Sinclair Lewis

About halfway between Minneapolis and Fargo, just off I-94, is the town of Sauk Centre, Minnesota, hometown of Sinclair Lewis and the setting for his novel, Mainstreet.  In 1930, Lewis became the first American novelist awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Only ten Americans have won this prize and you’d think that Sauk Centre (yes, it’s spelled that way) would be happy to celebrate their hometown hero. 

His home is open in the summer and there is a small museum attached to the Visitor’s Center that is just off the freeway.  We talked to the woman who volunteers at the Visitor Center.  She is quite knowledgeable about Lewis’ life, work and loves.  She suggested that Sauk Centre city officials don’t know what an opportunity they have to attract visitors to come to Sauk Centre and learn about Sinclair Lewis…and stay in the historic Palmer House Hotel and eat downtown and hike the Lake Wobegon Trail. 

Well, the life and times of Sauk Centre perhaps have not changed much since Lewis used the town to explore the futility of trying to change stubborn, well, Scandanavians mostly.  The lady at the Visitor’s Center just wants the city to pay for a sign that can be seen from the freeway and would direct more traffic into town. 

She seemed the feisty type who will continue to bring the possibilities to the attention of the city fathers, but it’s sad that other than English majors, most Americans don’t care about their literary heritage.  Where, for instance, is the bus tour to take people from the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport to Sauk Centre?  It’s at the Mall of America, that’s where.

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