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March 2021

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New Book Casts Loving SPotlight on the “Sistas”

By DWIGHT HOBBES

This article first appeared in the February 4, 2021 Minnesota Spokesman Recorder

Strive Publishing empowers youth through the enlightening tool of literacy, most recently with “Celebrating the Sistas,” an anthology/workbook showcasing Twin Cities role models for girls.

While these are 10 women, it’s worth noting, young males would do well to heed the examples. The subject said Strive founder Mary Taris, is “women of color making a difference in the fields of education, politics, business, health, and social services. This biography series is building a written legacy for the children while celebrating the strength, determination, care, success, power, and beauty of each sista.

“Every child should have the opportunity to learn about the outstanding contributions of these sistas,” Taris said.

The concept originated with Taris and entrepreneur Kevin Johnson, founder of the Twin Cities Steppers Association. “After attending the 2018 Celebrating the Sistas Annual Awards Dinner,” she recalled, “I kept thinking about all the amazing women who were honored. As an educator, I wanted to find a way to share the inspirational biographies of all the Black women who are working hard for the community.

“So, I asked Kevin Johnson, the founder of Celebrating the Sistas, if he would be interested in partnering on a children’s book series. Kevin was interested and we worked together to get the book project going.”

She added, “This partnership creates a pathway for documenting our legacy while inspiring the next generation.”

For example, there’s Sharon Smith-Akinsanya, CEO at Rae Mackenzie Group CEO, the award-winning marketing firm advising corporations on profitably relating to communities of color. Clients have included Minnesota Timberwolves/Lynx, U.S. Bank, Target and Verizon Wireless. Accordingly, she is the author of “Colorfull: Competitive Strategies to Attract and Retain Top Talent of Color” (Morgan James Publishing).

Neda Renee Kellogg co-founded Project DIVA International with Keeya Allen of The Love Initiative Group. Project DIVA, a grassroots community-based initiative, mentors young Black women and girls part and parcel of which is responding to the pressures in urban environments.

As Kellogg told the MSR in a previous article, “They receive guidance and support in respecting themselves, parents, their school situations. How do you handle frustration when you get upset at school [or] when you’re the oldest at home and have to help Mom with everything? Our coaches provide spaces for these girls to grow into young women by encouraging them to self-discover without limits.”

Toni Newborn, J.D. is the director of Human Resources and Chief Equity Officer at the City of Saint Paul, formerly of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights. Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said in a press statement, “Toni Newborn has helped embed a lens of equity across every city department, and in how we serve our community. [She] will further expand this critical work as we continue moving forward together through these uncertain times.”

Also among the contributors are Rep. Rena Moran, Dr. Artika Tyner, Commissioner Toni Carter, and Tracey Williams-Dillard, MSR owner and publisher.

“Celebrating the Sistas,” said In Black Ink executive director Rekhet Si-Asar, “holds up a mirror to reflect the hard work, dedication, grace, beauty, focus, generosity, compassion, creativity…of those many women of African descent who shape and enrich our lives locally and globally. We are fighting for the lives, hearts, and souls of our young Black girls. This book highlights their immense potential.”

“Celebrating the Sistas Book 1 in the Series of 21st Century Heroines Every Child Should Know,” edited by Taris, illustrated by Kprecia Ambers of Kp Inspires, and created to honor African American girls through illustration and design, marks a welcome addition to personal libraries and coffee tables.

In Taris’ words, “With this biography series, we are building a written legacy for the children. Moreover, each contributor’s story will teach, inspire, and empower children to reach for their dreams.”

For more information, visit www.strivepublishing.com.

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A Golden Age, or Fool’s Gold?

Peace House Community: A Place to Belong

By MARTI MALTBY

I try to find positive things to talk about in this space, but I also want to make sure the voices of the homeless and others who come to Peace House Community are heard. Those two goals sometimes conflict, as homelessness and hopelessness often go together, especially in Minnesota in February.

