Postcards from the Old Man and Other Correspondence from Clearwater, Minnesota
Heritage Books, 2004, 207. A memoir.
After I graduated from high school, I couldn’t wait to escape from Clearwater. Even though I had a good family and many close friends, my tiny hometown made me feel stifled. Like Mark Twain’s Huck Finn, I hopped on my raft to “light out for the territory.” Clearwater, like many of the river towns Twain wrote about, has been made up of saints and scoundrels and others of varying fathoms in between. When I reflect on Clearwater’s history and its notable and not so notable characters, I wonder what the great Wisecracker would have said if he’d ever come this far north. Would he have been cynical of the town’s stagnation since it lost its opportunity to become a major commercial center back in the 1800s? Would he have developed a few of the town drunks or regular visiting train bums into central characters for one of his famous novels? It is hard to say. But Clearwater, like many small river towns, has many stories waiting to be told. The poems and essays in this book are about the type of individuals, situations, and places that impressed me as I grew up. And like Mark Twain, who Huck states “told the truth, mainly,” except for those “things which he stretched,” occasionally this author makes murky illusions to the past.