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F-Stop Ftizgerald

March 4, 2009 | 7 Comments

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I teach American Literature (among other things) at a suburban high school, and while I am flogging The Great Gatsby — to varied degrees of succes — I always offer the following extra credit opportunity: drive yourself to Rice Park, take a picture of yourself next to the F. Scott Fitsgerald statue, while holding your copy of the novel and sporting a cheesy grin, and turn it in to me for points.

The results are amazing! They turn out in droves, they boost the economy of St. Paul restaurants, and I end up with fabulous photos of kids with their arms around FSF (or kissing him in the case of some girls), holding up the book, and acting as if they are having a wonderful time.

By the way, they are sort of digging the book this round.

Vickie S.


The statue of Fitzgerald by Michael Price has stood there in Rice Park in downtown St. Paul since the fall of 1996 when his centenary was celebrated in town and Robert Bly, Michael Dorris, Donald Hall, Patricia Hampl, Joseph Heller, Bill Holm, Bobbie Ann Mason, Jane Smiley, Tobias Wolff, and other writers gathered, along with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Fitzgerald's former secretary Frances Kroll Ring and his granddaughter Eleanor Lanahan, and the statue was unveiled. He stands, coat on his arm, on ground level so you can walk right up to him and say hello, and people do. Every spring, the park is thronged with Promgoers heading for the old federal courthouse now used for big public receptions and you can see young women in ball gowns going over to him which would have thrilled him of course, and sometimes there are wedding parties. The St. Paul Hotel is across the street, which is always bustling, and the library is a stone's throw away, so it's the right place for him to stand.


Dear Garrison,

Out here in SoCal there's another
place Fitzgerald fans visit. The
apartment where he died is just
off Sunset Blvd. My husband and I
made the pilgrimage a couple years
ago. The landlady saw us walking up
the walkway and said "It was that
apartment," before we
had a chance to ask.She said she gets lots
of visitors, especially people from
Asia. She had many, many stories to
We love "imagining" what it was
like back then, before all the traffic.
Rice Park sounds like a nice place too.
San Clemente

I must have gone to the same NCTE Sectional---I give excred points for kids who find Shakespeare's Garden (in Evanston,IL "hidden" on Northwestern's campus) or Will's statue in Lincoln Park, Chicago. Photos required---most sit in Shakespeare's lap.

Here in the great state of Maryland, one can get your picture taken at F. Scott Fitzgerald's grave in Rockville at St. Mary's Catholic Church. It took awhile to get him there as he wasn't a very good Catholic and the church didn't want him there, even though it is a family plot and his dad was there. It is next to very big, very busy intersection and walking there was a challenge when I lived nearby but it is worth it. The church is nice too, my daughter had a flute choir rehearsal there once.

I think giving students extra credit for having their picture taken next to a statue is dumb. How does that advance their learning at all? What academic merit could there possibly be in that exercise?

It is encouraging the Literature teacher made a way for her students to make a real-time life experience with a great writer. I suspect her extra credit assignment will make her,Fitzerald and his book memories they will carry with them throughout their lives.

I am inspired to promise visits to any writers' statues I find...I will be grinning and, if possible, holding a piece of their writing...and maybe, just maybe, writing something of my own in their shadows.

This made me well up with homesickness, pride and nostalgia. Thank you for being a great teacher too, Ms. Vickie S! Love and respect from Venice, CA.

Anything you can do to connect the student with the literature is a good thing. Taught all 4 of mine at home until college at 16 and used source documents, maps, videos of varied productions of the same piece. Music is incredibly effective-- you could teach whole history courses through music.
Good on you Vickie S. Your students are fortunate to have you!

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