Voices: Arla Savage

Photo by Lori Hamlton

Arla Savage lived in a distinctive white house on Carter Avenue in north St. Anthony Park for nearly five decades. A tireless volunteer and a classic good neighbor, she was recognized throughout the neighborhood for her daily walks with the latest of her many dogs. At 85, she continues to be more active than many who are decades younger, but she and her husband, Paul, recently bowed to the demands of age and relocated to a retirement community in White Bear Lake.

Savage: I’m a walker. I’ve been walking dogs ever since we moved to the Park in 1967. We’ve been going down in dog size over the years. We started with cocker spaniels, golden retrievers—then we downsized to shelties. Now we have a 12-pound Lhasa apso [named Riley].

I’m kind of a fixture around here. I have a path down Como, through the seminary, down to Cleveland or Raymond and then back home. I’ve walked when it’s 30 below. I wear stuff for hunters. Foot warmers, Will Steger boots, layers and something over my face. I’m usually the only person out [on really cold days]. Sure, I walk when it’s icy. The answer is cleats. I buy them at the running store on Randolph Avenue. I tell people, “Jesus walked on water. Arla walks on ice.”

Before this, we lived in Roseville, but I wasn’t happy in the suburbs. I had nobody to talk to. Here [in the Park] you always found somebody you could relate to. The Park attracted people of like mind. It still does. I was out walking, and a woman came up behind me near the seminary. She asked “Where’s Stub Hall?” We walked together and I found out she was [attending a] conference there. [She told me] the theologian Walter Brueggemann was leading it. He’s one of my favorite authors!

I remember in 1971, when my husband, Paul, was the president of the [St. Anthony Park Association] at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. Women prepared and served the meal; then they exited through the back door when the meeting began. Then [a local businesswoman] approached Paul and said, “I want a voice.” Paul said, “Why don’t you come for the business meeting?” That night, a whole raft of women walked in for the meeting. The men were not that pleased. Their jaws dropped.

Next Fourth of July [the late, longtime St. Anthony Park resident], Igor Razskazoff and his Oompah Band were playing at Langford Park. Somebody yelled up to Igor to play ‘Happy Birthday’ for Paul. Igor yelled back, ‘I’m not playing for Paul. He’s the one who let women into the Men’s Club!’

In our yard, we always had the neighborhood parties. You know how big our yard is. We have a double lot. Our house is too much for us, now. We’re moving; but people told us, when you sell it has to be written into the contract that the parties will still be at the [Savage house].

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