N.E. Minneapolis, 1955
by Judy Westergard
oil on cookie sheet
One of my favorite spots to sketch people is from the corner of my local coffee shop. Yesterday while I drew I shamelessly eavesdropped on a couple of charming 10-year olds. They chattered with enthusiasm about the skit they would prepare for their school’s upcoming talent show.
Suddenly I flashed back to 1955 and a cold, slushy, late winter day. I was on my way to our local five-and-dime to select from the latest in iron-on embroidery designs. (But that's another story.) I must have been a sight in my rubber zip-up boots topped with genuine faux fur and my black and white tweed wool coat (with belt!). Was I wearing a cap? Probably not; more likely my mother had knotted a wool babushka under my skinny chin. I slowed my approach to the intersection at Lowry and Monroe, timing my steps with care so that I would arrive just as the light turned red. This, you see, would give me a full 60 seconds to sing to the recently installed green metal box. According to my dad, that box housed electric wiring. Hah! I knew the box's real purpose -- to capture talent on its concealed tape recorder. So I sang. Out loud. With gestures. I can only wonder what anyone who saw me must have thought, but I was oblivious to everything except my prepared rendition of "How Much Is that Doggy in the Window?". I was sure that talent scouts from Arthur Godfrey's TV show had placed that box there in the hope discovering the next Theresa Brewer. This was my chance! I’d be famous! My family would be in awe! I’d be the most popular girl in the 5th grade!
Today, I look with fondness at those little girls in the coffee shop sharing their excited plans for their upcoming talent show, and I silently thank them for the opportunity to look back with great affection at that little girl on the corner of Lowry and Monroe. My wish for them is that 50 years from now, another pair of 10-year-olds reminds them of this wonderful time in their lives.