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Interpretive Center Outlines Lewis' Creative Process

by Anne Robinson
Herald Intern

Sauk Centre is similar to other small towns.
Children go to the lake on summer afternoons.
Retired men have coffee uptown and roll dice. Families run small businesses. People greet each other by name on the street.

Yet somethings attracts the world to Sauk Centre. The guest register at the Sinclair Lewis Interpretive Center indicates people from all over the world stop each summer to glimpse into the life of the writer. The greatest concentration of visitors are from the United States, Canada and Europe. In June 1996, 741 people visited the museum, said Tina Nathe, summer staff at the Interpretive Center.

The purpose of the center is "to inform the public about any information they want to know," Nathe said. What's there? A prominent display is titled "Birth of a Novel" and gives insight to Lewis, the writer. Lewis collected names for characters, which was an ongoing project, from telephone directories and tombstones. The first part of the display includes a notebook page marked "Vermont names--real." Lewis developed biographies for each character as well as a map and description of the fictional city.

Then he developed scenes in three stages. The first was handwritten and skeletal. The second included more detail and was type-written. The final was a detailed description of the room and scene. The final section of the display includes the various stages of editing and a copy of the Oct. 8, 1945 edition of Time magazine, featuring Lewis on the front cover and a review of Cass Timberlane. Other items in the museum include: *old photos and brief history of Sauk Centre *writing desk of Sinclair Lewis *Lewis' dipolmas from Sauk Centre High School and Yale *copy of a magazine featuring a story by Lewis titled "Green Eyes: A Handbook of Jealousy, personal items belonging to Lewis such as a classical music list, a yellow blanket, letter from Ida Compton and wastebasket made from an old hat box, death certificate from Rome where he died, another from the American Embassy in Rome *Metal urn in which his remains were sent to Sauk Centre *Nobel prize The Interpretive Center, located at the conjunction of I-94 and Hwy. 71, is open Memorial Day to Labor Day, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and 9a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends.

Reprinted from the Gopher Prairie Gazette produced by the
Sauk Centre Herald, July 16, 1996


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