Wednesday, December 21, 2016

My America

Today I waited at Cedar Riverside light rail station for a friend. We were going to walk and chat about our memories of the area. He, and his father before him, had attended the nearby Augsburg College. [See his blog post.]

100 years ago, the Cedar Riverside area of Minneapolis was the first American home for waves of Scandinavians. Augsburg College, with its Norwegian/Lutheran roots was well situated here.

Back then, the prevailing culture sometimes stereotyped the newcomers as dumb, clumsy, heavy drinkers who talked with a funny accent.

While I waited I paced the station platform, pausing at public art that honors the diversity of the area.

The mural at the top of this post caught my eye. This was not official public art: a private individual had decided it belonged on this wall. For me it evoked a more innocent time, a Somalia or Ethiopia without war. At least that's what I imagined it might say to today's Cedar Riverside settlers from those failed states as they wait for trains to go to work to grow the Twin Cities' economic pie.

My friend arrived. We walked past buildings we remembered from 30 to 40 years ago, and spots where old buildings had been replaced. We stopped for coffee and cake at Mapps Coffee. We chuckled at the thought of going in to the "scary" Triangle Bar, a place for biker-types. Today, it's an acupuncture clinic. Finally we walked through the campus of Augsburg.

We went our separate ways and I headed for a bus. The down-at-heel white guy boarding ahead of me turned and sneered "Welcome to Africa" and declared we were no longer in America. I told him I was sorry he felt that way.


  1. Dang. Some people just want to go through life angry and filled with hate. Sad.

    1. Sad is the right word. I fear more angry people like him feel empowered to say such things.