The optimist in me sees how much resilience and creativity people have shown in the face of the covid pandemic. I admire and appreciate how these folks have found ways to carry on and even to thrive in adversity. I find hope in people’s refusal to give up, and I am reminded of Saint Augustine’s comment, “This awful catastrophe is not the end but the beginning. History does not end so. It is the way its chapters open.” (I have no idea which particular catastrophe Augustine had in mind, but neither it nor any of the catastrophes since have ended history.)

But when I read Augustine’s words, I want to ask him, “The beginning of what? What is going to be written in the chapters we are opening?” Over the centuries many people have made wonderful comments about the golden age that is just over the horizon, and about the inevitable paradise that will result from human progress. Here are just a few samples:

“Where children are, there is the golden age.” – Novalis

“The golden age has not passed; it lies in the future.” – Paul Signac

“The 21st century has more potential than perhaps any other in our brief evolutionary history. We stand on the cusp of computing, genetic and energy generation breakthroughs that were only recently in the realm of science-fiction. A golden age of humanity is tantalisingly within our grasp.” – Clive Lewis

And yet every golden age has had its share of throw-away people who have to fight just to live on the fringes of society. The maxim that a rising tide lifts all boats ignores the boats that get swamped and sink. Every promise about the future of society carries an implicit threat to those who don’t have the skills to succeed in the new world, who aren’t being prepared today for what will come tomorrow, or who just aren’t fortunate enough. The community members who come to Peace House Community are some of the most resilient people I’ve ever met, but I don’t think the pandemic is going to reshape society enough to provide them with a basic standard of living that provides dignity and safety. (And when I say “society”, I of course mean you and me and all the other regular people who have the power to shape the future.)

As I said at the start of this column, I want to see the positives. I want to be optimistic about the future. But I do not want to do so by ignoring unpleasant realities. I don’t want to use the intellectual equivalent of placing my hands over my ears and singing “La-la-la, I can’t hear you!”, like a three year old who doesn’t want to cooperate when his mom tells him it is bedtime. I hope there are enough people out there who are willing to face these uncomfortable truths so that, eventually, we really will reach some kind of golden age.

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Down But Not Out: The Future of Uncle Hugo’s

By CARZ NELSON

Don Blyly might reopen the Uncles. 

During the George Floyd uprising, twin retailers Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction and Uncle Edgar’s Mystery Bookstores were burned to the ground. The loss of these neighborhood institutions was deeply felt. Hugo’s is the oldest science fiction bookstore in the country; its importance to the science fiction community can’t be overstated. The two stores, known collectively as the Uncles, routinely attracted customers from all over the Upper Midwest.

Blyly started Uncle Hugo’s in 1974; the original location was at Fourth and Franklin Avenues. The companion store, Edgar’s, opened in 1980. The bookstores relocated to 2864 Chicago Avenue in 1984; they were fixtures in the Phillips neighborhood for 36 years.

Deciding whether to reopen the stores won’t be easy. At 70 years young, many assumed owner Don Blyly would retire from retail business after the fire. Such assumptions are premature, however. It takes a lot of drive to start over from nothing, but Blyly seems to be equal to whatever tasks he sets himself.


Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction and Uncle Edgar’s
Mystery Bookstores 2864 Chicago Ave. after the
Fire (photo by Uncle Hugo’s Bookstore)

He admits that he has a knack for bouncing back from adversity, “I’ve noticed that I seem to have more resilience than most other people and I’ve wondered why. Partly it is stubbornness. Partly it is because the more of a track record you have at overcoming previous difficulties, the more confidence you have of overcoming the latest difficulty.”

Blyly says the city has a lot to answer for when it comes to the uprising, “Back in 2015 the Department of Justice made recommendations for reforming the Minneapolis Police, but the City Council has done nothing to implement those recommendations. The judge in the trial of Mohamed Noor for the murder of Justine Damond raised issues about problems with the Minneapolis Police that have never been addressed.” 

Since the uprising and subsequent looting, he’s concerned that many people think the area is too dangerous to visit, “About half of my sales were to people outside the I-495/ I-694 loop, and they are now scared to come to Minneapolis to spend their money. Customers in South Minneapolis told me that they would be scared to return to the Uncles if I rebuilt in the old location. The city is going to have to actually work on fixing the problems with the Minneapolis Police instead making ‘defunding’ speeches before people will feel comfortable about spending their money in Minneapolis again.”

