Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘A Place To Stand’

20140624_190832

DAR Flag, Grand Hyatt, Droid Shots, Washington, D.C., June 2014, photos © 2014 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.





Independence Day—
a place to stand
for all who have fallen





The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


This tablet with her sonnet to the Bartholdi Statue of Liberty engraved upon it, is placed upon these walls
in loving memory of Emma Lazarus

Born in New York City, July 22nd, 1849
Died November 19th, 1887



-Quote on the bronze plaque from the Liberty exhibit in the base of the Statue of Liberty, originally posted on red Ravine in the piece Going To New York. It was presented by philanthropist Georgiana Schuyler in 1903, twenty years after Emma Lazarus wrote her sonnet. Originally displayed on the interior wall of the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal, it was placed in the Liberty exhibit in the base of the monument in July, 1886.


Good Reads:
Throwback Thursday: When John Adams Thought Independence Day Was July 2
Exercising the freedom to NOT celebrate Independence Day
What the Declaration of Independence Means to Americans Today


-posted on red Ravine, Friday, July 4th, 2014.

Read Full Post »


believe


Definition: accept as true, credit with veracity, follow a credo, judge or regard
Synonyms: v. 1. maintain, assert, opine, hold, consider, regard, conceive, trust, have faith in, confide in, credit, accept, affirm, swear by, have no doubt
Quotes: ♦ In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true. — Buddha

 

♦ I believe that every person is born with talent.  — Maya Angelou

 

♦ The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just. — Abraham Lincoln

 

♦ 20. Believe in the holy contour of life — Jack Kerouac from BELIEF & TECHNIQUE FOR MODERN PROSE

Antonyms: disbelieve, distrust



I believe…



Do you believe in the Lock Ness Monster, the Man in the Moon, Santa Claus? Do you believe in finding Big Foot, flying saucers, ghosts in the machine? Do you believe this year will be better than the last? Do you believe in yourself, your visions, your dreams? The things I believe change from year to year, decade to decade. I used to believe in the tooth fairy, the Velvet Underground, peace, love and rock and roll. What do you believe?

In the 1950s, a radio program called This I Believe was hosted by journalist Edward R. Murrow. Each day, Americans gathered by their radios to hear essays from people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Wallace Stegner, Helen Keller, and Harry Truman—anyone able to distill the guiding principles by which they lived into a few minutes. (For inspiration, you can listen to essays on broadcasts from the 1950s at This I Believe.)

What are the principles by which you live? Are they different than they were two, three, or four years ago? Do you hang around friends who share your beliefs? Or push to expose yourself to other ways of thinking. The goal of the contemporary version of This I Believe (revived on NPR in 2004) was not to persuade Americans to agree on the same beliefs, but to encourage people to develop respect for beliefs different from their own.


Get out your fast writing pens and write the Topic I believe… at the top of your spiral notebook (or start tapping away on your computer or Smartphone).

You can write a haiku, tanka, or gogyohka  practice and post it in the comments.

Or you may be surprised at what you discover when you follow the rules of Writing Practice —- I believe…, 10 minutes, Go!


-posted on red Ravine, Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Read Full Post »

River Painting, dusk along the Mississippi River, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

River Painting, drive-by shooting of dusk along the Mississippi River after a walk with two Midwest writers, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

Last week I finished reading writer Patricia Hampl’s memoir The Florist’s Daughter. It is set in her hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota. The landmarks are familiar to me, and I identify with her descriptions of “middledom” — the ordered streets, the litterless greenways and lakes, the pressure to conform that naturally seeps into the psyche when one lives in the Midwest.

But I was telling a friend, after 25 years of living in the Twin Cities (and I do love it here), I am still a transplant. My roots are steeped in memories of Southern dialect, and the writing and letters of writers like Flannery O’Connor, Alice Walker, and Carson McCullers. I feel an intense connection to the land and culture in the South. The years in Georgia (birth to 12), less than half the time I have lived in Minnesota, shaped me.

