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Years ago a very nice elderly gentleman from Savage, Minn., mounted a campaign to get the great sulky horse Dan Patch on a U.S. postage stamp. I followed him around and wrote a story about how he lectured to grade school and high school kids, how he talked to fraternal organizations and how he spent lots of money on mailings, trying to convince the U.S. Postal service that it would be a good thing to put the world's greatest pacer on a stamp. They, of course, ignored his pleas, preferring instead to issue five different stamps with Elvis Presley's mug on each.
Remember John Dean of Watergate fame? He's back in the news with his latest book, "Conservatives without Conscience" (Viking, $25.95).
It will be easy for Minnesota waterfowl hunters won't have to wait to get the latest regulations this year as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has the 2006 waterfowl regulations online now. The online version includes the waterfowl regulations supplement, with information on special goose hunts, waterfowl limits and season dates. The regulations are available on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us DNR officials say a printed version will be available by late August wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold and at the DNR License Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.
One of the Minnesota State Fair's more popular attractions will be back this year along with a popular attraction that hasn't been around since 1978. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials say that the live fish exhibit and the fire tower will be back at the fair this year. DNR officials say this year's live fish exhibit is expected to display about 45 species of fish. One of the most popular fish with fairgoers has been the paddlefish. Characterized by their long, paddle-like bill, the paddlefish is found in the lower Mississippi River below Minneapolis.
What's in a title? "The Most Famous American," by Debby Applegate (Doubleday, $27.95) promises a good deal. Who is it? George Washington? Abe Lincoln? Daniel Boone? It turns out to be none of the above. Applegate's most famous American turns out to be Henry Ward Beecher. I figured that was a bit of a stretch and then I read the book and found out what a fascinating character this brother of author Harriet Beecher Stowe was back in the Civil War era. Beecher came from a famous New England family.
There's a little town in my home county called Trempealeau. Years back, while excavating for a new building, diggers found an old fur trading station from the early 19th century, long before Wisconsin became a state. In grade school our teachers told us about it over and over again and explained it was a fur collecting outpost sponsored by John Jacob Astor.
I read portions of "Heat," by Bill Buford when it appeared serially in the New Yorker. Now Knopf is out with it in book form, at $29.95. I'm a foodie who for more hours I want to admit is glued to the food channel. One of my favorite TV chefs is Mario Batali ("Molto Mario") and so when I saw that Buford wanted to work in his restaurants, where my wife and I have eaten, I dove in. The new book is a highly intelligent and humorous take on what fancy restaurants are like these days.
There's no lack of histories on specific subjects this summer. And they're not just coming out of the university presses. Little, Brown, for instance is just out with "The General and the Jaguar," by Eileen Welsome ($25.95). This book, which takes place in 1916 is as relevant today as it was 90 years ago. The general is Gen. John "Blackjack" Pershing. The jaguar is Pancho Villa. The U.S. considers Villa a dangerous renegade, so sends Pershing and troops to Mexico to hunt him down. This action alienates the local residents who respond with terrorism. Back home in the U.S.
I began visiting New York in the 1970s and loved it from the beginning. Back then it was dirty and dangerous but irresistible. Today it has calmed down and cleaned up and is still irresistible. I've always wondered what it would have been like back in the 1930s and 1940s when the city was in its heyday, before its infrastructure began to crumble and the upper crust moved out and their brownstones were split into warrens resided in by the less fortunate.