20th Century, History, Theatre, Uncategorized

Guthrie Theater

Original Guthrie Theater – circa 1963. Amy Sanders. guthrietheater.org

May 8, 1963
The Guthrie Theater, named for its founder and first artistic directory, Sir Tyrone Guthrie, opens in Minneapolis with a performance of Hamlet. Known as an innovator “interested in places that aren’t central marketplaces of theater,” Guthrie assembles a distinguished repertory company that includes George Grizzard, Hume Cronyn, and Jessica Tandy. *

In a private conversation over breakfast, three friends despaired the commercialization of Broadway. This triumvirate, composed of uber director Sir Tyrone Guthrie, stage manager Peter Zeisler, and producer Oliver Rea, committed to move elsewhere and build a theatrical community of their own design. ** They were determined to bring gravitas, excellence, and elevation to audiences not exposed to classical theatre.

To be more precise, Mr. Guthrie gave the following quote as to why he saw a promising future of theatre in the Twin Cities.
“We believe that something here (Minneapolis-St. Paul) had a chance growing into an institution where we did not believe that such a growth was absolutely possible on Broadway. The over competitive, over stimulated, over crowded nature of the Broadway theatre makes it impossible to take a longer view than Thursday next.” **
In Minnesota, these men found a fertile soil to plant their theatre. Local businesses and foundations donated exploratory money and land. Renowned local architect Ralph Rapson was tapped to provide his forward-thinking concepts to the building, and Tanya Moiseiwitsch designed the thrust stage.,* Public support was profound, and Minnesotans volunteered to boost ticket sales, and raised $2.2 million to establish the project.****

To embellish this point further, Dr. Guthrie gave the following answer to local Minnesota students when asked about the importance of “this kind” of theatre. His reply reveals his heart to inspire.
“Plays are meant to be acted, not dissected in a classroom…Just as a community needs a public library where great books are available, or an art museum where you can see great pictures, or a symphony orchestra where you can hear great music, so you need a theatre where great plays can be brought to life.” *

So we turn to You, Host of History, to remember this moment when a theatre is born. No one but You can write a script eons long, heighten the drama of the human experience, or provide the unexpected denouement of our Christ! Today, we remember You, first, as the Supreme Author and Director of the drama of life. Be forever praised!

We applaud Sir Guthrie’s efforts to establish a beachhead of this art form within the seas of entertainment of the 1960’s. Bravissimo! Has he captured Your heart when he stated, “Plays are meant to be acted not dissected in a classroom…”? We see something very sacred here; when one acts, they are placing their whole being in participation of a storyline while potentially engaging both themselves and their audience very deeply with the virtues of a great script. Engagement through action involves risk. Yet, the potential for learning at a much deeper level, and the rewards of making a brave journey are only known by those who partake. So, we thank You for this moment that sparked this vision in the Guthrie Theatre Company, its patrons and volunteers, and its impact on Minnesota of 1963!

It is apparent that this venture, which has captured the hearts of at least two generations of Minnesotans, had to battle through the seas of modernity. Since the era of movies and television, theatre has been largely monetized. Where can we find a place where “stories for the sake of stories” exist?

Although they can and do exist in live venues, we still and feel the encroaching arms of influencers. Playwrights become famous, often, when they sell their rights to make a movie of their scripts. All kinds of foundations seek writers, directors, dancers, and theatre companies who will bend a story to their liking. Even political and spiritual groups are in on the game; i.e. “we will fund you if you heighten this issue, let’s call it “Issue X”, in the public’s mind through your artistry.” Good G-d, have we moved an inch as artists from being the court jesters, poet laureates, or entertainers of the aristocracy?

But You, our Prophet of Parables, taught us in a similar way except You forsook our purse strings for our heart strings! Help me remember a few, Lord?
The Lamp-Matthew 5:14-16
The Mustard Seed-Mark 4:30-34
The Good Samaritan-Luke10:29-37
The Prodigal Son-Luke 15:11-32
The Sheep, Shepherd, and Gate-John 10:1-18
Though these fables and apologues were given to a mostly agricultural Semetic audience over fifty generations ago; they retain Your genius! You spoke in parables to portray the unspeakable words of our hearts to us. Those not ready to engage with You heard a good story, while those who were found themselves exposed before Wisdom Eternal.

Will You forgive us our judgments past of a man who desired cultural engagement in greatness through the means of the Guthrie Theatre? Will You forgive us our misapplications of artistry, through all aspects of theatre, towards the highest bidder? Will You guide us as playwrights, actors, directors, crew members, costumers to “allow” our audiences to feel rather than emotionally manipulating what they “should” feel? Will You bless Minnesota theatre to go beyond Guthrie’s vision of greatness and into the Messiah’s chesed of heart?

Lord, I leave You with a story, (I’m sure You know it), and a prayer. About a century ago, three children climbed a hill outside Fatima, Portugal; Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta. There, they encountered an angel who taught them this prayer. I wonder if it was to buffer the suffering of the Great War? Today I echo this prayer which I amend only slightly.

“My G-d, I believe (in theatre and story), I adore, I hope, and I love Thee. I ask for pardon for those who do not believe (in theatre and story), do not adore, do not hope, and do not love Thee.”

P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
** O’Neill, Hannah. “An Englishman in Minneapolis: Sir Tyrone Guthrie”. May 12, 2017. Internet. https://www.continuum.umn.edu/2017/05/englishman-minneapolis-sir-tyrone-guthrie/
*** Combs, Marianne. “Architect Ralph Rapson at 91”. September 13, 2005. Minnesota Public Radio. Internet. http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/2005/09/13_combsm_rapson/
**** A brief history of the Guthrie.https://www.guthrietheater.org/globalassets/pdf/guthrie_history.pdf
* “Guthrie Theater: Miracle in Minnesota”. (The Minnesota Theatre Company)1963. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkIXv_L3QHQ&t=456s

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20th Century, Governors, Minnesota

Governor Karl F. Rolvaag

Karl F. Rolvaag: Governors of Minnesota. collections.mnhs.org

March 25, 1963-January 21, 1967
After the one hundred thirty-nine day recount, Lieutenant Governor Rolvaag becomes the thirty-first Governor of Minnesota by just 91 votes. Governing on principle more than charisma, this disciplined leader effectively changed: the junior college system, reapportioned legislative districts, and improved mental institutions. He had the distinction of being the first to serve a four year gubernatorial term. *

Few politicians of this era had more authentic bragging rights as to their Minnesota roots than Karl. Let’s recount a few that would deeply resonate with any Midwesterner of this age:
Karl was born in Northfield, MN. in 1913, and attended St. Olaf.
His father was the iconic Norwegian novelist of “Giants in the Earth”; Ole Rolvaag.
He dropped out of university the year his father passed, 1931, to “head out west”.
He spent six years as a railway “hobo” of sorts, chasing the man-camps and working as a logger, miner, teamster, and various roles on the rails.
He joined the I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of World), and experienced the infamous logging strikes of 1936.
He returned to St Olaf and finished his degree, got married to Florence, and promptly was sent to serve in WW II where he won a Silver Star, and a Purple Heart.
He showed himself to be a man who could work with his brains, and his hands. **
After his military service, he had more education at the University of Minnesota, and earned his LL.D (legum doctor) from the University of Oslo. *

This dichotomy of life experiences shaped his ability to relate and show empathy to all kinds of Minnesotans. For example, he was a 3-term Lieutenant Governor under Democrat Orville Freeman, and also served as LG under his Republican successor, Elmer L. Anderson!? This kind of balanced character was an object lesson of the DFL platform of his era; an educated everyman!

