The 2009 Saint Paul Almanac arrived last week, and it’s just as good as the two previous editions. Besides a calendar of events, with room to enter your own appointments and notes, the Almanac includes stories, poems, articles, and listings of local places of interest.
I love the Almanac‘s stories, as told by a wild variety of St. Paul-ites. An Ethiopian immigrant bikes through his first St. Paul Christmas. An old St. Paul native remembers playing Duck on the Rock in an alley until dark. Other old-timers tell stories of streetcars and 15-cent slices of pizza at Woolworth’s. A new immigrant from Ethiopia wonders at “the buildings and snow and deer that lived with the people in town.”
“My grandmother grew up in St. Paul, poor and Irish,” writes Mary Jean Port, beginning a story of a family with more than a hundred years of St. Paul history.
“I moved to Saint Paul in search of a job and a wife,” writes newcomer Badeh Dualeh. “It was January 2004 and the temperature had dropped to -40°. I thought my heart would freeze before I found work, not to mention a wife.”
Local poet Deborah Keenan contributed “Woman on Laurel Street reports that her neighbor has stolen nine pairs of her shoes and left a pile of honey and flour by her car.” Other contributors range from familiar literary figures (e.g., Garrison Keillor, Alexs Pates) to young beginners (Gaoiaong Vang, age 14, is “a regular, hilarious Hmong girl”).
The Almanac is more than stories. Its pages march through a year’s-worth of events, such as the Payne-Arcade International Harvest Festival, Sur Seine Music Festival, Cinco de Mayo, and the Skandia Scandinavian Festival. Want to know when the girls’ and boys’ hockey tournaments will be filling up downtown? Check the Almanac.
Other listings include local (not chain) restaurants and coffeeshops. I’ve sampled 19 of the 36 coffeehouses and tea shops listed in the 2009 Saint Paul Almanac, and I’m ready to try some of the others — and to tell Kim Nightingale, the intrepid editor of this local treasure about one or two places not yet on the list!
The Saint Paul Almanac, says its Web site, is “the singular guidebook to Minnesota’s capital city of St. Paul. Celebrate our ma-and-pa restaurants, our corner bars, our small-town manners, and our big-city ways. Read the travel guide that includes festivals and parades, poetry and fiction, recipes and trivia. St. Paul is as much a state of mind as a place. …
“At 368 pages, the 2009 edition includes information on music and art festivals, galleries, marathons, the RollerGirls, Planet Squeezebox accordions, how to make goobers—and so much more. Work was solicited from both practicing writers and regular folks who have something personal to say about Saint Paul, capturing a viewpoint that reflects the city’s unique character.”
Full disclosure: The Twin Cities Daily Planet welcomed the Saint Paul Almanac as a community media partner, and we look forward to re-publishing many of the stories in the months ahead. Like the Daily Planet, the Saint Paul Almanac is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, that invites “regular people” to contribute their stories. According to Nightingale, “The Saint Paul Almanac is always looking for unique Saint Paul stories. Whether you’re a professional writer or writing for the first time, you’ve got something to say, and we’re interested in reading and publishing it.”