By Betty Lotterman
Editor’s note: During the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted people to find new ways to stay connected. In this article, St. Anthony Park resident Betty Lotterman shares one way she has adapted to the COVID challenges.
St. Anthony Park resident Betty Lotterman has converted an old bus shelter as outdoor gathering place. Pictured are (left to right) Arlene Wegener and Nancy West. Photo submitted by Betty Lotterman.
Have you ever wondered what happened to the bus shelter that used to sit at the corner of Como and Carter avenues? The one that matched the architecture of Milton Square, had ample seating, was constructed of huge wooden and steel beams and had a telephone booth on the side?
If you take a stroll on the alley behind 2267 Priscilla St. you will find out. How did it end up there?
On a cold, rainy afternoon in early November of 2018, I was riding my trusty Schwinn Typhoon through the construction mess of Como Avenue, wondering if they would be able to finish their work before winter. I saw the bus shelter hitched with chains to the bucket of an enormous payloader that was moving slowly down the street. I flagged down the driver of the payloader to ask where he was taking the bus shelter. To my consternation, he said, “The landfill.”
Being of Dutch descent, I hate to see anything go to waste, especially something made of large wooden beams and steel with big glass windows. So, I asked the construction worker if he could move the bus shelter to my back yard instead. He asked if I lived close and if he could get the payloader into the back yard. I considered 6 blocks to be close and if I lost a few lower branches off my trees, I considered it worth it. How often does one have the chance to get a bus shelter in the back yard?
The payloader driver set it down where I wanted it in the backyard. But because it had rained so much that fall and the yard was too muddy, he could not turn it around.
The next spring (2019) I rented a crane to come and lift up the old bus shelter so we could turn it around. We also put in on sure footings and leveled it.
This past summer (2020) my neighbor Bill Laughlin helped me put cedar shingles on the roof. The asphalt ones just did not look right, and the roof needed some repair. I added a weathervane because I thought it needed one.
I also found a pay phone on eBay and mounted it in its rightful spot. I also closed off the bottom as I found out that rodents found it a great place to hide out for the winter. I added some cushions to the bench and a small table for serving treats.
This winter I added some holiday decorations and a heater.
Now I have been using the former bus shelter as a place to meet friends during the pandemic. If people sit at opposite ends, they are eight feet apart. There is lots of ventilation while the heater and glass windows provide some protection from the elements.
If you are interested in using it, please email me at email@example.com or send me a text at 651-238-6859. If you want to use the fire pit, bring your own firewood.
Please, no more than four people from no more than two households. I don’t want to become known to the health department as a COVID-19 hotspot.