I am from the Midwest but not of it.

 

The Midwest. The flyover, where even the towns have fled to the margins, groceries warehoused in Wal-Marts hugging the freeways, the red barns of family farms sagging, dismantled and sold as “distressed” wood for McMansion kitchens, the feedlots of agribusiness crouched low to the prairie ground. Of all the American regions, the Midwest remains the most imaginary, ahistorical but fiercely emblematic. It’s Nowheresville. But it’s also the Heartland. That weight again: the innocent middle. Though it isn’t innocent. It’s where the American imagination has decided to archive innocence.

   -excerpt from The Florist’s Daughter, by Patricia Hampl

 

Patrician Hampl is a poet and a writer. She has written four memoirs and two collections of poetry. And maybe because it’s National Poetry Month, I was drawn to the way she weaves poetry into memoir when describing the differences in her relationship with her mother and father. One wanted her to be a poet; the other, a writer:

 
He could accept the notion of my being “a poet” better than my mother’s idea that I was “a writer.” Poets are innocents, they belong to the ether and the earth. They don’t narrow their eyes and tell tales as “writers” do, proving in their mean-spirited way that the earthlings are filled with greed and envy, that the world is a spiral of small-minded gestures. Poets, at least, don’t tell tales on other people. They celebrate beauty. They make much of the little. Flowers, birds, the names of things are important to them. So being a poet was all right, though hopeless.

There was, even in “tragic” poetry, a note of optimism, of hope, the lyric lilt of meaning and significance. And he was determined to be cheerful all his life.

 

___________________________________________

 

But for the most part he was silent, absolutely without affect. Finally let down his guard. I would chatter, ask him things, I got nothing—nothing—back. He just sat there, staring. Natter, natter, natter, my voice doing all the cheerfulness, his voice fallen silent as the midsummer fronds of wild rice made low hissing sounds in the wind. His real being, bleached to virtual absence by sun and water, descended to the soundless fish world where you didn’t need to say a thing.

Something about silence, something of silence was at the resistant core of poetry. Silence had to do with honesty. Just sit in the boat and stare at the lake’s troubled surface. No opinions, no judgments. No Leo the Lion—she almost never went out in the boat.

   -excerpts from The Florist’s Daughter by Patricia Hampl
 

♦       ♦       ♦       ♦       ♦

 

A few days ago, a Bill Holm poem rolled into my inbox; it was sent by Ted Kooser on behalf of American Life in Poetry. Two more Midwest poets. We had been speaking of Bill Holm in the comments on several posts after he died unexpectedly a few months ago. He spent much of his time near his roots in Iceland, and I got to thinking, what is a regional writer?

What if you were born and spent your formative years in Virginia, your teenage and college years in Nebraska, then moved to Pittsburgh and New York like Willa Cather. Or were born and raised in Iowa but lived most of your adult life in Nebraska like Ted Kooser. Where are you from? What if you lived in Georgia as a child, Pennsylvania as a teenager, Montana in your twenties, and Minnesota for the rest of your life. Are you a Midwest, Northeast, or Southern writer?

Is it personal preference? The place you were born and raised. The town where you spent most of your life. Do you choose the place. Or does the place choose you? When have you lived in a place long enough to say “I’m from….” When can you call a place “home?”

 

___________________________________________

 

American Life in Poetry: Column 213

By Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-2006

 

Bill Holm, one of the most intelligent and engaging writers of our northern plains, died on February 25th. He will be greatly missed. He and I were of the same generation and we shared the same sense of wonder, amusement, and skepticism about the course of technology. I don’t yet own an Earbud, but I won’t need to, now that we have Bill’s poem.

 

Earbud

Earbud–a tiny marble sheathed in foam
to wear like an interior earring so you
can enjoy private noises wherever you go,
protected from any sudden silence.
Only check your batteries, then copy
a thousand secret songs and stories
on the tiny pod you carry in your pocket.
You are safe now from other noises made
by other people, other machines, by chance,
noises you have not chosen as your own.
To get your attention, I touch your arm
to show you the tornado or the polar bear.
Sometimes I catch you humming or talking to the air
as if to a shrunken lover waiting in your ear.

