(A Side street Saga)
In the old days Cayuga Street was a notorious neighborhood—known as ‘Donkeyland,’ by the St. Paul Minnesota Police Department. No one who lived in it was unaware of the gripping sounds of Structural Steel Company (where most of the neighborhood kids worked at one time or another), and the Railroad behind it—with its squealing steel on steel, and whistle blowing, and the screeching of cars that raced up and down the street like a drag-strip, the fires going on in the empty lot, and the drunken behavior of the boys going on pert near every night of the week.
Then one year, there were no more steel to produce; the steel became laid stacks in the yard. And in due time, all the steel that had been left, was carried away. The big mill had all its machinery then taken out soon after; removed, along with what belts, and tables, pallets, and paints, iron and lumber that were piled here and there. Everything that made a steel mill a steel mill was gone.
Ten-years later there was nothing left, the houses on Cayuga Street, the railroad that had stood deserted, as did the empty lot (also known as Indian’s Hill), everything now covered with plain old dirt. A highway was over the head of Cayuga Street—Mississippi crosses it, north and south.
“There’s our old neighborhood,” Chick Evens said, driving up and down Cayuga Street.
“There it is,” he said (in reflection and dismay). “I can remember when we played softball over in that there field, drank so much, we couldn’t walk straight, and on that there hill beyond the field we had a number of fights, right there…right where I’m pointing,” said Chick Evens to his wife, as he looked at and then point to what would soon be a parking lot, with no cars, just black asphalt.
His wife, had just been born then, back in 1959, when Evens was just going into his teens, and being nurtured into the Donkeyland Gang.
“It seems more like a castle in ruins now,” Chick said. Then he drove out of sight, down Jackson Street, alongside Oakland Cemetery. Never looking back once, his eyes heavy likened to a slab of driftwood (thus, in the summer of 2000, something had ended).
For the boys of the old neighborhood of the ’60s
No: 663 (1-4--2011)