In the drama of my family, the Uptown Theatre played a lead role. Sitting in the middle of the block at 1053 Grand Avenue, the theater began as the Oxford in 1921. In 1929, the Uptown was reborn as an “atmospheric theatre” with an Italian motif, stucco walls, faux balconies, stars and clouds on the ceiling, and a brightly lit marquee. In the 1950s, it was again remodeled in mid-century modern style. In 1976, the Uptown turned its lights out for the last time, to make way for a parking lot.
I have lived in Saint Paul most of my life, and I’d say my favorite place in Saint Paul is the St. Anthony Park Public Library. With its many shelves and millions of stories, each one unique, each one special in its own way, there is no place like it in the world. I love going to the library after school for hours on end, looking at the books. The St. Anthony Park Library is unique because of its architecture. The original library, now the adult-teen section, was part of a Carnegie Library built in 1917. It has been updated, and a children’s section, built in the shape of a large dome, was attached to the old building.
For almost as long as there has been a Saint Paul, my family has been a part of the city. My father, Carl Reimringer, was born here in 1914, and baptized in Assumption Church, where his father was baptized and his grandfather was married. Though I’d never lived here, when my wife and I moved to Saint Paul shortly after my father’s death in 2001, I fell head over heels in love with the city, feeling that I’d returned to a home I hadn’t realized had been missing from my life.
It was Tuesday in Mears Park, the second day of the Republican National Convention (RNC). We had already marched on Monday as part of the crowd of 10,000 protesting everything from the war in Iraq to the presence of Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu. Being part of a large group like that, you tend to only see and hear those things in your immediate area. But someone mentioned that they heard a cop say there had already been tear gas used farther downtown.
My husband and I have a favorite restaurant, Pazzaluna, in downtown Saint Paul. The Italian eatery has happy-hour pizza and wine specials that keep us coming back. Even better, its energy is so good that a bad mood can be lifted just by walking in the door. Last week, I realized the source of the good vibes. As they say in real estate: location, location, location. Pazzaluna is located in the same place once occupied by Frank Murphy, a women’s clothing store.
In the early 1940s, we lived on the East Side of Saint Paul near Hazelwood and Seventh streets, where streetcars stopped almost in front of our house. One of my earliest memories is of waiting for the streetcar to bring my grandfather and aunts home from their downtown jobs at the central post office and The Emporium and Schuneman's, two of the large department stores.