Although the last year has been an ordeal, there have been bright spots along the way. With the help of a good lawyer, Blyly’s experience with his insurance company was relatively positive. “There were a few small disagreements that we eventually worked out, but I was very happy about how the claim was handled.” 

When asked if there was anyone he wanted to give a shout out to for their assistance, he said, “The demolition company I hired, Bolander, was very helpful. And Lake Street Council was very helpful.”

Blyly keeps a close eye on the local real estate market, scouting potential locations for a new storefront. He’s been looking primarily in Richfield and South Minneapolis. As of this writing, he hasn’t yet found a suitable place.

Uncle Hugo’s in better days (photo credit: Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore)

Blyly’s daughter, Mina Blyly-Strauss, is working on The Uncles Story Project, a collection of memories about the Uncles. People are encouraged to contribute their stories at the website www.unclesstoriesproject.weebly.com/.

Items from Don Blyly’s personal library are available at Abebooks.com listed under Uncle Hugo’s SF/Uncle Edgar’s Mystery. Nearly 2000 items are up for sale. 

Head over to GoFundMe.com to see the fundraiser that’s been started for the stores. The name of the campaign is Official Help Save Uncle Hugo’s Fund, but you can also try typing Hugo in the search bar and finding it that way. 

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CCC: Applause, Applause

Raise Your Voice

By PETER MOLENAAR

Yes, yes, yes…!

In response to decades of popular mass action and the concerted effort of such stalwarts as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, President Biden has signed an executive order to create a Civilian Climate Corps. This CCC, reminiscent of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the Great Depression, will train and employ (hopefully) millions of people in environmental careers. The restoration of public lands, parks, and waters… storm water management systems, solar panel installations, toxic waste clean up, and urban garden development is foreseen.

Hey, with this new impetus, will the East Phillips Urban Farm proposal advance to transform the Roof Depot building? Better believe it!

Cautionary note:

“Small government’ voices and associated militias will denounce this New Deal as “socialist tyranny.”

Again from the local front:

Our Powderhorn headquartered Land Stewardship Project deserves huge scoops of praise. LSP has developed and introduced a bill to our state legislature which dovetails perfectly with Biden’s CCC. HF 701 will provide “motivating resources” to ensure that agricultural soil health practices are profitable from day one. “We can reach 100% soil health farming in Minnesota by 2040—clean our water, prevent erosion and run-off—sequester carbon [organic matter] as well as foster healthy pollinators, wildlife, people and more.”

Will the new CCC address the problem of homelessness? 

Everyone knows that homelessness has seriously vexed this neighborhood. Tragically, the camps have been largely Native American, and yes, heroin was in the mix. However, I know from experience: addicted persons long to prosper as contributing members of society. It follows that in addition to the resolution of logistical questions, the new CCC must become culturally aware and sensitive.

Moving forward on the basis of the past:

The historic CCC camps were mostly segregated by race, and the “she, she, she camps” were few and far between. Integration is now the order of the day, but anti-racist supervision is called for. Obviously as well, “man camps” must not be allowed to pose a threat.

On the other hand, Native Americans have the right to choose culturally specific camps. An agreement that they occasionally share their culture might resolve this contradiction.

Reminder:
Our ‘popular front’ strategy has knocked the fascists off their heels. Yet, we remain in the quantitative phase of the revolutionary process. For now, let us advance in quantitative leaps with the “qualitative leap” in mind.

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East Phillips Urban Farm Gets Much Needed Support from Council Vice-President Jenkins

By Grace Pastoor, East Phillips Neighborhood Institute Staff

Minneapolis City Council Vice-President Andrea Jenkins has come out in support of the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute’s urban farm project.

