Riding high on the airwaves, Garrison Keillor consumed the imagination of much of the nation on Saturday nights through the decade with his generally dry, sometimes solemn, but invariably gentle satire.
Even though radio had long been declared brain dead, Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion," dispatched out of Minnesota, brought it back to a new life, at least during those two hours of variety entertainment and Keillor's heartful tales from the folks of Lake Wobegon. It all ended in 1987, when the show finished its 13-year run.
We will never be able to dispell the image of the Chatterbox Inn and Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery and Jack's Auto Repair, to which all tracks lead. He gave new meaning to shyness and reticence and Powermilk Biscuits.
In the hearts of many of us, Norwegian bachelor farmers have a special place. In fact, Norwegians in general are now held in special esteem for their self-effacements. As Keillor defines their attitude toward life, "Nobody's killed us yet so far as we know."
Through his books, including the enormously successful "Lake Wobegon Days," and his jottings in the New Yorker and other publications, plus a new incantation of his radio program now sent out of New York, Keillor has become a landmark on the American cultural landscape, right up there with apple pie and Dr Pepper.
The Taste Makers project was edited by David Fox, assistant Sunday Calendar editor.