It is so hard to imagine life without Lake Wobegone or all the
assundry characters that Garrison Keillor created with his wild
and interesting imagination. He was born in August, 1942, in
Anoka, Minnesota. His dream was to be a ‘poet and a genius.’
Garrison Keillor is best known for his radio show and many
In Garrison’s plainly written words in the book, “The Keillor
Reader,” (2014, Viking Books, part of Penguin Group) you find
yourself looking up to him. You feel that he has wisdom to
impart. I think that Garrison could be considered a ‘feel good’
author! Listening to his stories can make you wish for the
‘good old days,’ where life was simpler.
While he describes the townspeople of Lake Wobegon,
“I invented a town where the women are strong, the men are
good-looking and the children are all above-average.”
In July, 2014, “A Prairie Home Companion” will celebrate its Forty
This iconic Minnesota Public Radio Show caught my attention a long
time ago, when I heard it playing on our local public broadcasting
His program has been syndicated and listened to by people, around
Have you ever sat, with possibly your eyes closed, as I happen to
choose to do, and listened to Garrison Keillor?
I like to picture the various places in his town, with their clever
names like “Bertha’s Kitty Boutique,” “The Chatterbox Café,”
“The Sidetrack Tap (the local tavern), “Skoglund’s Five & Dime,”
and “Bunsen Motors.”
Garrison’s fine voice, with its unusual dialect, distinguished
in his readings to us. His words kept my interest, about the
people in the town that once had only been a figment of his
imagination. They must have been rolling around, among his other
young, diverse thoughts, just waiting to escape and come to life!
When Garrison applied for the early morning shift, he had been
one of only a handful willing to get up daily at 4 a.m.
His wry, ascerbic wit and sometimes darker version of the world
were not acceptable to those who were on their way to work, ones
who may have needed a second cup of java to get them going.
So, out of this understanding of his audience, Garrison became
“Old Scout,” the narrator and observer of a small town.
I liked the movie, “A Prairie Home Companion,” (2006) which believe
it or not, included Lindsay Lohan, amongst a wonderful, comedic
ensemble group! The list of actors and actresses alone, made it
worth watching this “B+” movie! I cannot help listing the ones
who were part of Robert Altman’s cast of dreams. (By the way,
this was Altman’s last film that he directed. His list of many
accomplishments is incredible! He died later in November, 2006.)
Here’s the list of “Who’s Who” in the movie: Lily Tomlin, Meryl
Streep, Woody Harrelson, Maya Rudolph, John C. Reilly, Kevin
Kline, Garrison (himself) Keillor, Tommy Lee Jones and Robin
Williams with his wife, Linda. There is an interesting “angel”
character, played by Virginia Madsen. At the end, when the play
is closed down and the theater no longer exists, there is a
special scene… (I won’t “spoil” this, if you choose to rent
this from your local library.) I just want to say, the scene
in a diner, was rather “fortuitous.”
I love Garrison Keillor’s book, I recommend it and it would
be considered a memoir, with some facts about his life and
the phases he went through, growing old while being the one
who told the world about the town that had once lived in his
I like to make lists so here are some of the things I learned
from his autobiography, including some quotations from his 2014
“Life Lessons I learned While Reading Garrison Keillor’s Most
1. Incorporate a sense of humor in your day!
Garrison mentions the contrast of his own morning persona
compared to what was acceptable to his listeners.
“Irony and a dark world-view are not useful in radio early
in the morning…”
2. Be cheerful and it will help others to be happy.
Garrison explains why he created his character,
“Old Scout, who rallied listeners to rise and shine and face the
day with a smile.”
He goes on, “It was a good persona and in time I came to believe
3. Be nice in your town to friends and neighbors.
The town he invented has pleasantries, helpful and kind people.
Garrison’s people are respectful, despite their quirky natures.
4. Work hard, ‘make up for lack of talent.’ and forge ahead.
Garrison tells his readers,
“Soon I was forty, which is too old to die young, so I forgot about
immortality and headed down the long dirt road of longevity.”
5. Parents are important. Remember to thank them!
“It dawned on me that the cheerful radio host I invented was derived
from my parents’ example.”
6. It is good to enjoy what you have and realize things could be
Garrison describes his parents,
“They were children of the Great Depression, John and Grace. They
knew how to savor their life and not complain.”
7. Don’t complain about how your children lead their lives.
“They (his parents) never complained about me though I know they
hoped I’d go into a more distinguished line of work.”
8. Find what you like to do and continue doing it!
Garrison likes his life and his stories with comedy relief.
“I like it, (his choice of profession) though. Comedy does
give good value. There are so many discouraging facts around
for example, half of all people are below average, and jokes
relieve some of the misery.”
9. Sometimes making up parables can be amusing.
Garrison’s humor shows in this example:
“The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong nor
riches to men of understanding, but time and chance happeneth
to them all.”
10. As you grow older, you truly believe ‘age is wisdom.’
Garrison says this example is the ‘essence of comedy’ in
25 words or less:
“You’re fast, you trip and fall down: you’re strong and you
poke your sword in your left foot; you’re smart and you go
At age 72 this year, Garrison Keillor has reached an age that
his words ring with truth and wisdom, leading us on in our
creativity and encouraging us to keep trying to find our way.
When he came up with the town’s name of Lake Wobegon, I wonder
if he was thinking that it was “woe-be-gone.” Telling us to
leave our burdens and turmoils behind us.
These are the lessons I received from reading his book, “The
I felt so blessed to have had a chance to ‘visit’ for awhile
and ‘listen’ one more time to Garrison Keillor.