There it was, there it still is. A two story mural depicting Jesus with his hands open to all who would come to Him At the intersection called Seven Corners, visible plainly from Washington Avenue.
Norm and Julie have just seen the movie about Jesus. It was held over at the Falls theater in St. Croix Falls.
That mural was painted there some time ago, it was there when Norm was working at the New Riverside Cafe back in the very early 70’s. Several columns in Gator’s Grace Notes have been printed in various newspapers about those times. ’40 Acres of Musicians’ is one of them. (It’s at http://gatorsgracenotes.com if you are drawn to the writing of the Gator.)
Seven corners refers to a major intersection that signals the end of Washington Ave and Cedar Ave and an on ramp to the freeway, Highway 35. Perfect spot really. “And there shall be a highway and a Road and it shall be called the Highway of holiness”
Norm was a hippy at this time and he was happy, sort of. Living in an apartment on Cedar Avenue a few blocks away, 605 ½ Cedar. It was a hotspot of the musicians in the city as was the New Riverside Cafe’, referred by the in crowd that worked there as simply “ The Cafe” Pronounced as ‘the Keffe’ by these in the know and we who staffed it. Ground zero for Norm, fresh out of the Navy and growing his beard and hair as fast as he could. Lots of bean sprouts and other veggies as the Keffe’ was vegetarian. Cheaper and better for you and the neighborhood. The favorite menus item was soup and grilled cheese sandwich. We fed the neighborhood, most of it pretty poor folks and even a couple of them that spent all their money across the intersection of Riverside and Cedar, the 400 bar. For quite a time there were no prices for food there and a pretty hefty price for the world class music in the big room, overlooking Riverside Avenue. The entire neighborhood is now Somali and the business’ there all have NE African names, and the people are pretty friendly. The buildings are still the same but none of them have old hippies staffing them.
We worked a miracle in urban development then. Stopping the development of Heller and Segal’s dream of “A new town in town’ A rent strike and political rally’s and the help of the local Anglican Diocese was the protest plan. A lot of publicity in the Tribune and it worked, sort of. At least most of the west bank that was left stayed undeveloped into high rises. Since the West Bank was so close to the Mississippi, it housed a lot of northern European immigrants and became known as ‘Snus boulevard’
The movement of America’s Revival, the Jesus movement was in full swing and their headquarters was right at the building where the huge mural was painted. Everyone who worked at the Cafe’ was not interested in Jesus, except for Father Teska, the Episcopal priest that helped fund our food ‘ministry’. It worked. That diocese was very helpful for Norm. They helped with the legal issues he was in with the military after discharge. Norm’s GI loan came through to buy his small farm in 1976. Thirty acres, buildings and house for $26,500. It has increased a bit after paying off the loan. Paradise in it’s own rolling hills valley with a private beaver lake and a prayer cabin overlooking it. Beautiful wife, two boys and indeed, blessings that just came. It’s pretty good. Jack