 

___________________________________________

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c)2008 by Bill Holm, whose most recent book of poems is “Playing the Black Piano,” Milkweed Editions, 2004. Poem reprinted by permission of Bill Holm. Introduction copyright (c)2009 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.



 
-posted on red Ravine from the Midwest, salt of the Earth country, on April 22nd, Earth Day, 2009

-related to posts:  Got Poetry? (National Poem In Your Pocket Day)Book Talk – Do You Let Yourself Read?, Desire And A Library Card — The Only Tools Necessary To Start A Poetry Group, WRITING TOPIC – A PLACE TO STAND

Read Full Post »

The Black Watch Tartan & Targe, St. Simons Island, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

The Black Watch Tartan & Targe, Fort Frederica, St. Simons Island, Georgia, July 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






brand new lease on life
back in the memoir saddle
where do I begin?


ancestors calling
haunting photos of Georgia —
let’s start with the Scots


family line(age),
saturated memories;
everything passed down.






Georgia’s Scottish Highlanders: Memoir Calls Again


Life circumstances have bestowed upon me the gift of time. I called Mom last weekend and we began talking ancestry again (one of our favorite topics). I’m not sure if I’ll be visiting Georgia this summer, but the seed has been planted. I’ve renewed the research catalogue we use for the family tree. And have begun going back through the photographs taken over the last two summers in Georgia and South Carolina.

History excites me; I love the ghosts of the past. Especially if they are connected to the history of our family. Mom has (almost) traced our ancestry back to the Scottish Highlanders in Darien, Georgia (Irish side of family, perhaps Scots-Irish). When we were at John Wesley’s place (English clergyman and founder of Methodism) on St. Simons Island, we read several accounts in old ledgers that led us to believe a member of our family was a Scottish Highlander. The search goes on for that one definitive piece of recorded evidence to back it up.

The Highlanders were known for their battle skills and the British recruited them to help settle the Colonies. Scottish troops serving in the British Army were sent to Georgia in 1736 to set up a new outpost. Under the leadership of General James Oglethorpe, these men established the settlement of Darien and a sawmill along the Altamaha River.

Mom, Liz, and I visited the buzzing wildness of Fort King George last summer. We braved the dripping humidity to walk through one of the ancient cemeteries at the edge of Darien, and the perimeter of a tabby building, now a historic site, that was one of the first black churches in the area (at the time many people in Darien were against slavery). It’s a sleepy, quiet river town. And boy, was it hot there last July!


Scottish Highlander Targe, St. Simons Island, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Scottish Highlander Targe, St. Simons Island, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Scottish Highlander Targe, St. Simons Island, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Warrior Shield: History of the Targe


We had driven to Darien after our stay on beautiful St. Simons Island and a visit to Fort Frederica. St. Simons played a pivotal role in the struggle for empire between the competing colonial interests of England and Spain. Georgia’s fate was decided in 1742 when Spanish and British forces clashed on the Island. Fort Frederica’s troops defeated the Spanish, ensuring Georgia’s future as a British colony. Today, the archeological remnants of Frederica are protected by the National Park Service.

While Liz was out taking video of a British reenactment at Fort Frederica (complete with musket fire), Mom and I, sweat-covered and tired, slipped into the historical area where it was cool and checked out the books and exhibits. I was immediately drawn to the glass case with what looked like a life-sized mandala shield that turned out to be a targe.