Jenkins initially voted for work on the City’s Hiawatha Campus Expansion Project to continue but, she said, changed her mind due to COVID and other concerns. “2020 happened,” Vice-President Jenkins said on the SouthSide Mpls podcast. “Given the fact that there’s a perception in the community that this facility would increase the amount of pollution in that area…given what we know about the Coronavirus, given what we know about how Native communities have had land stolen, I think this provides us, the City of Minneapolis, an opportunity to say ‘Community: We hear you.’” Jenkins, along with other local leaders, restated her support in a virtual event January 16.

The event featured short speeches by Jenkins, Senator Omar Fateh, Senator Patricia Torres Rey, and more. “After the effects of the Coronavirus that really deeply uncovered the systemic issues of racism in our society, and then the subsequent murder of George Floyd, I declared racism as a public health crisis,” Jenkins said. The East Phillips Urban Farm project is the neighborhood group’s alternative to the City of Minneapolis’ Hiawatha Campus Expansion Project. The City’s project would bring further pollution and environmental injustice to the diverse East Phillips neighborhood.

“I see this project as a way to mitigate some of those harms and begin to really address the inequities that have been foisted upon our communities of color, particularly in the East Phillips neighborhood,” Jenkins said. “I can’t in good conscience continue to support unsustainable, unimaginable policies that continue to disrupt our communities.”

What can YOU do?

Check out our website at: https://www.eastphillipsneighborhoodinstitute.org/

DONATE to our environmental justice legal fund. 

SIGN UP for our email list on our website.

POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA TO RAISE AWARENESS! Tag your local officials and tag #EPNIUrbanFarm Follow us on Instagram and Facebook. 

SIGN OUR PETITION supporting the East Phillips Urban Farm at http://chng.it/nmKXM5Vkfx

CONTACT Communications Coordinator Michelle Shaw to learn more at michelle@eastphillipsneighborhoodinstitute.org .

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Vaccines and Variants

Tips from a COVID-19 Case Investigator

By LINDSEY FENNER

As I’m writing this in early February, COVID-19 news has seen rapid developments: hopeful, frustrating, and uncertain. The two biggest uncertainties have been how to get a vaccine and understanding how the different COVID variants will impact the pandemic in Minnesota.

First vaccines.

Vaccines are now being distributed a variety of ways: healthcare systems, community health centers, some pharmacies, and the State of MN Community Vaccination program. As of February 10, vaccines are still limited to high risk/ high priority groups, such as those 65 and older, or those who work and live in high-risk settings. 

I am very hopeful that much more vaccine will be available soon, but right now there just isn’t enough vaccine for everyone who wants a shot. I know this is frustrating, but please don’t give up on getting your vaccine! Although I will be absolutely thrilled to get my vaccine when my time comes, it is understandable to have questions about these new vaccines. I encourage everyone to reach out to healthcare providers, visit the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) vaccine website https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/, call the MDH COVID hotline at 651-297-1304, or talk to trusted community groups and experts about your questions or concerns. You can read more about vaccines on the alley Back Page.

Variants. The more viruses spread and replicate, the more they start to develop mutations or changes. Some of these changes give an advantage to the virus over their human hosts, making these new versions “variants of concern.”   

As of early February, two different COVID variants of concern have been detected in Minnesota: B.1.1.7 (first seen in the UK), and P.1 (first seen in Manaus, Brazil). We are still learning about these variants, but from what we know from data from the UK and Europe, B.1.1.7 seems to be about 50% more transmissible, which means it is easier to catch from someone else. We know less about P.1, but scientists are concerned by early evidence that suggests this variant may be able to evade immunity, potentially making re-infection more likely.

These variants are detected in the US through what is called “surveillance testing,” where random test samples are selected to have “whole genome sequencing.” This means they look at the virus’ entire genetic code to see which variant it matches. 

In Minnesota, when these variants of concern are detected, MDH re-interviews those people to get more epidemiologic information about how they may have acquired these variations of the virus. From these interviews, it seems that there is already community spread of B.1.1.7 in MN. The two cases of P.1 detected in MN as of early February were both associated with travel to Brazil. 

