Former Albert Lea resident compiles ‘Memories’ book

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2001

Joan Claire Graham has a good memory, and she has compiled several stories about growing up in Albert Lea in a new book.

Tuesday, July 03, 2001

Joan Claire Graham has a good memory, and she has compiled several stories about growing up in Albert Lea in a new book.

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&uot;I’ve got a very good memory for the details of the past,&uot; Graham said. &uot;It’s about like an idiot savant. I remember where people lived and what things cost.&uot;

Her stories about places like the Capp Emmons auditorium, people like former KATE radio announcer Don Franz, and quintessentially Midwestern moments will ring true with a lot of people, she said.

&uot;There are a lot of things about Albert Lea that should be written down,&uot; she said.

The book’s 27 stories by seven writers recall memories of people and places in Albert Lea, Hope, Owatonna, Mankato, Minnesota Lake, Henderson, Faribault, Adrian, Ely, Zumbro Falls, Robbinsdale, and Minnetonka Mills, Graham said.

The book printed only last Wednesday, but Graham began her book tour in Albert Lea Monday. She will continue in the Twin Cities, and other Minnesota locations.

&uot;It’s part of the adventure of what I’ve done,&uot; she said.

Old neighbors and friends stopped by the Albert Lea Public Library after hearing Graham discuss the book on KATE radio Monday afternoon. &uot;Did I know you when I lived in Albert Lea?&uot; she asked everyone who approached the table.

Graham got the idea to publish the book after friend and co-editor sold a story to the publishers of the Chicken Soup series.

&uot;I said they should have Chicken Soup for the the Minnesota whatever,&uot; she said.

But Graham wanted more editorial control over her stories, so she and Megyeri published &uot;Minnesota Memories&uot; on their own. They contacted old friends and classmates for other story contributions.

This is Graham’s first book for general publication. Although she hadn’t been back for several years before returning this week, she said still feels a connection to Albert Lea.

&uot;People are shaped by the towns they grew up in and the people and places that influenced them as they grew up,&uot; she said. &uot;If I had grown up somewhere else, I’d probably have a different take on things.&uot;

Graham’s contributions to the book were written over the last four years. Some stories are funny, but they never make fun, she said.

&uot;Some books about Minnesotans tend to make fun,&uot; she said. &uot;There are some funny things in this book, but it’s not because people are being made fun of – it’s because something is genuinely funny.&uot;

&uot;Minnesota Memories,&uot; edited by Graham and Owatonna native Kathy Megyeri, is available at Ben’s Floral and Frame Designs, or through the publishers, who can be contacted at, or by phone at (301) 770-1259.