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March 3, 2013 | 5 Comments

A Prairie Home Companion has been one of the lasting staples in my life. My first memories of listening to Richard Dworsky and Fred Newman's musical and sound effect genius began when I was merely a toddler. My family would attend five o'clock Mass at St. Joseph's Catholic Church along the Old Mission Peninsula of Traverse City, Michigan. Mass would end promptly at 6, and our family would hustle to our wood-paneled Buick Roadmaster in time to flip on the local NPR affiliate just in time to hear you start to croon Tishomingo Blues. The crowd would applaud, and you would let us know that, once again, you were coming to us live from downtown St. Paul, Minnesota. At that moment, I knew everything was going to be all right. It was Saturday, the band was playing, and I couldn't ask for more.

We would pull out of the Church's parking lot and make a stop at Tom's Grocery to pick up tomato sauce to go with our spaghetti and homemade garlic bread: Saturday evening's entrée for over thirty years. We would park, and I would wait in the car stealing precious moments with my dad listening to the News from Lake Wobegon. I would close my eyes and picture the scenes of a made-up town whose story was not too distant from my own.

Those weekends with my family have passed, as have some of those family members. The memories have not faded, not for a moment. Now, more than twenty years later with my own family, we tune into the show that is still brought to us by Bebop-A-Reebop Rhubarb Pie. The show has not lost any of its flavor, and still seems to fit perfectly in our lives after 5 o'clock Mass. The musical guests are still just as proud to be playing for us live at the Fitzgerald Theater, while we listen out on the edge of the prairie.

In a world that seems to move too quickly, in which people are too busy, it's nice to slow down and check-in with that little town where the women are strong, the men are good looking, and the children are above average.

Benjamin Richardson
Colorado Springs


It's kind of you to write, Benjamin, and to remember the good things and forget the shows that disappointed you. My memory tends to focus on darkness and failure and so its good that I don't have a clear memory of those early years at all. Gone in a blur. I sort of remember last week and remember some awkward transitions, especially in the first half hour, when I suddenly, instead of introducing the banjoists who were standing there, launched into a peroration about winter and bad drivers and the Chicago congressman who used campaign funds to buy a Rolex. Weird. But someone who tunes in the show right after Mass would probably forgive those things. Thanks again.


Memory Maker

Memory Maker
Moments to treasure.
Memory Maker
How great the measure!
Memory Maker
A hobby, a pleasure.

Benjamin's lovely words brought back memories of twenty years ago -- sequestered in my bedroom for several weeks with a serious illness, told by doctors not even to read or write, I came to learn what joy live radio could bring when one is doing nothing except listening. Lying there each Saturday night, I got to leave the virus behind and go eavesdrop on Guy Noir, delight in Sue's many voices, and catch up on the News from Lake Wobegon as reported by the man in the red tennis shoes (I learned about those when I got to see the show live a few years later; I also learned that he wasn't using notes, and seemed to be making some of it up on the spot. Even more live than I had known -- wonderful to see).

Dear GK,

You have brought so much happiness to so many. It is sad to read you have a memory that focuses on darkness and failure. Year after year you amaze me with your creative genius. Maybe I have not been listening long enough but your show has not disappointed me yet. I am only 67.

Next time you find yourself focusing on darkness and failure I suggest you take a walk and look at the environment until IT comes into focus and the dark memories recede and you feel more cheerful. Don't let those memories rule you. You deserve better.

Of course if are using the memories for another story that is another matter.



I first started listening to PHC in 1980 or 81, on WSIU-FM. I was proubd owner of a Whippets jersey and a Raw Bits sweatshirt. I still recall Stevie Beck Queen of the autoharp and Sally Rogers harmonizing with Claudia Schmidt. PHC has been one of the most stable things in my life since those days. Thank you.

Benjamin, your tribute was so well written. An
English major maybe? Thank you for expressing what we feel.

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