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  Field Notes From
In Search of Lake Wobegon

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From Photographer

Richard Olsenius

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Richard Olsenius

In Search of Lake Wobegon

Field Notes From Photographer
Richard Olsenius
Meeting the people was great. I was driving along and came across a man and his son raking cut hay and straightening furrows. I liked the feel of the scene, so I pulled over and began setting up my view camera. After several shots, the guy came over and asked me what this was all about. I told him all about working on a story with Garrison Keillor and trying to find any reality in this Lake Wobegon mythology. “You’re kidding!” he said. “I rented Garrison his house when he first came out here 25 years ago. He lived out behind our place.” There were a number of evenings when things got awfully quiet in the small towns, so some of the nights sitting in a small motel room were very long. Being away from family and friends for long periods of time sometimes gets difficult for me, as I’m sure it does for most photographers on the road. Heading down a back road in the middle of winter, I spotted two guys standing on a frozen pond with a chain saw. Well, I saw that movie Fargo, and—for a fleeting second—wondered if I should move along. But my curiosity got the best of me, so I stopped the car and trudged down the hill half up to my knees in snow.
It turned out they were cutting holes in the ice and looking for leeches and small fish. “What for?” I asked.
’to see if the pond is good for bait fish come spring,” said the younger man who, with his father’s help, surveys ponds in the winter. That’s what I love about central Minnesota.

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