Monday, August 31, 2009

The Old North Side

Plymouth Ave

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.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

915 Morgan

“The remembrance of a place is only like the finger pointing to the moon—it is not the moon!  Truly you cannot go home again!”
“It’s gone!” I counted the houses from the corner where Gary Lundquist lived. Next door the Rabbi’s house, then 3rd from the corner, and finally 915 Morgan. But there’s a single family house there. “Oh, the little embankment is still there.” I used to ski down it. I can’t picture the rest of the place where I spent most of my childhood. The vacant lot to the left of the old 4-plex is now a yard.
Milan 915 Morgan-1
Below:  Me and Gary Lundquist
Milan 915 Morgan-2
           Below:  Me and my Mom
Milan 915 Morgan Mpls-1

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Marriage & Move to Minneapolis

When I was 4 my mother married Floyd Hamilton (later known as my dad) in Charles City,Iowa.  It should have been a happy occasion, but my vague memories were of my grandfather and Floyd getting drunk and getting into a big fight and not speaking to each other for the next 10 years or so, and then being yanked out of my comfortable Iowa farm home, placed in the back seat of Floyd’s 1940 something blue coupe, and whimpering on the floor all the way to our new home in Minneapolis

When I was 5….(1942)…..I must have been alive, although, if the number of memories retained has any validity, I must have been unconscious for several years, or really leading a boring life. Or maybe I was so traumatized by adjusting to life on this planet that I repressed much. I remember making a friend, Billy, who used to come to our North Minneapolis little rented house and yell for me by the kitchen window. I remember joining a “gang” for a day and stealing candy from a local store which the owner had forgot to lock when he left it on a weekend.

Here is me and Floyd, aka Dad, in front of our first of several residences in North Minneapolis.

Milan Floyd Ms Drive2

Friday, August 28, 2009

Why I Write!

Why I Write

I write to keep thoughts

From taking the lead

And I write so I don’t forget

Some insignificant detail

Or to compare the insane thoughts

Of my youth with those just written.

And I write to keep brain

Synapses sending their little

Messages to a body that

Doesn’t respond so well anymore.

But most of all I write to

Keep my friends and family

And myself

In the loop of life.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


She is a legend in the Williams family.  She pulled Grandpa and Grandma and four kids in South Dakota winters, hitched to a sleigh.  She was ridden several miles to school by Uncle Ralph, with my mother sitting behind him some days.  In summer she pulled the family in a wagon to barn dances and card parties.  I never heard of her being used as “work horse” but I suppose there were times.  By the time I arrived on the scene, she must have been in her mid-to-late twenties.  Here are some pics of Queen in her declining years, when she proudly allowed the grandchildren to pose for photos.  The first one is of little Milan at about 6 months perched on the “Queen”.

Milan H 5 to 6 months2

Milan on Queen 1944-2

Queen in 1937-2 Queen in 1937

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Humble Beginning

Born in Sioux City, Iowa, spent the first four years on my grandparents farm in southeast South Dakota and north central Iowa.  My roots must be in the land, although my few attempts at gardening through the years have been disastrous.  I won’t even mention lawn care, which is all the more embarrassing when my wife, Linda, reminds me how her father always had the most famous lawn and garden in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Anyway, this is “mini-me” on the farm in South Dakota.

Milan on blanket

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

My First Post

I am new to blogging and am attempting to discipline myself to write something every day. This is my first! Wish me luck.