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Frank Lloyd Wright Arrested in Minnesota!

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Jail Register Close Up, Hennepin County,1926

In October 1926, the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, was arrested by Hennepin County Sheriff deputies in Minnetonka for allegedly violating the Mann Act.  Mr. Wright’s arrest and detention in the Hennepin County Jail is documented in a jail register of the Hennepin County Sheriff, and is one of several jail registers preserved in the State Archives of the Minnesota Historical Society.

A Jail Register is a chronological record of individuals committed to a county or municipal jail. They include arrest and discharge information, name of prisoner and occasionally biographical data, name of officer making the arrest, and the nature of the crime, charges, and sentence.  Unfortunately, the jail registers are not indexed by name, so it can be a challenge to locate a person who was in jail, unless you have a relatively specific date.

According to Mr. Wright’s jail register entry, he was 58 years old, had green eyes, brown hair, and a fair complexion.  Mr. Wright was held for the U.S. Marshal’s Office, committed to the jail on October 21, 1926, and released the next day to the U.S. Marshal’s Office.

The arrest of Frank Lloyd Wright was the lead story in the Minneapolis Tribune on October 21, 1926.

Charles Rodgers, Government Records Specialist

Jail Register Interior, Hennepin County,1926Jail Register, Hennepin County,1926

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Blessed by Bly and Bly

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Carol and Robert Bly

Minnesota was doubly blessed having two smart, simple, honest writers like Robert and Carol Bly who could poetically describe Mother Nature and prosaically [although not in the sense of “ordinary”] describe human nature better than all but a handful of writers. Let’s add two of their books to our growing list of 150 Best Minnesota Books.

Carol Bly. Letters From the Country. NY: Harper and Row, 1981.

Robert Bly. Silence in the Snowy Fields. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1962.

Robert Bly is not a difficult choice for this list. He is a giant in American letters; destined for great things, if not by his birth in Lac qui Parle County, then by his famous graduating class of writers at Harvard in 1950. For a long while in the middle of the last century Carol and Robert turned their Madison, Minnesota farmstead into an epicenter for American writers. Many famous poets spent nights freezing in the converted chicken coop guesthouse. I chose his first book of poems not for the uncountable mentions of snow or poems titled “Poem Against the Rich” and “Poem Against the British” but because of the beautiful simplicity of their descriptions of Minnesota. Bill Holm [another of our “Best” Minnesota authors] called this book “one of the great formative books of American literature” and goes on to say: “It brings into consciousness parts of our lives and places we had never seen clearly before. My own western Minnesota that I simultaneously hated and loved proved more full of metaphor and mystery than I (or anyone else) imagined.” Bly himself must have recognized the significance of these poems to the state as he presented the former head of the Minnesota Historical Society, Russell Fridley, with a copy for the MHS library.

Driving To Town Late To Mail A Letter

It is a cold and snowy night. The main street is deserted.
The only things moving are swirls of snow.
As I lift the mailbox door, it feels cold iron.
There is a privacy I love in this snowy night.
Driving around, I will waste more time.

No less a force in Minnesota culture was Robert’s first wife, Carol.

Born in Duluth, Carol McLean married Robert Bly in 1955. She was an equal partner in the anti-war movement that brought Robert to national attention and she never wavered in her fight for social justice. To quote Bill Holm again: “She never backed down from tackling large issues and large ideas in culture.” Perhaps I should have chosen her collection of fiction, Backbone, for two reasons: backbone is a word that defined her, and her characters covered the entire spectrum of Minnesotans – the good, the bad, and the ugly. However, it was Letters that first brought Carol to my attention and I have used her ever since to describe the peoples and places of Minnesota to my coast locked friends. Another reason Carol belongs on this list is that she had an unusual influence on Minnesota writers, especially on women writers, by teaching, mentoring, and befriending so many.

From “Great Snows” in Letters From The Country

It is sometimes mistakenly thought by city people that grownups don’t love snow…The fact is that most country or small-town Minnesotans love snow…

Before a storm, Madison is full of people excitedly laying in food stocks for the three-day blow. People lay in rather celebratory food, too. Organic-food parents get chocolate for the children; weight watchers lay in macaroni and Sara Lee cakes; recently converted vegetarians backslide to T-bones.

So on our list so far we have had a father and son combination [the Lindbergh’s] and now the Bly’s who, I believe, will be our only authors that were husband and wife. Don’t go looking, however, for other relatives to round out our list of the 150 Best Minnesota books. As always I’m looking forward to your comments.

