March- To Think
“March is the month God created to show people who don’t drink what a hangover is like.”
― Garrison Keillor.
I first heard of Gary Edward “Garrison” Keillor when I came upon my mother listening to the PBS radio show, The Prairie Home Companion. With his down-home charm and wit, the show was quite entertaining, even for a young, modern, garage-punk, rock and roller like myself. My oldest sister and mom would listen every Sunday.
Lake Wobegon became a place I would have liked to visit if it had existed, but alas, it was just a creation of Keillor’s imagination. Lake Wobegon was a little bit of Green Acres, Andy Griffith, and all the other shows with a hometown where everyone knew everyone. It had that down-home charm and characters that you weren’t sure really existed, but they should.
Garrison Keillor was born the third of 6 children to Grace and John in Anoka Minnesota. He graduated from Anoka High School in 1960 and from the University of Minnesota with a degree in English in 1966. It was while he attended college he began his broadcasting career on the student-operated radio. In 1969 Keillor began his career with Minnesota Educational Radio He hosted a weekday drive-time broadcast called A Prairie Home Entertainment, The show’s eclectic music was a major divergence from the station’s usual classical fare. During this time he also published his first story in the New Yorker Magazine titled “Local Family Keeps Son Happy.”
Protesting with the Beach Boys
Resigning from The Morning Program in February 1971 to protest interference with his musical programming, He played nothing but the Beach Boys‘ “Help Me, Rhonda” during one broadcast to protest. Eventually, it got worked out and Garrison returned to the station in October. At that time, the show was renamed A Prairie Home Companion. That was the show I remember listening to.
I remember the commercials that were aired during the prairie home companion. They were definitely spoofs, but some of the funniest things. Some of the sponsors were Powdermilk Biscuit Company, Ketchup Advisory Board, and P.O.E.M. (Professional Organization of English Majors). The program also included serials with characters like Guy Noir Private eye, Lefty, the cowboy, and the Lunch Lady.
Dozens of Books
It was fun to listen to. All of it. Garrison Keiller did write some books, over a dozen of them. Many of them are based on the characters on the radio program. Some of them are autobiographical, some are for children. Yet, the thing I will always remember when I hear his name, Garrison Keillor, is the radio program, the Praire Home companion.