A Man’s Epiphany at O’Gara’s

On the corner of Selby and Snelling Avenues in St. Paul, O'Garas expanded decades ago into the space once occupied by the Family Barber Shop, owned by Carl Schulz, father of Charles M. Schulz. (History and photo courtesy of Jim Ellwanger/Flickr Creative Commons)

It isn’t as far from Saint Paul to Nepal as you might think it is. This was all brought home to me several years ago, in the men’s room of O’Gara’s Bar and Grill on Snelling Avenue in Saint Paul, where I experienced an epiphany while gazing up at its fourteen-foot-high walls, and saw there evidenced a feat of heroic proportions—surely on a par, for ordinary men, that is, with Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in their conquest of Mount Everest.

Crosby Lake: The Wilderness in the City

Crosby Farm Regional Park (Photo: Patricia Bour-Schilla)

Growing up in the West Seventh Street area of Saint Paul in the 1950s and 60s, in a family with no car, could have limited my adventure horizons, except that tucked away just out of sight, near its west end, lay Crosby Lake—and I was lucky enough to discover it in my teens, when any wildness oasis in the heart of Saint Paul seemed as rich in natural wonders as any of the great national parks out west!

The Como Lake Community Christmas Tree

(Illustration: Kirk Anderson)

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, something magical happens at Como Lake. Just off the side of the walking path stands a huge pine tree, and one by one, Christmas tree ornaments begin to appear on the branches. These are not the expensive, trendy decorations that you see for sale in matched, color-coordinated sets. No, some of these are the ragtag older ones used for years at grandma’s house.