However, right now in the US, we don’t sequence enough of these random samples to get a clear picture of how widely these variants are truly spreading. It is important that we all do everything we can to minimize the spread of these variants as we work to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

What you can do:

All of the COVID precautions we have been taking will still help reduce the risk of getting these variants. But I know we’ve all been doing this a long time, and we’re all sick of it, so some reminders:

  • Wear a mask, especially indoors. It is important that you have a mask that fits well! 
  • Avoid the three Cs: Crowded Places, Close-contact settings, and Confined and enclosed places
  • Avoid unnecessary travel. I know it has been a long pandemic winter, but the less we travel, the less we move these variants arounds.

I can’t predict what March will look like for COVID-19 in Minnesota. But I do know that no matter what uncertainties we face with vaccines or variants, spring is on its way!

Lindsey lives in East Phillips and has been working a COVID response reassignment in local public health since May 2020. Can that really be almost a year?! Her opinions are her own.

State of Minnesota COVID-19 Helpline:

For questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, call 651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504
Mon.-Fri.: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Mental Health Crisis Line – Call: **CRISIS (**274747)

COVID Community Coordinators:

Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES): 651-768-0000, Monday – Friday 8:30 am to 5pm; Saturday 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, Spanish

Cultural Wellness Center: 612-249-9528, Monday – Friday 24 hours; On call weekends; English

Division of Indian Work: 651-304-9986, Monday – Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm: English

WellShare International: 612-254-7308 (Somali/English), 651-318-0051 (Spanish), 763-312-6362 (Oromo), Monday – Friday 8:00 am to 8:00 pm; On call evenings/weekends: English, Oromo, Spanish, Somali

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Random Alley News: March

Compiled by Lindsey Fenner

MIWRC Drop in Hours: The Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center now has drop-in hours, 11AM-5PM. Services offered: support and advocacy, connect with community referrals, assist in finding shelter, shower and outreach bag available upon request. 2300 15th Ave S, 612-728-2034

Indian Health Board Winter Storytelling Event: Indian Health Board is hosting an online winter storytelling event at 6pm on Tuesday, March 16th. Please join our relatives June Blue and Nelda Goodman for a night of teachings, laughter and tradition. To register or for questions, email Delaney.keshena@indianhealthboard.com

American Swedish Institute’s Community Fund: ASI has a new small to mid-sized short-term grant program, aimed at service-oriented organizations and initiviates neighboring ASI, primarily in Phillips. Granting amounts will range from $1,000 to $3,000 Deadlines to apply for 2021 are March 31, June 30, September 30 and December 31. Visit https://www.asimn.org/communityfund or email communityfund@asimn.org for more. 

Phillips Neighborhood Clinic Expanded Hours: PNC will now be open two days a week: Mondays and Thursdays, clinic hours 6-8PM (check in starts at 5:30PM) at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 2742 15th Avenue South. Please enter from the side door on the East side of the building (along 15th Ave S). No appointments or insurance necessary. Spanish interpreters are available at all times.The Phillips Neighborhood Clinic (PNC) is a free clinic operated by University of Minnesota health professional students. All students are supervised by licensed clinicians. Phone: 612-724-1690

Parks for All Comment Period Extended to July 18: The Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board has extended the public feedback period on the “Park for All” draft plan. According to MPRB, the plan will “provide guidance in developing policy, establishing or changing programs and services, setting the annual MPRB budget and creating park improvements over the next decade.” Read the plan and submit comments here: minneapolisparks.org/parksforalldraft

Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Offering online narcan training in March: The online opioid awareness class will be offered March 2 and March 30 in the early evenings. These sessions will include training on how to properly administer Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan®, a prescription medicine that reverses an opioid overdose. Funding for the classes has been provided through grants from the Minnesota Department of Health. All sessions will be taught by licensed alcohol and drug counselor Randy Anderson, founder of Bold North Recovery and Consulting. To join a session of the opioid awareness class or request a free Deterra drug disposal bag, send an email to drugdisposal@hennepin.us.

