I was on my way to pick up some dry cleaning, when I thought I'd drive through the Eco Village just to see what was happening, just to make sure my former block was secure. I had just fixed my left taillight after a not-unpleasant encounter with the Minneapolis Police Department the night before. From the east, 3101 6th St. N. looked the same as ever. But as I drove by, The Backhoe of Doom reared its head like a mythical bog beast...
The orange monster was hip-deep in wreckage, but showed no sign of stopping. It was snowing shingles. Cinderblocks popped beneath its treads like walnuts. If ancient humans had beheld such a site, they would have erected temples and brought little doll houses to sacrifice. Forget picking up dry cleaning. It was time to fetch batteries for my camera. It was time to start working the cell phones and alerting friends in Hawthorne to the joyous, long-awaited news.
Ding Dong, The Wicked Apartment Complex Is Dead
Jeff Skrenes needed a nap, badly, but he wasn't going to miss THIS. Even police cars were pulling up, briefly, to watch. I knocked on the door of the Teachout residence, and JoyAnne greeted me. Yes, she said, she had been wondering about that NOISE. Several minutes later she walked over, bundled up, holding a camera. It was too cold to stay for more than a few moments, but I snapped some pictures with her camera as she posed.
"The Polish Lady" arrived for a visit, too, in leather slippers and a head scarf. Later she told me the building had been there since before 1961, when she had moved into her house, but at some point there had been a renovation of the exterior; that's when the shingles were extended over the sides. I always thought the look was distinctively 1970s, and reminds me of certain restaurant chains.
"Patty Cake" arrived in her cute little blue VW, then drove to her house to pick up Aunt Lizzie's teapot, filled with cocoa. Sitting in my van, me and Jeff toasted to "a rat free Eco Village." It was too cold for any beverage but cocoa, but still we toasted. How long had we waited for this moment?
"Was it everything you ever imagined?" I asked Jeff. He agreed it was, "only much colder."
We shared stories with the demolition crew and their family support system, which was also on the scene. This was no ordinary building, no ordinary demolition. This was a symbol of our progress in the Eco Village.
We Have Come Far, We Have Far To Go
While the building was demolished, fairly obvious drug traffic stilled flowed from 3020 6th St. N., but at one point a squad car sat at the intersection of 6th and 31st, taking some kind of coffee break, or just watching. It was encouraging. Clearly, this was a low and demoralizing moment at 3020--seeing yet another building come down in the unstoppable march toward neighborhood revitalization--and the presence of the squad car seemed (even unintentionally) to rub in the feeling of impending, total defeat of drug dealing on that part of 6th Street North.
3020 6th St. N. Is Still A Problem
If only the squad cars would stop near 3020 6th St. N. all the time and take their lunch breaks. Really, you can hardly get better, more affordable food than the stuff at Bangkok Deli. (Well, admittedly the "pork organ stir fry" is not everybody's cup of testes, but there's plenty of other good stuff and, honestly, if people would just TRY the testes, they'd be as hooked as me!)
I will not think too much about what remains to be done. This was a great day, and the demolition will apparently continue in earnest first thing tomorrow morning.
We are still getting used to the idea of 3101 6th St. N. being really, completely GONE and not just an empty wreck of a building.
I am contemplating the possibility of people having picnics on that spot, buying hot food from right next door, once the grass grows back. Now we are in the cold heart of winter, we are in the dark center of our struggle to change this neighborhood into something better, but spring and light are coming.