Location: marengo, il, United States

Friday, December 10, 2004

To the Woebegone

The wife and I had been out driving around Elgin, checking out our new home. The radio my skilled brother-in-law had recently installed for us (“For the Travelin’ Man or Woman”, it stated on the box) worked much better than the factory-installed one, and as we tooled about town, the thing kept us entertained with appropriate background noises while we hit a few yard sales, sipping at our wax-coated cups of sodas and exploring through new old trash.

That old life of innocent young-married is but a foggy memory now, except for the stunning discovery we made later that day. I guided my red Mercury into our short driveway, and was about to cut the engine off, but before I could, something came on the radio that stopped me in the act. I recall sitting there, looking to my left at a row of evergreens, one hand paused on the ignition switch, as I waited for this man who spoke to finish talking.

And I next recall sitting there thinking, “Wow!”

His voice. This man’s voice. This…voice.

I turned to my wife. She had her eyes fixed on the dashboard. Her eyes were focused, but not on the dash itself. Her eyes also read to me her own silent wow, so I laid my hand quietly in my lap, and then we both sat and listened as this stranger filled our car with his words.

The motor of the Mercury idled fine as we sat trapped by our ears and this uninvited person. Neither of us had ever heard of him before, but I recall marveling at his timbre, his inflection, his hypnotically dulcet tones; and then I remember that we laughed several times as he told us a story.

The story, or any details of that bit of humor, is sadly missing and gone now, but the package he set before us that day we both opened like anxious children on Christmas morning, and to this day I still give thanks that he accidentally intruded into our young lives.

Garrison, you are the greatest.


Blogger Gone Away said...

I discovered Garrison Keeler only recently. There was a friend in England who used to mention him occasionally but he always forgot to bring a tape with him so that I could listen. It wasn't until one of my first visits to America that Kathy revealed that she had tapes and tapes of his radio broadcasts. On our trips through Kansas she would put one of these on and the journeys would be regaled by the great man's sonorous and wry tales of Lake Woebegone. All nations need storytellers like Mr Keeler. A fine tribute, Harry.

3:11 PM  
Blogger bumpy_beth said...

Does this mean that im just too young? or out of the loop? Because I am sorry, but i dont know who that man is.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

Aaarrgghh a non-believer! Stone her, stone her!

1:13 PM  
Blogger Hannah said...

I didn't know, either, Beth

8:18 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Tune in to NPR on the radio (google that) and look for a Garrison Keillor listing.

(google Radio, if that is unfamiliar too)

8:47 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

Can I google google?

9:57 PM  
Anonymous telemarketing said...

Hi Harry, I just happened upon your To the Woebegone blog. Interesting comments. I do mortgage telemarketing for businesses online and my site is mortgage telemarketing.

6:22 PM  

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