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Stories about people who are connected to the Mississippi River

One of the Toughest, Smartest People I Ever Met

I met Lucille Keil when she was a spry 84-year-old museum guide. She was my docent at the Young Museum in Bellevue, Iowa, leading me around the house filled with souvenirs collected by Joe and Grace Young during their world travels. During that first tour, she scowled when we reached a glass cabinet near

By |2019-06-30T11:28:17-05:00June 30th, 2019|Characters|2 Comments

An Immigrant Orphan and His Overachieving Family

Gerhard Gesell emigrated to the US from Germany in 1863, an orphan eager to start a new life. He was the first generation in a family of high achievers in the United States. Patriarch Gerhard was a gifted photographer; son Arnold was a well-known child psychologist; and grandson Gerhard a respected federal judge. Their

By |2019-04-01T17:58:14-05:00March 30th, 2019|Characters|0 Comments

Bix Beiderbecke: From Musical Prodigy to Jazz Legend

Bix Beiderbecke grew into a jazz legend because he was born in the right place at the right time. Sure, he was also a gifted musician, but his path to the top as one of the greatest jazz cornetists was fueled by the inspiration he drew from hearing the earliest jazz musicians play on

By |2018-12-15T10:05:05-05:00October 21st, 2018|Characters|0 Comments

Nelson Dewey: A Riches to Riches to Rags Story

Camping at Nelson Dewey State Park I’ve had two chances to camp this summer at Nelson Dewey State Park near Cassville, Wisconsin, the park that is named for Wisconsin’s first governor. Dewey was a remarkable man. He gave up a cushy gig in the family lawyering business to go west, became rich through

By |2016-10-21T15:29:28-05:00September 8th, 2009|Characters|1 Comment