My girlfriend lives in an apartment across the street from the Saint Paul Cathedral. She has a very Catholic upbringing that only shows when we get to fooling around on her bed with its view of the illuminated massive doors and dome of the church across the street. Then guilt kicks in and I wish there was a curtain to draw. More than once desire has been quashed and old morality triumphs over free love as I am sent packing. After my latest expulsion, I’m driving my economical four-cylinder Chevy II in a sour mood as I pass through the intersection of John Ireland Boulevard on Kellogg when a fast Pontiac Grand Prix roars through the red light and hits me.
Vera’s death was just last December, and I am missing her on this May evening, as our forty-third anniversary approaches. I need time and space by myself, to think. A view of the Mississippi River twisting and turning sharply, as I am right now, would set the tone. A drink and something good to eat would be nice—a martini, a very good steak, a favorite after-dinner drink.
I hold out my hand and feel the soft tapping of raindrops on my palm. They are cool and don’t seem to care where they end up. I take out my umbrella and hold it up so I don’t get wet. It is fall. The wind starts up, and I am glad I wore my sweatshirt and rain poncho. The rain starts coming down harder now, and my patrol flag flaps madly as if trying to escape my grasp.
For those of us who think about, study, discuss, photograph, worship, and otherwise adore the weather, Saint Paul is a miniature atmospheric playground.
If you were to stand here today, on an equally mild summer morning, as the maker of this 1925 photograph did, Union Depot would not look much different. It would be, of course: time changes not only the physical lives of buildings but their meaning and function.