LITTLE FALLS (AP) - It has been reported many times that the residents of Little Falls were so angry with hometown hero Charles Lindbergh's comments that the U.S. should stay out of World War II that they painted over his name on the water tower.
The story was part of a PBS documentary about the famous pilot. It was reported in a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography released in 1999.
However, many experts doubt it happened. "I've heard the stories but I've never seen the documentation myself," said Marlene White, president of the Anoka-based Lindbergh Foundation.
There are some newspaper articles from the 1940s that back up that skepticism.
Two years ago, an eighth-grader in St. Paul researching an essay on Lindbergh found the articles from the Little Falls hometown newspapers from 1942 - a year after Lindbergh made his famous comments during a speech in Des Moines, Iowa.
He was widely criticized for saying: "The three most important groups who have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt administration."
However, the articles from the Little Falls newspapers report that the city still intended to paint Lindbergh's name to the water tower, but that city leaders were having some trouble finding a qualified painter.
"I just think it was a mistake. I don't think anybody made it up on purpose," said Ellen Rice, now 15, of the water tower story.
One article mentions an unnamed Minneapolis reporter who acknowledged he wrote - with little evidence - that Lindbergh's name was removed from the tower because of the city's disdain.
Nonetheless, the story has been repeated for decades.
"It's sort of become legend," said Mary Warner, president of the Charles Weyerhaeuser History Museum in Little Falls, near the home where Lindbergh grew up. "We just keep trying to say, 'No, that's not what happened."'
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