Cub Foods Reopens: The Cub at Lake and Hiawatha reopened on February 10. The grocery store was closed for 9 months after being damaged during the civil unrest last May following the murder of George Floyd. According to Cub Foods, the store has been completely renovated with expanded global and organic foods sections. The store also offers grocery pick up and delivery, and prescription delivery from Cub Pharmacy. The store hours are 6AM-10PM, seven days a week

More Ward 9 Candidates: Two more candidates have announced they are running for the Minneapolis City Council seat being vacated at the end of 2021 by Alondra Cano. Mickey Moore is a South Minneapolis business owner. Haji Yussef is a South Minneapolis business owner and activist. They join a growing field of announced candidates for Ward 9: Rita Ortega, Jason Chavez, Al Flowers, Jr, and Carmen Means.

In the Heart of the Beast Theatre Community Update: After a pause in programming and a three-month furlough of staff, HOBT announced their next steps, accompanied by a pair of community meetings. The Board of Directors is working to raise funds, search for co-Executive Directors, build relationships and convene an inaugural “Avalon Theatre Cohort.” The first online community meeting, on the topic of “reimagining the future of Mayday,” was scheduled for February 23. The second online meeting, on the topic of organizational changes and the “Avalon Theatre Cohort,” is scheduled for March 2, 6-7:30PM. Registration is required. To register or to read HBOT’s report, visit www.hobt.org.

Facial Recognition Technology: The Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed an ordinance prohibiting City’s use of facial recognition technology on Friday February 12 with narrow exceptions; prohibiting the City from buying facial recognition technology or using data derived from it. 

Sabathani Community Center Senior book Club
Please join the start up of our book club project with Hosmer Library and Mn Black Community Project. 

  • The first session will be Wednesday March 17 from 1-2pm
  • First Session: ”Author Talk”  Featuring Anthony Scott and The Minnesota’s Black Community Book
  • Format is 1 hour, featured personality 45 min and Q&A 15 minutes.

For more information call 612-821-2307

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Betsy Putnam (1777-1860): I Am Not Afraid to Go Into the Woods

Tales from Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery

By SUE HUNTER WEIR
185th in a Series

Joshua Putnam is buried in Holton, Maine. His wife, two
sons, two grandsons and two great-grandchildren are buried
in Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery. Betsy
and Sterne Putnam’s graves were marked at one time but
the tablets have disappeared and all that remains are the
bases.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Putnam lived to the ripe old age of 83 years and ten months. This might not seem unusually old by 21 st -century standards but Betsy was born in 1777. Bearing in mind that averages are simply that—averages—the average life expectancy for someone born around the time of the American Revolution was 36 years old.

In 1796, when she was 19 years old, Betsy married Joshua Putnam, a man who could trace his family’s beginnings in what was to become the United States back to the arrival of John Putnam in 1634. Two of John’s sons played prominent and deeply troubling roles in the Salem witchcraft trials. They were both accusers and witnesses against some of the town’s women including Rebecca Nurse who had been a family friend for more than forty years. Although Nathaniel Putnam recanted his testimony, his remorse came too late. Rebecca Nurse was hanged on July 19, 1692. Whether Joshua and Betsy knew about this dark chapter in his family’s history and what they might have thought about it is not known.

In a history of the Putnam family, Joshua was described as being “a thick set, strongly built man, with large broad features.” In contrast Betsy was described as being small, “somewhat less than average stature.” Despite her small size Betsy must have been very robust. Between the ages of 21 and 40, she gave birth to nine children, the first seven spaced roughly two years apart. She outlived at least four, and perhaps as many as six, of her children. (The dates and places when two of her children died have not been established).

Betsy spent much of her life moving from place to place. She was born in Chittenden, Vermont, but grew up in Bakersfield, Massachusetts, a community named after her father, that was home to only three or families. After Betsy and Joshua married, they lived for a time in New Salem, Massachusetts, but in 1812, when many New England settlers were moving westward, the Putnams and their then five children headed to Houlton, Massachusetts (now Maine), eleven miles from the Canadian border. Betsy remarked, “I am not afraid to go into the woods. I know all about it.”

Life in Bakersfield would have prepared her for a life of isolation but most likely not for the hardship that she would endure in Houlton. Like Bakersfield, it was a community populated by only a handful of families, many of them related to each other. The growing season was not long to begin with and the town suffered through several “cold years.” In 1816 there was snow on the ground in June…[the] little birds which came up from the South with the advent of the summer months, were chilled and died in large numbers.” The grain they planted did not ripen in time to be harvested and they had to pay top dollar for food brought in from other areas in order to survive.

