Northside History Tour focus on elders

On May 11 Susan Breedlove led her historical bus tour of North Minneapolis for the 10th year. This year’s theme was “Elders Rooted in North Minneapolis Tell Stories of Their Childhood.” Along the bus tour there were stops at four places where elders talked about their memories of the area.

Tales were shared from Shingle Creek, Webber-Camden, Hawthorne, Willard-Hay (Homewood), Near-North and Harrison Neighborhoods by community elders who grew up in those neighborhoods.

First the tour participants heard from Alice Smiley Grier about growing up in the Shingle Creek neighborhood. The plaque tells about when that area was known as Maple Leaf and Humboldt Heights. Next the tour stopped to hear life-long Camden resident Ron Manger tell about what used to be where the North Market is now and about the lime pond. Long time Northside resident and activist Spike Moss then met the tourists at the 4th Precinct on the grounds of what was The Way Community Center which he had helped start, and talked about those days in the area around Plymouth Ave. The last stop was at Sumner Library to hear Barry Lerner, Buzzy Bohn, Joy Harris-Jones and Ada Rivers; all of them recalled spending time going to that library in their youth. They also talked about the Jewish community, Finntown, the African American community and the blended communities they grew up in on the Northside.

Barry Lerner, of the Lerner Publishing Group here in North Minneapolis and who is in his 80s, had a lot of stories about his youth on the Northside. Joy Harris-Jones and Buzzy Bohn had both grown up in “Finntown” a decade apart and talked about their experiences. Buzzy Bohn also brought in her Tiny Tears doll and a picture of her and her doll from the 1950s (pictured). Ada Rivers, who was very shy, was convinced to briefly talk about her experiences on the Northside. Ada, along with her husband JD, helped create the JD Rivers Children’s Garden in Theodore Wirth Park just off Glenwood Ave. in 1982.

The experiences of these four elders represented 60-80 years ago on the Northside!