A section of South Minneapolis, between Bloomington and Hennepin Avenues and Franklin and Lake Streets, was known to the old-time door-to-door salesman who practised their trade there as "the jungle." It has always been an area of young people, either people living on their own in apartments or duplexes, or young couples, just starting out on their life together. As these people get older, they move away, and are in return replaced by a new generation. The salesmen, who could make a pretty good living selling home necessities to an always changing clientele, are but a distant memory, with the possible exception of security system installers or home improvement entrepreneurs. Now, people buy things like that at Wal-Mart or Target, or even on the internet. I remember my mother getting regular visits from her "Men"- the magazine salesman (always wearing a suit and a fedora), the Fuller Brush man (who was blind), and even Bubber
, who would try to sell her greeting cards. But I digress.
So this section of Minneapolis was (is) also renown for Friday or Saturday night parties, and just a general air of excitement. At one such party, some considerable time ago, the young Batty and an avian-named friend found themselves on a hot August night. The vibes were mellow, with Joe Cocker on the stereo and a willowy hostess who was casually embracing each arriving party-goer, as if she were giving a hands-on definition of the word "lithe." We hadn't been there very long, when a loud shouts and the sounds of things crashing were heard from the kitchen. A fight. We barely knew these people, we made for the front door. When we were out on the sidewalk, the screen door exploded, a young wild man, fists flailing and feet kicking, was smashing anything he could, he truly had the demeanor of a Berserker
We went to a nearby friends house, where things were somewhat more civilized. He was dieting to escape the draft, nibbling on sunflower seeds to stave off hunger pangs. He had a strange gleam in his eye as well- but the "high" of a fasting person is a whole 'nother realm from that of a maniac.
We went back to the party house after a while. My friend had a large bag that she had left behind, in it were some beads (I know, Hippie Beads
, right? Well it was 1970, after all!) that had been taken. Evidently the Berserker was a distraction so his buddies could steal what ever they could get their hands on. Saturday night in "The Jungle" where the excitement never ended; and where, by day, the vacuum cleaner and encyclopedia salesmen would also be on the prowl.