Last weekend, Momma and I drove “North” (I’ve adopted this term consistent with the current trend of simplifying phrases to sound more hip — no more “Up North” for us) to her home territory. It was all for fun — to “chill” (another with-it term) but with one stop for book marketing purposes. If you know Momma, we never quite chill.
Upon reaching Bemidji, the real home of Paul Bunyan and Babe, says Momma the historian, we found our way to the Bemidji Woolen Mills. The BWM has been a staple in Bemidji for over 100 years, and Momma had shopped there for her “Lumberjill” jacket when in college.
We were making a stop there to peddle our wares, so to woof. Momma’s nephew, Eric, who lives in Bemidji had noticed that, among other quality merchandise, BWM carries books of local authors and suggested we give them a try. Momma, always the optimist, had packed up six copies each of Lina Unleashed and Sit Stay Pray for this purpose.
Momma parked right in front of the store, and was greeted at the door by an employee named Mary. I watched from the car window as Momma told Mary that she was interested in selling her dog’s books at the store and asked to see Bill Batchelder, the owner. Mary, clearly taken aback and wondering if she should call security, nevertheless trotted off to Bill’s office. Much to Momma’s surprise and relief, Mary returned almost at once and brought her back to meet Bill.
Bill greeted Momma warmly (he didn’t seem to think this was a strange encounter at all — he probably meets all types is my guess) and Momma plopped down the books on his desk. Momma explained that my books were national award winners and that all the proceeds go to animal charities. Bill bought all twelve copies on the spot. While doing the paperwork, Bill gave Momma a little history lesson. He said that Mary is his aunt and the daughter of David Park, whose iconic Bemidji house is featured in Minnesota’s Own, Preserving Our Grand Homes, a coffee table book by Larry Millett. Momma had attended several meetings there in her work on the Bemidji State University Foundation board, and was thrilled to have met someone who grew up in the house! David Park had moved to Bemidji in the 1920s and ran a successful dairy business which included Luxury ice cream shops with outlets in five states. The David Park house, built in the Moderne style in the mid-1930s, is located right across the street from BSU. Here are photos of Mary (and me) and the house where she lived.
Bill then suggested we get some pictures of me in front of his poster size photo of Paul and the Blue Ox for the Bemidji Woolen Mills website. Momma, getting more excited by the moment, flew out to the car and brought me in.
I did my usual rounds, warming up the crowd with face licks while Momma pawdographed the books for me. Next Momma and I posed for some pictures, and as you can see, my books are now featured at the Bemidji Woolen Mills!
Bill explained that Paul and Babe’s statues were built in 1937 to attract tourists as part of that year’s winter carnival. The folks in Bemidji thought the American folk hero and lumberjack was a perfect fit for their logging industry and surrounding forests.
Later Momma did a little more research on the duo and here’s what she dug up. Minnesota’s lakes were created by the footprints of the humungous Paul. (You talk about your tall tails!) Babe is blue because when Paul found him, he was very cold. According to the Kodak Company, Paul and Babe are the second most photographed statues in the United States after Mount Rushmore. They are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They stand 18′ and 10′ high respectively. Here they are in all their glory!
Pretty exciting, huh? So you should probably take a trip up there some summer (maybe not winter, or you’ll truly be chill and bluer that Babe the almost frozen ox), and visit beautiful Lake Bemidji and have your photo taken with the famous duo!
Oh, and while you’re at it, you should also stop at the Bemidji Woolen Mills (https://www.bemidjiwoolenmills.com/) and do some shopping. It is a fabulous store filled with woolen goods and gifts (and history), and they also carry my books!
Lina, Branching Out