BOILERPLATE: It’s Hiatus Week, with all the fun that entails. Yes, I’m emptying out the stuff I’ve been meaning to post - sometimes for years - and occasionally favoring you with a link to some part of the site that A) I’ve updated, and B) probably six people care about. But: it’s something!
What have we today?
Today we have a humdinger, that's what.. Dingers will be hummed. Hummers will be dinged. Thursday is usually Urban Studies of some sort, right? Main Street, Motels, Restaurants, that sort of thing. During last year’s Hiatus, I think I did some old urban renewal documentaries, to show what was knocked down to build barren plazas and faceless towers.
In that spirit: let’s begin.
MINNEAPOLIS. LATE FIFTIES.
He’s swearing off the sauce for good!
Or indicating what a sad state he’s in. Not a drop to have. The signs promise Grain Belt - golden, cold, delicious beer - but his bottle of ever clear is clearer than it was. This is a problem, because he’s an alcoholic on skid row.
But that’s not all that bad.
Welcome to the Gateway: the tumbledown rummy heaven, the boozeland at the edge of downtown Minneapolis. These stills are taken from a film John Bacichs hot at the nadir of the Gateway. He narrates parts of the film with an amused and sympathetic style. I’ll embed at it at the end so you can hear what he has to say; until then, draw your own conclusions. And of course read mine.
It was a smelly mess, but who wouldn’t want the streets to abound with signs like these?
Generic names and soft drink signs, but this was a place like no other. City Leaders wanted it all gone.
A place that’s going down often has the same look it did tweet years before; the sign may be recent, but the strange windows go back a few decades.
Moler Barber College was, and is, a nationwide chain of clip joints. So to speak.
The width of the windows tells you the buildings are old, old, old - and no doubt ready to fall if someone sneezed. Up in those in floors were tick-and-bedbug infested rooms with chicken-wire walls and roofs; the wire separated the spaces and were cheaper than actual walls.
Yes, I can see why they wanted to demolish it all.
These two guys fought all the time.They got drunk and fought. Day or night, rain or shine.
Don't know if that was clothing at some point, or something else that had to be pressed into service as a shirt.
Nattiest Gateway denizen of them all, and yes, there's a story here.
Many of these guys were only temporarily out of work; they were railroad workers who had seasonal gigs. You work a while, you go on the bum, then you work a while. Then you go on the bum.
Eventually, I suspect, you end up working less and less.
More after the break.
Another finely-attired citizen; this guy does a little dance on the video, and the narrator has something else to say as well.
This patron is caught in full daylight inebriation. It's a wonder she can stay up.
Corby's whiskey signs in the window.
I know it's folly to romaticize the rough, unhappy part of town - but I'm glad this place looked like this once.
One of the best pieces of neon downtown - the lights used to move, but I'm sure at the end they didn't fix what broke. The clientele they got in the last few days wasn't brought in by some fancy bulbs.
Rex's sighn moved, too - the lights swooped down that arrow.
They must have. Otherwise, why have it?
Most of the scenes took place on Washington Avenue, I think; perhaps a few side streets closer to the Post Office. There's not much footage around the old Gateway Park, where the bums lolled in the sun all day.
Some nice architectural details on the red corner building:
Down it went - for progress' sake.
Marquette and Washington, then:
And . . . today.
Here's the full story, courtesy of KTCA.
That’ll do - see you tomorrow. Remember, the Bleat Index has the links. You could eat them all up today.
Why would you do that.