Memories of Russia with a Dentist in Frogtown

Illustration: Kirk Anderson

Dr. Sobkoviak of Frogtown, our dentist, stood looking out the window of his office at Western and University and saw Russia. As he changed the point of the drill, looking straight through Old Home Dairy across the street into the Kremlin, he warned me about Nikita Krushchev. He was slow and thorough, stopping to polish his glasses in front of that window. In his starched white tunic, he was a true professional.

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A Minnesota Nice Story: The Lost Wallet


The only time I ever lost my wallet was at a Twins game in 1972. When I discovered my back pocket was empty, I remember my brother Tom and I running across the parking lot and crawling under a half-open service door to get back into Met Stadium. As we walked through the bowels of that venerable sports palace looking for help, my stomach was in knots thinking about losing over sixty dollars, my driver's license, credit card and student discount card for Burger King. Suddenly, we spotted a burly figure coming towards us. Was this my angel of mercy?

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Putting a SPNN on Saint Paul

Rickey Mantley

The segments could be about any subject we chose—as long as it pertained to Saint Paul. I learned that more than a few of those on hand already had extensive experience as television producers and/or videographers. For complete novices like me, SPNN planned to offer crash courses in video camera operation, lighting, and editing. The classes were quick but comprehensive, and gave me enough confidence to take the plunge into shooting my first video. I submitted my proposal for the project and felt ready to check out the necessary equipment and start filming.

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August Wilson's Early Days in Saint Paul

August Wilson and his fiancée, Judy Oliver, outside their Grand Avenue apartment, 1980.

Tennessee Williams. Arthur Miller. August Wilson. When you list the playwrights of American theater whose work transcends all others, those three names stand at the top. Much of Wilson’s defining ten-play saga of African American life in the twentieth century, a massive undertaking with a play for every decade, was written right here in Saint Paul. That includes the first to hit Broadway (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and the Pulitzer Prize winners Fences and The Piano Lesson.

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Ta-coumba Aiken

One of Ta-coumba Aiken’s murals, at Jeremiah Project. Photo: Patricia Bour-Schilla

Aiken studied at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where he learned to harness and integrate his calling as a healer with his creative gifts and, like his mother, to use them sensibly. The motto that he lives each day is, “I create my art to heal the hearts and souls of people in the communities by evoking a positive spirit.”

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Police Work: Undercover as a prostitute with Carolen Bailey


Here is a picture signed in 1974 from the very first case I ever worked on. I had just pulled off my blond wig when Sgt. Paul Paulos pointed his camera at me, so I put the wig back on crooked, because I really didn’t think he’d take the photo.

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Jimmi Owens, Midway Baseball Ambassador

The Jimmie Owens plaque at Midway Stadium

Unlike the horror stories about parents gone bad at Little League games that occasionally appear on the evening news, Midway has a strong tradition of respect and civility, due in large measure to Jim Kelley, the energetic co-founder of the Midway Baseball program.

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Gloria Contreras Edin: A New Hope for Latino Immigrants

Gloria Contreras Edin

"I have this flame of hope that does not go out. I believe I can make the world a better place, I believe it, I believe it, I believe it, and I'm going to keep pushing," she says. Contreras Edin is the executive director of Centro Legal, a nonprofit legal agency that has been providing legal services to the Latino community in Minnesota for over twenty-five years.

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My Best Friend


But the actual movie wasn't the big event—it was the walk home. With complete abandon and total unselfconsciousness, we acted all of our favorite scenes from the movie we had just seen.

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