One of our ancestors may have worn The Black Watch Tartan (plaid fabric) authorized for use by the Scottish troops serving in the British Army. Or maybe they carried a targe. I did find a link to the history of the targe written by a man who is still constructing them by hand — John Stewart, The Targeman. According to his site, the targe dates back to the 16th Century and was once the Scottish Highlander’s first line of defense. I was fascinated by the details in these excerpts:


Construction —
Targes are round shields between 18″ and 21″ (45–55 cm) in diameter with an inside formed from two very thin layers of flat wooden boards, the grain of each layer at right angles to the other. Targes were fixed together with small wooden pegs, forming plywood. The front was covered with a tough cowhide that was fixed to the wood with many brass, or in some cases, silver, nails. Sometimes brass plates were also fixed to the face for strength and decoration.

Some targes had center bosses of brass, and a few of these could accept a long steel spike which screwed into a small “puddle” of lead which was fixed to the wood, under the boss. When not in use, the spike could be unscrewed and placed in a sheath on the back of the targe.


Materials —
Most targes had their back covered with cow and goat, and 80% of original targes still show straw, crude wool and other stuffing material beneath their ruined skins. Some targes, usually those actually used in battle, had their backs covered in a piece of red cloth taken from the uniform of a government soldier (a “Redcoat”) that the owner had killed in battle.


Design —
The face of a targe was often decorated with embossed Celtic style patterns. Typically two general patterns were used – concentric circles, or a centre boss with subsidiary bosses around this. An exception is the targe in Perth Museum in Scotland which is of a star design (see photo at his site). Although some targe designs appear to have been more popular than others, there is very little to indicate that there ever were “clan” designs.


The targe reminds me of a protective mandala — a warrior shield. Yet I had to wonder how much protection it actually provided in times of war. The Targeman answered that question, too. He mentioned that after the disastrous defeat of the Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the carrying of the targe would have been banned, and many may have been destroyed or put to other uses.


Scottish Highlander Targe, St. Simons Island, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Scottish Highlander Targe, St. Simons Island, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Scottish Highlander Targe, St. Simons Island, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Epilogue


It gave me an eerie feeling knowing I was walking the same ground my ancestors had centuries before. It’s not that all of this historical detail will make it into a memoir — it’s terra firma, a place to stand. The composting of past experience lays the ground for the person I have become. What if an ancestor’s Black Watch Tartan and Targe, in some strange way, blazed the way for the mandala practice last year? And the circle archetype must hold both war and peace.



Resources & Information:



-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, March 5th, 2009

-related to posts: haiku 2 (one-a-day), Coloring Mandalas, W. H. Murray – Providence Moves Too

Read Full Post »

Georgia Peach, North Augusta, South Carolina, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Georgia Peaches, small roadside market near North Augusta, South Carolina, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.











boiled peanuts, okra;
the whole wide world in a bite
of fresh Georgia peach












Post Script:  Special thanks to my step-dad — well, I call him Daddy. But some call him George, and some call him Robbie, and some call him Big Daddy, and Liz calls him Sweet Lou — for carting us around Georgia and South Carolina the last few summers. This year he took us to this little roadside stand for fresh watermelon, okra, corn, figs, peaches and boiled peanuts.

He also came to meet Liz at the airport with Mom and me, gave her a big hug when she arrived from Atlanta, and another one when she got on the plane to fly back to Minneapolis. I hope he knows how much I appreciate his kindness, his big heart, and the way he drove Liz, Mom, and me around so that Liz could see and hear about my old childhood haunts. (This is one of those cases where 1000 words of history from my parents is worth more than a single photograph.)

After Daddy left to drive to Tennessee for the funeral of his brother, and then on to Pennsylvania to help take care of my brother, Mom and I stayed on a while longer. We took one more late afternoon trip to the roadside stand the night before we left, and bought fresh boiled peanuts to cart back to my brothers, sister, and sister-in-law in Pennsylvania.

While Mom tasted a fresh fig, the feisty Korean woman who runs the stand with her husband told me that for the last two or three decades she has farmed the land and made the South her home. She loves it there. And forever her home it will be.



