Born in Casper, Wyoming, in 1922, Laurie Anders was a singer and actress in the early years of television, gaining some fame on the “The Ken Murray Show,” where she sang “I Like the Wide Open Spaces” to great acclaim in 1950.
In 1951, Anders accompanied Ken Murray to Minneapolis for the Aquatennial, the annual summer bash that included parades and games and concerts. As part of that visit, she and Murray did a photo shoot on the top of the Foshay Tower, the tallest building in Minneapolis at the time; indeed, at 447 feet, it was the tallest building west of Chicago and east of Los Angeles for a good long time (not that this stretch of flyover country was doing a lot of tall structures generally besides grain elevators).
Whether or not Ken Murray had a tummy ache during that shoot, and whether that tummy ache was caused by lactose intolerance, is not a part of the public historical record. All I know for sure is that in the photograph I stumbled across on the Minnesota Historical Society’s website in the early spring of 2004, he’s wearing quite a grimace on his face, and Ms. Anders doesn’t look particularly pleased to be there, either. The Foshay Tower observation deck is often the location for happy couples to have their pictures taken; that this couple looked so unhappy was what struck me as story-worthy.
I had been sending stories out for about a year at that point, mostly revisions of undergraduate stories written in the late 1980s, with no takers. At 552 words, “After Ice Cream” is barely a story at all; I’m not sure why I landed on Eyeshot as the place to bother with it, I’m not entirely sure. I had been perusing these little webzines for a while, but submitting to big names like Glimmer Train and the Missouri Review. I suppose something about its quirky stories and rough-and-ready layout appealed to me. On March 17, 2004, no doubt a day or two after dashing off the story, I sent it to Eyeshot, accompanied by the photo of Anders and Murray, and five days later they took it. It didn’t show up on the site until June 2, by which point I had landed one other “sale” and a half dozen more rejections.
Do I stand by it? Do I have a choice? It’s a little nothing of a story, but I liked writing it, and I liked seeing it on the website; I recall visiting it periodically in my little cubicle when I grew bored with reading articles on Lotus Notes development or Huffington Post stories about the latest Bush administration outrages. It was a nice little dopamine hit, and I was definitely hooked.