When I was eight years old and living in Pennsylvania, my father took a new job in Minnesota at the Saint Paul Foundry. He and my mother had immigrated to America from Scotland and always spoke lovingly of their hometown of Edinburgh, but work opportunities were better in America.
I’ve lived in Dayton’s Bluff just a few blocks from the Mounds Theatre all my life, but not for the whole life of the Mounds Theatre. It was built in 1922, and I was born twenty-nine years later. The Mounds started out as a silent movie house. It was billed as “The Pride of Dayton’s Bluff.” It had a small stage for vaudeville acts. Local musicians played in an orchestra pit. The first “talkie” was shown at the Mounds in late March 1929—on what would eventually become my birthday. The movie was My Man, starring Fannie Brice. The Mounds was remodeled in the 1930s, receiving air conditioning, an exterior ticket booth, and a fancy marquee.
In the early 1940s, we lived on the East Side of Saint Paul near Hazelwood and Seventh streets, where streetcars stopped almost in front of our house. One of my earliest memories is of waiting for the streetcar to bring my grandfather and aunts home from their downtown jobs at the central post office and The Emporium and Schuneman's, two of the large department stores.
The Turf Club is an historic landmark in the Twin Cities music world. One might wonder how this club set in the Midway—the land between downtown Minneapolis and downtown Saint Paul—amongst porn and pawn shops, liquor stores and Ax Man, maintains a name at all. This is not the hubbub of nightlife; no river views, no skyscrapers, no horse carriages or antique fire trucks, no pretty street lights, no Snoopy. It's University bus stops and Snelling traffic.