The second cold year was even worse. Members of the family “were six weeks without a mouthful of bread of any kind in their house.” They had a cow for milk and tapped maple trees for syrup but the family’s diet consisted primarily of salmon: “Had it not been for these most excellent fish, in such profusion [they] might have starved…”

Joshua Putnam died in 1835 and was buried in Houlton. Although he and Betsy were not the first to settle in there, he is considered one of the town’s founders. In 1890, more than a half-century after he died, the town erected a headstone engraved “Joshua Putnam, A Founder of Houlton.” After he died, Betsy moved again, this time back to the more highly populated
New Salem. In 1854, Betsy and three of her sons headed west. She and her son, Sterne, and his family settled in St. Cloud. In 1854, at the age of 77, she traveled almost 1,500 miles to her last home. She died there on November 21, 1860, from old age. She was brought to Minneapolis for burial.
There are six members of the Putnam family buried in the cemetery. Betsy and two of her sons, Sterne and Franklin, are there. Sterne is buried next to Betsy, and Franklin is buried in a different section next to his daughter Mary. Julian Putnam, Betsy’s grandson, is buried next to Mary E. and Wilton Putnam, two of her great-grandchildren. None of their graves are currently marked.

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LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS

RETURNING CHAPTER 7 

By PATRICK CABELLO HANSEL

“It’s always darkest before the dawn.”  That may be true, but it is of little solace to those who have no idea how far away the dawn is from coming, or even where to look for it.

Angel and Luz knew this: their beloved little daughter was missing; she was with some stranger, and all they had to go on was this cryptic note that had been taped to the door of the day care:

Don’t worry.
We have your light blessing.
You will know where she is.

Luz’ first words were, “Don’t worry?  Are you out of your mind?”

Angel’s first words were: “You will know where she is? What kind of cruel joke is that?”

But it was little Angelito’s first words that made for the turning toward the dawn:

“Papito, mamita, what is a light blessing?”

Luz and Angel looked at their first born with wonder.  For the parents, everything had focused down to this one horrible fact: little Lupita was missing.  If you had asked them what they had done ten minutes earlier, or what they would do ten minutes hence, they could not have told you.  They couldn’t remember if they had read the note out loud and Angelito had heard them. Or had their son, at age 4 ½, suddenly learned how to read?

Angel squatted down next to his son, and looked him in the eye.  He did not see the terror he had just seen in his wife’s eyes, rather he saw something peaceful, searching, akin to wonder.

“Did you ask us what a light blessing is?” Angel asked his son.

“Yes, papi.  Is it like the blessing you give to me and Lupe every night before we go to sleep, where you touch our heads and say ‘Dios te bendiga’?”

Angel hugged Angelito so hard, he cried out in a hushed voice:

“Papi, I can’t breathe!”

Angel, let go of his son with his arms, but not with his heart.  For the first time he felt a bit of hope. He looked straight at his son, and said:

“I think so, hijito. I think the note is saying that little Lupita is a blessing to us, and she’s OK.”

“So why don’t we go find her?” Angelito asked, loudly.

Angel stood up, looked at his wife, and both of them started to laugh.  Angelito looked at them like they were crazy, but started to laugh as well.

“Where do we start?” Angel asked Luz.

Luz looked up at the sky, then down at the snow on the ground. She hesitated to look east—that was where the menacing van with the voice passed. But she looked.  The cemetery was dark, but peaceful, and a light snow started to fall.  She turned to Angel and asked him:

“Remember how we met?”

“How could I forget, mi amor?!” Angel said.  “It was at your tio’s bakery, when you smiled at me.”

“And gave you something to eat, remember?” Luz said.  “I think we need to start our journey there.”

“But it’s not there anymore!” Angel said.  “It’s just that phone store now. No more bakery.”

“No more bakery in the present,” Luz said.  “But we know there was in the past, and may be in the future.”

