Posted by: Jim E | February 11, 2016

Home…Right Here…Right Here In River City

Sometimes, well, anytime, I love home…for most of us, home has been a variety of places over the years…in past generations home may have been in one spot, even one particular house…or one particular area or place…what may have been called “the farm-place”…where “our people” have always lived for generations, some may say…but now days that is no longer the case for most…most of us have lived in a number of houses and places, different states, even in different countries…so home, I guess, is where you make it…

Almost every time I drive into our neighborhood, I say, “I’m glad to be home.”…and I am…it is the most comfortable place I know…I belong…as I heard someone say on TV the other night, “Home is my happy place.”…sounds a bit like Pooh Bear, he had happy places too…and though Pooh is a figment of an author’s imagination, I find myself there too…Home is a happy, comfortable, warm and loving place…I receive that love, but also give it…it is what home is really about…is it any wonder that people feel such loss at the destruction of their home by fire, tornado, etc…home is a special place…

I remember my Mom when she witnessed the destruction and then burning of her Reggin's house 1926childhood home…her Dad, my Grandpa Reggin bought the land, built the house with his own hands…it was a small home…built in the 1920’s…Grandpa and Grandma raised four children, other relatives in and out, over the years..and though my Mom hadn’t lived in that house for more than 50 years, when it was burned by the fire department for practice and because the land was to be used for a large office building…she took a picture, it’s blurry…she was crying…that was “Home”…Reggin house burning 1979 1

I’ve thought of all the houses Judie and I have lived in over the years…now married 52 years and counting, we have had a few…(in fact we lived in Grandpa and Grandma’s house for a few months after returning to Minnesota from Croswell, Michigan, where we taught for three years)…though I don’t necessarily think that moving is a good thing, it is our thing…it’s what happened to us…though sometimes I wonder if I could have lived in one place what would it have been like…I know a few people who have done that and there is something about that which intrigues me…draws me; to that something I truly know, and that knows me…but it was not where life took us…and we just followed…

So where is this going in my mind…well, I remember my Dad told me about when he Broadway Bridge Minneapolisgrew up and lived in Northeast Minneapolis…or as those from Minneapolis might say it, “Nordeast”, or however they would spell it…he told me he swam in the Mississippi River…dove off the Broadway Bridge, his Mother, my Grandma, would warn him not to swim in the river…she didn’t want to lose him that way, in those days death for children was not necessarily unusual…disease and accidents were a fairly normal happening…but not too many years went by and she sent him into WWII…it must have been a fright for all those Mothers and Dads…but I digress…

What I am trying to “get to” is “the River”…we have always lived “on the river”…or should I say near a river…it lets us know, how many cities and towns were started along Croswell, MI our farm house 1965-68 2rivers…America is blessed with a huge number of rivers and river systems…we have always lived in a river town…so have you…or at least most of you. just think about it for a minute…just for the transportation element alone, towns were established on rivers…just after we got married in 1963, we moved to Croswell, Michigan, it was my first teaching job…Croswell is located on the Black River, just a few miles West of Lake Huron…and our home there was on a farm near town and the school…home of “The Swinging Bridge” over the Black River…

Most of our kids growing up years were spent in Andover, Minnesota…after we moved back from Michigan…we lived in that house for over 36 years…that is the house our kids Flag Memorial Day 2005call “Home”…and we lived within a mile of the Rum River…a tributary of the Mississippi River…really most of the rivers in Minnesota are tributaries of the mighty Mississippi…though in far northwest Minnesota the rivers run North into Canada…but in our case the Rum River ran into the Mississippi just south or us, about 5 miles at Anoka…another river town…most towns have river history too…as do most towns around where we lived in Minnesota…

And now we live in Little Rock. Arkansas, and as we did in all the places we lived…whether it was Minneapolis, Mankato, Minnesota for college, Croswell, Andover, or in Little Rock…all these places were home, we loved them all…because we brought Home with us…and so when I say, as I DO say, “Right here, right now…ln River City”…when talking about most anything…like, “There’s a traffic jam, right here in River City”…I’m really speaking the truth…but I thought the other day…”Just where did I get that saying, “Right here in River City.”…well, some of you already know…but lets tell you with this short song from the musical “the Music Man”…

So no matter where I land…it seems like I’m in River City…Meredith Wilson’s, “the Music Man” didn’t arrive at River City, Iowa by accident…it is where all of Middle America has always been…near a river…drawing their sustenance from that river…

So my life started with my Mom and Dad in 1942, a different world really…we lived in a tiny box of a house next to a swamp, that during early spring runoff would have water around the house and under it…no indoor plumbing…no electricity…the depression was beginning to wane…WWII was on in full fury…and it would be after the war that we moved to a little house just a block away…and then to the place I would call home for most of my growing up years…a basement house, no plumbing, but had electricity (we were moving up)…and then all the years since then…all were Home to me, all I remember with great clarity…

So, I’m a happy man…I’m home…”Right Here In River City”…I suppose you are too!!!…

 

 

 

 

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Responses

  1. Thanks Jim. Nice, well thought out and presented, as always. I wonder how your Mom and mine connected at an early time, because you/she weren’t that close to where we lived and our only car was always gone with my dad. In fact, my Mom didn’t learn to drive until I was in HS.