Digging in, we find that his practicality drove his reforms in education; ie “How can one effectively attend junior college unless its nearby?” Formerly, the community colleges were run by local school boards. Rolvaag pushed to place more leadership under the state, capitalize on economies of scale, with the overarching goal to put these junior colleges in both financial and geographic reach of students. ***

During his era, the rural political districts had more representatives than the metro areas. In the session of 1965, rural representatives passed a bill that Governor Rolvaag called a “blatant, calculated, political gerrymander.” This battle lasted 3 more iterations before a consensus was reached on redistricting in a special session. ****

A tertiary set of accomplishments could be found in the governor’s advocacy for Minnesotan’s wrestling mental illness and the Minnesota Mental Health Association, as well as his promotion of groups such as ARC (Minnesota Association for Retarded Citizens). Below is a quote from the speech from the President of ARC circa 1964.

“I am equally certain that an educated, informed and aroused citizenry is absolutely essential if we are to solve and give top priority consideration to the critical problems relating to the lack of community services and gross understaffing, gross overcrowding, herd care, and continued use of some antiquated residential and other facilities in our state institutions for the mentally retarded.
Irrespective of your and my political affiliations, I assure you that we can all be most appreciative of Governor Rolvaag’s leadership and sincere interest exhibited on these tours. Governor and Mrs. Rolvaag were most impressed with the day care centers visit ed at Duluth, Atwater, St. Cloud and Rochester, and the Sheltered Workshop at Fergus Falls. They were also impressed, as were we all, with many of the dedicated and able employees of and some of the new projects being conducted in our institutions for the mentally retarded and mentally ill.” *****

Essentially, Rolvaag did for these two communities as he had done for junior colleges and their students: make them more accessible, make them affordable, provide State assistance and support to staffing and standards, and make the public aware of their pressing needs.

A wonderful summary of Karl’s term in office came from no less than then Vice President of the United States; Hubert H. Humphrey.
“Karl Rolvaag may not be a comet, racing across the sky, but I will tell you this: Karl is as steady and reliable as the North Star. You know where he is, you know where he has been, and you know his record-solid, solid as a rock.” ******

Avna, Ho Lithos, Stone the builders rejected, Capstone of the Universe; we remember You. We applaud Your perfect consistency in authority, truth and justice. Yet, You are as immovable in Your unchanging favor towards the human race!
It seems like Karl Fritjof Rolvaag learned some of this character trait from You, and applied it in the way he led Minnesota. Even his Norwegian middle name, Fritjof, speaks of balance; “thief of peace” or “tranquil”. Will You guide us to acknowledge this moment of his leadership in history?

Our first gratitude is given for the tremendous variety and breadth of his education before office: son of Ole (a giant Norwegian mind), educated in tremendous universities, strengthened by years of heavy labor, and battled hardened in World War II. All of this preparation decries Your hand: an educated man can invite the wisdom of others, a laborer knows the sanctity of the body, and a soldier savors the depths of peace like no other! We thank You that such a man could relate to so many of us because of these joys and trials.

Subsequently, we see these experiences fulfilled in a governorship of balance and boundaries. He was not a partisan, but served the people of Minnesota as Lieutenant Governor under both parties. He wanted fair boundaries for equal representation. He wanted our people to be able to attend a junior college nearby. He drew a circle of protection around our most vulnerable citizens a decade before American society caught up. Will You remember these gifts and examples of his leadership?

On the contrary, we see judgments made of him in this era. Clearly, he believed in government as a force for good, and consolidated some powers of individuals and associations into the hand of the State. He barely won his election, therefore, did not have a perspicuous mandate. For outstate citizens then, he redrew political districts to favor the power of the metro areas over them. Will You forgive this judgment and counter-judgment past, free us from such battles in the present, and bless the future of the integrity of all political redistricting?

Further, another bitter root in our state in Governor Rolvaag’s term is the usurpation of local control of junior colleges, tech schools, and community colleges. Yes, many problems are resolved with state funding of education, and a uniformity of standards. However, this necessitates the locus of choice be removed further and further away from the individual student and the desires of their town. An example of this would be how our schools still take a summer break that is relevant to an agricultural society, even though their urban students will never plant or bring in the harvest. Will You take the dance of state versus local control of education up, out, and onto the Cross? We have gained more education, and yielded our wisdom. Will You free these judgments past, heal this balance in the present, and bless the future of our junior colleges?

Another request, Avno? We honor the actions of Rolvaag in giving dignity to the mentally ill and the developmental disabled among us. There is so much of Your heart in that! Unfortunately, his generosity towards the mentally ill has become, in some cases, enabling dysfunction. Our mentally ill citizens are afraid to move towards wellness or they may lose their benefits. We give You this “catch 22”, and invite Your solutions. We thank You for both the developmentally disabled and the mentally ill among us. May we acknowledge the incredible value of their lives, and invite their participation in society. Will You forgive us our judgments of mental illness and developmental disabilities, and the counter-judgments of those populations towards others? Will You make us like Governor Fritjof; stealing peace from discontentment?

“Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, but an accurate weight is His delight.” Proverbs 11:1 Berean Study Bible *******

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols. https://www.nga.org/governor/karl-fritjof-rolvaag/
** Ross, Carl interview of Rolvaag, Karl. Northfield, MN. “Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Karl F. Rolvaag”. August 31, 1989. Internet. Minnesota Historical Society. http://collections.mnhs.org/cms/display.php?irn=10362505
*** Internet. Prabook. 2021. https://prabook.com/web/karl_fritjof.rolvaag/672210
**** Nelson, Paul. “Legislative Redistricting, 1959–1993”. Internet. MNHS. https://www.mnopedia.org/event/legislative-redistricting-1959-1993
***** https://mn.gov/web/prod/static/mnddc/live/past/pdf/60s/64/64-RBT-MDH.pdf
****** Quote by Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Speech at Minnesota DFL Beanfeed. October 29, 1966. http://www2.mnhs.org/library/findaids/00442/pdfa/00442-02055.pdf
******* https://biblehub.com/proverbs/11-1.html

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20th Century, Architecture, History, Uncategorized

Skyway System Begins

Construction of the Skyway in Minneapolis, Minnesota – 1962. u/mrhistoricalmaniac. https://www.reddit.com/r/minnesota/comments/ihsla5/construction_of_the_skyway_in_minneapolis/

1962
The first Minneapolis skyway is built, linking the Cargill and Roanoke buildings across 7th Street. Eventually, a system of 50 skyways turns much of the downtown area into an enclosed city within a city.*

When futuristic, climate-controlled Southdale Mall opened in 1956, the downtown real estate developers saw “the writing on the wall”, or rather the writing in the sky. Single connections between buildings above ground already had the example of the 17th floor connection between the Merchants Bank and the First National Bank circa 1931 in Saint Paul, MN. ** Architect David Griswold brought that idea down to the 2nd floor, bringing the idea of an interconnected city to a more repeatable and feasible level.

