My husband and I arrived in Minneapolis on a rainy afternoon on April 14, 1965. We were pulling a trailer with all our worldly belongings. We had left behind what had been my home for 30 years, 15 miles North of Philadelphia, and were heading to Glenn’s parents’ home where we planned to start a new life.
As we drove along Minnehaha Creek, I looked down the steep incline to the water and saw huge pyramids of ice that had been dumped there during the winter. We were greeted warmly by Glenn’s parents, his three younger brothers, and their families. In the days following they delighted in showing us around the area. We drove down tree lined streets and along the shores of lake Minnehaha, Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet and Lake of the isles.
I grew up in the shadow of the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and a city with “row” houses. Occasionally I found myself strolling along cobble stone streets, installed during the time our country was under English rule.
By contrast, in Minneapolis, residents lived in single dwellings surrounded by yards with grass and shrubbery. We passed tall buildings, home to the senior citizens. There was a group of brick buildings settled into a rolling landscape with mowed lawn and swings for children. I was told, “That’s where the poor people live!”
On my own I wandered through the streets of the city of Minneapolis and looked up at new edifices reaching in the bright sun for a brilliant blue sky. There was excitement, enormous energy, smiling busy people and a feeling of optimism and embracing the future.
In time, my husband and I moved in to a Dutch Colonial home on Colfax Avenue where we raised three sons. We were pleased when we found the neighborhood offered a range of diversity embracing many differences in race, religious and ethnic origins. Bryant Square, one of three neighborhood parks near our home, was half a block from our house. It included a playground, wading pool and a brick office where there was space for socializing and storage. In winter the park was flooded, providing a large skating rink. There were bright lights at night for those who skated after dark.
Parents volunteered their time as coaches and teachers. Our boys grew up playing baseball, football, soccer, ice hockey and wrestling. Art and craft classes were available, as well as sport programs.
In warm weather the boys took fishing rods on their bicycles and headed for Lake Calhoun, bringing home croppies and sunfish for dinner.
Glenn was an avid golfer. His world expanded as he, his father and brothers spent happy hours on the excellent “public” golf courses. In Pennsylvania, Glenn was unable to play. You had to be rich or belong to a country club in order to golf.
Another discovery that delighted us was the wide expanse of “freeways.” In Pennsylvania we had to pay a toll in order to access the highways!
Last, but not least, we appreciated the education our sons received which allowed them to advance according to their personal ability and proclivity.
To me, Minneapolis, Minn., came as a revelation, a celebration of the middle class! To me it has been evidence that the American dream is achievable! I have wondered over the years if Midwesterners understand that what we have here is the beating heart of America. That a great gift has been given to us and we must not allow state legislators to take it away from us. America should not be a country where opportunity is only available to the wealthy.