MANLY — We love our legendary legends.
Minnesota has Harmon Killebrew, Bronco Nagurski, Billy Martin, Paul Bunyan and Babe and the Bigfoot-style Minnesota Iceman.
Iowa has Hayden Fry, Johnny Orr, Fred (“The Mayor”) Hoiberg, five-term Gov. Robert Ray, 6-player girls basketball and, of course, Meredith Willson — the Music Man.
One North Iowa legend stands alone. It’s not actually a person but a newspaper headline.
We’re talking classic.
We’re talking “Manly Man Marries Fertile Woman.”
It ranks with the great ones: “Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half,” “British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands,” “Iraqi Head Seeks Arms” and “Two Sisters Reunite After 18 Years at Checkout Counter.”
But it’s a mystery. Was there — or is there — an actual Manly man, who married a woman from Fertile?
If so, how Manly was he?
And did he — has he — have they — enough dashes for you? — been to Kiester, Embarrass or Funkley, Minn.?
In the tradition of a legendary 1970s TV show, “In Search Of,” we searched from Mary’s Igloo, Alaska, to Monkey’s Eyebrow, Ariz., to Yeehaw Junction, Fla. (yep, they’re actual towns) for signs — any signs — of the elusive couple and that memorable headline.
They’re out there somewhere.
“I’ve heard some of the people talking about it. I know Jay Leno had it on his show one night,” says Fertile Mayor Joyce Russell. “It was one of those, they didn’t think about it when it was printed, and then when it came out, you’re going, ‘Whoa!’ ”
Jane Ramon, owner of the Downtown Cafe in Fertile, says she’s heard the story “millions of times.” Also that the M-Man and F-Woman named their baby Joice, as in the city just to the north.
Terri Darland of Leveen, Ariz., who summers in Hanlontown and washes dishes at the Downtown Cafe, says the legend lives.
“Oh, absolutely,” she says. “You mention it to someone, they know what you’re talking about. Every time it’s brought up, everybody gets a giggle.”
Manly native and current City Councilman Tim O’Keefe believes the legend spread because it actually happened.
“It’s still something everybody talks about,” he says.
Alas, it apparently occurred years ago. And probably lots of Manly guys have married Fertile gals.
That’s OK. Like all good mysteries, MMMFW remains shrouded in the mists of time — a sort of North Iowa Stonehenge.
Along with “Dealers Will Hear Car Talk at Noon,” “Two Soviet Ships Collide — One Dies,” “Milk Drinkers Are Turning to Powder” and “Drunks Get Nine Months in Violin Case.”
Visit the Web site http://funnies.paco.to/Headlines.html for still more actual headlines. Hope you have a fun week!
Dick Johnson writes about people, places and things on Mondays in the Globe Gazette. For comments or column ideas, call (641) 421-0556.
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