Plymouth Avenue, the North Side, "the neighborhood," all names that pop up out of my memory bank when I think of "my" place. Growing up in North Minneapolis was a unique experience of community, although I did not truly appreciate the experience until these past few years as I reflected on that place.
Plymouth Avenue is still there, but none of the landmarks that made it "my place" remain. Stillman's Grocery, the Homewood Theatre, the bowling alley, Brochin's Deli, the barber shop, all gone, along with every other store I used to pass as I walked to school or the streetcar. No other place I have lived captures my imagination or connects me with "my place" or "my neighborhood" in quite the way that the Old North Side does, at least as it lives in my memory. Yet the reality of that place is called into question, for memory of it comes in pieces, like unedited video clips vieing for attention.
It wasn't until a friend from the old neighborhood gave me a copy of a video called The Old North Side that I began to sense the history of my place as it lives in the memory of the people who were my contemporaries and predecessors in that place. As I viewed and listened to interviews about the people, Jews, Germans, Finns, Poles, Swedes, Norwegians, from Europe, blacks from the South, who settled the Old North Side, their stories made "my place" more real. It had a history. It wasn't just a piece of my memory. It became real as I connected my memories with those of a people who made a place for themselves out of the memories they had of the places that survived in their own remembrances.