When I was seventeen I went to school in Minnesota for a year. I’ve written about it before. Suffice to say, it was the 70s and I was welcomed with open arms.
Out on the prairie, there wasn’t a lot to do.
We made our own fun: movies at the drive-in, ice-creams at the Dairy Queen, riding around in cars, and at the weekends there was “The Canteen”.
This June, I went back to Minnesota and The Red River Valley for the class of 76 forty-year reunion.
More than half the class attended.
Life has changed us all but not in ways that seemed to matter much. We laughed and talked the night away. At one point I looked around the room, at all those familiar yet changed faces. It was like catching a glimpse of my youth; no, more than that—like being with my own ghost.
The next day I went to find The Canteen.
It used to be a large space with a stage and a wooden floor that shook when things got going. But, as one of my classmates remarked during the reunion, there was never much chance of serious mischief or trouble of any kind—the police station was downstairs.
The building has gone now, there’s a bank and a parking lot in its place. A local initiative saved a portion of the facade.
In that space above the lintel, there in the clouds, on Friday nights we danced, or not, to the music of the times—The Beach Boys, The Eagles, Bread.
Bob Dylan might have featured, I don’t remember. It wasn’t until later I became a fan. He’s a boy from Minnesota and it’s only fitting that for this post he should have the last word.