1979: Tim O’Brien

Tim O’Brien is one of the most famous people from Worthington, and I remember reading one of his stories when I was in high school at Jackson County Central.

Here’s an interview from Tim O’Brien, and in it, he talks about Worthington: it’s "boring," a "godforsaken place" and "a town that congratulates itself, day after day, on its own ignorance of the world: a town that got us into Vietnam. Uh, the people in that town sent me to that war, you know, couldn’t spell the word ‘Hanoi’ if you spotted them three vowels. They couldn’t do it."

2 Responses

  1. Carole Towne Seaton

    Thank you for posting this Tim O’Brien interview. I’ve followed his career, read many of his books & been proud for him for the honors his writing has earned him. But I’ve always felt he gave Worthington, & SW MN, a less-than-fair shake. True, in Tim’s time it was a somewhat insular community; but I always felt it reached out to the wider world by, among many other things, fostering a relationship with a war-ravaged Crailsheim, sending exchange students there when it could afford to & sending students like me to observe the UN in the years it couldn’t afford to send students to Europe.

    Turkey Day may be typical of self-congratulatory small-town boosterism, but those of us who knew past celebrations know that Tim’s description of it in this lecture is woefully incomplete. As a kid interested in politics, I loved to join the crowd pressing around the old court house to hear the national political figures who spoke every Turkey Day. And the bands, the floats, the carnival–& the pancakes! Turkey Day’s simple pleasures were a highlight of our year as kids. (Thank you to all the volunteers who put it on every year.)

    Tim O’Brien & I went to WHS together & were mentored by the same memorable teacher. Tim’s mother was my 5th grade teacher at Central Elementary. Although we shared many childhood experiences, we came away with very different views of the town that raised us.

  2. Kari

    I was a little surprised when I read it, honestly.

    I enjoy Turkey Day. It’s a fun time, even if it is silly and goofy and odd. Its silliness is one of the things I really like about it, actually.

    Where else do people bowl with frozen turkeys and play baseball with raw eggs?

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