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Peculiar — 8 Comments

  1. When I first visited from N Y C, oh about a thousand years ago, I walked over to Kowalski’s to pick up some odds and ends. At the checkout I asked the clerk for some quarters for the newspaper machine outside. I came up short cash-wise and went to return some items, but the clerk said, “Oh that’s alright. You can bring it later.” Incredulous, I turned to leave but he called me back and said, “You forgot your quarters for the newspaper!” And I said to myself, “Someday I’m going to live here.”

  2. Using the term “satellites” for what I knew of as “porta-potties” or “porta-johns” was completely foreign to when I moved here from a different part of the country. The first time my employer said we could stop in the park and use the “satellite” if we needed to, I was totally confused about what we were going to do.

  3. Wonderful story, Helene. Such a simple thing. My wife would do that occasionally in her bookstore in Groton, MA and was sometimes met with incredulity. But the customers always did come back.

  4. Huh. Haven’t heard “satellite” here yet. My wife wondered whether it might be a brand name, and sure enough. Reminiscent of the British habit of referring to what we call a “backhoe” as a “J C B.”

  5. Hi Keith – Something you may find interesting along the lines of inherited bias or some such thing (please don’t judge too harshly) – I’m always struck by how contrary your blog images are to my own internal picture of the East and St Paul. At first I thought the photos were miss-labeled. In my mind the image of St Paul is conflated with general Minnesota: woodland and prairie and tidy houses (for some reason I don’t picture a city at all), and when I hear the word “easterner” I picture an endless congested metropolis (and people with bad manners… clearly neither applies to you!).

  6. Hi Dave, I do see your point, and I share some of that bias: Eastern cities as old, crowded, and rude. In Massachusetts I didn’t live urban; in fact the photo that tops each page is of Gibbet Hill in Groton, of which a view presented itself out my east-facing windows. Here is an iPhone photo I captured last March 30 out the bedroom window:

    The St. Paul photo above doesn’t represent my current locale. When I think of St. Paul I think of tidy, leafy neighborhoods of smallish houses put up in the previous century’s teens to ’30s. Just like where I live now.

  7. Other terms I learned when I moved here: binders (rubber bands), boulevard (the grassy strip between sidewalk and street), and semaphore (a traffic light, e.g. red-yellow-green). Thought I’d landed on another planet.

  8. Hello Deb, thanks for joining. My wife, the Minneapolis native, is unfamiliar with all of those terms. They might be common in some strata in the Twin Cities but not universal.

    Anyone else come across those usages?

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