Me and Choir; A Day in the Life of Clarence Bunsen; Letter from Jim; Fiction
The Living Flag; The Tollefson Boy Goes to College; Tomato Butt; Chamber of Commerce; Dog Days of August; Mrs. Berge and the Schubert Carillon Piano
The Living Flag: It's Flag Day in Lake Wobegon and the townspeople all come out to help create a living flag on Main Street. Everyone wears a red, white or blue cap and they line up in formation, making a rather impressive display. The problem is that there's no one left to look at it because the whole town is part of it. Someone climbs up on top of a nearby building and says what a grand sight it is, at which point everyone decides they need to see ti too. In turn, people leave the ranks one by one and climb to the building roof to look on the scene. At last only one older woman is left who has not had a look. She repeatedly states that she has seen other flags and so does not really need to see this one. Her neighbors however decide she DOES need to see it and they carry her up there and make her look.
The Tollefson Boy goes to College - On the day the Tollefson boy is to go register at St Cloud State University for the first time, all his local relatives decide they need to go along as well. The boy is mortified and tries to talk them out of it but his efforts are futile. The family is so proud of him they just have to see this special event and they all pile into the car for the journey. Once they get there the boy dashes out of the car and runs from the admissions building before anyone can follow. The relatives stay in the car and talk about what a good boy he is and how well he'll do. The story ends with Garrison telling how only love could make someone behave so badly and how the boy really wants the relatives to follow him.
Tomato Butt - It's high summer and Garrison wants an air conditioner. It's also the time of the year when vegetables begin to look as though they'll take over the Earth. For instance, if you pick up a newspaper in the living room you might find a few zuccini that have tried to get out of the sun. Neighbors take vegetables to each others houses at night and leave them on the door step. His mother tells he and his siblings to go pick tomatoes from the 40 tomato plants they have in their garden. Garrison and his brother start to have a tomato fight; their sister tells them to stop because they'll get in trouble. As soon as she bends over to pick more, Garrison grabs the biggest, juiciest, rotten tomato he can find and hurles it at his sister's rear. He scores a direct hit and his mother breaks up the fight before his sister can kill him.
Chamber of Commerce - Local peace officers back from a law enforcement conference will do a workshop on home burglary prevention. The Whippets Booster club meeting features slides from the booster banquet. A notice is read asking for people to contribute to the annual Toast and Jelly Days festival.
Dog Days of August - Kids are bored with the end of summer because "there's nothing to do". Moms start throwing kids outside so they don't have to look at their bored little faces. One kid sits in his back yard and imagines that the grass is really the hair of an enormous green giant. Next the boy notices some ants in the grass and begins to talk to them, naming one of them Jim. He takes Jim for a ride, accidentally hurts him and starts worrying about the ants growing huge and taking over the Earth. Soon a friend walks up and they decide to go swimming.
Mrs. Berge and the Schubert Carrilion Piano - Mrs. Berge enters lots of contests and this time she has won $250. She takes the check to the bank and trades it in on the equivalent in $5 bills because it makes it look like more that way. Mrs. Berge goes to a local auction and bids herself up to $500 on an old, cracked piano. The other bidder actually wins the bid but also realizes he has let himself get carried away. He makes a deal with Mrs. Berge to let her have the piano at a reduced price. She takes it home and begins to play.
Giant Decoys; Darryl Tollerud's Long Day; Hog Slaughter; Thanksgiving; The Royal Family
Giant Decoys - The men of Lake Wobegon are getting ready for duck hunting season. They come upon the idea of building huge decoys so the ducks will be able to see them form even the highest of altitudes. This part of the plan may work but it's hard to tell because whenever a flock of ducks comes down to have a look they are frightened off by the less than real sounding duck calls produced by the over zealous hunters.
