By Bill Brady
As the new copy editor for the Bugle, I looked forward to joining our staff marching in the historic St. Anthony Park Fourth of July Parade last month.
Alas, Mother Nature had other plans.
I arrived at the parade-gathering site on Luther Place bright and early. Too early, it turns out. No one else from the Bugle was there yet. Not that I would have recognized anyone, since I’ve never seen them in person. We all work remotely.
I spent a few minutes wandering around Luther Place, peering at strangers in a “Are-you-the-person-I’m-looking-for?” manner and getting “Why-is-that-creepy-old-man-staring at-me?” looks in return. Presently I decided to stroll down Como Avenue and take in the gathering crowd.
Just past the Colossal Café, I felt the first rain drop. I wasn’t too concerned, since I’d overheard a parade organizer assuredly speaking into her phone that “Mark Seeley said it’s going to miss us.” Mark Seeley is the Minnesota Public Radio climate guru, and I placed great faith in what someone else said he said.
I got to the Post Office at Como and Doswell avenues when it started raining harder. A young couple with a two-ish-year-old took refuge under the building’s awning, which seemed like a good idea so I joined them. As the rain got more intense, a woman wearing fake star-spangled eyeglasses ducked under too.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if the Post Office was open today?” she asked, giving the front door a tug. To our amazement, the door opened! Now, you might be aware that all post office lobbies are open 24/7 for PO Box users, but I wasn’t. Or maybe I’d forgotten. I was convinced we were the lucky beneficiaries of someone’s neglect of duty. What great good fortune!
The five of us piled in and made small talk while the monsoon moved in on St. Anthony Park. Harder and harder the rain fell. More people scrambling for cover noticed our sanctuary and added to our numbers in the lobby.
One burly fellow had the National Weather Service app on speaker phone, robotically (and repeatedly) warning of “Severe Thunderstorms over St. Paul, Minnesota, for the next hour.” He offered around some carrot cake he’d just bought from Speedy’s across the street, but I declined. Too soon after breakfast.
Meanwhile the young couple’s little girl waved a tiny American flag back and forth declaring, “I’m WEADY for the PAWADE!!” Gently, if somewhat glumly, her dad explained there was no way in heck the parade would be starting anytime soon.
Someone else logged onto the parade website and confirmed: festivities would be postponed a half an hour. Which seemed optimistic to me.
At one point, Star-Spangled Glasses Woman noticed two house plants in the lobby window and observed ironically how desperately dry was the soil surrounding them.
I cracked wise that we could probably quench the plants’ thirst fairly readily if we wanted to. “That’s a great idea!” she exclaimed, grabbing the bigger of the two plants. “If you hold the door, I’ll put the plants on the sidewalk.”
I hadn’t been serious, but I figured what could go wrong?
Less than 30 seconds after we’d put the plants on the sidewalk, a huge gust of wind knocked both of them onto their sides and spilt dirt all over the sidewalk.
Horrified, Star-Spangled Glasses Woman scurried outside, stood the plants back up and leaned them up against the building so the wind couldn’t blow them over so easily.
A few minutes later she got word that her friends were holed up in St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church and, before leaving to join them, made me promise to bring the plants back in after they’d had a just a bit more soaking.
I gave it about five minutes before retrieving them and returning them to their place on the window sill, with a little help from the mom of the two-ish year old, who was now contentedly watching a Pixar movie on her dad’s phone.
Finally, the rain started to let up. Or so I thought.
Turned out, the rain was just pausing to catch its breath. I had left the Post Office and walked about a block down the road when it started coming down again. Hard.
You know what?
I said to myself. I think I’ll just drag my soggy old butt back home and plan to meet my new colleagues some other time.
And so, I was not among the Bugle marchers when the parade finally took place. But I’d had a true St. Anthony Park experience at the Post Office, and there’s something to be said for that.
Bill Brady, a retired Twin Cities public relations professional, joined the Bugle as copy editor in May. He and his wife, Cheryl, live in Falcon Heights.