Latest Dylan Duluth dallianceThere was a gravesite to visit. Maybe he took a jaunt by the old family home. And a motorcycle ride to Hibbing? Or somewhere. What did Bob Dylan do while in Duluth?
There was a gravesite to visit. Maybe he took a jaunt by the old family home. And a motorcycle ride to Hibbing? Or somewhere.
What did Bob Dylan do while in Duluth? With the fanciful hope of just maybe interviewing him, the Budgeteer traced his steps. Here is a timeline, as best as we could construct. Not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions — especially if he was in your living room.
It was quitting time and my stomach was growling, but just before leaving work I phoned a friend who told me in the past that he had some connections with people who have connections. I told him that our interns were trying to interview Bob Dylan. I think he thought I was crazy.
”Well, what have they done so far?” my source asked. “Do they know where he is right now?”
As a matter of fact, we did. Earlier in the afternoon, we had all looked at the concert tour website and saw he was scheduled to play in Noblesville, Ind. My source loosened up a little bit and pointed out that tour had some time off between that performance and the concert in Duluth. Maybe he would arrive in Duluth a little before his concert date, and just maybe he would ride his motorcycle. He also gave me a couple websites to check out, Boblinks.com and ExpectingRains.com
He also said Dylan aficionado John Bushey of KUMD might be a good person to talk to, as well as the promoter of the Armory and Music Resource Center, Nelson French, whose brother, Gene, owns Dylan’s boyhood home in Hibbing.
Another interesting tidbit is that Bushey has a large collection of Houdini memorabilia, and that Dylan was once asked what would he like to see if he could go back in time. Dylan is said to have responded that he would have liked to see Houdini when he was in the East River in a trunk bound with chains. Maybe that fascination with escape and disappearing acts explains his own elusiveness.
I then decided to drive by Dylan’s Duluth boyhood home. Friday night was a beautiful summer evening, at 80 degrees, sweltering by Duluth standards. Residents on the 500 block of Third Avenue East sat on their front porches. I drove with my car windows open, camera in my hand ready to snap a photo as I slowed down in front of 519 Third Ave. East. It’s a nice-looking turn-of-the-century yellow duplex with two wooden stairways leading to the front porch.
“That’s Bob Dylan’s house,” a woman shouted. Danielle Olson, her dog, and her 18-year-old daughter, Deedra Mongan, were sitting on a stoop to her duplex.
She was used to people driving by. She told me that Mike, the occupant of the downstairs unit, had lived there longer than she and knew more about the house. Just then a man with greying, Elvis-style jet-black hair and matching black clothes surfaced and sat on the matching stoop. He introduced himself as Mike Havron.
“I grew up just around the corner from here,” he said. “But 25 years ago I went to Vegas” He returned to Duluth 10 years ago and has been living here since. I was about ready to ask him if he had been an Elvis impersonator when Olson said, “Doesn’t he look like Johnny Cash?”
Havron said that a man named Bill owned the Dylan house, but
didn’t live there, and that Bill would be coming by in a couple days.
“There’s a lady downstairs that keeps a book,” Havron said, though she wasn’t home. This book is for fans to sign names in. “A lot of people come by and take pictures,” Havron said. He offered to take my photo in front of the Dylan house. I declined.
“He was born in that hospital right there,” Havron continued, pointing northeast at Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center, or simply
St. Mary’s Hospital, for longtime Duluth residents.
Harvon and Olson started reciting facts about Dylan that they've absorbed through the years. He also said Dylan has ridden his motorcycle by the house a couple times in the past.
"Maybe he will ride his motorcycle by again," Havron said.
Dylan, meanwhile, was playing in Cincinnati.
I took a day off. So did Dylan, apparently; a concert scheduled for Columbus, Ohio, was canceled.
We learned that Dylan had left his last location on a private plane and had arrived at the Minneapolis airport. His son Jakob Dylan, a member of the Wallflowers, was playing in Minneapolis on Tuesday night, so it was possible that he would visit Duluth with his dad on Sunday or Monday.
Meanwhile, I got a hunch to check Tifereth Israel Cemetery on Howard Gnesen Road, where his parents, Beatrice and Abram, are buried.
Clouds had broken in the afternoon and when I found the headstone, the sun was shining on fresh flowers, and many pebbles on top, placed there. My heart skipped a beat. Had Dylan gotten here before I did?
That evening, the interns worked their sources hard and learned he was staying at the Radisson. Another suggested he’d be bringing his motorcycle. (How, we're not sure. Shipped on a tour bus?) I drove around the Radisson lot looking in vain for a chopper.
Hearing he was in the area also
including Hibbing, but with other editing duties calling, I wasn’t able to go that far.
Later in the week, our intern Sarah Alabsi called Engwalls to ask if there was perpetual care flowers on the Zimmerman graves. The answer was no.
On the way back to the office, I drove by Dylan’s boyhood home again. A man on the second floor shouted out to come around the back. It was Bushey, and we were offered a tour of the second floor, speculating on which bedroom would have been Bob’s. I signed the “Friends of Bob” book.
This was concert day, and the interns wanted to get there early to be sure of a spot up front. I texted the girls and we all met in the standing room only area closer to the stage and on the same side of the band’s tour buses. I noticed the security guards watching us.
I saw my friends Liz and Jim Taylor talking to Steve Goldfine, who said he was there “because I’m a shirttail relative of Bob’s.” He gave me the lowdown on how he was related: their great-grandfathers had been brothers, Jewish immigrants from Lithuania in the 1870s. There were now 4, 800 descendants from three brothers who had different last names: Karon, Kanner and Kaner. Goldfine said that he was eight years younger than Dylan and had maybe said five words to him in his life; something like “We’re sure having crappy weather.” But when Goldfine was a child, he said, the families liked to have dinner together about once a month.
His grandparents, Abe and Fannie Goldfine, had lived in the same second floor flat in Dylan’s boyhood home. When they moved, they rented it out to Bob’s parents. That area of town had been a “Jewish ghetto,” he said. Abe’s mother was a Karon.
I asked who would have placed all those pebbles on the tombstone. Steve said, “Beatty was everyone’s favorite aunt,” and speculated that any of the relatives may have.
While this was going on, warm-up bands were playing, and the interns got confirmation that Dylan was at the Radisson and would head over to the concert just before his time on stage.
They dashed off. And the rest of the story is theirs. But if Dylan was in your living room during his visit talking old times, give us a call. We’d love to hear about it.