Darryl Tollerud's Long Day - The Tolleruds oldest daughter is babysitting the kids and watching a horror movie about prehistoric animals attacking modern cities. At the same time the cows find their way out of the barn and start milling around the house, sounding very much like prehistoric animals themselves. When the parents get home the kids are all terrified and it takes everyone a long time to get to sleep. The next morning Darryl gets up and goes to the barn to get something, he shuts a door behind him that accidentally locks itself from the outside. He's too proud to pound on the windows when the kids pass by on their way to school and when his wife leaves on her way to work he waves and hollers to which she waves and hollers and drives on by. A bit later his father comes into the barn and shuts the door before Darryl can stop him leaving them both stuck. The same thing almost happens when Darryl's wife gets home but they stop her in time and all ends well.
Hog Slaughter - As a child, Garrison goes to a hog slaughter. He and a friend are caught throwing rocks at some hogs in the pen and their uncle gets very angry. Garrison realizes that he has interferred with a serious ritual; you kill the animals quickly and get it over with; you do not fool around. He also tells the story of Elizabeth June, who is a rotund, mildly handicapped girl who talks to imaginary playmates because no one else will talk to her. She talks to her "friends" during church and the kids all laugh and wait for their parents to ask her to leave but they don't.
Thanksgiving - A series of stories about people coming back to Lake Wobegon for Thanksgiving. Little kids ask questions about God; kitchen discussions that can only happen in the kitchen, and dishes getting put away that won't get used again until next year.
The Royal Family - The Tollefson girl meets and marries an outsider. She leaves town, has three kids, her husband leaves her and she has to move back to Lake Wobegon. They live in a mobile home, existing mostly on charity. When they get to feeling bad their mother always asks "what are we going to do when our ship comes in?" Then the kids would tell all the things that they would like to do if they were rich and famous. The family gets a letter from someone telling them they might be heir to royalty. Another letter confirms this and explains that they cannot claim their rightful place until some complex political matters are dealt with. They keep getting letters and they keep hoping. They move away from Lake Wobegon and settle in St. Paul without ever telling anyone about their royal blood. It turns out their father was the one who sent the letters trying to make up for deserting them. He is currently under indictment for mail fraud; genealogy business. The oldest boy finds out but never tells the rest of the family.
Guys on Ice; James Lundeen's Christmas; The Christmas Story Re-told; New Year's from new York; Storm Home
Guys on Ice - Men in their ice fishing houses talking and telling stories and jokes. The ice houses on the lake are called "the suburbs" of Lake Wobegon.
James Lundeen's Christmas -
The father of the Lundeen family gets hurt while helping a neighbor roof a barn. He's in the hospital for a month right before Christmas and the mother tells the kids not to expect much of a Christmas this year. James has his heart set on a model train. He hopes a rich person will hear of their plight and take pity on them. The kids start thinking that their dad will never come back and that they'll all be adopted. The dad gets out just before Christmas and although he's weak he can still hand out presents just like always. James takes a walk in his new boots and looks at his house from a distance, imagining that his neighborhood is a model train layout. He begins to see that whatever goes on in his house is Christmas and all the rest is just trappings.
The Christmas Story Retold - Garrison retells the traditional Christmas story from the Bible. He adds some details not found in the original but basically it's the same old story.
New Year's from New York - Garrison begins with stories about trying to stay up til midnight on New Years Eve. He also talks about listening to the Times Square celebration on the radio and what he envisioned as he listened. He tries to talk his mother into getting a TV so they could watch Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadiens. He ends by saying how much fun people are to listen to, even the flat-toned Midwesterners.
Storm Home - A pack of wild dogs are thought to be raiding chicken coups in Lake Wobegon. This scares the kids who have to walk a half mile to school through a dark woods. Included here is a story about the old "put-your-tongue=on=the-pump-handle" trick. For the kids who took the bus to school, there were assigned storm homes in the event of a blizzard during the day. Everyone had an assigned home and Garrisons' was the Krugers. This was an older couple who were Catholic but Garrison still fantasized about having to go there and how overjoyed the people would be. There are no daytime storms. that year but the Kruger's still played a major role in Garrison's imagination.
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