At this little Angelito said: “Forever and ever. Amen!”

And so our little family, buoyed up not by certainty but by hope, set off west down Lake Street toward a bakery that had been and that might be again.

To be continued…

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Library News

By CARZ NELSON
reading nest by J Merriam

Things can change fast. For updated information on Hennepin County Library services during the coronavirus pandemic, visit www.hclib.org. All information is accurate as of February 12, 2021.

East Lake Library
East Lake Library, located at 2727 E. Lake St., is open for Grab and Go service Sunday 12-5 PM; Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 9 AM to 5 PM; and Wednesday 12-8 PM.

Franklin Library 
Franklin Library, 1413 E Franklin Ave., is open for computer use only. Call (612) 543-6925 to make an appointment. The building will remain locked, but staff will let you in at your appointment time. Masks are required and will be provided if you do not bring one. Because of social distancing, staff will be unable to offer computer assistance. You will have access to a desktop computer, Internet, and printing. You will need to bring your own headphones. At this time, Franklin Library is open for computer use ONLY. Other areas and services, including book/DVD checkout, are not available. Returns are accepted during staffed service hours.

Franklin Library Computer Hours  
Tuesday & Wednesday – 9 AM to 5 PM
Thursday – Noon to 8 PM 
Friday & Saturday – 9 AM to 5 PM
Sunday & Monday – Closed 

Hosmer Library
Hosmer Library, 347 E 36th St., is open for retrieving holds, limited browsing of materials, checking out items, returning library materials, quick reference support, computer appointments and printing. Meeting rooms, study rooms, children’s play areas, and lounges will not be available for use at this time. Masks are required and will be provided if you don’t bring one. Check the library website for up-to-date service information and hours.

Due Dates Extended
Due dates for physical materials continue to be automatically extended. You are not required to return materials at this time. Libraries are accepting returns during staffed service hours only. Items will be removed from your account after a three-day quarantine.

Outdoor Wi-Fi Available at Franklin and Hosmer Libraries
Free Wi-Fi is available in the parking lots and grounds of several Hennepin County libraries, including Franklin and Hosmer. Library staff can help you find the best signal.

Homework Help
Live, virtual tutors are available through Help Now www.hclib.org/programs/homework-help.

At Home Service
At Home service is provided free of charge to Hennepin County residents who can’t get to a library due to illness, disability, or visual impairment. To apply for At Home service, submit an online application or apply by phone at 612-543-8850 Monday through Friday, 10 AM to 5 PM.

Library Social Workers 
A social worker is available outside Franklin Library on Wednesdays and Fridays, 9 AM – 5 PM, and at East Lake Library Tuesdays and Thursdays 9 AM-5 PM.

Basic needs (clothing, food, meals, shelter)
Chemical Health
Disability Services
Education & Employment Resources
Hennepin County Benefits
Housing
A listening ear
Mental Health Resources
Transportation

E-Books and Audiobooks
Libby:Available for iOS and Android devices; use the app to download ebooks and audiobooks. 

Cloud Library:Download ebooks for readers of all ages. A reader app for Apple, Android and other devices is available.

Online Services
Go to the library without leaving home. Here are just a few of the many services available at www.hclib.org:

Tools for job searches

Ancestry Library Edition and other resources to research family history

Local music on MNspin

Ask the Library
Have a reference or library account question? Call, text, chat with, or email a library worker. 

www.hclib.org/contact

Call 612-543-KNOW (5669) to reach library staff by phone.

Monday to Thursday – 9 AM to 9 PM
Friday & Saturday – 9 AM to 5 PM
Sunday – Noon to 5 PM

Español/Spanish: Llame o envíe un texto al 651-503-8013 para recibir ayuda en español.

Hmoob/Hmong: Hu losis text rau lub tsev nyeem ntawv ntawm 612-385-0886 txais kev pab hais lus Hmoob.

Soomaali/Somali: Caawimaad Soomaali ah, soo wac ama qoraal (text) usoo dir maktabada 612-235-1339.

Carz is a Phillips resident and an enthusiastic patron of Hennepin County Library.

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