My boys viewed their mid-1980s births
in the old Midway Hospital on University
between Porky’s and Ax-Man
as an embarrassment, a slight
their Saint Paul mom had designed to punish them
by withholding the polished corridors
of HCMC in their own hometown...
I was a young Philadelphian, freshly divorced, and looking for a new city in which to start my new life. I was tired of rat-filled alleys and dirty heaps of black snow that lined the streets like piles of coal. At a library, I happened upon a travel magazine. And on those glossy, full-color pages, I spotted a picture of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival.
For almost as long as there has been a Saint Paul, my family has been a part of the city. My father, Carl Reimringer, was born here in 1914, and baptized in Assumption Church, where his father was baptized and his grandfather was married. Though I’d never lived here, when my wife and I moved to Saint Paul shortly after my father’s death in 2001, I fell head over heels in love with the city, feeling that I’d returned to a home I hadn’t realized had been missing from my life.
The scramble begins. The quickest gets the matching gloves. Snowsuit on . . . wool socks on . . . boots on . . . I just need a hat and gloves. A lone glove lies on the wood floor in the entryway. Where’s its mate? Hats, scarves, and mismatched gloves fly out of the wicker basket. “Ah ha!” It sits at the bottom calling to its twin. I’m ready, we’re set, let’s go! We pile into the minivan, shovels in the back. The best part about searching for the Winter Carnival medallion isn’t the digging. No, at age eight I prefer to lie in the snow or sit and watch the people shoveling around us.
Workers performing advance utility relocation work in preparation for light rail construction in Lowertown have stumbled across what local authorities believe may be a long lost royal complex that is likely the final resting place of Boreas the Brrrave. It is not unusual for the refuse of bygone eras to turn up during large scale excavations such as that which has been taking place in Lowertown this past summer. Similar work on the Hiawatha Line in Minneapolis uncovered scores of bottles, household items and more than a few horseshoes. The quality, variety, and sheer volume of items discovered beneath 4th street have, however, prompted calls for a halt to further work on the project - if only temporarily.
Each year, a small group of immigrants makes its way into Saint Paul from a foreign and misunderstood land. They may come for love, jobs, the promise of more house for the money. Willing to face great adversity, they pack their belongings and take a giant leap of faith across the mighty Mississippi. These brave souls move their lives from Minneapolis to Saint Paul. I am one of them; this is my story.
My sister phones. "Storm!" she says, disgusted. "They're calling this a storm. No wind, maybe an inch of snow. It's winter, for Pete's sake, we're supposed to have snow. Get a grip!" My sister is not one of your hardy outdoors types, but we're Iron Rangers, and even though between us we've spent six decades in Saint Paul, we retain the Ranger's right to scorn urban wimpiness. It's the TV weather people who have set her off. "They are trying to brainwash us into weather wimps."
Just about the time our Vikings' season is over, all of the grass is covered by snow. The mornings of scraping the ice off your windshield have become repetitive. It's getting to the coldest time of the year. Thanks to the great City of Saint Paul, there's a week of celebration in the snow. Parents and their families come out of their homes. It's like a Minnesota version of a hibernation break. After months of being indoors, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival and the great treasure hunt are finally here!