    It’s great too that you’ve preserved all these old photos. I have virtually none.

    Now really, tho, you didn’t have plumbing in your home back then? That would have been quite a challenge…with the winters and all! You might do a piece on that…

    —pete

    >

    • Pete…Thanks…I suppose your Mom and mine Mom got acquainted from school stuff…my Mom didn’t drive until I was in college, about 1962…we lived next door to her folks, my Grandparents…and Grandpa and Grandma filled in for no car in our family…and took my Mom wherever she needed to go, work, shopping, etc…my Dad never drove his whole life, (that’s another story)…so when Judie and I were going to get married, and did in 1963…I told her, I didn’t know where we would be going to school or working and we needed think of something (by the way, we were on our way back from grocery shopping at the time,) she looked at me, and knew things were about to change…by that time my Grandparents were no longer driving…but he had a car and so Mom at 42 got her license…and took over all the “running” until she could no longer drive…then it was me and my brother Jack, again…until they both passed away…

      Back to your Mom…my Mom as a cook at Meadowbrook Elementary and then at Golden Valley High…was involved with lots of fundraising stuff at school…spaghetti dinners, etc…Do you remember a restaurant called “DiNapoli” down on Hennepin Ave…their kids went to GV schools, Piazza’s…I think one of the families lived over near Christ…my Mom and Joe Piazza, who owned the restaurant, were great friends (this went on for years, every time we went to DiNapoli, Joe would come over and talk to us…Jack and I would go down for lunch on Saturdays after playing BB with guys from the U of M at GV…names like “Whitey” Johnson, Garmaker, a number of others, and play pickup ball…after, Jack and I would drive down to DiNapoli for pizza and side order of spaghetti or platter spaghetti and a side of pizza, whatever…we could really eat then…I loved that place, I have never found better “red sauce” than there…and their meatballs…wow…anyway, Mom had Joe Piazza cater the spaghetti dinners for years…and parents, this is where your Mom came in I’m sure, came and helped set up and clean up…it was one big family in those years…and if you live long enough, life is a circle…you meet people on the way out, you met coming in…

      That was true of Joe Piazza…I was there on one of the last days they were opened…and also one of the last days Joe was there…and he was always there…cruising the “floor”…talking to people, many who had been coming to DiNapoli for years…he retired after 60 years or so…coming to the states from Italy after the war…lots of discrimination for Italians…but he said veterans wanted pizza and spaghetti after the war, they tasted it in Italy and wanted it when they came back…and things got better…he was gem…but that was probably part of the connection between your Mom and mine…that will teach you to ask questions!!!…

      Okay, a shorter answer on the plumbing question…as I said, we lived next door to my Grandparents…so when my folks built the basement…there were plans for a house on top…but that never came for a number of reasons, that I won’t go into here…this was just after the war and my Dad and Grandpa and other relatives and friends built the basement house…for whatever reason…no indoor plumbing…heavens we had an outhouse…it had been there since the ’20’s…but my Grandpa had a cold water pipe put underground to the basement house…that was all the plumbing we had…under the sink was a pail, that needed to be emptied often…carried out back to the alley behind the shed…the shed was where we had a BB backboard and hoop…lots of time out there for us…and yup, winter was not fun…but then my Grandparents invited us to use their facilities…so that is we did things when I was in high school, etc…lots of memories…and some old pictures, but not all I would have liked…well, enough, I know…I tend to prattle on…Jim E

  2. Great story hope all is well.

    Saun

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • Saun…thanks…everything is great here…hope all it well with you and your family…down here in Arkansas the next thing we look forward to is Spring…Oh, we could have some snow or ice but it would be short lived…and the flowers of Spring just keep coming…Daffodils are coming up all over town…they will be blooming sometime the end of February and into March…and then it is on…flowering bushes and flowers start in earnest…our Maple trees and Bradford Pear trees are budding…but leaves will take a month before they come out…but new life is “busting out all over”, if I can rob a lyric from Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel”…”June is bustin’ out all over”…it’s just a bit earlier than the Midwest, but it’s coming…best to you, again you are one of my heroes, as you work with handicapped kids…and even when you retire or change jobs…still you have done great things…Jim E


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