Ordinary People is one of those “must see”movies. The novel was written by MInnesota Author Judith Guest, directed by Robert Redford and won 4 Academy Awards in 1980, including Best Picture. It is an intense study of human behavior staring Mary Tyler Moore, Donald Sutherland and is considered the breakout role for Timothy Hutton. As I watched it again, I was taken back in time to a meeting with the Author in Carver.
In the early 70’s Carver was abuzz with activity. Carver-on-the-Minnesota was a newly formed Corporation founded by Anne Neils and Edith Herman and dedicated to preserving the history of our sleepy little Village of Carver.
After the first Steamboat Days, attending by thousands, in September of 1971, The Village of Carver was highlighted in a way not seen before. Residents and historians became interested in the mid 1800 structures that had survived, and the repairs needed to preserve them for future generations. There were bus tours, arranged by C-O-T-M, to generate interest and funds for the restoration projects. Restored homes would be opened and guests would be guided through the homes with the history of each given by residents or members of C-O-T-M group. HillDale, the Carver Cottage, the Johnson General Store, Dikeside, Kraemer’s Cafe, the Cheese Cave, Dietz/Riesgraf Meat Market and Ice House, the Hebeisen Hardware, The Gables, the Robert Johnson home and the local Churches, were all favorite destinations. The Tour would be followed by a lunch prepared and hosted by the local Church Ladies Aid Auxiliaries. Serving was complete with linen cloths, crystal stemware and antique settings of china and tea cups. It was an exciting time for Carver and it’s residents. It was easy to get caught up in the activity.
My husband, Darrel and I had recently purchased the Robert Johnson home on the corner of 4th Street West and Ash. As a Charter Member of C-O-T-M, I worked closely with Anne Neils and Edith Herman and became intrigued in exploring the history of our little Village. A trip to Galena showed us how our Village could be transformed into a showcase of history and a destination for tourists.
With the arrival of those tourists, little shops and eateries started popping up to accommodate the visitors. Marlene Knutson and Paul Jennings purchased Gracie’s Grocery Store, formerly a Bank complete with Vault, and transformed it into an Ice Cream and Confection store, accompanied with an array of Antiques, Art and handmade craft items that could be purchased. Sitting on the bank of Carver Creek made the perfect spot to amble down Historic Broadway with an ice cone or the ever popular Root Beet float.
Springside, just on the other side of Spring Creek was converted into Toad Hollow Cafe. Proprietors Doreen and Karen, residents of Carver, featured “Peasant Lunch”, Toad Hollow Quiche, fresh cucumber sandwiches, banana and other nut breads, and salads along with lemonade served with a black licorice swizzle and Exploding Can Dessert…if you are brave enough to order it.
Doreen, Karen and I had just finished reading “Ordinary People” and when Doreen realized the author was a Minn native from nearby Edina, it was decided to ask her to come to Toad Hollow for a Book Reading and Signing event on the deck overlooking Spring Creek. The attendance and the sale of the book exceeded all expectations. Judith Guest proved to be a warm and interesting person, generous with her time and delighting her audiences.
As happens so often, small business enterprises don’t last forever and Toad Hollow only stayed for a couple of summers. While on the entertainment level, Director Robert Redford became interested in bringing “Ordinary People” to life in a Movie by the same name. The Movie continues to be a popular choice.
Years later Doreen, Karen and I took a road trip to Chicago and found the home in Forest Hills that served as the setting for the Movie. That visit seems to have completed the circle of our early encounter with the Author.