After the convention I flew on to Minneapolis, with the bulk of
Minstf fandom (and Carey) following by road. I have promised Denny to
draw a veil over my first couple of days in Minneapolis. (Actually it's
quite an interesting story, and if you send me fifty guineas for DUFF I'll
send you the details in a plain brown wrapper). Anyway, upon Denny's
return to Minneapolis I moved in with John and Joan Kuske who lived in
the suburbs of St. Paul with their baby daughter. Yes, in case you're
wondering, I did try to persuade Joan that Vegemite was an essential
element in any infant's diet, but without success.
I spent some time sitting at the Kuskes' dining room table catching
up on my letter writing and watching the squirrels. Squirrels behave rather
like possum', but they come out during the daytime, and in public parks
where people feed them they can become as cheeky as seagulls. While
at the Kuskes' I noticed a little white cat hanging about outside. It was
a stray, but I was informed that it must have come from a good home
because it had been de-clawed. Culture shock strikes again! No doubt such
a procedure is necessary if you have to keep the animal indoors during
a long and snowy winter, but if it's not actually illegal in Australia it's
certainly unheard of. Whilst on the subject of animal welfare I noticed
some large dog-kennels in neighbouring backyards and was informed that
their construction was covered by the local building regulations, to ensure
that the dogs were snug enough in winter.
On the Friday of my visit Jan Appelbaum took Carey and me to the
Minnesota Science Museum, to see Al Kuhfeld's technological sideshow.
It turned out that he didn't do displays on a Friday, but nevertheless he
took us on a guided tour of the museum. Now I know why the mummy
has no toes -- before they put him in a glass case people used to pull
them off! I saw the two-headed, very much alive, snapping turtle, and other
wonders. This was when I realised that I should ask people to take me
to the local museum or gallery wherever I went. After umpteen chilhood
trips to see Phar Lap's stuffed remains (which are to Australians what
Lenin's body is to the Russians) and Titian's "Banquet of Cleopatra" (with
the lines on the floor that point towards you wherever you stand) I had
come to regard this sort of activity as boring. But of course galleries and
museums in the rest of the world, and not just places like London or New
York, are full of fascinating things to see. Vast quantities of European
and Asian art seems to have found its way to North America, and of course
there is a whole world of American art of which I really knew very little.
After Minneapolis I had two ready answers to the awkward question posed
by well-meaning hosts "What would you like to do?" One was "Have you
an art gallery?" and the other was "What do you have here that they
haven't got anywhere else?"
After the museum we repaired to Denny's, and when Jim Young turned
up he took us on his famed 100 tour of scenic Minneapolis. There are lakes
and elm trees everywhere, and the silvertail districts are full of beautiful
turn-of-the century mansions so huge that nobody can afford to live in
them anymore. We failed to find Frank Lloyd Wright's second-last house,
but we saw the Cthulu-esque fountain, all weird concrete eyes emerging
from the ground in a suburban park. Domestic architecture in this part
of the world looks odd at first -- the houses seem to be dolls-house-like