The following synopsis of Griswold’s achievement has recorded by mid-century real estate experts at TCModern.
“It was a simply designed, convenient way to get to the Golden Rule shopping store on (then) Eighth Street (now Seventh Place) and Minnesota street from their parking lot across the street. It was a very basic, crude structure, measuring roughly 8 feet wide with a concrete floor over a metal deck. It also didn’t have heating or air conditioning. It was however a very convenient way to get to and from the store without having to navigate through (at the time) one of the busiest intersections of both trolley lines and pedestrians in the city.” * Following suite to modernize downtown Minneapolis, real estate heavyweight Leslie Parker tapped Minnesota architect Ed Baker to design the first branch of its soon-to-be skyway system ca. 1959. This branch opened in 1962 connecting the Cargill and Roanoke buildings.** (Northstar Center and Northwestern National Bank) Mr. Baker’s design improved upon Griswold’s in its aesthetics and climate-controlled environment. *
Fueled by this success, Parker championed adding more branches in downtown Minneapolis. Within it’s first decade, Parker had built a bridge between Ed Baker and Phillip Glass in the design of the show stopping IDS Center. Moreover, it’s new Crystal Court become the hub connecting beaches of the skyway on all four sides in a dazzling, all-season semi-public space. ****

Though critics have decried the development as the demise of street life, time has shown that this may be a partial truth. Granted, the skyway system grew to encompass 80 city blocks and about 8 miles of connections. Acknowledged, this second-story system competes with street level development, making an indoor or outdoor walk a choice. As early as 1972, city officials and developers noted that this choice also doubled the options for walk-up traffic to small businesses, and raised the price of second floor rents. In the bi-polar environment of the Twin Cities, perhaps, two stories are better than one? *****

Developer of the Cosmos, let me come and join You in Your eternal “right now”. Can I sit by Your fire, and take a load off? Can we chat about this creative moment in the life of Minneapolis? On second thought, I will remain quiet and hear Your thoughts as You are the only Architect and Builder of life in this universe.

The foundation of this time is remembrance, so I remember these specific names to You. Thank You for the imagination of developer Leslie Parker. I won’t judge the motives of his heart, that’s Your job, but I am grateful for a human being that wanted downtown to remain relevant.

By the same token, let’s remember the names of Ed Baker and David Griswold. There is so much about architecture that is an Imitation of Our Father! One must be aware of history, art, aesthetics, engineering, mathematics, and materials to create relevant structures. We thank You for the insights, discipline, and positioning of these men to create these skyways at just the right time.

Additionally, we thank You for the jobs created in all the trades necessary to actualize these visions: steelworkers, riggers, crane operators, to name but a few. We are grateful for the nearly doubling of walkable areas downtown, and the small businesses supported by this foot traffic. It’s a good thing to add the notion of “third spaces” to a growing city. Thank you for these insights!

We have judged the skyways and their creators: in their beauty or lack of it, in utility for downtown renters, as advantageous to major and minor downtown businesses, and in a means of isolating the business class from the urban street level. Will You forgive us in our criticisms in this era of 1962 and through to the present?

Will You forgive our judgment of another’s sense of aesthetics? Will You forgive our judgments of the skyways in relation to downtown residences? Why is it our business if someone else wants to have their home interconnected with and 80 block grid? We have exuded envy that our major or minor workplaces have too little or too much access due to the skyway system, and broken Your command not to covet. Will You forgive us?

Lastly, some of us have judged that this system is inherently classist because it is not entirely public. Conversely, protagonists of the Skyway believe their rights allow them to choose between maintaining privacy, semi-public, or completely public access to the property they own. Will You stand between these parties and help them understand each other, even if they never agree?

In the present, our significant forces in urban planning and city government have suggested removing the skyway system because it only functions for those with access to the system, dear One. This notion makes us think about the wisdom of Solomon in solving his contemporary urban issues in 970-931BCE.

“At that time two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him.
One woman said, “Please, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house, and I gave birth while she was in the house. On the third day after I gave birth, this woman also had a baby. We were alone, with no one in the house but the two of us. During the night this woman’s son died because she rolled over on him. So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I was asleep. She laid him in her bosom and put her dead son at my bosom. The next morning, when I got up to nurse my son, I discovered he was dead. But when I examined him, I realized that he was not the son I had borne.”
“No,” said the other woman, “the living one is my son and the dead one is your son.”
But the first woman insisted, “No, the dead one is yours and the living one is mine.” So they argued before the king.
Then the king replied, “This woman says, ‘My son is alive and yours is dead,’ but that woman says, ‘No, your son is dead and mine is alive.’ ”
The king continued, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought him a sword, 25and the king declared, “Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.”
Then the woman whose son was alive spoke to the king because she yearned with compassion for her son. “Please, my lord,” she said, “give her the living baby. Do not kill him!”
But the other woman said, “He will be neither mine nor yours. Cut him in two!”
Then the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. By no means should you kill him; she is his mother.”
When all Israel heard of the judgment the king had given, they stood in awe of him, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.”

Will You impart mercy, clarity of understanding, and wisdom of the proponents and opponents of the Skyways? Will You take these bitter roots: up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ? May our love for our city cause us to yield to each other rather than extinguish the life that remains! Amen.

P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
** https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/first-national-bank-building-skyway
*** http://tcmodern.com/who-was-first-minneapolis-v-s-st-paul-skyway-system/
**** https://frankedgertonmartin.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/the-great-skyway-indoors-in-minneapolis/
***** Nathanson, Iric. Internet. “Minneapolis Skyways”. MNopedia. December 31,2013. https://www.mnopedia.org/structure/minneapolis-skyways
****** Read this wonderful story in full. Kaufman, Sam H . The Skyway Cities. Minneapolis: CSPI, 1985.

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20th Century, Americana, Folk, History, music, Uncategorized

Bob Dylan before his First Album

Bob Dylan Music as a Child. ca. 1953-57. Fizz.net

1961
Hibbing’s Bob Dylan, once a play-for-free minstrel at bars around the University of Minnesota, releases his first album. He takes folk into rock and rock into politics, and becomes a legend of American music. Born Robert Zimmerman, he assumes a new name that pays homage to Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. *

So many words have been spilt attempting to uncover the mystery of Bob Dylan. As an historian of Minnesota, I don’t want to play musicologist, but rather focus on a few early relational aspects of his youth that may have contributed to his character which may have contributed to his epic impact on the 20th century.

Louie Kemp began his friendship with Bob at Herzl Camp near Webster, Wisconsin during their preteen years. To his recollection, he witnessed Zimmerman’s first concert at camp in 1954 as an 11year old. The boys hung out in their teen years around Duluth, Minnesota where Kemp grew up. Dylan played around the U of M when Kemp when in attendance there. He likened their adventures to “a modern-day Jewish version of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.” **

Out of respect, let us allow Mr. Dylan to tell his own story of his Minnesota roots.

“My brains and feelings have come from there… The earth there is unusual, filled with ore,” Dylan said in a 1978 Playboy interview. “There’s a magnetic attraction there: maybe thousands of years ago some planet bumped into the land there. There is a great spiritual quality throughout the Midwest. Very subtle, very strong, and that is where I grew up.” ***

Now we turn to You, Adonai, and listen to Your music. You spoke and created. Did the music of Your voice assemble the matter of this universe? Only You know. Yet we remember, today, the place that writing and music has in Your heart! May we sit with You and watch this moment, Eternal Father? May we listen with You to this exciting beginning when You laid the foundation for Bob Dylan’s artistic release?

We remember first the importance of Herzl Camp. A place with the stated goal of the formation of lifelong Jewish friendships. We remember another after Your heart, David, who bound himself to Jonathan “in close friendship”. (I Samuel 18:1-5) We remember this place and thank You for its contribution in bringing root friendships into the lives of many. Will You bless and keep it in perpetuity?

Next, we thank You that friends give us the place to become. When we are safe, when we are accepted, we begin to believe that we have a self worth knowing. What a treasure You put into us; the longing to know and be known! We praise You that these boys, Louie and Bob, could experience this kind of brotherhood.

