I connected with Frank Nichols through a friend of a new friend — been doing a lot of that lately. Aside from the fact that he’s a woodworker and has lived in Duluth for awhile, I didn’t really have too much on him. However, after a few correspondences and a phone call, he graciously invited me to his house to talk.
I told Frank that I’d like to hear any perspective on Duluth he wanted to share. He claimed to have a bad memory, but he was soon telling me about his experiences moving to and finding his way here in ’88 — his first accidental steps into Duluth, finding the creative community here, and eventually making his own space. That’s what we recorded.
Frank was incredibly generous with his story, and as he spoke, I was completely absorbed in the litany of names and circumstances and places. The interview is minimally edited, which means it’s a bit of a long listen. In the first of two parts, he discusses marital tragedy, coming to Duluth, his rowdy first day in town, finding an unlikely home, cosmic convergence, and slowly putting some pieces back together again:
(Part two below.)
In part two, Frank discusses the space he made for himself in Duluth (in a sub-basement), his fortuitous tribe, how his kids felt about the space, leaving the sub-basement, the role of woodworking in his life, and a few final reflections on Duluth:
I really appreciated my time with Frank. At times, he was almost bracingly candid and sincere. I left his house still lost in his story, thoughts of wampeters, foma, and granfalloons bouncing around my head.