That’s where I went today. I gave a speech before a group of retired teachers. Packed house! Record gate, they said! I spoke in the room off the bar, a classic old meeting hall that could be in a small town outstate. When I see places like this I feel as if I’ve been transported - either to those little burgs with their VFW halls, or back 40 years to the city I knew when I arrived.

It’s an Eagles nest. FOE. (Also doubles as the Legion hall.) It’s in the middle of a strange quasi-industrial part of the Seward neighborhood. Memory Lanes is around the corner.

And yes, that bowling alley is as classic as you’d hope. It was once the Stardust, and the sign was even better.

There's a whole world in that sign. A set of hopes and assumptions and easy optimism. More of the old place here in Minneapolis Modern, if you like. (It's an old site, and I should probably update it. Then again, why)

It was the usual drill: show up, introduce myself to someone who looks to be in charge, find the head table, hail-fellows-well-met all around, pre-meal chat, then the feedbag. It was roast beef sandwiches, with slabs of meat on big thick Texas-Toast dimension white bread, a scoop of mashed potatoes, and a ladle of cooked carrots. Coffee in copper-colored plastic pots with black handles. Club announcements, then please welcome our speaker.

I do not have a speech, per se, but I suppose I do. It’s the tale of my Brilliant Career, not because it’s brilliant or even interesting, but because I moved through a variety of media institutions that don’t exist anymore. The reasons why are instructive, and the end result is a bit depressing. Are we poorer for not having TV Guide sell millions and identify The Thing that everyone was talking about, or would be soon? Somewhat. Are we worse off when local papers don't have their own correspondants in DC? Certainly.

It’s also interesting that the common thread weaving through these various institutions and publications is my tenure. I don’t think I’m responsible, but I would say that, wouldn’t I.

A lot of readers. A lot of long time readers. One said she'd been with me through three dogs.

Anyway, it was fun. A mic, a room, a receptive crowd, and another excuse to use the picture.

Then outside into the slush. Deep lakes along the curb - one has to leap like an animal on a WEF Police emblem to clear the vast expanse. Lookit me, Ma, I'm an Ibex! Ran a grocery errand at CUfB, which I hate to do but they have some things no one else carries. At the pizza freezer I had to wait for someone to retrieve her choices, and when she turned around she said "Hello James." I had no idea who she was but she looked familiar in the sense that everyone in a certain demographic looks familiar if they call you by name. Turns out - get this - I sat next to her my first year at the U in 1976 and copied some notes. I apologized for cheating, and she said no problem, I'd missed the previous lecture, and was catching up. We chatted for a while, and she told me to keep writing, and she'd keep reading, and that seemed like a fair deal. After the speech at the Eagles club, it was a cherry on a big, generous sundae.





It’s 1922.

Odd dead space at the bottom. It would be a design sin today.

It's either BIG HED or just a little one. All the news with little heds looks to be equally important.

  Some people are kicking about having a pole in their front yard. They still want good phone service, but they want the pole somewhere else. This isn’t going to help a forward-looking town like Belding.


No small problem. Gasoline Alley had a plot arc in 1922 about the fellows buying bum oil stock - except it turned out to be good! Because Gasoline Alley was that kind of strip.


  Please adjust your life accordingly.


  Thus it has always been so, I suppose, inasmuch as people play it cool to seem nonchalant about matters of the heart that are truly a matter of torment. But this seems a bit odd. Everyone’s on the same page, no? What’s the harm in giving vent to your emotions?

This is sad.

Why? Because the building isn’t there any more. The paper is full of ads for downtown businesses, and most of the addresses come back to empty lots. When I first went to the town on Google Street View, I thought: odd. It doesn’t appear to have a downtown at all.

But it does. Or rather did. Was there a fire? I googled. No.

Flickr, 2009.

The picture here shows all that is left of the old main street. The "mall" is a total joke. What a complete and utter failure.

Belding's former mayor and president of the mall association is headed to prison for fraud and embezzlement. The loan officer at a local bank, who was also on the mall association board, is under investigation. So is his wife who owned a shop in the mall.

There’s more, about the author’s grandfather’s drug store.

They destroyed the downtown. On purpose.

But hey, the empty mall is showing life again! Plans are underway!

<picard> Not good enough, dammit, not good enough </picard>

The Clan Call: a serialized feature. Shall we dance?

Happy's bio:

Hapsburg Liebe, born Charles Haven Liebe, (1880-1957) was an American author and screenwriter. His stories were published in Adventure,[1][2] The Black Cat,[3] The Railroad Trainman,[4] The Green Book Magazine,[5] Boys' Life [6] and Florida Wildlife.

Liebe grew up in the mountains of East Tennessee. He served in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. During the First World War Liebe was accused of being a German writer because of his name.

Well, he did choose “Love Hapsburg,” so there’s that.

Liebe denied this, and stated that his ancestors were Dutch and English Americans. Liebe later did propaganda writing for the U.S. military as part of the group of writers known as The Vigilantes.

That's one way to show you're a real American.

Now two ways to chip in!

That should do for the day. Back tomorrow with Here to There, adn more. Oh, did I mention 50s interiors? Because there's that.



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