It’s All About the Cars

June 10, 2012

With the temperature climbing to 94 degrees and a subtropical dew point nearing 70, I should have ridden directly to one of Saint Paul’s public pools or a park with a swimming beach. Maybe the heat affected my judgment because the closest I got to water was the bottle I carry with me.

These two, presumably a grandfather and his granddaughter, were dealing with the heat perfectly.

I’ve probably mentioned before I don’t choose a theme for a ride ahead of time and many times there isn’t a theme.  Occasionally, however, a subject gradually comes into focus much like your eyes upon waking up unexpectedly. In this case, it wasn’t until I sat down to carefully review the photos of the ride that I noticed that nearly every picture was related to cars.

First stop, Howell and Ashland in Merriam Park where my eyes landed on two classics.

This 1966 Chevrolet Biscayne wagon cost less than $3 Grand when it was new!

Nice chrome bumper on the Biscayne!

I believe this Mercury Comet is a 1971 model. The color was imaginatively named “Light Green.”

Just a few blocks north of the cars, on Howell and Laurel, is this garage.

The ornate details on this beautifully constructed and kept garage is something rarely seen on a structure with such a utilitarian function.

The fresh paint on this garage is where any similarity between it and the previous one begin and end.

This garage is behind the house at Howell and Iglehart Avenue.

Stepping away from cars for a moment, I present the HealthEast Midway Outpatient Center at 1700 University Avenue.

This was Midway Hospital until it was closed in 1997.

I cannot explain why the address of the Midway Outpatient Center is 1700 University Avenue when the main entrance sits near the intersection of Shields Avenue and Aldine Street.

The one-time Midway Hospital is now home to HealthEast corporate offices, pain care and spine care centers and other outpatient services.

Midway Hospital in the circa 1950. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

Undoubtedly the most interesting part of the Outpatient Center is the Mounds-Midway School of Nursing Museum. There you’ll find displays of antique surgical instruments, exhibits, documents and photos from the nearly 80 years the school trained nurses.

This authentically furnished patient room from days gone by is one of the exhibits at the Mounds-Midway Nursing School Museum. Photo courtesy Mounds-Midway School of Nursing Museum.

The school opened in the early 1900s in the Mounds Park Hospital and the first class of nurses, two in number, graduated in 1909. I have been unable to determine conclusively whether or not the Mounds-Midway School of Nursing was ever located in the old Midway Hospital, but at least two dormitories for nursing students were located on the property.  Take a look at http://www.healtheast.org/about-healtheast/healtheast-care-system/mounds-midway/history.html for a more complete history of the Mounds-Midway School of Nursing.

Retired tires ready for recycling at Royal Tire, University Avenue and Aldine Street.

If you’ve ever driven on Snelling Avenue through Saint Paul’s Midway area, no doubt you’ve seen the Midway Motel.

The signs look like they’re from the mid-to-late 1960s. The direct TV is one nod to the 2010s.

The word “motel,” a contraction of the words motor and hotel, was devised in the 1920s. The L-shape style of the Midway Motel was popularized in the 50s and 60s.  The Midway is one of two old-style motels I’ve biked passed on my journeys.

The Midway Motel, 901 Snelling Avenue North, has been a Snelling Avenue fixture for at least 50 years.

This interesting street artwork is one example of “The Art of Traffic Calming.”

About 30 intersections in Saint Paul were painted through Public Art Saint Paul and resident artist Steven Woodward.

This star-studded street art at the intersection of Fry Street and Blair Avenue is public art that was also designed to slow traffic.

According to the Public Art Saint Paul website (http://publicartstpaul.org/air_tatc.html), it is hoped the street art will,“…convey wonder and joy, their strong graphic presence and the surprise of encountering them will, all hope, slow folks down.”

A star appears to shoot across the intersection of Fry and Blair.

A different form of street art that I encountered was this manhole cover on Summit Avenue and Macalester Street.

Since The Twin Cities Marathon route hits this part of Summit, I’m not going out very far on a limb by guessing that the male and female figures on the manhole covers represent the Marathon. A closer look at the cover yields that it is also decorated with small handprints. You’ll also notice the URL handinhistory.com on the manhole cover. The website indicates the City of Saint Paul and the department of public works sponsor the “Hand In History” outreach program. This is one of at least four custom-designed manhole covers that represent different aspects of Saint Paul. See www.handinhistory.com for a much better explanation of the program

Each year Saint Paul police close off a one block section of Randolph Avenue for the St. Paul Academy/Summit School graduation.

Lastly, a block of Randolph Avenue, from Wheeler to Davern, was closed for the St. Paul Academy graduation. Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch tying this into the “cars” theme but doctors say that it’s healthy to stretch.

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