Additionally, we thank You for the importance of place and context to Your people and Your Kingdom. You made the tabernacle a place to intersect with Your Presence. You rescued Israel from the famine and placed them under Joseph in Goshen. You gave Your nation Canaan and established Jerusalem. And You gave Bob Dylan the context of Hibbing?!

Yet, in Your economy of purpose, it all makes sense; Hibbing is a place of great contrasts. It’s surrounded by silence and the noise of the largest iron mine on earth. It’s both “Anysmalltown, USA” and significant to the world. Maybe it’s like the writing of Dylan: compact, expansive, verbose, but not over-baked in its turns of phrase? Perhaps it’s like Your storytelling: only honesty, robust, mysterious, prophetic, and believable?

In any case, we remember and applaud this memory of Mr Dylan’s first record to You. We thank You of the inheritance and richness brought to Northern Minnesota through the Jews of Lithuania and all Eastern Europe. We commend You for seeing the talent of an 11 year old, in the middle of the woods, next to the largest open pit mine, in the center of a continent.

We thank You that this young poet participated in many of the most significant events of the next decade, but did not lose his identity. For some reason, Dylan could explore subjects that were misconstrued as political, but not yield to the generational political pressures of the Greenwich folk movement or the hippies. Similarly, though critics tried to place him in a religious box, he always seemed to know the secret of the Messiah; faith is an internal freedom and a permanent hat tip to the Eternal One.

Will You forgive the misbeliefs, unbeliefs, and offenses against You through the folk movement of this era? Will You commend the honest questions of this generation, and bring the inward as well as external peace they sought? Only the Messiah can radiate and impart such healing to our stumbling and prideful race because You know our brokenness, yet still CHOOSE to love us.

Will You speak words of life to this generation and the next and the next as You did through Bob? Will You bring chesed through the music of Minnesota?

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.” ****

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20th Century, Americana, baseball, History, Minnesota, omnipresent history

Minnesota Twins First Game

1961 Press Photo Calvin Griffith, Cookie Lavagetto. origins unknown.

1961
Calvin Griffith’s Washington Senators are reborn as the Minnesota Twins. They lose ninety games in 1961, but Killebrew, Battey, and Kaat lead them to an American League pennant four years later.*

The history of the Twins is like an old baseball, two pieces of horsehide** somehow stitched together around a lot of yarns! In this case, the Saint Paul Saints and the Minneapolis Millers fans yielded a potent and sometimes violent 59 year rivalry (1902-1960) to back the new team in town. Gone were the days of streetcar double headers where fans and players alike could wind up bloodied by spikes and baseball bats in grudge matches both on and off the field for supporting their team. Baseball was about to become a bona fide professional sport when Calvin Griffith brought the Washington (DC) Nationals/Senators to town and renamed them the “Minnesota Twins”! ***

To backtrack a bit, Calvin Robertson may never had pursued a lifetime of baseball were it not for the tragedy of losing his father James at a young age. At age 11, the boy was taken in by his aunt Addie, whose husband Clark Griffith owned the Washington Senators, and the couple raised him as a Griffith. This meant his participation in baseball: he immediately worked as a batboy for the Senators through his childhood, and went on to both pitch and catch for at George Washington University.***

After university, he entered headlong into the business of baseball. He worked various office positions for farm clubs for the Chattanooga Lookouts and the Charlotte Hornets. **** Returning to DC, Calvin filled a variety of roles in the front office, and gained the trust and business acumen to assume more and more leadership roles. When his uncle passed in 1955, he was elected the President of the team that Clark had built.

Always a close-knit crew, Mr. Griffith and his sister Thelma inherited 52% of the franchise, and they populated its leadership with kin. Take for example that the positions of pitching instructor, farm director, stadium supervisor, and concessions were filled by their brothers and in-laws. In spite of the solid economic footing provided by their adoptive father, the club strained to fill the seats, and Calvin sought a way out of the doldrums in DC. ***

At a serendipitous moment, investors from Minnesota guaranteed $430,000 a year and attendance of 750,000 just as many in the American League were in a mood to expand. On October 26, 1960, it voted to expand to 10 teams and allow the move that Griffith longed to make.**** In their first season in 1961, attendance went from 743,404 to 1,256,743 fans, and the team placed 7th in the league.***** Within five years, they would arrive at the World Series led by superstar hitter Harmon Killebrew, and thereafter be taken as a team to contend with.

So now we come to the All; the Champion of the Universe! We remember today that You chose to include us in the business of Your family, and even to intimately know Your thoughts. You have searched for us when we weren’t even looking for You; You have adopted so many into Your family. All-Knowing One, can we sit with You and remember this time in history, and the lessons from the life of Mr. Calvin Robertson Griffith?

We initiate our prayer with remembering the power of Our Heavenly Father who chooses us. We commend to You Clark Griffith and whatever method You worked in his heart to want little Calvin. We applaud a man who took in a son just because that boy needed him, and then built him up the rest of his life. We are happy to learn the good story of Clark and Calvin Griffith.

We thank You that, perhaps, precisely because he was fathered into the family business, he could also be the conduit of blessing for so many in his immediate family. We thank You that a man who was mentored through every step of the ladder of success by his dad also had the ability to bring that out in his staff and players. We thank You for all the lessons learned between 1922 and 1961 on his slow path to ownership and success. Will You give us the diligence to pursue our goals, even if it takes forty years?

Again and again, we thank You that his determined persistence turned out to be the antidote for the schisms of our twin rivalry between Minneapolis and St. Paul. We had 60 years of experience in baseball before Calvin Griffith, yet we failed as fans and farm teams because our overidentification with our teams and the honor of our cities. How did this outsider teach us to just “play ball”? How did he ease us past some of our pettiness that couldn’t abide the letter ‘M’ on our ball caps because it might just mean ‘Minneapolis’ instead of ‘Minnesota’? Even the “TC” logo is a testament of binding the “Twin Cities” together under one roof to become one team.

Lord, we also remember to You the shortcomings of Griffith as father of the Twins. Though made in private, he allegedly made statements about choosing this city for expansion instead of New Orleans as follows,
“I’ll tell you why we came to Minnesota,” he said. “It was when I found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don’t go to ball games, but they’ll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it’ll scare you to death. It’s unbelievable. We came here because you’ve got good, hardworking, white people here.” *******
This statement deeply wounded his star player Rod Carew. Carew left the team shortly thereafter for the Los Angeles Angels. And to the Hall of Fame.

Years later, Rod Carew gave this assessment of Mr. Griffith:
“When he traded me prior to the 1979 season, Calvin told me he wanted me to be paid what I was worth. Later that year the Angels made me the highest paid player in baseball. A racist wouldn’t have done that.”********

Lord, will You forgive Calvin Griffith his bitter root judgments of African Americans, New Orleans, and the Twin Cities? Will You forgive any counter-judgments made towards him by the fans and players of this state? Will You help us forgive our biological fathers, figurative fathers, mentors, and coaches when they have betrayed us? Will You heal the pain of these our Twins? Take these sins and separations up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ. Help us reach out; across the Mississippi or any other barrier, until we are on the same team again!

“The Law came, so that the full power of sin could be seen. Yet where sin was powerful, God’s gift of undeserved grace was even more powerful.” Romans 5:20 CEV******

P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
** https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1676509-the-evolution-of-the-baseball-from-the-dead-ball-era-through-today
*** Hennessey, Keith. “Calvin Griffith” Society for American Baseball Research. Internet. https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/calvin-griffith/
**** Internet. “Calvin Griffith” Baseball Reference. https://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Calvin_Griffith
*****Ison, Jordan. “Minnesota Twins: On This Day in 1961, the Twins made their Minnesota Debut”. Puckett’s Pond. Internet. https://puckettspond.com/2021/04/19/willians-astudillo-pitched-breakingt-made-awesome-shirt/
****** https://biblehub.com/parallel/romans/5-20.htm
******* Calcaterra, Craig. “Twins have removed the Calvin Griffith statue”. Internet. NBC Sports. June 19, 2020. https://mlb.nbcsports.com/2020/06/19/twins-have-removed-the-calvin-griffith-statue/
******** Carew, Rod. “STATEMENT FROM ROD CAREW ON CALVIN GRIFFITH” (PDF). KSTP. Retrieved June 19, 2020.

