by Emmett Smith
Here are some pictures, mostly from my nonage in St Paul and Minneapolis. I rode with our mother in both kinds of the “Kid Cann” streetcars shown, mostly downtown to see “Santy Claus,” at Dayton’s, Power’s, Scheuneman’s department stores. The streetcars were all done for by 1954, and the press marks through the Winter snow of their steel wheels on to the steel rails beneath (the polished tops before their complete vanishment out of my World just even with the tar or red pavers) struck me at three and five as something extraordinarily mysterious. It was a track, parallel ones actually in the snow, the spoor (!) of the streetcars, something primevally urban and whiteman-like, as opposed to a family friend’s cabin on Lake Minnetonka, with mosquitoes and bogus “Indian” pots from Sears on the deck and that I did not like. No trains there! As far as streetcars went in the city, though, I always hoped instead that a (steam!) locomotive would come dragoning along. They could’ve, you know, I already knew that from my Pop…same gauge!
One time in the hot weather I was taken as a babe in arms in to the Stockholm Cafe on Washington Av, then on its steepening slide in to a skid row, by my parents who were having supper there with my mother’s cousin Mary Magly Chamberlin and her husband Wally. Evidently my parents couldn’t get a babysitter. I have always remembered the white saxophone soloist standing in blue clouds (cigarets and my Pop’s pipe!) among the mostly black jazz men at the far end of the dining room…and, then, I met Stan La Count again nearly twenty years later (forty years ago, now!) while working for the Augsburg College ex-offenders program. He was just out of Stillwater after sitting a murder beef, so he must have gone in to the can just about around when I saw him first, maybe in 1953 or so; he soloed with the black blues players at the inmate “Sounds Incarcerated” concert at Augsburg in January, 1972, even before he was out on parole.
His sentence was not something that I, a pampered, middle class collegiate civilian, could just haul off and ask fool questions about outright, of course, and for the rest of it he just plain didn’t remember anything about any little boys and their pretty moms (and, those moms’ inevitable and tiresome husbands) in the Stockholm Cafe…a dull sort of guy, when you get down to that!
The picture of the cafe is from 1956 and so is maybe from as much as four years after I caroused there and hobnobbed with the Northside Jewish mob, at three years old, twenty years before I would renew my vernal dog days acquaintance at twenty-three, with Stan LaCount; it was probably just before my sister Cris was born in August of 1952, or else I just plain don’t remember Mom and Pop having the baby along, too….
That’s about that for that.
[The irreplaceable and wonderful images may be clicked on to enlarge, and they are from the p v glob and John McNab photostreams on flickr.com; they are real treasures and all rights, with my many thanks to say the least, belong to pv glob and John McNab — ed]
[all rights reserved
[14 March 2011]