-posted on red Ravine, Friday, September 12th, 2008

-related to post: haiku (one-a-day

Read Full Post »

At the beginning of the year we read Jimmy Santiago Baca’s memoir, A Place To Stand. It’s the story of his growing up, his parent’s break-up while he was still young, living temporarily with his beloved grandpa, then an orphanage, eventually the D-home, and finally, years in a maximum-security prison. It’s also the story of his becoming a man and a poet.

Certain images from the memoir stick with me. A young Jimmy cowering under his parents’ bed while they fight (then do they make love?). St. Anthony’s Boys Home, alone and lonely in a way even his brother can’t begin to compensate for. The prison scenes, I thought, were especially vivid. 

The way I see it, Santiago Baca wrote about little place and big Place. Little place: his grandparents’ property in Estancia, or the hardest-core cellblock called “the dungeon.” Big Place: his culture and his people, where he came from. Where he went.

This week, write about little place or big Place. Jot down the address or name of a city where you once lived and just go. What comes out? Maybe the details of a neighborhood you loved or the realization that the reason you never felt secure was because you never were. Do a fifteen-minute practice, then polish it into a short essay. Read it out loud to someone you want to know from where it was you came.

Read Full Post »

Gold Medal Flour, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 Gold Medal Flour, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, the building is now the Mill City Museum, all photos © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



I’m pulled to write about the ordinary, the two mile chunk of land surrounding the Mill City Museum in a place once deemed “The Flour Milling Capital of the World” – Minneapolis. The riverbank near the “A” building of the old Washburn flour milling complex, under the Gold Medal Flour sign, has called to me since I moved to Minneapolis in 1984.

I was young. And lost. I had no job. I was searching. I used to take long drives by the urban snake of the Mississippi to clear my head. On those pilgrimages, I fell in love with West River Road, particularly the land closest to Saint Anthony Falls. Saint Anthony was originally the only falls on the upper length of the Mississippi River. And Spirit Island, sacred landmark to the Dakota, used to rise from the water to the west.

Legend has it that Dakota women would go to Spirit Island to give birth. But, at some point, industry, and a series of misrepresented treaty negotiations, got the upper hand, and the island was bulldozed away. I will never step foot on her. But ghosts of the old mill buildings rise like sentinels on my early evening motorcycle rides through the dense river odors and splatted mosquitoes of the humid Midwest summers.



    River Stems, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.River Stems, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.River Stems, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



In July of 2003, I had just started to date Liz. The first time she rode on the back of my Honda Rebel, she had on knee length jean shorts, a tank top with plummeting cleavage, and white Doc Martens. It was humid and hot; the tail pipe sizzled when we motorcycled to the Mill City Museum opening.

The Minnesota Historical Society sponsored the event. The place was packed. We listened to a band she loved named Iffy and danced under an open air tent in the heat. By the time we made it into the museum, we were sweaty, and it was 15 minutes until closing. But it didn’t matter. I loved being there.

The original structure was designed by Austrian engineer William de la Barre and built in 1880. The Washburn A building is the predecessor to what would become the father to Betty Crocker’s wide-mouthed kitchen, General Mills. At its heyday, enough flour was generated from that building to produce 12 million loaves of bread a day. There was a volatile grain dust blast in 1882. And another fire in 1991 gutted the building.

After many incarnations, the building still stands. And the Mill City Museum won the 2005 Honor Award for Outstanding Architecture by the firm Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle. It’s easy to see why. The design encompasses both inside and out, leaves some of the enormous milling machines intact along the interior brick walls, and keeps the rough hewn rusticness alive. Minneapolis gummed its pink lipped baby teeth on Gold Medal flour, and seeing the city’s industrial roots is thrilling. It’s an eerie Matrix-like combo of old and new.



   Treads, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Treads, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Treads, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



I was a few months away from moving in with Liz in July of 2006. The Guthrie Theater opened its new building by the river, complete with what a friend of mine calls “Jean Nouvel’s electrifying blue steel phallus” – an urban 4th floor cantilever that comes to a screeching midair halt, right next store to the museum.