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20th Century, Governors, History, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Republican

Governor Elmer L. Anderson: A Progressive of Head and Heart

January 2, 1961- March 25, 1963
Elmer Lee Anderson, the thirtieth governor of Minnesota, was born in Chicago, Illinois on June 17, 1909. His education was attained at Muskegon Junior College and at the University of Minnesota, where he earned a business degree in 1931. He established a successful career with the H.B. Fuller Company, first working in the marketing department and eventually becoming the owner and president of the company. Andersen entered politics in 1949, serving as a member of the Minnesota State Senate, a position he held ten years. He next secured the Republican gubernatorial nomination and was elected governor by a popular vote on November 8, 1960. During his tenure, a fair housing bill was sanctioned; a statewide sanitary law was authorized; highway safety measures were initiated; and a governmental ethics act was instituted.*

“I remind people I want to be known as a liberal Republican. If that’s a dirty word, so be it.” Elmer Lee Anderson **

Governor E.L. Andersen led a life of enthusiasms, that led into ventures, that usually led into success. Though his parents split at a young age, he discovered that he had capabilities to provide for himself and his family selling: soft drinks, candy, and newspapers. He loved birds, and wrote articles as a young teen that made it into the local newspaper.***

Already a natural salesman, he sold for Sheldon, a specialty school furniture company, and this is when he moved to Minnesota. After graduating from the U of M in 1934, he entered H.B. Fuller as a sales manager, and eventually went on to become its president. His formula of good sales seemed firmly based in his solid ethics. The following quote shows his heart-felt business acumen.

“Anything the customer wanted should be seen as an opportunity for us to provide it. Number two was that the company should exist deliberately for the benefit of the people associated in it. I never liked the word employee. It intimated a difference in class within a plant. We always used the word associate. Fuller’s third priority was to make money. To survive, you have to make money. To grow, you need money. To conduct research and develop new products, you must have money. The need for money can be desperate at times. But corporations must put the quest for money in its proper place. Our philosophy did not leave out service to the larger community. We put it in fourth place, behind service to customers, our associates, and the bottom line. Community service cannot be paramount to a business, but it ought not to be omitted, as it too often is. Business must concern itself with the larger society—for reasons of self-interest if nothing else.” ****

Maybe this heart and philosophy underscores some of Andersen’s key achievements during his governorship, and the scope of human interests they spanned? We see his love of nature and ornithology as the loon was named our state bird during his tenure. What ne plus ultra! What more fitting symbol of this place and people; our idiosyncrasies and achievements? This bird is capable aloft or underwater, but walks poorly on land and must run on the surface of the water to take off!?! Its beak is a spear for fishing, and its sharp eyes a vibrant red. Don’t be taken aback by the loon’s haunting lonely cry; it just wants to live in solitude. In this, Andersen is our Adam!

His administration officially recognized alcoholism as a health problem. Maybe the most impactful change for posterity of his term is in his sanctioning of a fair housing act. (Though the Fair Housing Act 42 U.S.C. did not see fulfillment until 1968, his was a quick response to just the problems that were brought to light in the public domain issues of the Rondo neighborhood.) *

Though succeeded by Karl Rolvaag after his one term in office, Elmer remained committed to the Republican Party, and his many pet causes and interests. Governor Andersen became a publisher, writer, and archivist while owning interests in ECM Publishing. He clearly was a bibliophile, and amassed a collection of over 12,000 rare books that went to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Library. He was known as the father of Voyageurs Nation Park, working ceaselessly with other famous Minnesotans like aviator Charles Lindbergh, to preserve this beautiful land and interconnected waterways for generations.***

We now bow to You: Governor of Governors, Sovereign of Sovereigns, Crown of all Crowns! As Isaiah rightly prophesied, “On that day, Adonai-Tzva’ot will be a glorious crown, a brilliant diadem for the remnant of his people.” Isaiah 28:5 CJB * We owe this land grant and political state of Minnesota to You alone Lord. What wisdom do You wish to convey through the life and events of Governor Elmer Lee Andersen?

We thank You that Andersen relished the pathway of sales from childhood throughout his life. What a blessing to realize one is talented in an area, and to remain in such a strength for life! We thank You that this particular salesman clearly articulated his raison d’être in writing for posterity, and approached his business with a sense of balance between profits and people. May You be praised in this, and give our salespersons your heart of community service within provision!

As a second proviso of well-being, we acknowledge Elmer’s willingness to name the elephant in the room; “Alcoholism”! Though he aptly called it a disease of the body, we remember to You that is also a disease of the spirit. A satisfied mind doesn’t need alcohol to amplify Your wonders; but a needy heart craves the next drink. We praise You that he chose to name this issue, and create pathways of help for generations of Minnesotans!

Prolonging his memory to You, we see his desire to end discriminatory practices in housing. He began the end of discriminatory lending practices; a practice of unnecessarily stratifying of a generation of Minnesotans. Surely there is a way to honor liberties of private property without racializing Your land! May we keep asking for wisdom in this! Willing You forgive us: in our business and finance industries, as communities, and as individuals made in Your image of this offense towards You and Your land which we temporarily occupy?

In sum, there is much praise worthy in Governor Anderson’s life. His love of books became a fruitful business, which circled back to bless the branches of the University of Minnesota. A passion for the Creation led him to advocate to preserve Voyageurs. In this, he is just like You!

Precisely because of Governor Andersen’s good character and habit of fulfilling good desires, I am reticent to criticize, yet I must add these words and questions to You, Lord. We, who love progress, must define what progress looks like to move society towards it. Often, progressive movements work through the machinery of the State to fulfill their purposes. Does not this oblige others to both sanction and fund a definition of progress that they do not hold in their heart?

Forgive my weak wordplay, Messiah, but who protects our figurative loons from progress? Who stands for those who are undefiant, yet choose to fly alone? Maybe I have an inordinate fear of progressivism because of it’s inherent humanistic roots; “the progress of man”. Where is Your place in this worldview? Does it make allowances for Your Kingdom of forgiveness, humility, and innocence? What place do virtues such as patience and persuasion hold in a climate that waves a banner stating “Advancement Now!”?

Yet this is where I arrive in watching this era of Elmer’s leadership; we need You to stand between us. We ask forgiveness where our version of progress diminishes another; in this age of the early 1960’s, in the present, and into eternity. We invite Your wisdom into the ways we must yield to each other. Keep us from conceit as we make concessions to the greater good. And may our self-defined greater good be submitted to our Greatest G-d.