Snowy FieldsLetters from the Country

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Winter Carnival Medallion

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Winter Carnival Medallion, frontWinter Carnival Medallion, back

St. Paul Winter Carnival souvenir medallion featuring the 1887 Ice Palace and highlighting winter sports. The text on the front reads, “ST. PAUL ICE PALACE & WINTER CARNIVAL / 1887.” The back features five winter scenes and four symbols of winter sports. The text on the back reads, “CITY OF ST. PAUL / INCORPORATED MARCH 4 1854.” Manufacturer unknown, 1887.

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Boreas Rex Costume Crown

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Boreas Rex Costume Crown

Royal purple velveteen crown with adjustable gilt metal band adorned with a large oval brass filigree medallion with an inset rose colored glass jewel. Worn as part of the St. Paul Winter Carnival, 1955.

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St. Paul Winter Carnival

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

It’s time once again for the St. Paul Winter Carnival, and Reference Librarian Hamp Smith celebrates with a look at Winter Carnival materials in the Society’s collections. Highlights include photographs, personal diaries, marching uniforms, and film footage of the 1916 and 1942 parades.

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Smith & Wesson revolver in a Vulcan display case

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Smith & Wesson revolver in a Vulcan display case

This Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolver has a six-shot fluted cylinder, blued frame and checkered walnut grips with S&W medallions. It was manufactured by Smith and Wesson in Springfield, Massachusetts and is mounted in a wood and glass hinged case. An interior plaque reads “Fire & Brimstone 1970-1986″ and a Pioneer Press letter to the editor entitled “Put away parade ‘fun’ guns” is affixed to one corner.

Vulcans riding in fire engine, St. Paul Winter CarnivalBeginning in 1970 this Smith & Wesson revolver was fired by members of the Vulcan Krewe as they rode their Royal Chariot (a 1932 Luverne fire engine) during Saint Paul Winter Carnival parades. In the letter to the editor published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press and affixed to the revolver’s frame, a parade attendee complains that she is “at a loss to explain what is so darn much fun about loud, scary noises and guns.”  The revolver was “retired” in 1986 due to complaints like this claiming that gunfire during the parades was scaring children.

The Saint Paul Winter Carnival is a celebration of winter and its end. The Carnival has been held since 1886 in Saint Paul, Minnesota and a legend has evolved to support the Carnival’s theme. The story reaches its climax during the annual Torchlight Parade. During the parade Vulcanus Rex, the King of Fire, and his Vulcan Krewe overthrow King Boreas, the King of the Winds. The Vulcans are known for their rowdy revelry and the group emphasizes the community involvement of its members.Vulcans, St. Paul Winter Carnival

Krewe members are selected by the Imperial Order of Fire and Brimstone, the oldest formal organization within the Saint Paul Winter Carnival. When appearing at Krewe functions throughout the year, Vulcans wear a red and black costume consisting of a hat, running suit, cape, boots, gloves, and goggles. In 1994 the Order donated a collection of Vulcan-related memorabilia dated back to the original Saint Paul Winter Carnival in 1886 to the Minnesota Historical Society.

Sondra Reierson, Collections Assistant

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Snow Carnival Ice Palace

Thursday, January 27th, 2011


Snow Carnival Ice Palace
Department 56

This three piece ceramic Snow Carnival Ice Palace consists of separate lower and upper levels and a detached gate. Two electric light bulbs illuminate the interior of the palace and small removable flags decorate the exterior. This is one of the many models available from The Original Snow Village© by Department 56, Inc., a company based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.  Traditionally, several pieces are retired from the collection each year as newer designs are introduced.

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Frosty Fascination

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Frosty Fascination Winter Carnival Beer

St. Paul Winter Carnival Beer, “1979 Frosty Fascination” made by the August Schell Brewing Company, New Ulm, Minnesota, 1979, for the St. Paul Winter Carnival Association.

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Blanket toss

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Winter Carnival blanket toss

St. Paul Ice Palace blanket toss, St. Paul Winter Carnival, 1887.

Location no. MR2.9 SP9.1 1887 p12

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Call of the North

Monday, January 24th, 2011

St. Paul Winter Carnival Button

St. Paul Winter Carnival button featuring King Boreas and Vulcanus. Manufactured by Western Badge and Novelty Company, 1952.

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An Ounce of Preservation: A Guide to the Care of Papers and Photographs