Liz used to work for the Guthrie before its divorce from the Walker Art Center. She graciously bought tickets for me and her Mom to see F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby. We ate at a trendy restaurant cattycorner to Jean Nouvel’s “endless bridge” and people watched enter condos that seem to multiply like flies near the museum.

Even the elegant old Whitney Hotel closed and is being converted into million dollar sky dwellings. I used to drive by the North Star Blanket building across the street with the vine covered walls and wish I could afford to purchase a unit. Ten years ago my therapist told me to buy a condo when the West River Road concept was in its infancy. The Twin Cities warehouse-converted-to-artist-studio craze had just begun.

I never did buy. And now, here I am, living in a first ring suburb, but happy as a clam. I love the peace and quiet. And I don’t miss the crime. It’s perfect for a writer. But I do love to visit my beloved river haunts. I take the parkway drive whenever I go into the city.



Stone Arch Bridge, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Stone Arch Bridge, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



And at least once a week, I drive by the Mill City Museum, the Stone Arch Bridge built by James J. Hill, local railroad tycoon, and Bohemian Flats where I sat in the winter of 2005 in the middle of a snowstorm and watched a bearded man with a black beanie cap fly a yellow kite.

Bohemian Flats used to be a shanty town of immigrants; some of the local elite called them squatters. The immigrant population changed from year to year as out-of-towners migrated to the city to work in the mills and lumber yards.

As the ethnicity of the immigrants changed, so did the names used for the Flats:  Little Bohemia, Little Ireland, Connemara Near Bohemian Flats, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Patch, the Cabbage Patch, Little Lithuania, or the Danish Flats (the first couple to establish residence there was Danish). But Bohemian Flats is the one that stuck. I always liked the word “bohemian” for its artistic connotations. But the name Bohemian Flats is rooted in the Czech population that once settled there.

Bohemian Flats was driven to extinction in 1932 by eminent domain laws and a few porcelain skinned Northerners who may have had a hidden agenda. But this isn’t a political piece. (Is it?)

The two mile river corridor nestled close to downtown and curving by the Mill City Museum (that I lovingly call the Gold Medal building) is my little oasis in the city storm. In 1870, the population of Minneapolis was 13,000. By 1890, it had grown to 165,000 led by a powder keg of flour dust and the power of Saint Anthony Falls.

Estimates are that in 1900, only five percent of bread consumed was bakery-made. But by the time the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, bakeries were making 30 percent of the nation’s bread. Breaking bread became the great American past time.

In 2005, the population of Minneapolis/St. Paul was 647,000. I’m just a little doughboy dot, a blip over the falls of Minneapolis history. The lime and sandstone tiers on the two mile mill corridor by the Mississippi are magical in a Gold Medal Mill, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.snowstorm – and my Natural Wonder.

They say there were 79 steps down to Bohemian Flats, a place few dared to roam in the late 1800’s (except those seeking cheap housing or the free dead wood that floated down the river in spring). I can only imagine what it must have been like to survive a turn of the century Northern winter. But preservation of the history of places like Bohemian Flats, Mill City, the Stone Arch Bridge, Spirit Island, and Saint Anthony Falls makes it easier for me to time travel.

Ironically, what I sought in 1984 when I moved from the jagged tops of Big Sky Country to a bustling Midwestern metropolis, was peace and solitude. I found it in my drive-by views of the ghost town mills near sacred islands on the Mississippi, and brownstone buildings in constant battle with the elements.

I watched the Mississippi from a sidewalk cafe last summer. The old mills are alive with 21st century faces. Joggers, bikers, motorcyclists, Guthrie seekers, history buffs, the rich who inhabit the condos, and homeless vagrants who sometimes pass and sleep by the river.



-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, November 28th, 2007

-an essay about 5 Minneapolis Landmarks: the Mill City Museum, Bohemian Flats, the Stone Arch Bridge, Spirit Island, St. Anthony Falls, that started as a Writing Practice

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – NATURAL WONDERS

Read Full Post »