Philosophies, Speeches, Thoughts, Ideas
A Letter to the Governor
(By myself after I had lectured on the cave to a group of children and Minneapolis people.)
St. Peter, Minn.
June 20, 1952
Governor of the State of Minnesota
St. Paul, Minnesota
A scenic highway is now under construction from St. Peter to Mankato on the west bank of the Minnesota River. Close to St. Peter, right in their way, is an old cave that will be destroyed. Some thirty-five years ago an old stone cutter or sculptor purchased 35 acres surrounding this cave. He went to work, as he put it, “Putting the outside inside.”
There is a rumor that 75 years ago the Younger brothers and Jessie James gang had a hideout here prior to the Northfield bank robbery. The old man, 35 years ago, started to clean out this cave. It was full of dirt, dust, cobwebs and bats. He also found a couple of old saddles there which he claims were left by Jessie James. Be that as it may, it is a known fact that the Younger brothers bought two saddles from Henry Moll, then a harness maker in St. Peter.
The old stone cutter is now over 90 years old. He has spent 35 years engraving those stone walls inside the cave. There are hundreds of engravings, all life size. There are animals, snakes, birds and people. There is Hitler, Stalin, John Lewis, actresses, etc. In the Northfield Robbery there is Pitts standing with a raised gun. You see the fallen bank cashier and all the rest. You almost feel that you had been an eye-witness to the whole affair. Next there is a row of our boys fallen on the battlefield of South Korea. They are lying on a ledge. Then there is Adam sitting with an apple in his hand ready to take a bite and Eve near by coaxing him on. Then comes an eloquent story of the Fall and how they were chased out of the Garden of Eden.
The old man sums it all up saying, “Now I am the Adam and am chased out of this garden where I have been carving on these stone walls for 35 years. I have enjoyed it. It has kept me healthy and alive. But now they are going to crush the whole thing and I shall also be crushed and fade away and die.” It seems a cruel way to treat an old man. The last carving he showed us was of the Last Supper. This one is not stationary and is the only one he can take out of the cave with him. It is his intention to make a carving of the Resurrection. High up in the cave he has the four faces of Mt. Rushmore. In time Crazy Horse will appear too.
I could circulate a petition and get 100% signers which would not mean anything. I am over 80 years old myself and still farming and at present busy harvesting my crops. Besides that I am trying to keep off the highways as much as possible. I make it just a one man plea to you as Governor of this state that you use your influence with the highway department to circle around this Jessie James cave and save this shrine for our people and the coming generations.
Ole A. Olmanson