My father served in WWII as a Captain of a bomber squadron stationed in England. He flew his missions over Germany and managed to bring all of his pilots and crew home. In the last years I have spent more time contemplating the sequence of events in our family and history. I add a disclaimer right now that I don’t need any corrections on my history or the events that I mention. I’m writing as I have found and felt things to be and you can read or not read as you so desire.
The image you see above is Duluth Minnesota sometime in the twenties. Duluth is a city of verticals in an icy world. Transportation is an endeavor just crossing town if your brakes are wearing out or there is an icy sheen on the pavement. To assist with this issue they built these amazing trolley style lifts so you could board the trolley and ride up to your street or down to the downtown area which lay against the harbor in Lake Superiors’ west side. They no longer exist which is a shame as I would have traveled there just to ride one up and down. Somewhere along the line they decided to dismantle them. I had never heard my parents mention them.
If you look out into the harbor you can see a fine strip of land extending out into the lake. After my dad returned from the war my mother, father and baby Linda lived on that peninsula called The Point. Minnesotans are very practical so calling it anything else would probably have been considered excessive. My father got a job in a steel mill shoveling tailings and other odd jobs. My mother spoke with fondness about living there. She loved the sound of seagulls, the fresh wind, and living in town. She would always be a town girl who ended up living on various farms and country places. However, in Duluth I imagine she would cross the lift bridge after watching a ship pass underneath then she would shop and explore the downtown. She loved socializing, playing cards, dancing, and dressing up. As a toddler years later I sat between my father and mother in the front seat of the car. I would nestle into her mink coat that smelled of the french perfume dad bought her while in England. She was so beautiful. I imagine thatcoat came from their time in Duluth while hopes and dreams were still in their hearts.
Lumber and iron ore were making people rich in the early days of that city. Bustling and growing it was ideal for start up businesses. My father never flew again and despite an exceptional mind strayed no farther than farm work and maintenance jobs.
So Duluth has a special place in my heart. The beginnings of my parents lives together. The immensity and ferocity of Lake Superior. The challenges of deep winters and short summers. A bygone trolley system held only in my thoughts and dreams.