In stark, haunting prose, first-time author Peter Razor recalls his early years as a ward of the State of Minnesota. Disclosing his story through flashbacks and relying on research from his own case files, Razor pieces together the shattered fragments of his boyhood into a memoir that reads as compellingly as a novel.
Abandoned as an infant at the State Public School in Owatonna, Minnesota, Peter Razor is raised by abusive workers who thought of him as nothing more than "a dirty Injun." Cut off from his family and his heritage, he turns inward, forced to learn about the world on his own. After failed attempts to run away from the orphanage, he is indentured by the state to an abusive, reclusive farm family. Beaten, poorly fed, clothed in rags, and worked like slave labor, he struggles to attend high school and begins to dream of another life. Razor's stark and often chilling story, devoid of self-pity, recalls with haunting clarity the years he, like the locust, patiently waited to awaken and emerge.
A unique blend of memoir and public history, Packinghouse Daughter, winner of the Minnesota Book Award, tells a compelling story of small-town, working-class life. The daughter of a Wilson & Company millwright, Cheri Register recalls the 1959 meatpackers' strike that divided her hometown of Albert Lea, Minnesota. The violence that erupted when the company replaced its union workers with strikebreakers tested family loyalty and community stability. Register skillfully interweaves her own memories, historical research, and oral interviews into a narrative that is thoughtful and impassioned about the value of blue-collar work and the dignity of those who do it.
Frogtown is a discerning portrait of an ethnically mixed neighbourhood that lies within the shadow of the Minnesota State Capital near downtown St. Paul. Wing Young Huie combines 130 compelling black-and-white photographs, some 50 quotes from talks with residents, and his own commentary to produce a powerful depiction of life on Frogtown's streets and front porches, in its kitchens and backyards, shops and churches. The images are documentary in nature, but the perspective is that of an artist who leaves meanings open to interpretation. Drawn to Frogtown by his own abiding curiosity, Huie spent two years photographing and getting to know its people -- working class whites, Southeast Asian immigrants, African Americans, American Indians, and Latinos. These exquisitely rendered images of Frogtown show the multiple realities that make up a dynamic urban neighbourhood. At the same time, they reflect the changing faces of American cities.
The German Catholic immigrants who founded St. John the Baptist parish on the central Minnesota prairie effected a remarkable transfer of tradition to their new environment. In this study, Fred Peterson documents, analyzes, and interprets the community these settlers built between 1858 and 1915. He reveals how their folk culture, aesthetic values, and religious beliefs were directly embodied in the houses, dairy farms, and churches they planned and constructed.
Peterson's main focus is on some 30 distinctive farmhouses built with locally produced brick in and around Meire Grove, the village at the center of the parish. Employing historical and contemporary photographs and his own precise architectural renderings, he shows how settlers modeled the layouts of their new homes after ones they had known in Germany—and adapted them to the demands of prairie life.
Equally important, Peterson explores how the secular and the sacred were intertwined in St. John the Baptist parish, how piety not only suffused parishioners' lives but also affected every aspect of their built environment.
Through its treatment of a single agricultural community, the book offers a perspective on similar ethnic enclaves in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. Building Community, Keeping the Faith is vital reading for students of architecture, religion, immigration, and ethnicity--indeed for anyone interested in the complex influence European culture exerted on the development of America.
Winner of the Minnesota Book Award and the Red River Heritage Award
The Haymakers is an epic--the history of man's struggle with nature as well as man's struggle against machines. It relates the story of farmers and their obligations to their families, to the animals they fed, and to the land they tended. But The Haymakersis also an elegy--to a way of life fast disappearing from our landscape. In the most heartfelt essays, Hoffbeck chronicles his own family's struggle to hold onto their family farm and his personal struggle in deciding to leave farming for another way of life.
Hoffbeck also seeks to document and preserve the commonplace methods of haymaking, information about haying that might otherwise be lost to posterity. He describes the tools and the methods of haymaking as well as the relentless demands of the farm. Using diaries, agricultural guidebooks and personal interviews, the folkways of cutting, raking, and harvesting hay have been recorded in these chapters. In the end, this book is not so much about agricultural history as it is about family history, personal history--how farm families survive, even persevere.
More than 300 black-and-white illustrations vividly portray the fair and its many faces. Historic photographs show long-gone amusements-the wooden Cannon Ball roller coaster, an organ grinder and his monkey, reenactments of famous battles at the Grandstand-as well as early versions of fair scenes that know no era: crowds, traffic jams, trinket sellers, prize winners. Reproductions of advertisements, posters, ribbons, lapel pins, and newspaper cartoons give a glimpse of the cheerful hype of promoters and the tongue-in-cheek commentary that accompanied their efforts. And contemporary photographs capture the fair's varied moods and scenes, from the early-morning preparations in a church dining hall through the stresses and joys of showing animals, the thrill of the Midway, the lure of deep-fried foods, and the excitement of being crowned a queen, to the clean-up of tons of garbage in the night's wee hours.
Along with the glitter and the fun, the Minnesota State Fair has always been a microcosm of midwestern life. Almost 150 years of cultural, social, aesthetic, economic, and technological change have left their mark on the venerable institution. And, at the same time, the fair has made its mark on society-urban as well as rural. Displays of women's work or farm machinery, the fine arts or the prize bull-all have been part of the fair's dual mission of education and entertainment. Each of Blue Ribbon's chapters focuses on one such topic, showing how the state fair grew and responded to prevailing tastes and conditions-and how it sometimes acted as a powerful agent of change.
Art and architecture, politics, social movements, and agricultural history are all part of this story-along with the dimensions of giant radishes, the memories of early fairgoers, and a listing of the calories in favorite state fair foods. Like the fair itself, this book offers something for everyone. Here are the sights, if not the smells and sounds, of "The World's Greatest State Fair."
A Lively Account in text and photos that highlights the accomplishments of such national and international figures as Archbishop John Ireland (whose Catholic colonization program brought thousands of Irish families to farms in southwestern Minnesota), F. Scott Fitzgerald (the golden boy of the jazz age he created), and oil-rich philanthropist Ignatius Aloysius O'Shaughnessy.
Bill Holm, often called the bard of the Midwest, takes readers on an excursion to islands both real and symbolic. He journeys to five physical islands: Iceland, Madagascar, Molokai, Isla Mujeres, and Mallard Island. And he travels to conceptual islands, including the Necessary Island of the Imagination, the whimsical Piano Island (located in a man-made lake under the atrium of an upscale hotel in the far interior of China), and the acute isolation of the Island of Pain. Writing with the mind-set of a 19th-century traveler for whom the journey is as important as the destination, Holm appeals to the traveler and the philosopher in everyone."
The author of Coming Home Crazy and Eccentric Islands offers a witty and poignant journey around the world and through the heartland by the tallest radical humorist in the Midwest (Garrison Keillor). 10 photos.