Destination: Saint Paul, Minnesota
When we visited: July 2013
Why to go: Saint Paul does a great job of paying homage to its famous citizens.
What to see:
We covered a lot of ground in half a day in Saint Paul. The first famous citizen we tracked was
F. Scott Fitzgerald, who grew up there. Rice Park is home to a statue built in his honour, depicting the artist as a young man. Garrison Keillor has said, “This sculpture was conceived as a figure in the midst of things, a figure you could walk up to and talk to.”
Having seen the sculpture, we wanted to retrace some of Fitzgerald's steps. Both his birthplace (two photos up) and the house in which he wrote his first novel, This Side of Paradise, (photo immediately above) are beautifully maintained and marked with commemorative plaques. Fitzgerald spent much of his childhood in the city and, after spending time in Montgomery, Alabama and New York City, he moved back to rewrite his book. He had met Zelda Sayre in Alabama and was smitten; he devoted himself to the novel hoping he could convince her that he could support her in marriage. He did, and they married in New York in 1920. (I've always thought there was a bit of Zelda in Daisy Buchanan. What do you think?)
My sports-fan husband couldn’t pass up the chance to see the statue of Herb Brooks in downtown Saint Paul. Brooks will always be remembered as the man who guided the U.S. hockey team to a gold medal in 1980, as the coach of the Miracle on Ice hockey team.
Notwithstanding my love of The Great Gatsby, I have to concede that Saint Paul’s most beloved son is probably Charles Schultz. Peanuts was the first comic strip I remember reading, and A Charlie Brown Christmas was an annual part of my childhood. What other comic strip has inspired TV specials, stage shows, jazz recordings, Thanksgiving parade balloons, and a skating revue? A series of sculptures in Rice Park pay tribute to some of Peanuts most beloved characters, including Sally and Linus, above, and Charlie Brown and Snoopy, below. Elsewhere in the park we saw Schroeder playing the piano, Marcie reading on a park bench, and Peppermint Patty kicking a football.