Book Notes | 'West with Giraffes'
At age 105, Woodrow Wilson Nickel is living in a nursing home. He decides he needs to write his life story, and what a story it is. It’s the story of a destitute young man during the Great Depression who found a reason to keep living against all odds: driving two giraffes from New York City to San Diego.
The author, Lynda Rutledge, was doing research at the San Diego Zoo when she discovered the remarkable story of two giraffes that came to the U.S. from Africa and arrived during a hurricane. Based on news clippings and copies of telegrams in the zoo’s archives, Rutledge put together a fictional story of a relationship that developed between Woody, the young driver of the transport vehicle, and the giraffes.
Woody is hired by the Old Man, a representative of the zoo, to transport the giraffes to San Diego. We follow them through a number of frightening experiences—attempts by circus employees to steal the giraffes; encounters along the way with a female photographer, Augusta, who was determined to become famous and have a photo spread in Life magazine; a flash flood; and some hair-raising cross-country vehicular problems. Woody and the Old Man develop a good working relationship. They help each other through these trials and finally get to the San Diego Zoo.
After serving in WWII, Woody returns to the States and attempts to find Augusta and the Old Man. He heads to San Diego and is able to spend several years visiting his giraffe friends until he moves into a nursing home where he writes his story. His writings end up in his footlocker, the contents of which are given to a VA liaison.
The members of the UMRA book group liked the book and felt they learned many things about the Dust Bowl days, the hobos Woody and the Old Man encountered on their journey, discrimination experienced by African Americans during that time, and some basic knowledge about the Depression. Some in the group felt the book was improbable at times, and some thought the book was too long. I enjoyed it all. It’s quite a tale.
—Stephanie Daily, UMRA Book Club I member
Book Club I to meet November 18
Fri, Nov 18 2022, 2pm
Stephanie Daily will lead the discussion of West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge when the UMRA Book Club meets via Zoom at 2 p.m. on Friday, November 18.
Email Pat Tollefson at [email protected] for more information, including suggestions for starting a new book club.
We will meet at the Mel-O-Glaze bakery on 28th and Minnehaha Parkway and walk to Minnehaha Falls and then back again.
Some of the most valuable and rare maps in the world are held in UMN's own James Ford Bell Library, housed in Andersen Library See https://www.lib.umn.edu/collections/special/bell .
The first meeting of UMRA’s Family History Interest Group for 2023–24 will feature a presentation by Marilyn DeLong about sharing family stories and learning surprising family connections.
UMRA has a special opportunity to engage with the four newest members of the U of M Board of Regents on Wednesday, October 4, via Zoom. The purpose of the event is to share our perspectives as former University employees.
All UMRA members with an interest in photography are welcome to attend the meeting of the UMRA Photo Club on Tuesday, October 10. We welcome photographers of all abilities. Most of us are struggling amateurs. We laugh a lot and learn from sharing and talking about our pictures.
The walk along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis is always changing, with many attractions being added along both sides of the river and, now, the beautiful fall colors.
UMRA’s workshop on Open Enrollment for U of M retiree health plans for 2024 will include a briefing on the choice between Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plans, by Jeff Snegosky of BCBS of Minnesota, followed by an overview of the U of M’s retiree health insurance plans, by Katie Kolodge from the Office of Human Resources.
Mary Jane Towle will lead the discussion of The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams.
To help us understand the growing movement in the U.S. to ban books, especially children’s literature, and the critical role of libraries to protect intellectual freedom, UMRA will welcome U of M Librarian Lisa Von Drasek (pictured) and Rochester Public Librarian Kimberly Edson as the guest speakers for our October luncheon forum at Midland Hills.
The Fourth Friday Book Club will meet from 2 to 3:30 p.m. CDT on October 27 to discuss the life and narrative of Frederick Douglass.
Join us for a 5 mile moderately paced hike around Pleasant Lake located in the heart of North Oaks. It takes us past some of James J. Hill’s original farm buildings as well as beautiful homes built along the lakeshore. The trail is wide, generally flat and consists of packed dirt and crushed rock.
The documents noted for this event specify your managers and can minimize income taxes now, and estate taxes.
The material world we live in is shaped by design. While popular discussions of design typically focus on fashion and furniture, design is fundamental in art, architecture, and indeed nearly all aspects of the everyday world around us. Goldstein Museum of Design curator Jean McElvain will demonstrate and discuss some of the fascinating and often unexpected holdings before we walk through the current gallery exhibit.
Get an insider's perspective on Santa Fe and Taos alongside local artists, exploring the Georgia O'Keeffe museum, enjoying traditional music and learning about native cultures. The deadline for reserving a space is June 2, 2023.
Please join us for an invigorating hike from The Monument located at the intersection of Mississippi RIver Blvd and Summit Avenue in St. Paul to Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis and back. This hike is on paved trails, approximately 5.5 miles in length, and will be at a pace suitable to the weather.