Watson

PS Greetings Evelyn in East Islip, NY. Here's one more Watson writing from Victoria, Canada. Don't worry, I'm a yank, just married a canuck, that's all.

I didn't know you own a bookstore! It reminds me of the mayor of my town, who owns Square Books. Your generosity makes me very happy. I've loved listening to your show for many years.

Garrison, you are the nicest person I know. Next time I am in Minnesota(which will be in December to celebrate Christmas with my girlfriend's family) I will have to come to St. Paul and see all the wonderful sites you suggested.

Thank you for your constant inpiration.

-Kevin Y.

Well, now it's Saint Garrison! What a thoughtful thing to do. You're a good man Charlie Brown, oops GK, I mean.

Hardly likely I'll see you in person, but I do listen to you, way up in tropical Queensland. If you're ever this way, I'll do something thoughtful for you!

After one more major delay in my boyfriend's impending divorce I was depressed. Then, after the flu and a week's worth of email that I was longing to read (because there's good stuff there too including PHC weekly show information and maybe an email from someone who loves me) but couldn't access because of some internet flukey change by my provider, I sip my ginger ale (the only thing I can tolerate with a flu stomach and a tall person had to climb a ladder to get me the last two bottles of Canada Dry in the store), sit back and FINALLY open my email and find the most moving note from Mr. Keillor to Liam about his anniversary. Suddenly I feel better, even though I'm moved to tears, because someone has done something nice for someone else without the first person asking for more than a bit of advice. Is it surprising that the Prairie Home Companion, and Garrison Keillor in particular, make me feel warm and fuzzy inside when my outside and most of my world is discombobulated?

p.s. I still don't get the browncowbrownsheep joke.

And that's why I'm a fan of Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion. Real people, talking about real life, and doing nice things for each other...that's what makes the world go 'round.

Living in Houston I'd never considered St. Paul as a possible destination, but after looking at the lovely photos accompanying your sweet response to Liam C. it appears I have missed a gem. And if your kindness is any indication, then your city's warm hospitality must surely dispel much of the winter's chill.

Congratulations to Liam and his wife. My husband and I just celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. I wish I could remember my 15th anniversay. It goes by too quickly when it's good. Mr. Keillor, you are a kind and generous man. Some day my husband and I will travel to St.Paul to see you and the sites. It is a goal of mine. For now I will have to be satisfied with seeing you a few years ago at Michigan State University. It was great, we truly enjoyed ourselves. I too am a fan of real people talking about real life.

I like your show very much, and visit the website now and again. The response you gave to the anniversary couple was fantastic, I listen via the internet and BBC
2 comments from Watsons? Here is a third, I'm Scottish and living in Finland.

hi garrison
a lifetime listener to phc. i don't believe in the christian god but YOU are a god. what a wonderful incredibly generous thing to do. i'm recommending you for mt. rushmore (the american mt olympus). keep up the great work. i'm listening.

How very sweet for you to treat that young couple celebrating their anniversary by coming to see you and all of our Lake Wobegon friends and making it so special for them! I have long-known that you are a "gen-u-ine" good guy (as my late mother would have said) and you do, indeed, walk-the-walk. I find that most heart-warming these days. In the spring of 1995, my husband, Rob, our son, Austin, and I saw you at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. What a night! You had the late Chet Atkins and the Fairfield Four on the show and it was pure joy for us all!

Austin, then 12, would not leave the foot of the stage after the show (the rest of the audience long-gone), believing that somehow you would come back out and he could ask you to autograph my program since he knew how much it would mean to me. Despite the Usher-ette trying to pry his little fingers from the edge of that stage, he told her he was going to wait anyway. She insisted you would NOT be back. About that time, out you walked and told him "Persistence does pay off, my young friend." A framed picture of you with him - he turned 26 yesterday - has graced my desk at work ever since.

As one who made it through Hurricane Ike with only moderate damage but then suffered the tragic and sudden loss of my precious mother, Bettie Dudley, on September 24, some 12 days after the hurricane, I do know how much these kindnesses mean. Mom was one of your biggest fans. Thank you for the pleasure you brought into her life.

Thank you again for being a compassionate human being. By the way, I have a dream to be a published author one of these days myself; I write children's books that have received positive comments from the teachers with whom I've worked who've read them to their students. You have been an inspiration to me for believing I will, someday, attain that dream. Bless you for that contribution to my life as well! Happy Thanksgiving!

Recently one of my husband's students
(he's an English teacher) gave him
a copy of your book. She said, "You
remind me of Garrison Keillor" to
my husband Bruce. When Bruce came
home he asked me, "What about me
reminds you of GK?" I was quick
to answer, "Your kindness and
intelligence." Garrison, you've
confirmed my suspicions. You are
indeed a kind, intelligent man.
San Clemente

All I can say is that I heartily endorse the sentiments previously expressed. You truly exemplify the definition of "Host". How many of your brethren would be willing to publicize the generous gifts you offered to this couple?

I believe it also speaks well of your listeners that you can make such a generous offer and that they can be happy for that couple without making up stories of their own trying to wheedle gifts from you. (Although I must admit in 2 and 1/2 years when we are approaching our 20th anniversary some incentives may be the only way I will be able to get my dear wife to head to the lands of the Great White North, or in her verbiage "..that Frozen Tundra up there...")

Again, thank you for being the class act that you are.

Mike Addleman

Cheers Jim Watson in Finland! Scottish? Yank here, but me grandmither was Scottish, or drank a lot of scotch, can't remember which. Actually, now that I think about it, it was a lot of both!

Dear Garrison,

My wife Sally and I became fans about 3 years ago. Your creation, Prairie Home Companion, gives us a friendly, comforting and warm place to move to for 2 hours each week. It is more comforting than the town of "Willoughby" and without the need to apply for permanent residence.

The report of your hospital stay was eloquent. From personal experience, all hospital personnel become beyond angelic in beautiful if the patient is given sufficient pain medication. Even halos can appear :-)

What can we do to support and push for a true "public option" in healthcare reform. An option any American citizen can select without any conditional participation requirements.

Healthcare should be as good in this option as in the best of the current plans and should include Vision Care, mental health care and dental care. A healthy country is a strong country.

I support affordable public education. It should extend to the university level as it did in the 60s when my family was able to pay the fees allowing me to graduate from UCLA with a degree in Astronomy-Physics. We started poor in 1963 and went to poorer after my father's death in 1966.

Ignorance and want. Of the two, ignorance is the most dangerous. Destroying ignorance includes providing education until the human nervous system is completely formed around age 23. Destroying want includes providing a "public option" in healthcare reform.

Jim Klein

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