I recently discovered a Facebook group for people who grew up in the neighborhoods of Minneapolis that comprise what is known to the locals as "South Minneapolis". As I was born, raised and spent half of my adult life in South Minneapolis, I promptly sent off a request to join. I chuckled when I discovered that one of the administrators lived over on the next block from where I lived. Though he and his sister were both younger than me, I had been in scouts with her for a year or two.
While Minneapolis is definitely not a New York City, Chicago or Los Angeles, it is still a major city along with its twin St. Paul. These two cities which are divided by the Mississippi River are close enough in size that their nickname, "The Twin Cities" is true.
Though I might be a bit biased, I can safely say that I am not alone in my opinion that Minneapolis was a great place to spend your childhood. Just today I read a post by another member of the group who called it "a magical place to spend your childhood" and I agree, especially when it comes to South Minneapolis. It has seven lakes, Minnehaha Creek, Minnehaha Falls, Minnehaha Park and the only natural gorge on the Mississippi River. There are miles of pedestrian and bike trails as well as a parkway that winds along the lakes, the creek, the falls and the river connecting them all together. It is a place where the lakes, river, forest, fields and the city come together enabling its residents to have what I believe to be the best of both worlds. I am a city girl and yet I know what it is like to step outside, walk down the street and plunge into the water, wander through the woods without needing to get into a car and be driven there... unless you wanted to of course.
As I reminisced with other members who seem to be primarily people who grew up in South Minneapolis during the 50's, 60's and '70's, I was struck by the similariies of our memories. Though there was some variations, we all played similar games, splashed about in the lakes and/or the wading pools in the numerous city parks, claimed the alleys as our own territory and so forth. Then there was "The Corner Store". We all seemed to live near a corner store and after doing some research today, I discovered why. Until the late 60's and early 70's, they were peppered throughout the city.
My corner store was called Pik Kwik. It was in a small brick structure erected in the early 20th century and I lived just down the street from it. Stores like Pik Kwik were the forerunners of the big convenience stores of today. The weekly shopping was generally done at a larger grocery store but it was the perfect place to pick up those little things you forgot or ran out of. They also had important things like five pieces of penny candy for well... a penny.
It seemed like money was easy to obtain in those days. Streetcars used to run down the street between my house and Pik Kwik. By the time I lived there, the era of the streetcars in Minneapolis was over. They had been replaced by buses but the number 20 bus made it's way down that same road every 15-30 minutes depending on the time of day. The bus often stopped at the corner to let people on or off so it was a great place for the kids on the block to set up a lemonade stand and then divide the profit amongst ourselves.
Then there were pop bottles. We would scour the area for pop bottles and take them up to Pik Kwik where we would receive the grand sum of three cents a bottle. Later, it was increased to five cents a bottle. We would collect pennies only to turn around and exchange some of them for candy bars, licorice whips (I liked the black ones), popicles, fudgcicles , ice cream bars, ice cream sundae cups or pop. If we couldn't find pop bottles, we could always get someone's mom or dad to hire us to do a little something. After all, we really only needed a penny.
Late last night, I came across a half-forgotten memory. Sometimes on a hot and humid summer night my parents would say those magic words, "How about a root beer float?" I would skip along beside my father or mother as they walked up to the corner store to buy a quart of Dad's Root Beer and some vanilla ice cream. Then after returning home, we would sit out on the screen porch, sipping root beer floats as the sun sunk lower in the sky and the crickets began to sing. Though darkness was closing in around me, I would curl up feeling safe and happy. I was in my father's house.
There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again. ~Elizabeth Lawrence
Thanks for this blog filled with such lovely words and memories: and you painted so clearly for us, it was almost like being there.
Actually, the quotation with which you closed pretty much sums up the visual 'lens' through which I read this blog.
Am thinking of you and your family and you are in my prayers.