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Answer Man: Book about Blackmun would be best-seller

Dear Answer Man, I'm reading " Becoming Justice Blackmun: Harry Blackmun's Supreme Court Journey." The first part of the book focuses on his time working for Mayo Clinic, but there are no real details of his life in Rochester. Do you know where he lived or things he did while he lived there for eight years? Just interested! -- Amelia

I wrote about Blackmun back in January, when a proposal was afoot at the Legislature to honor him with a bust in the Capitol. Blackmun, who grew up in St. Paul just down the street from his future boss, Chief Justice Warren Burger, was Mayo Clinic's legal counsel in the 1950s and a high court justice from 1970 to 1994.

As I said in that column, Blackmun's chances of getting a bust in the Capitol were as good as the Vikings winning the Super Bowl. Why? The Vikings' futility speaks for itself, and Blackmun will be denied his full due in Minnesota for at least another generation or two because he wrote the court's controversial opinion on Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion.

Actually, it wasn't all that controversial at the time, which is noted in the book cited above, but it certainly became controversial.

A book about Blackmun's time in Rochester could be a Minnesota best-seller. Unfortunately, I don't have time to write it, but hopefully some of you will share some memories of Blackmun and I'll run them here.


I'll open the bidding: True or not, I was told a while back by an attorney friend that Blackmun lived in the stylish apartment building across Second Street Southwest from what was then the Olmsted County Courthouse and is now the site of Mayo's Ozmun building.

While trying to check that in the P-B "morgue," our vast archive of clips and photos, I ran across an interesting story from August 1970 by reporter Jack Erwin. It was "Harry Blackmun Day" in Rochester, celebrating his elevation to the Supreme Court. In that story, Blackmun called his years here "a time of great contentment and satisfaction … a very happy time."

About 500 people were in the Kahler's Heritage Hall, where events of this kind have been held for generations, to celebrate his achievement and his days here. Mayor Dewey Daygave him a key to the city and he received an honorary life membership in the Rochester Chamber of Commerce.

According to Erwin's story, "He called Rochester 'a place of good clean air and very basic friendships.'"

Hopefully the same can still be said of the city, 43 years later. What do you think?

No caws for alarm

I'll have plenty more on crows in the days and weeks ahead, but here's an instant comment from a reader regarding my hard-hitting winter crow forecast Friday . A reader named Martha W. called to say there are sky-darkening flocks of crows in areas beyond downtown, which is certainly true. My forecast was just for downtown … if you knew how much time and effort I put into the research for that forecast, you'd understand why.

Martha went on, "I mean, there were hundreds of them on the roofs of the buildings" in northwest Rochester around High Pointe Lane.


Tall drink

The nominating period is now closed for names for the colossal new water tank by St. Mary's Park. You, my devoted readers, continue to call, email and snail-mail possible names for that really big reservoir. Here are a few more, and then I'll assemble a committee of judges — perhaps a future Harry Blackmun will be among them — and we'll pick the top three, which I'll unveil next Friday.

From Tom Prendergast: "My suggestion for the name of the new water tower is 'Big Wart or Tower.'"

"I think if you asked the water tower what its name should be, it would look at how majestically it reaches toward the sky and name itself 'I Soar.'" -- Jim Newcomer

"How about 'St. Mary's Perk'?" -- Michael Sitzer

"How about HyperHydro?" -- Dave Newman

Lois Randallsent a few, and here's the one I like best: "The Wishing Well on Pill Hill."

Here's one that a certain bar owner in Rochester would probably appreciate: "Aquarius." But this proposal comes from Sister Lauren Weinandt, the esteemed Saint Marys Hospital historian.


One problem with Sister Lauren's otherwise excellent nomination — she says in her note that she reads my column "every day (or almost)." Hmm. Really not a good idea to read this column almostevery day. But maybe she means she reads all my columns, just not on the very day they're published.

I'm sure that's it.

Put a tiger in your tank by reading the Answer Man every day. Send questions to P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903 or answerman@postbulletin.com.

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