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Mike Creger Posts

Squirrels

There are squirrels near downtown Duluth sitting cross-legged on alleyway tree limbs, picking their teeth with plastic shards carved out of trash bins.

There are squirrels in my neighborhood, Chester Park, who sit atop my garage roof and blithely stare below. Then they climb to the peak and play patty-cake.

I am seeing distinct packs of squirrels in the city as I walk from pocket to pocket. Those downtown squirrels are nothing to mess with. I imagine them waiting to pounce on any passive east side brethren that get lost and wind up sniffing around trash bins clearly marked for toughs. Each one has a squirrel-sized hole gnawed out of it. You don’t see that in the less dense, leafier neighborhoods.

And it’s not just the squirrels in alleyways from Fourth on down to Superior Street. Crows dive-bomb. Chipmunks clatter with menace. Skunk smells waft. Pigeons cluck disapprovingly. Even the flies are stickier.

A Summer Musing

A pre-dawn thunderstorm. What a treat. Don’t get them much in Duluth. There’s a cat fight going on outside. When I arrived home late last night, the lightning bugs were dancing. The air was thick and I could smell my childhood.

Which is all very bemusing because I hold little nostalgia these days. I used to sit on bushels of it when I was younger. An example is — and I think I may have relayed this to you in passing or maybe in some strange post-apocalyptic note — the events of June 17. It passed this year and I once again failed to think of you.

We had a date for that night in 1983. June 17 is also the anniversary of the break-in at Watergate, which never registered with me until recently. I was so obsessed with my own Waterloo.

You had gone to Florida and promised we would see each other upon your return and before the early pea pack. Our farm country hometown, like Paris, is such a romantic place.

Whatever happened to Frisky the Bear?

Indianapolis Star — June 7, 1959

Anyone remember old Frisky, promoter of Duluth as the vital player in the new St. Lawrence Seaway?

Rural Duluth man kills wolf with hammer, city very happy

The above clipping is from The Times of San Mateo, Calif., Jan. 2, 1956.

My head hurts

The days after Springing Ahead are always strange. But things were even stranger back in the 1960s when Duluth led a charge to match Wisconsin on the dates to change clocks. Mass confusion in Minnesota ensued, and even St. Paul and Minneapolis were at one time an hour apart in official times.

Don’t thank him; just write

If you fling a certain line at Air Force veteran Eric Chandler, expect a pleasant smile masking irritation. He might nod in recognition. And if that’s all you got, the conversation is over.

“Thank you for your service.”

“Who are you thanking?” he asked earlier this year when talking about the growing gap of understanding of the U.S. military experience with that of civilians.

“We’re all complicit,” Chandler says with a serious tone. He could go on for hours on this topic, he says. There’s a deal made in a constitutional republic: Citizens ask for protection with a standing army and some answer the call by enlisting. But it’s not a service contract, Chandler says. “It’s not like the cable guy.”

“It should feel more invested” all around, Chandler says. “Thank you for your service” rings as hollow as any other jingoistic notion of the military’s role in American society. When people don’t know what it is you do or have done, platitudes mean nothing, he says. People are less interested in “who is in the military” over just passing along jingoistic notions of it, he says.

Some Duluth Jobbers (Curlers) History

This handsome photo of the 1913 curling club off London Road comes from the Duluth Commercial Club annual report from 1918.

Yeah, we didn’t get our paper this morning either. What to read? (I like to pretend the internet doesn’t exist on snow days.) So as we bask in curling gold from South Korea, enjoy a little history of one of Duluth’s most ancient organized sports.

Loaves & Fishes forms nonprofit for property maintenance

Bike Cave, half under demolition.

The Loaves & Fishes volunteer community in Duluth has formed a nonprofit branch to deal with upkeep on its houses and other properties that provide food and shelter for the homeless and other at-risk people.

The Slide

“Are you the announcer or something?”

Corey was standing a few feet from the sled run when she spoke; one hand on her hip, her other mittened hand trying to wisp away the strands of hair run renegade from under her cap.

Corey was 8. She often cut to the heart of matters with me, her nattering uncle — curt queries snapping her into adult demeanor, leaving me bemused and suddenly self-conscious.

“I’m just trying to make this more exciting, like we did when I was a kid.”

Corey only half-listened and then belly-flopped onto her plastic glider, tucking the tow rope under her purple parka. “Push me far this time,” she gasped. One-two-three and she zoomed off.

Her cousin was trouncing up the hill, excited for another run.

“Did I get the world record? Is that the farthest anybody got ever?”

“Ever. Now get snug to the front. Josh, you’ll never beat Corey with your rope hanging out like that. You gotta be smart. It’s the intangibles that get you to the top.”

He only winced. Another three-count and Josh grinned as he slid away. Corey was still at the bottom of the hill, eating snow while flat on her back, feet kicking in the air. I was happy to see her once again acting her age.

Found: Warehouse Bar artifact

1988 relic.