West High School - Davenport, Iowa
Literary scavenger hunt winner sought a soulful experience along with the grand prize
Elizabeth Goodman 1968
Elizabeth Goodman 1968
Elizabeth Goodman Hallowell
Elizabeth Goodman Hallowell

By Mary Ann Grossmann | mgrossmann@pioneerpress.com | Pioneer Press
PUBLISHED: February 6, 2010 at 11:01 pm | UPDATED: November 12, 2015 at 8:37 am

Elizabeth Goodman Hallowell, grand prize winner of the Around the World in (Almost) 80 Days literary scavenger hunt, says the competition was more than game-playing for her. It was a spiritual experience.

“This was a rewarding personal journey for me, because it helped me connect with my son, Glenn, who passed away from cancer 18 months ago at 39,” Hallowell said.

Around the World, the first event of its kind in the Twin Cities, was sponsored by Minneapolis-based literary publishers Graywolf Press, Coffee House Press, Milkweed Editions and the Loft writers’ center in honor of their various anniversaries. From October to December, questions about Minnesota writers were printed in the local media and online. Players took their correct answers to two or three designated venues each week, where staffs stamped their “passports.”

Esther Porter, Coffee House Press publicist and spokeswoman for the hunt, says: “We weren’t even sure one person would visit all the places.” But of the 200 people who played the game, seven visited all 26 venues. Hallowell won in a random selection.

“When I saw a poster for the scavenger hunt at Minnesota Center for Book Arts, I wanted to participate to pay tribute to the richness of my son’s life,” Hallowell said.

“Glenn and I had frequented all these bookstores, except for the one in White Bear Lake (North Country Booksellers) and in Hudson, Wis. (Valley Bookseller). Micawber’s (in St. Paul) was our ‘home’ bookstore, and Barnes & Noble in Roseville became a favorite gathering place for family members with my son. Glenn was bipolar, but that was not who he was; it was an illness he had. He was a brilliant, widely read man who enjoyed performance art and animated animal puppets. One thing that helped me grieve is carrying one of his bears everywhere I go.”

Hallowell, a chapter house advocate at a sorority on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus, says she knew the answers to most of the clues “right off the bat,” except for No. 4: “Which Pulitzer Prize-winning poet wrote a poem that references the Walker Art Center, the Guthrie Theater and the former Minneapolis Artificial Limb Exchange, and what is the name of the poem? The answer: James Wright, “The Minneapolis Poem.” (Wright’s poem begins, “I wonder how many old men last winter/Hungry and frightened by namelessness prowled/The Mississippi shore/Lashed blind by the wind, dreaming/Of suicide in the river …”).

“I wasn’t familiar with Wright, and I was so moved by the pain of that poem, it’s so cogent to what was happening at that time and now,” said Hallowell, who has taken many classes in writing and women writers as a “feminist spirituality” student in the University of Minnesota’s Continuing Education for Women program.

Hallowell probably gets her love of poetry from her 89-year-old mother, Charlotte Virginia Johnson Goodman, a former elementary-school teacher whose poetry collection the family is planning to publish. Her love of reading was also fostered by her father, Arthur Goodman, a double leg amputee who fought in Belgium during World War II.

Hallowell, who was born in Little Falls, has roots in St. Paul. Her great-grandfather, John Wesley Goodman, had a dairy near the State Fairgrounds and owned a bakery and grocery. The business lasted from the 1890s to 1956.

She was in high school in Davenport, Iowa, when she met her future husband, Lyle Allen Hallowell. After graduating from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, they moved to the Twin Cities so Lyle could attend graduate school at the University of Minnesota while Elizabeth earned a degree in elementary education and psychology.

The couple divorced in 1982, and Lyle is now chair of the sociology department at Nassau Community College in Long Island, N.Y.

Elizabeth Hallowell has worked in the University of Minnesota’s department of geography and spent 7 1/2 years collecting data on drunken drivers in Hennepin County for a U.S. Department of Transportation research project on alcoholism, Hennepin County ASAP. She drove a Metropolitan Transit Commission bus for three years full-time.

She enjoyed trekking to all the scavenger hunt venues on Sundays and in the evenings, often meeting other players. One of them was Deena Strohman, a University of Minnesota doctoral candidate who participated in the hunt by taking a bus everywhere. That meant walking four miles from the bus stop to the store in White Bear Lake.

“Deena was a real trooper,” Hallowell says.

Hallowell will spend the coming months reading because the grand prize included a season pass to the “Talking Volumes” reading series, a Loft membership and almost 20 books published last year by the three sponsoring publishers. She can’t wait to plunge into all that luscious prose and poetry.

Book critic Mary Ann Grossmann can be reached at
mgrossmann@pioneerpress.com or 651-228-5574.