“It is good to grasp the one
    and not let go of the other.
    Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.” Ecclesiastes 7:18 NIV **

*https://www.nga.org/governor/elmer-lee-anderson/
** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elmer_L._Andersen cited in Saint Paul Pioneer Press. 2004 article
*** Andersen, Elmer L. (2000). A Man’s Reach. Edited by Lori Sturdevant. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
**** “1941: Harvey Fuller Sells Company to Elmer Andersen”. H.B. Fuller. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
https://www.justice.gov/crt/fair-housing-act-1
***** “Publications: Princeton Union-Eagle”. ECM Publishers. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
****** Smetanka, Mary Jane. (1999). “Former Governor’s Gift Is Voluminous”. Minneapolis Star Tribune. Metro ed. April 1. p. 1A.
******* https://www.nps.gov/voya/learn/historyculture/index.htm
********https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Isaiah%2028:5
*********https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ecclesiastes+7%3A18&version=NIV

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20th Century, African American, History, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Uncategorized

Rondo Neighborhood Removed

The Place to Be. blackthen.com

1959
Freeway construction passes through established neighborhoods in the Twin Cites. The Rondo neighborhood, long a center of black community life in St. Paul, is razed to make way for Interstate 94. Four hundred houses are condemned and torn down.*

“If New York has its Lenox avenue, Chicago its State street, Philadelphia its Wylie avenue, Kansas City its Eighteenth Street, and Memphis its Beale street, just as surely has St. Paul a riot of warmth, and color, and feeling, and sound in Rondo street.” 
–Earl Wilkins, The St. Paul Echo, September 18, 1926**

Connecting the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul had long been in the minds of local civil engineers. The excerpt below from the MNopedia article by Ehsan Alam sums up their thoughts rather precisely.
“In the 1930s, commuters and city planners began to call for a highway linking the business districts of downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis. After World War II, city engineers chose St. Anthony Avenue as the route. This street was located between University Ave and Marshall Avenue, and went all the way to Minneapolis.”***

Yet, that is not the whole story. We find that there is a viable alternative to either Rondo or St. Anthony Avenues that wouldn’t split an existing neighborhood in half. Minnehaha Avenue, now known as Pierce Butler Route, is road that runs adjacent to the rail lines between Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Often, the land adjacent to rail lines is already publicly owned, and would suggest that this route may encroach less on neighborhoods and privately owned property. ****

Given these circumstances, one wonders “Why did these cities and Federal Department of Transportation leaders choose to place I-94 through many neighborhoods (including Rondo) instead of adjacent to them?” In any type of city planning or civil engineering events, there are myriads of motives and opinions that compete to be heard. Below, we explore a few hypotheses.

George Herbert Herrold, an engineer and city planner far and away has the most documentation of the City Planning Board of St. Paul, Minnesota. His manuscript covers a 33 year time frame from the start of the Board in 1920 until 1953; just the years that would tell us of their motives, studies, and actions. This research suggests that the city had an interest in eliminating slums. To elaborate, their working definition of a slum constituted a neighborhood with a high percentage of rental properties whose owners did not live in the neighborhood. *

However, what the Board defined as “slums” also was home to the largest African-American neighborhood in St. Paul. Granted, there were some run-down rentals, but there were also a large contingency of fine homes belonging to Rondo’s middle-class residents. Rondo had a population of roughly 30,000 of which about one-third were black, and the remainder composed by Italians, Jews, Native Americans, and a sprinkling of other ethnicities. It is precisely because of Rondo’s diverse assemblage that suspicions of “red-lining” or racist motives arise in criticism of St. Paul’s role in routing I-94 through this neighborhood.******

In contrast, we find evidence that does not support this conclusion. Department of Transportation employees did extensive studies on both alternatives, as they did elsewhere through the Interstate Highway System. Commonly, this looks like engineers doing on-site observations and gathering data: counting cars on every East-West thoroughfare, establishing “desire lines” (i.e. which roads are most preferred), collecting data on rush hour usage, travel times from origin to destination, etc. Of these DOT engineers professor C. Wells of Macalester College states, “the process that they went through would seem to suggest that race had nothing to do with it…”. **** The data collected suggests that the direct route along St. Anthony Avenue was the preferred route, and support for the “northern route” along Pierce Butler and the railway diminished.

As the neighborhood of Rondo saw the writing on the wall, they peacefully protested and gained concessions. According to the research of Mark Simonsen, their focus became the four points listed below.
1. Stay in homes as long as possible.
2. Receive Fair Market Value for homes.
3. Depress the freeway below street level.
4. Requested that they be able to buy new homes anywhere they could afford them. (Open Housing Law)****
Residents won the first three of these requests, but failed to enact the Open Housing Law. In fact, even the city of Saint Paul declined to honor the Open Housing Law within its boundaries. It’s City Attorney denied O.H.L. on the basis that it conflicted with Minnesota’s constitution; sellers could legally choose to whom they sold their property. ****
Shall we pray? Eternal Father, we are reminded of your words of promise today as we sit and watch this snapshot of history that physically divided the Rondo neighborhood with an Interstate.
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for the sake of My name will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Matthew 19:29-30 BSB *
We love that we can always come to You for a hearing, and that Your Hearing and Presence bring justice! Be forever praised!

As a starting point, we acknowledge that You provided two paths for Interstate I-94. We acknowledge that the outcome of following the less disruptive “northern route” may never be known. Yet, there was a solid opportunity to choose a route that had less impact on human lives and relationships. Did we miss You in this? Maybe so. In any case, we acknowledge that we chose the road that wrecked neighborhoods. Will You forgive the seeds of division sown in this moment by the proponents and opponents of running the highway by the railway? Where we judged our neighbor, we have offended You; will You heal the past, free the present, and bless the future in this decision of 1959?

Next, we see the depth of consideration and the data collected to resolve this issue. We remember that the DOT and civil engineers went out into the neighborhoods between Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and actually observed where our people drove, how many, and how long it took them to arrive at their destination. Like Your message to the prophet Isaiah, You continually invite us to “come now and reason together”. You are not threatened by our observations, science, data, or investigations!

We thank You that the numbers don’t lie, or in this case, the numbers don’t lie about where we drive; we voted with our wheels. Yet, we fully acknowledge that though “numbers don’t lie”, we are often skewed by our own biases as we interpret them! Will You lift the suspicion of these studies up, out, and onto the Cross? Will You be with us as we reconsider this moment with You?

To continue, we see this data filtered through the distorted looking glass of banking. As a short backstory, we find that the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) had created a system of segregation, real ethnic and racial division, and negated facts that challenged their narrative. It is here, if I can be so bold Lord, that I see some of the ugliest acts of racism and ethnocentrism committed in St. Paul of this era. It is a fact that the FHA created maps based on ethnicity and race. It appears that though the FHA commenced with noble pursuits, in reality it fostered and reinforced the racialization of space.

Lord have mercy! Christ have mercy! We allowed these dreams of placing a home within reach of all to take a wrecking ball to those deemed not worthy by bureaucrats! We give You the damage caused by our State and Federal government’s judgments contained in the word “slums”. We acknowledge to You all the pain and falsehoods spoken over the residents of Rondo like, “a black family will not be given a home loan west of Lexington Avenue.” We acknowledge the defilement of this land through judgment and counter-judgment: from the Mississippi River to Marion Street, from University Avenue to Marshall Avenue; this land is Your land! Will You take these lies, curses, unbeliefs, and misbeliefs up, out, and onto the Cross?

Conversely, will You speak truth to cursed ears and broken hearts? Will You impart life where it has been crushed and stunted? Will You uproot those who have negated human choice because it interferes with their vision of what “helping” looks like? Will You release Your Holy Spirit, and replace the memory of wrecking balls with “Welcome” mats in this Rondo corridor forever?

“Do not afflict your countrymen, but let every one fear his G-d: because I am the Lord your G-d.” Levitcus 25:17 Douay-Rheims Bible

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20th Century, Great Lakes, History, Lake Superior, Minnesota, Shipping, water, worship

Duluth Becomes World Port

This photo provided by Ron Walsh shows the Coalfax, a self-unloading ship that used to purvey the former canal system on the St. Lawrence River prior to the opening of the Seaway.

