We now know that Prince was a favorite son of Minneapolis. What other musical giant, although not born here, is laid to rest here? You guessed it – Tiny Tim.
The ukelele virtuoso best know for his hit song “Tiptoe Through The Tulips” died in Minneapolis in 1996 while performing his signature song and is interred in a mausoleum at the Lakewood Cemetery in downtown Minneapolis.
Why rest in the ‘City of Lakes’?
It’s a circuitous route that brought Tiny Tim (born Herbert Khaury in 1932) to the north. Born in Manhattan, he was a loner as a youth (hard to picture), finally dropping out of high school. He loved to play the ukelele and guitar and appeared in several Greenwich Village clubs under the name Larry Love. His parents didn’t approve of what he was doing, but saw that he was having some success and decided to allow him to continue.
His first national success was an appearance on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In during the 1960s. He became a favorite of TV talk and variety shows including Ed Sullivan and Jackie Gleason and, ultimately, on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show where he married his first wife, 17 year-old Victoria Budinger (better known as ‘Miss Vicki’) in 1969.
The couple had a daughter, Tulip, but mostly lived apart and divorced after 8 years. He remarried in 1984 to ‘Miss Jan’ – again mostly living apart until ending the marriage after 10 years. At that point, Tiny Tim joined a circus and traveled with it for 36 weeks!
In August of 1995, Tim married for the third time – ‘Miss Sue’ and moved with her to Minneapolis. He regained some of his fame in the mid 90s with appearances on the Conan O’Brien Show and the Howard Stern radio program. In September, 1996, Tim suffered a heart attack while performing at a ukelele festival in Massachusetts. Once released from the hospital, he resumed his concert schedule only to experience another heart attack in Minneapolis on November 30 and die an hour later.
While heading north out of Minneapolis, I was surprised to see mist billowing up from beneath a bridge as I crossed the Mississippi River. I could see glimpses of what looked like a waterfall but didn’t think there was any way there was a waterfall on the Mississippi.
Well, there’s one. It’s St. Anthony’s Falls, named after the original fort now known as Fort Snelling.
The fast moving waters had always been a source of power for moving timber downriver, but was quite a danger to any boats trying to cross the Mississippi River. Indians, fur traders, and settlers usually crossed above the falls, but it wasn’t unusual to lose a boat to the swift currents or to escaped logs from upriver. The first record of a ferry that regularly crossed the river was in 1840 and that was a Dakota woman in a canoe!
A suspension bridge was built in 1855 and helped join the city of Minneapolis with the village of St. Anthony on the eastern side.
Sawmills were prominent in Minneapolis. The lumber companies would fell the trees up river and then turn them loose to float down to a riverside mill who would corral the logs off to the side. Flour and gristmills soon followed using the power of the river to turn their machinery and provide electrical power.
To expand the mill area, the city routed a ‘waterpower canal’ under the streets lining the river to increase the direct power available to turn the millwheels.
The local millers banded together to fix crop prices and grew powerful through their mill monopoly. Soon, however, improved transportation means allowed farmers to mill their crops outside the local area and the mills slowly went out of business. In the 1990s, a fire decimated the mill area, but the city has been reviving this downtown marvel as the St. Anthony Falls Historical District with shops, museums, and parks.
The speed and power of the river are easily seen from the pedestrian Stone Arch Bridge that spans the river. They’ve done a great job making this a popular place for picnics and jogging.
Oh, and by the way, Minneapolis is Dakotan for “waterfall city”.
On the drive from Minneapolis to Duluth, I came across this irresistible sign:
The Crazy Ladies House is a gift boutique just off the highway and it is filled with….crazy.
Lots of good things to see. Glad Donna wasn’t with me. This place could have been a budget buster.
As it was, I picked up a new co-pilot. Someone to talk to on the trip. (He’s the one on the left)
Today’s Travel: 312 miles
Total Travel To Date: 1990 miles