Garrison Keilor Includes
Waverly In His Book
Book author and radio personality Garrison Keillor put Waverly squarely on the map near Lake Wobegon with his book “In Search of Lake Wobegon.”
The book, a follow up to his best selling book “Lake Wobegon Days” more than a quarter century ago, is Keillor’s answer to many years of fans asking him where his fabled town of Lake Wobegon is located (population 942).
The book offers a stunning photo gallery of small-town life, exhibited in pictures taken by photographer Richard Olsenius.
Three of the book’s photographs were taken in Waverly, and one full-page photograph is of Howard Lake.
The very first photo in the book, after the text actually begins, is a shot of Pete’s Grocery in Waverly.
When the book first came out in 2002, business owner Pete Chmielewski expressed surprise over the picture.
The photo was obviously taken a number of years ago, since the wall mural on the office just east of Pete’s is missing.
The next photograph is a full page photo of a Howard Lake fishing dock on Page 26, at the lake’s western side. The photographer is facing south toward the Country Store and Wright Way Ag, formerly known as Broll Fertilizer.
Another photo, located on Page 74, is of the Uptown Bar and Grill, which is the modern day Rocky’s in Waverly. St. Mary’s spires can be clearly seen in the background of the photo.
The final local photo is of Harley Davidson riders during Memorial Day in Waverly, on Page 88.
The photos join a pictorial that depicts rural life children helping on the farm, farmers tending fields, spring rock picking, small town parades, water fights, and rolling, fertile countryside.
No other towns in the immediate area are pictured in the book otherwise.
Towns outside the area with photos include Bowlus, Grey Eagle, Farming, New Munich, St. Rosa, Holdingford, Albany, and Avon, among others.
Keillor admits in the book that Lake Wobegon is a purely fictional place. However, the book gives a tantalizing insight into the source of Keillor’s inspiration.
“Twenty five years ago, I invented a small town and started telling stories about it on the radio,” Keillor wrote. “ Ever since then, people have asked me if it’s a real town, and if it is, then were is it?” Keillor wrote.
“I used to tell them it’s fiction. But they were disappointed. People want stories to be true. So I started telling people that the town is in Central Minnesota, near Stearns County, up around Holdingford, not far from St. Rosa and Albany and Freeport, which is sort of the truth, I guess,” Keillor wrote.
Keillor grew up in Anoka and resides in St. Paul. He has written nine books, including Lake Wobegon Days, Wobegon Boy, and Lake Wobegon Summer 1956.
The book is $29.95 and available in book stores, or Minnesota’s Bookstore at 800-657-3757.