1959
Water from the seven seas christen the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, linking the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean and making Duluth a world port.*

Before the date of this stellar achievement on June 26, 1959, the Twin Harbors of Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin could only receive the payloads of “lakers” and not “salties”. A “laker” is a cargo ship loosely defined as 260 feet long or less, with straight sides, and a snub bow to maximize cargo space. Ocean-crossing “salties” are freight vessels up to 740 feet long with a beam (width) of up to 78 feet with v-shaped hulls, sharper bows, and cranes on deck to offload its cargo. According to the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, the St. Lawrence Seaway enabled the Port of Duluth-Superior to become North America’s most inland seaport. **


To fill in the backstory of the St. Lawrence Seaway, this feat of civil engineering began in 1954 with the agreement of co-operation by the nations of the United States and Canada. To accomplish this behemoth task, 22,000 workers were employed for six years. They excavated 210 million cubic yards of earth and rock, pouring about 6 million cubic yards of concrete to complete its 7 locks. These locks enable ships entering at the Atlantic Ocean to rise approximately the height of a 60 story building as they sail to Duluth, Minnesota 2,342 miles inland. ***

It’s namesake, St. Lawrence, was “responsible for the material goods of the Church and the distribution of alms to the poor”. **** What an apt association, as this seaway primarily connects the economies of Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and North America! So, what is the impact of this miracle of civil engineering presently?

“The Great Lakes–St. Lawrence region boasts a massive geographic footprint, and is a major driver of the North American economy. With economic output estimated at US$6 trillion in 2017, the region accounts for 30% of combined Canadian and U.S. economic activity and employment. The region’s output ranks ahead of Japan, Germany, the U.K. and France, and it would rank as the third largest economy in the world if it were a country, behind only the U.S. and China—notably, the region overtook Japan a few years ago. Quite simply, the economic importance of the region can’t be overstated.”


Circling back to Minnesota, we reckon the gravity of connecting Duluth Harbor with the Atlantic. According to Duluth Seaway Port Authority spokesman Jayson Hron, a single vessel can carry the equivalent of 2,340 trucks and handle 36 million tons of cargo in a season. This traffic is “far and away” the largest total amount of goods loaded and unloaded at any port on the Great Lakes.
**

Now, we modulate away from briefly reporting some facts about the Saint Lawrence and Twin Harbors into inviting and adoring our Heavenly Hydrologist. We are in awe of this world You have made! Every component of the cosmology, the geology and hydrology of this planet is fashioned with such precision and minute attention to detail to enable the balance that sustains all life! Calling You the “Watchmaker of the Universe” is a crude insult to Your abilites. If the only revelation humanity had of Your Existence was the creation of water; it would be sufficient proof of Your lovingkindness! What an apt symbol water is of Your thoughts towards all people and every member of creation: we can wade in it, take a swim, fish and gather so many foods and minerals, use it to enable growth, use it as a lubricant, cutting, cleaning, or cooking agent, for boating or recreation, and as a highly efficient means of transportation! You are the Only! No one but You has a mind like this!

Yet, within all these benevolent thoughts, You invite us all to come and know Your incredible mind! You want share? With us? Let me pause and remember Your words before I continue.

“But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” I Corinthians 2:14-16
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what G-d’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

A dear brother, author David Murry, encapsulated this invitation of the Messiah in his book “The Mind of Christ”.
“We can only walk in the blessing of His mind and His ways to the degree that we know what they are.”
And so we respond today, “Come and reveal Your thoughts in this creative event of June 26, 1959. Come and open the doors of history to us, so that we know and remember our new identities. Heal our past. Free our present. Bless our futures together!”

As we watch this history with You, the first area of conflict that comes to mind is environmental. Do we have the right to alter the earth’s surface and waterways to our liking? Proponents of a pristine and un-altered earth may object vigorously to the massive primary alterations of the Saint Lawrence Seaway in terms of excavation alone. The banks of these waterways, as well as the harbors of the Great Lakes, are permanently changed to enable their traffic-control and ports. Did these human-initiated changes spoil their respective ecosystems and the life they sustained?

We continue analyzing this area of conflict from the standpoint of those who believe that the we are Your stewards of the earth which are allowed to manage our environment. If we believe that You placed resources on the earth to be shared by all, how does one share regional resources if they cannot be moved to places of want or need? In reverse, how does Minnesota satisfy the deficits in its own pool of natural resources if it remains landlocked?

Granted, Perfect Steward, these are only notions scratching the surface of environmental impacts, but will You hear our prayer? We drown in judgments of each other as to the use of Your property without consider You or the council of heaven!? Will You first heal our lack of humility and acknowledgement of Your interests in all human land and water use? Will You take the bitter-root judgments of environmentalists towards the pragmatists in the formation of the Saint Lawrence Seaway System and Duluth Harbor, and vice versa, up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ?

Next, we address the judgments of these waters and ports based on our economic or political biases. Northern Minnesota of 1959 has already endured perhaps 80 years of struggle between the capitalist and the socialist. Spotty relationships between the owners of iron mines and timber claims and their workers created an uneasy, perhaps co-dependent, partnership in which no one could fully win. If the unions “won”, it would be a Pyrrhic victory; yes wages and benefits would rise, but then the owners would cut jobs. On the side of the employers, they could squeeze concessions from unions, but they could not produce without their rugged work ethic or skills.

Given this cultural aura to Duluth Harbor and the Saint Lawrence System, will You guide us to Your thoughts on this issue? This is what we know about the labor side of this coin; 22 thousand workmen were employed for six years in its creation, and this initial effort presently effects 52 million jobs. *** When zoomed out to a bird’s-eye view, this seems an astounding and unbelievable success for labor; a 2,363.63% increase in jobs, and an average yearly increase of jobs of 38.7% over the span of 62 years!?!

Again, let’s return to the question of the businessmen in this era, and what are some simple facts we know.
“According to the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, the cost of the navigation project was $470.3 million (Cdn), of which Canada paid $336.5 million and the U.S. $133.8 million.”
Though I don’t have the actual numbers committed by Minnesota’s investors in the Seaway and Twin Harbors, we can read between the lines as to what these accomplishments meant to them as a group. This investment of CDN $470.3 yielded a fair return: its is the gateway of 30% of the economic activity of the USA and Canada, and represents a valuation of $6 trillion in terms of the US gross domestic product!?!

All this to say we owe You an apology Lord! Both halves of this political and economic battle have known amazing gains, but still seem to suffer wounds of distrust from the past. We are not to be co-dependents in Your economy: these parties are both dependents of the abundance of Your table. Heal us in our regional distrust of the owner, the capitalist and the outside investor! Heal us in our regional ignorance of the utility of our resources to the world, and a truly free market as opposed to state capitalism! The Enemy wants us to scrap over a larger piece of a small pie, but You, in this case, make the pie 2,363 times larger!

