In 1989 when the North Side Alumni Association was in its infancy with just a two-year history, I wrote a twice-yearly magazine for the membership. The publication called the Redskin Review was sent to each member of the fledgling organization. Each issue listed class reunions, shared features and presented class ramblings.
The cover of the Spring 1989 issue carried a piece I wrote called “A State of Mind.” I pulled a copy from my file the other day and read a line from the old cover that saddened me. “One rushes down the greatest hill in the city to jump the brook and move toward North Side.” Here for your recall is that 20-plus-year-old memory with many places now gone and still another, my old hill, about to be flattened, straightened. It is soon to lose its bounce and steep skid — a long ago hike gone.
A State of Mind
It links east and west. It skirts the Saint Joseph and runs on to Spy Run Creek. It is a thread that wanders through my life and the lives of many who have been born and reared north of Superior Street. I speak of State Street, guardian of memories, teller of stories and avenue to all that is familiar and dear.
I was born near the street's west end in an area called Bloomingdale and moved as a young wife to the neighboring addition called North Highlands. Residing in these areas, we were a blink away from the television stations, a blast away from Dana Corporation, a Coke away from a shopping center bearing the appropriate title “West State Plaza.”
West State Street also houses seniors in a high-rise, furnishes books at Little Turtle Branch Library and enlarges waistlines with Charky pie. One can breakfast at Keltsch's, shop at Rogers and bank at Lincoln. Price School teaches little ones, Queen of Angels Church welcomes worshipers, and assorted doctors and dentists hang their shingles in the heart of a substantial neighborhood.
As one crosses Sherman and moves east, State Street offers something for everyone. When the Wells Street intersection looms, doughnuts beckon and chicken cries out its famous recipe. One rushes down the greatest hill in the city to jump the brook and move toward North Side.
The high school stands midst the cottonwoods observing the river. Thousands of us have passed through the pillars, gathered beneath the dome and traversed the circle. We were reverent and respectful, eager for education, dependable in the face of duty — all prescribed in the Redskin Code. We caught buses on State Street. We walked up and down in front of the State Hospital looking for a familiar car with a special driver. We passed the Acme and wondered at adult life filled with breaded tenderloins reputed to resemble the map of the United States.
Today the State Grill still stands, the Candlelight still feeds the hungry, and the Tecumseh Library turns the pages. Abby Brown and Scott's bakery tempt passers-by, and drugstores, food markets and specialty shops offer directions and furnish items we need. When one goes east beyond Parkview Hospital, old State Street gives way to the new. Wonderful eateries dot the curbs. Professional office complexes have mushroomed and shopping centers sprawl to the bypass and beyond.
Each of us has a special street, an artery that runs through our lives. Each time I drive State Street, the memories tumble by. I see old friends, hear old melodies, recite for old teachers, sigh for the times that are gone and will never come again. But so long as the concrete ribbons runs from the rising sun to the evening's dusk, the good times will roll across Crescent where the spies ran. I lovingly “state” my case.
I have always loved the State Street hill I walked every day from my Oakland Street home to North Side High School. It led me from my Franklin School beginnings across Spy Run Creek to Clinton Street where I knew a rich, meaningful education awaited me. As I walked the curve past Oakridge and Terrace Road, I knew ahead were opportunities for a blue-collar damsel to become an upward mobile academic. The State Street hill was my gateway to great beginnings.
Now like so much of yesterday, the powers that be are about to adjust our view, change our perspective. They will remove its curve, flatten its surface and send it straight to Clinton Street. Like Charky's and Scotts Bakery, my State Street continues to change.
Franklin School no longer graduates little girls and sends them east across the river. With that said, they can uproot the concrete that strengthened me and launch their new design.
North Side still stands midst the cottonwoods, the Saint Joe still flows by and even though the building has been reconfigured and some neighbors are no longer around, some of my “State of Mind” remains. After all, Parkview Randallia still heals the ill and Abby Brown still dips her chocolate.