Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Our bus left Minneapolis, one time home to F. Scott Fitzgerald, bound for Hibbing via Route 35 at 8:30 AM. Our invading force included fans, lawyers, scholars, poets and professors. During the three hour journey we discussed lepers and crooks while watching Dylan DVDs. For almost all of us, it was our first pilgrimage to Dylan’s hometown where Greyhound Bus originated. Joining us on the bus tour was famed Dylan author Michael Gray.

50 Dylan fans gathering around Zimmy's. Our possee included folks from six different countries.
When we arrived in Hibbing at noon, the sign of the Wells Fargo Bank informed us it was 69 degrees. A change in the weather is known to be extreme, but according to locals, a month earlier it was 20 degrees below zero.

Our first stop was a fine establishment named Zimmy’s, where a buffet of delicacies including brownies made from Beattie Zimmerman’s recipe awaited us. Owner Bob Hocking, who rolled out the red carpet for us, changed the name of the place to Zimmy’s about 15 years earlier. Two large dining rooms with a wrap-around bar in the middle are decorated with a plethora of Dylan memorabilia dangling from all over. B. J. Rolfzen was on hand signing copies of his memoir on growing up during The Depression in Minnesota. B.J. was Bob’s English teacher and an important influence in developing Bob’s love for words and poetry. Also joining us for the tour was Hibbing resident, Leroy Hoikkala, who was the drummer in Bob’s high school band the Golden Chords.

You can call this place Zimmy's...located on Howard St. in the heart of Hibbing.

Howard just pointed with his gun, he said, "that way down Highway 61!"

The Magical Mystery Bus Tour began with a visit to the original Hibbing, which is at the bottom of the largest man made pit in the world. The pit, which helped fuel U.S. victories in World Wars I and II, stretches low and wide in all directions. Hibbing is known as “the town that moved.” The mining companies literally moved Hibbing two miles south so that they could get at the vast quantities of iron ore that lay beneath the heart of town. Many houses were uprooted and moved fully intact. Hibbing was a well off community at the time, so to placate the residents; the mining companies built three magnificent structures for the community: The Androy Hotel, City Hall, and Hibbing High School.

The World is Yours! Welcome to the largest man made pit in the world, formerly Hibbing, Minnesota

Hibbing High School is where Bob Zimmerman received his education, grades 1-12. In 1920 money, the school cost 4 million dollars to build. It’s a colossal four story structure – a monument to the importance of education. Numerous artistic treasures can be found throughout. The architecture is dazzling, marble busts, brass rails, decorative ceilings, and painted murals decorate this building. It’s the type of school you would expect Roman Emperors to build for their children. It’s the only time I’ve ever been impressed by the sight of a high school.

Here it is - Hibbing High Auditorium, modeled after the Capitol Theatre in New York. This stunning theatre, which masquerades as an auditorium, seats 1805 people. It’s the scene of Bob’s first public performance which didn’t go so well. Instead of giving him the hook, the principal cut of his microphone. An axe wielding Pete Seeger was backstage threatening to smash the piano to smithereens if the principal didn’t put an end to the proceedings.Ho ho ho. Maria Mulduar is scheduled to perform on this stage for Dylan Days 2007. Here’s some pictures, that due to poor lighting, don’t really capture the majesty of this venue.

This is the house where Bob grew up. The owner was kind enough to let us in to see the bottom floor. It’s a modest, yet cozy house with eight foot ceilings downstairs. On those 20 degree below zero Hibbing nights, Bob must have been up in his bedroom listening to the radio and dreaming up themes and schemes.

None shall Pass! That’s me blocking the front entrance to Bob’s Childhood home. I appear to be in some sort of meditative trance.

Inspired by my day in Hibbing, I expressed myself by painting Blood on the Tracks on the garage of the former Zimmerman residence.

Hibbing Memorial Arena - A place to enjoy some good clean fun.

A typical Hibbing Saturday in March, the ladies are curling the afternoon away. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen live curling.

If you prefer rock and roll, you can head downstairs to the “Little Theatre.” Led by Robert Zimmerman, the Golden Chords rocked the house with Little Richard’s Jenny Jenny back in 1958.

Dylan Symposium at the University of Minnesota…Bob Hocking, owner of Zimmy’s (center), an enthusiast from Alaska (left)

A special thanks goes out to Coleen Sheehy who was instrumental in putting together the Dylan Symposium, the exhibition at the Weisman Museum and the bus trip to Hibbing.


Unknown said...


I met you on the tour for a brief bit. We were in line at Zimmy's together. You had just bought a Bob Dylan pillow. Just stopping in to check out the site and say hello. How was the symposium? I didn't make it.


Catfish said...

First day of the Symposium was great. Greil Mrcus delivered an excellent speech and I met a lot of cool people during the cocktail party.After day 1,I had to go back to NYC,I do belive I had enough.

Unknown said...

What did he say?

Catfish said...

His speech started out with, "As I went out," he was refrencing Ain't Talkin'. He talked about how he was giving a speech and a woman asked him if he'd ever actually been to Hibbing.He'd never been there, so he made his first trip in 2006.

He really hit home talking about how moved he was by his visit. It really hit the spot with most of us, being we were there the day before.

That's a day, and a place I'll never forget.

Unknown said...

Me either. It was great. I was listening to The Times They are a Changin this weekend. Listen to the song North Country Blues now after seeing the Hibbing mine. It will conjure up recollections immediately.


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