We praise you for Your generosity of Your natural resources!
We remember that You grant us permission to wisely steward and manage Your lands and waters!
We are ashamed in Your Presence at: our historical fights, our broken self-images as beggars and sibling rivals, and our failure to honor Our Father’s love towards our human enemies!
We are grateful for the engineers, geologists, hydrologists, and workmen of every kind who unlocked the interior of North America!
Will You be the system of locks that enable us to traverse the obstacles of broken human relationships, and raise us to a new level of chesed?
Let our harbors and seaways flow with You in tikkun olam!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
** Gliaoto, Katie. “Is Duluth the most inland seaport in North America?”. StarTribune online. Internet. June 28, 2019. https://www.startribune.com/is-duluth-the-most-inland-seaport-in-north-america/510139371/?refresh=true
*** Please read this wonderful detailed article at the website of Great Lakes Saint Lawrence Seaway System. https://greatlakes-seaway.com/en/the-seaway/
**** Fr. Paolo O. Pirlo, SHMI (1997). “St. Lawrence”. My First Book of Saints. Sons of Holy Mary Immaculate – Quality Catholic Publications. pp. 176–178
*****BMO Capital Markets, Spring 2018.
****** Zajac, Ronald. “St Lawrence Seaway at 60: The project that changed the region”. Montreal Gazette. Internet. April 26, 2019. https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/seaway-at-60/st-lawrence-seaway-at-60-the-project-that-changed-the-region/

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20th Century, Culture, History, Shopping, Uncategorized

Southdale: First Modern Shopping Mall in the U.S.A.

Edina, Minnesota, 1950s | Hemmings Daily. blog.hemmings.com

October 3, 1956
Southdale Shopping Center, located in Edina, Minnesota, was the first totally enclosed shopping center in the nation. In 1952, its developers, the Dayton family, long-established Minneapolis department store merchants, commissioned the architecture firm Victor Gruen & Associates to create a new form designed to reflect and serve changing patterns of suburban living. The master plan combined elements of the village green, of European city centers, and of elegant arcades and gallerias, in a constant temperature-controlled enclosure. When Southdale opened in 1956, it included 72 stores, and was anchored by two major department stores, all arranged in a two-level design around a brightly lighted center court. It offered free parking, and its 5000 parking spaces were grouped into lots, well marked by clever symbols to aid in locating one’s own in the sea of cars. Not only did Southdale Shopping Center fulfill the vision of its creators as a center of commerce and of social life for suburban residents, it also fueled suburban growth and became a much-imitated model.*

One of the first questions moderns may have looking back on this event is; why? Why group several businesses together and change the cityscape of a neighborhood filled with individual stores? What is it about Minnesota that catalyzed the concept of indoor, totally-enclosed shopping? Did they really need 5000 free parking spaces when the populations of its host cities of Edina and Richfield were 9744 and 17,502 in 1950? **

Let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to start, by tapping into the motives behind malls based in the human psyche. Sociologists such as Lev Vygotsky and Homi K. Bhabha could be considered advocates of the “Third Space Theory”. Although this theory applies across many aspects of learning, relationships, and cultures as it pertains to this subject it pertains mostly to place. There seems to be a human need for somewhere to interact beyond home, school, or work; another living room to breathe without judgment. In the words of Southdale’s architect Mr. Gruen, he desired to “provide the needed place and opportunity for participation in modern community life that the ancient Greek Agora, the Medieval Market Place and our own Town Squares provided in the past.” ***

Given that Gruen anticipated Minnesotan’s need for this “third space”, we move to some of the environmental and land usage issues that fostered this indoor, air-conditioned mall. Many travelers have had a small taste of our winters during the holidays, but do they know that the “174 °F or 96.7 °C variation between Minnesota’s highest and lowest temperature is the eleventh largest variation of any U.S. state”? **** Let us assume that people may enjoy “street life” in a range of temperatures from 40-85deg. F; that leaves us with a 51.7deg. range of extremes where they will not congregate. Southdale solved these issues by bringing the town square indoors both in terms of places to rest, interact, and enjoy blocks and blocks of indoor walking.

Lastly, we come to the issue of the automobile; why would Gruen choose to encompass his centrum with seas of parking spaces? While obvious economic motives may be clear, i.e. more shoppers equals more profit potential, the author is reticent to place these motives on Gruen. He, as did the developers of Southdale, recognized that the democratization of transportation represented by the automobile would change the needs and wants of local residents. They may choose to work downtown, but live in new suburbs that gave them better air, more space, and an affordable home. Likewise, many found the idea of shopping closer to their homes in the suburbs desirable. Maybe Southdale’s creators parking rationale went something like this; if we divide the combined populations of Richfield and Edina (27,246) by 5,000, we arrive at a parking space for every 5.44 residents. Is it possible that Gruen wanted every family of five to have access to his “third space” even if they arrived by automobile? Perhaps we will never know that answer, but we do know that this wonder of sociology, architecture, and commerce became the iconic model for shopping malls for a generation. Bravo, Mr. Gruen!

Shall we pray? Father, we are grateful that You made us for community. You sent us the Messiah at just the right time that we could experience an eternal “third space”. We thank You for His sacrifice that satisfied our legal separation from You as the human race. You invite us to know You and to be known in Your Healing Presence!

Let us first ponder the life and struggles of Victor Gruen with You. As a youth he saw the best and worst of Austrian culture: studying at the Academy of Fine Arts, exploring social engineering and sociology, yet seeing the painful betrayal of the Nazi brand of socialism annexing his homeland. Did his urbane and Jewish upbringing combine in his designs? He brought together the forerunning concepts of sociology immersed in a very spiritual need for shabbat in the shopping mall. Though his visions may have never reached his anticipated fruition, we applaud this visionary man so much like His Eternal Father! You push us to the stars, yet You more than anyone desire our rest.

Is it grievous to You, Lord of the Sabbath, that the gift of Southdale has soured in the modern mind? Have we exercised prejudice against the shopping mall? Are we just in our assessments of this icon for suburban life past and present?

In many ways, we have discounted and discredited the 1950’s as a decade of compliance and conformity. Contemporaries mock the innocence of its cultural markers: owning a small suburban house, owning a car, and shopping at a mall. But what if we turn these words around, Spirit? The word “compliance” connotes “obedience to, accordance with, observance of, adherence to, respect for, agreement, assent, consent, concession, concurrence, and acceptance”. Additionally, “conformity” conveys the ideas of “acquiescence in, adaptation to, adjustment to, accommodation to, alikeness, resemblance, and similitude”. Have we judged You insofar as we have condemned our ancestors obedience to You and adaptation to each other?

Conversely, we acknowledge to You the seeds of rebellion sown in the soft rains of suburban life past. As a State and people, we relished the awesome freedom of travel due to the automobile. This wonderful mall gives testimony that we planned cities around it. Ease of commercial activity by car seemed to be an indicator of successful city planning. Neither of these desires counter Your Kingdom’s mores, yet even good desires can ruin us when they are in imbalance.

How does the old campfire song go? “Seek ye first the Kingdom of G-d, and His righteousness. And all these thing shall be added unto you, Alleluia.” You want us to “Halaluyah” (Heb.) “praise ye YHWH”, be in right relationship with Him, and then our desires for things come from a full heart instead of an empty one.

Where we have idolized shopping in this era and the present, when we have used it to overcome the pain of broken human relationships; will You forgive us this offense? We are people who love shiny, new things, and sometimes fail to polish ourselves and our ways of relating to others, and to our Maker. Will You forgive the feast for the eyes that shopping malls past and present represent to us, and its offense of enticement to You?

We invite Your blessing into the way(s) we find what we need. We invite You to direct our paths to our wants and needs. (We must always remember that Our Good Father, enjoys our enjoyment of good things!) Will You bless the buyers and sellers: past, present, and future into chesed? By Your Life, death, and resurrection will You direct us into the “third space”? Over Southdale and all her children, will You write “shabbat”?

“Then Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those selling doves. And He declared to them, “It is written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer.’ But you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”
The blind and the lame came to Him at the temple, and He healed them.” Matthew 21:12-14 BSB

Southdale 1956 Richfield Edina Shopping Mall History Video. You Tube. December 19, 2014. lumberjack1713.
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