Entertaining Charles Lindbergh in their home by Nelson Norman

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Not too many people currently living can recall entertaining Charles Lindbergh in their home. Perhaps you may be interested in this story. 1935 High School classmate Russ Sundet included part of it in his book REMINISCING WITH RUSS: Short Stories About Crookston, Minnesota and Growing up in the 1920's.


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Early in the year 1924, a prominent United States Senator from Minnesota received the nomination to be the Farmer-Labor candidate for Governor. Before his campaign could get well underway, his health deteriorated to the extent where it became necessary for him to enter the Mayo Clinic at Rochester. The results of this examination were not good for the Senator, as it was discovered that he had a very serious and inoperable brain tumor. The Senator had two children, a son who was a government aviator in Texas, and a daughter, Mrs. George Christie, who lived in Red Lake Falls.

Mrs. Christie requested that her father come to stay with her in Red Lake Falls, where she would try to nurse him back to better health. The Senator decided to come to stay with his daughter, but during the train trip up from Southern Minnesota he became very ill. It was necessary to take him from the train at Crookston and place him in St. Vincent’s Hospital. His condition rapidly worsened, and on May 24th, he died.

A few weeks later, the son, who was an aviator in the United States Flying Corps and stationed at Brook’s Field in San Antonio, arrived back in Minnesota. By airplane he distributed his father’s ashes over the Senator’s childhood home at Melrose, Minnesota. This son, who also bore the same name as his noted father, was destined three years later to become world famous. The son’s name was Col. Charles A. Lindbergh.

During the early 1930's, Col. Lindbergh paid a visit to his sister in Red Lake Falls. Sometime during this visit, Lindbergh stopped in Crookston for lunch— I believe that during this stop-over here in Crookston, Lindbergh also called on a local resident who may have been one of the doctors who had tended his father.


I mentioned that I believed that the reason for his visit was to call on a local doctor that may have attended Lindbergh’s father when he was a patient at St. Vincent’s Hospital. This proved to be true when I received a letter and some newspaper clippings from Nelson Norman, a son of the former Dr. J. F. Norman who had practiced in Crookston. Nelson was also a former classmate of mine at Central High School, where we graduated earlier in 1935, the year of Lindbergh’s visit.

This newspaper article was taken from THE CROOKSTON TIMES of Sept. 3, 1935:

    “Col. And Mrs. Charles Lindbergh- - -paid a brief visit to Crookston Sunday afternoon, when they were guests at the home of Mrs. J. F. Norman for two hours. Their call here, shrouded in secrecy to avoid them attention which follows the famous flying couple, was made in company with Mr. And Mrs. Christie and their daughter. Dr. Norman met Colonel Lindbergh at the time the latter’s father died in St. Vincent’s Hospital here a little more than ten years ago.”

With the article, Nelson included his recollection of the visit to the Norman home: A THRILLING VISIT

Anne Morrow Lindbergh was a lovely and charming guest, thoroughly at ease. My hero, Charles A. Lindbergh, was ill-at-ease, and stood long at the wall as if afraid to sit down. We (mother and dad) had a warm and interesting conversation, although my contributions were very small. The honor of this visit was due primarily to the fact that dad had been a longtime family doctor to the Christies of Red Lake Falls.”

Lindbergh (and his father) had phenomenal reputations in Minnesota. They lived in the central part of the state, where Little Falls claimed them. We were in the northwest corner of the state, and drove through their home territory en route to Minneapolis-St. Paul. The local admirers of the aviator took his first car and set it up on Main Street for anyone to take a bit of it for a souvenir. I still have a picture of the car (with its emblazoned announcement that this was Lindbergh’s first transportation) but the swatch of leatherette upholstery is lost somewhere.

And Minnesota was embedded in the Lindberghs, as the father’s voting record reveals, and as do the son’s later problems with isolationism and political oddities of World War II. We are a strange breed, we mid-westerners, a bit too strange for the sophisticated Anne Morrow.

I can not shake off my earlier hero worship, cultivated by reading “WE,” the story of his transatlantic solo flight, and “NORTH TO THE ORIENT” which taught me the difference between a Mercator projection and a globe for determining logical great circle routes. Anne was a greatwriter, so I can envy her that skill while relishing the memory of having met her and her famous husband at the peak of their popularity.

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