• NORTH MINNEAPOLIS from LOVE IMAGINED

    Date: 2013.09.23 | Category: LOVE IMAGINED, The Art of Writing | Tags: ,,,,,,,,,

    Truly, I have been working on my book, and if I could just keep editing instead of stopping and starting overwhelmed by my own darn self at times, then maybe LOVE IMAGINED would be off to the publisher.  Actually, I can do this, it’s almost finished (I keep telling myself).  The problem now is the ending, currently I have three endings!  And formatting, I’m not sure where to add the historical facts, but I’m workin’ on it.

    It’s been so long since I’ve posted a blog entry, I didn’t recognize my own Web site.  I think a little gremlin has been lookin’ after it, re-organizing it, or else I’m just having too many senior moments, another reason to get this book done, who thought I would be old enough to be so forgetful, and memoir is about remembering and I don’t want to forget the stories of who I am because it’s been 65 years trying to make sense of myself!

    Here’s Chapter Two of LOVE IMAGINED.

    2.  NORTH MINNEAPOLIS

    Recently a friend challenged me about my use of the term South Scandinavian Minneapolis, where I grew up.  As a writer, I know it’s important to be specific.  Specifically, I grew up in a house on a hill on 26th Avenue and 39th Street, two blocks from Roosevelt High School.  My friend, Carolyn was right.  Carolyn lived in South Minneapolis too.  She went to Central High School.  My cousin went to Central High School. Carolyn had a crush on my cousin.  They lived in Minneapolis, but they lived with black folk, unlike me who lived East of whatever line divided us.  My aunt, my cousin’s mom, lived near 38th and Portland, this sometime after she and her family lived in the row houses in North Minneapolis, the ones just off of Olsen Highway, or was it Plymouth.  Another Aunt lived near 4th Avenue and Lake Street in South Minneapolis.  I didn’t know much about geography when I was little, but I did know my mother’s family could only visit at night, when it was dark, and our neighbors couldn’t see them.

    Aunt Grace lived in North Minneapolis.  She moved from a Duplex on Emerson Avenue North, though I don’t know how I know this, and maybe I’m wrong, but I remember going there once as a very small child. This is where Grandma also lived.  It must have been sometime after Grandma died of rat poisoning or Draino when the cancer was more painful than she could bear.  Aunt Grace and her family moved further west, trespassing into the Jewish neighborhood, 16th and Vincent. Avenue North.  Streets and Avenues don’t change, but people coming and going do.  I remember we visited Aunt Grace, my mom, my sisters and I, taking a bus down Broadway, stopping to shop at the junk stores, then walking to the most beautiful home I had ever seen.  At least I remember doing this once.  But when I turned eighteen, I let the secret out of the closet, though I don’t know how I knew my mother was passing for white and we, the children were supposed to be white or at least be Chinese like my father, but he disappeared when I was five.  I did my best and continue to integrate myself into a family I had been segregated from for way too many years.

    My Aunt Grace, my Aunt Marion, and my mother have now passed away.  I love them all dearly, they are angels on my shoulder.  Wherever I live, and I’ve lived in more than 50 different homes, and five different states, but they are always with me.  Recently I bought a home in Oakdale, Minnesota.  The 2000 census said Oakdale is mostly white, but it’s not anymore.  My women friends have visited me, Asian, Mexican, Black, straight, gay.  My cousin has visited, in fact I have a cousin that lives just next door in Woodbury, as well as my sister.  No one has to visit at night.  I welcome the next census when I can add one more person of color to a neighborhood that was once mostly white.  My friend Lori laughs because she remembers being the only black student, well she and her siblings, at Tartan High School, just down the street from where I now live.   She says where I live used to be farmland.

    NOTE:  By 1880, there were 362 Blacks in Minneapolis, and by 1930 the Black population numbered 4,176. The Black community tended to concentrate in two areas–on the near north side of the city and on the south side near Fourth Avenue South and 38th Street.

    … By one estimate, there were as many as 10 active Ku Klux Klan chapters in Minneapolis in 1923. Their attacks were broadly focused on nonwhites, socialists, Jews, Catholics, and the new Communist threat.

    …Minneapolis later elected a Jewish mayor, Arthur Naftalin, in 1961.

    http://www.hclib.org/pub/search/specialcollections/mplshistory/?id=26