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Life in the Empire

21 April, 2010

Just a brief note because everybody’s busy and yadda yadda. Every two days at Tech I walk in/out the door and look up Lille Street and see two phantoms at the top of the hill.
It’s a woman and a little child… a little boy… mom and me.

This really happened… it must have been 1950 or thereabouts. Rob- you weren’t born yet…
but maybe you were on the way. Kim… you were still about 4 years away… twice a lifetime to a 2-year-old boy.

We lived on Summit Street… the light was fading… I guess mom was
waiting for dad to come home. I don’t know. There were all these lights and
engines moving at the bottom of the hill. To me, it was way cool… I pointed and asked, “What’s that?”

“That’s Maumee,” said mom. I decided somehow I was going
to go there. Sometime later dad gave me one of his business cards and told me to say, “I work at WKJG.” Maybe it was a little kid saying grown-up words selling more radio ads.

“But I work at Maumee,” I protested in my two-year old understanding. It was the bright lights and the motion. There was something going on there. Maybe it was exactly when it stopped being a Pastor factory and started being an engineer factory.

“Say, ‘I work at WKJG,’” dad corrected me. That was it. He went on to something else. I
had no idea what the second radio station… and the first television station (in1954) even meant. I was going to go to that bright whirly thing down the hill.

So I fucking made it. I work at Maumee. Just down the hill where there were all those
bright lights and sound and motion. The Cunningham Building was actually built in 1950; I
don’t know whether I saw the construction or whatever. I work at Maumee.

Maumee” is still the name of the street that runs by the front of the building. Did you know the Black Ghetto neighborhood there is where our Grandfather grew up in a house that stood where there is now a sheet-metal fabrication shop? It was German then.

They clustered around there… our ancestors did… in the 1880s when the neighborhood was a Lutheran Seminary, churches and a Lutheran graveyard where our Great and Great-Great Grandparents are buried now… just blocks away from where they lived.

That neighborhood was on fire in 1968 after Dr. King was murdered. I remember. It was no longer a German-speaking enclave. It was the oldest part of town, so it was Black. Lots of wood-frame houses. It went up like a tinder-box. Now, I work at Maumee.

None of the students remember the fires of 1968… and I don’t remember the German enclave of 1880. A few years back, I brought a stone from the church-front in Krumbach über Gießen and wedged it under the headstone of Georg and Katirina.

The light is fading, and night light whirls and dances will-o’-the-wisp among two-way time traveling tail lights. Maybe it was McCollough street, and I am seeing a phantoms of phantoms. Two things are certain: the small finger pointing and “that’s Maumee.”

From the window at the end of the hall I can see our old German enclave. There is Georg and Katerina, Jakob and Adeline, they squeezed Louis in there with a headstone the
size of a book. I barely remember Adeline. The rest were long gone before I got here.

It’s about the size of a corporate cubicle, back by the fence next to the tracks. How did the
Pullman Strike affect their lives? Were they strikers? Were they scabs? I speak to them in broken German on Memorial Days. I may be the last Jungen to visit that spot.

I want neither stone nor space. I will join the wisp and the wind, the stars and carbon. The children of earth are green things, the stones belong in mountains. The spirits spin through the winking lights of living brains, the signals of planets and pulsars.

That’s why I work at Maumee.

Views: 427

Comment by BO on April 23, 2010 at 12:55am
All seems rather pointless I guess. Unless you can focus your attention on those few things at the tippy top of Maslow's triangle. But when I read your stuff, Waldo, you remind me that we're here to give--not take. What a big heart you have.
Comment by pan on April 23, 2010 at 7:22am
Thanks for sharing your stuff with us.
Comment by waldopaper on April 23, 2010 at 11:30am
I walked around that neighborhood yesterday between classes. It couldn't have been McCoulogh st... the Summit intersection is downhill from Maumee... and Summit no longer intersects whit Lillie... but... judging from the vacant lots and some newer construction... i believe the 1968 fires took out the end of Summit street... and the Lillie intersection is closest to what i remember.

This, i believe, is my oldest conscious memory. I have not been able to recollect anything that i am sure is earlier. so- far as i can tell- that is one of the first things that went into the wetware after i first came on-line. it was quite an impression... the lights... and the sound. i don't think the air was cold... am guessing it was late spring or early summer of 1950... so i stood on that spot and tried to imagine what is perceived as a 60-year road trip...1950-2010. numbers and illusions of course.

the scale seems just about right... things seem to get smaller as you get older. strangely, that includes the earth terminal. i have shrunk from a mainframe to a desktop to a laptop. i hope i will be around long enough to get to be an i-phone. maybe even an implant. who can say?

i bellowed at the young peeps yesterday about the passage of time and history... and how the language merges and integrates our perceptions... and showed them parts of Leading to War... and asked them how they remembered it, speculating that they were just about the same age when this occurred as i was during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

...and holy crap... i don't remember anything about Able Archer 83. Do you?
Comment by BO on April 24, 2010 at 3:53pm
How 'bout this little walk down memory lane? Check out his vid of San Francisco, 1906. Totally freaky.


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