Friday, February 05, 2016


The neighborhood I moved into when I left home was, to put it mildly, in transition. Many of the houses and businesses had already been razed; there were plans for more redevelopment. One location, a block away from my house, was a prime example. The Salvation Army had (and still has) a large complex where they processed donations and sold some of them in a store (on the corner, pictured above.) Upstairs from the store was a men’s dormitory. It is still there as well, although it is now only a minor player in Minneapolis’ burgeoning homeless problem. The anomaly was the large house which sat directly across street from the Sal:

I had the opportunity to inspect it when the owners—middle-aged men who had grown up in the house—were having an estate sale when it had been sold (for a parking lot.) It was quite a building in its heyday, eighty years prior. It had fabulous woodwork, fireplaces, and many spacious rooms that had not been butchered by remodeling. The sale, however, was a disaster. They had done almost no prep, the house was filled their parents mementos and personal things. Nothing was priced. When I asked about a some 45 rpm records one of the men, embarrassed, said “Oh, that's not in the sale.” I gave up on buying anything, the vibes were too weird. There were obviously issues that needed to be resolved. Nevertheless I did spend some time looking around. One thing I did notice was a stack of photographs—8x10s, professionally shot. They were of the Minneapolis Aquatennial parade, sometime in the early fifties. There were many pictures of the "Junior Royalty"—and I realized that the boys in the pictures were the owners of the house. 

There were dozens of houses in my old neighborhood that were destroyed. Everyone of them had a story, a story of better times, before the world changed around them and they became redundant.  My story was only beginning then, it was still full of joy and promise, although ultimately all of us who shared in that great adventure were also forced to leave, supplanted by freeways and parking lots. In an ironic twist, many of the buildings pictured behind the Salvation Army have been turned into pricey condos. Just to the right of building in the center of the top picture (with the water tower), sits a new Major League Baseball stadium, a modern commuter rail line meets the light rail system in the same location.

We were forty years too early.

A North Fifth Street Story.

By Professor Batty


Blogger Jono said...

The joys of urban removal.

Blogger Shoshanah Marohn said...

Your estate sale story reminds me of an "open house" I went to once in Pueblo, Coorado. The old house was for sale, and the sign outside said, "open house." And yet I went inside, and there was really personal clutter everywhere. A woman and a friend of hers were sitiing at the kitchen table, smoking and talking. I asked if I could look around and she just said, "go ahead". It was a dark and gloomy house of narrow hallways and staircases- the kind of place that really fascinates me- a Colorado Victorian. I went upstairs and it seemed like a significant door was locked. I tried it several times, then went back down to ask the people at the table.

"Oh, that's Dan's part of the house. You can't go in there."

"But..." I protested, "the house is for sale?"

"Yeah, but that's Dan's part."

"So..." I just couldn't think of what to say. Would purchasing the house automatically be a deal to live forever with Dan?

I gave up and left. We bought a house two blocks away, so I often saw that house and wondered what their deal was?

Blogger Professor Batty said...

Jono~ that area is still in flux, the full redevelopment hasn't reached where I used to live.

Shoshanah~ Great story! I'm always amazed at estate sales and open houses that aren't really committed to their reason for existence. I've been to swap meets where the vendors have things that "aren't for sale" as well.

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