I grew up in the Dale-Selby neighborhood of Saint Paul. To be more
exact, we lived in the upstairs of a duplex just off the corner of Dayton
and St. Albans, one block from Dale and one block from Selby.
In 1952 I became an O.L.P. girl by default. On the day I was to get measured for my Derham Hall uniform, Mother and Dad told me that I couldn’t go there after all and they immediately took me, in tears, down to Our Lady of Peace High School to register. It was a financial decision. Grudgingly, I joined the 190 girls who made up the second graduating class at O.L.P., which quickly had been dubbed the “Old Ladies Prison” by the boys at Cretin.
The first thing I saw when Dad turned our car down Grandma’s street in Merriam Park was the sky-high catalpa tree in her front yard. It was the only “cigar tree” on the block, and when I spied it, I knew we were almost there. It was a beautiful tree, with frilly white flowers in the spring that magically became long, brown seedpods in late summer.
When I was growing up near Mounds Park during the fifties and sixties, fresh milk was delivered to our stoop like clockwork; however, no one came to haul away the refuse. A big, rusty metal drum in our back yard received the trash instead. When it got full, my father lit it on fire. Items you couldn’t burn—bottles, cans, old plastic toys—were driven to the Pig’s Eye Island City Dump. My brother almost always got to go with Dad to the dump, a fact that he lorded over his little sisters. But sometimes we got to go too.
Memories often take on a life of their own and go where they will. This one leads me down memory lane to helping my grandfather, Floyd W. Anger, mayor of Lilydale from 1959 to 1970, move his essentials to higher ground every year that Lilydale's lowlands flooded where Water Street becomes Lilydale Road.
I had just arrived at my new house—the house I bought without ever seeing. In my life, at that moment, that decision made perfect sense. It was a time when things much more unthinkable than buying a house without ever seeing it in person made perfect sense too. An unthinkable world had been my reality for the last year: New Orleans AFTER. I was gone eight years and was just now returning to Minnesota, where I had grown up.