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A novel experience in Minneota

September 10, 2012
By Steve Browne , Marshall Independent

MINNEOTA - Native Minneota author Jim Geiwitz gave readings and signed copies of his novel, "The Town of Watered-Down Whiskey" at Boxelder Bug Days on Saturday.

"The people of Minneota are great storytellers," Geiwitz explained at a meeting at the community center. "They tell grand stories about people who forget to roll down the window of their car when they stopped to shoot a pheasant in a ditch."

Geiwitz gestured at the assembled crowd.

Article Photos

Photo by Steve Browne

Author Jim Geiwitz was in Minneota during Boxelder Bug Days during the weekend to give readings and sign copies of his book, “The Town of Watered-Down Whiskey, Distilled and bottled by Jim Geiwitz,” a novel based on his experiences growing up in Minneota. See more photos Monday from Boxelder Bug Days at

"It was a rabbit!" a voice from the audience retorted.

Though Geiwitz said he started the novel about 30 years ago based on his experiences growing up in Minneota, it was only published recently when he found out about a contest a Minnesota publishing company was holding for stories set within the state.

First prize was a publishing contract.

The working title was originally, "The Dark Side of Lake Woebegone," and tells about the good and bad sides of growing up in a very small town where everybody knows everybody.

"More than anything it's the story of a small town," Geiwitz said, "and I'm proud of it in that respect."

Geiwitz left Minneota after graduating from high school in 1956 and went to St. Olaf College to major in chemistry.

As Geiwitz describes it, one day when holding a beaker of nitric acid and watching the acid turn his hands brown. he looked out the window and saw philosophy majors reading poetry to beautiful women. He decided to switch his major to psychology.

Geiwitz taught cognitive psychology for a few years, and then began to write psychology textbooks, 14 in all.

"What I'd do was find a famous psychologist and offer to write a textbook with him," Geiwitz said. "That was great because they usually didn't have the time, and for me it was great because I was getting courses with the masters."

In 1967 he met and fell in love with a Canadian student, Renee Woodsend, while teaching at Stanford University in California.

"But we broke up for nonsense reasons," Geiwitz said.

They both married other people and lost touch for 28 years.

"Then Jim was in Hong Kong with my brother, who was his first graduate student," Woodsend said. "He very sweetly asked how I was and my brother said, 'I don't think she's very happy.' My son had just graduated, my mother had died, our family dog had died, and my marriage had ended."

Geiwitz and Woodsend started corresponding, and after three years of writing letters they were married. Today they live in Victoria, British Columbia.

Geiwitz used to come back to Minneota every 10 years for high school reunions and came in 2006 for his 50th, but said this may be his last.

"I'm not going to come back," Geiwitz said. "Too many friends have died. It's become a sad occasion, not a happy one."



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