Local icon Tim Rumsey walked to work most days from 1987 to 2000. He began as a form of exercise but kept at it for his love of local lore harvested through his interactions with people on the street. He began documenting his musings and eventually filled 53 pocketbooks with his observations. He continues writing about his observations to this day. Here is just one tale.
Here is part two of last week’s tale. Read the whole tale of Tim’s walk at communityreporter.org
By Tim Rumsey, MD
Our clinic doctors have been going to the Dorothy Day shelter every Tuesday morning to help with the homeless health care clinic since Dr. Ravi and Dr. Macken set up that arrangement in 1985.
Walking back from Dorothy Day to our clinic at 2 p.m. today, it was hot, hot, hot. 94 degrees. Street people stick to the shade. My shirt sticks to my back. I look down West 7th St. and see cartoon stink waves of heat coming off the asphalt. I stop at the Dairy Queen for an ice cream cone. The air conditioning is heaven. The nipple of my chocolate-vanilla swirl sags instantly as I step back into the heat.
Daisy Taylor told nurse Aleda during clinic visit today that her son, Bobbie, was very depressed. Aleda helped arrange a psychologist appointment.
Daisy spent two years at Ag-Wah-Ching TB sanitarium way up north in Walker, Minnesota. 1939 to 1940. She was 24 years old. I knew a little bit about the place. It was designed by Clarence Johnston, the architect of Ancker Hospital. For a sanitarium, it was actually a beautiful grouping of stone, log and brick buildings and cottages in the woods. That’s what it looked like in pictures anyway. I asked Daisy if that was how she remembered it.
She said she wasn’t there to sightsee.
She told me that while she was quarantined at Ag-Wah-Ching, her mother died suddenly and she wasn’t allowed to return to St. Paul for her funeral. Then, Daisy’s three year-old daughter died of meningitis at Ancker and her one year old daughter died of TB in the children’s sanitarium at Lake Owasso. The last time she had seen the three of them was through the back window of the public health officer‘s car as he drove her away from her mother holding the two baby girls.
Daisy has been in her little house on Michigan since 1954. Her husband is long gone. Bobbie is in and out. She has three lovely white, west highland terriers who go to work with her 7 days a week at Family Style Boarding Home.
Sometimes cars honk hello on the work walks. When Ravi drives down St. Clair, he’ll beep and wave as he sails by. Every now and then I wish he would stop and give me a ride. Especially when I’m gonna be late.
One morning, a cab pulled up from behind and parked on the wrong side of the street. Both the driver and passenger doors swung open.
“Get in, doctor. I won’t tell anybody.” It was Tex. “No charge.”
I thanked Tex as he whiplashed down St. Clair. I moved across the backseat so I could see him better. He had an unlit cigarette in his mouth. I also noticed two phone numbers written on the back of his left hand. Tex noticed me noticing. “Clients,” he said about the phone numbers.
“Not that it’s any of my business, doctor,” Tex said, “but why do you walk to work?”
I started in with my usual story about how beautiful it was to be part of the neighborhood and all of its history and then Tex cut me off.
“Do you have a car?”
“Of course,” I said.
“Rosemarie has a 1989 Toyota Camry wagon and I have a ‘92 Bronco.”
“Rosemarie has a…”
Tex interrupted again. “What kind of doctor are you?“
Tex went silent for a moment and then he asked, “What does Dr. Ravi drive?”
“A little old beater Mazda – with duct tape on it.”
“At least he drives it,” said Tex. Then he was quiet the rest of the way.
When we got to the Clinic, I thanked Tex again and exited.
“I’m gonna watch out for you and Dr. Ravi,” Tex said. “I’m drumming up some business for you guys too. And I deliver the goods, if you know what I mean.”
July 25, 6:30 p.m.
Walked home up Michigan before cutting back to St. Clair. Daisy Taylor was sitting in an old pale green metal backyard chair praying her rosary. Flowers genuflected in the late afternoon breeze. Her dogs were wrestling with each other. Her eyes were closed. The late afternoon summer sun warmed her face. I could see her lips moving, fingers sliding over the beads. She looked so calm and peaceful. I just passed by without saying a thing.
Everybody knows Daisy from her yard. Lots of flowers, perfectly cut grass, four statues of the Blessed Virgin (one in a bouldered grotto), wagon wheels, animal figurines, a couple of bird baths and a Dutch windmill. I always thought Daisy’s yard looked like a clean, well kept miniature golf course. Daisy was an Olson. Born at Ancker hospital and raised on the Bohemian Flats along the river below the hospital.
I drive to the hospital for late night emergencies and during the weeks I’m on inpatient hospital service at United. But occasionally to the clinic too. It’s like watching a video as I drift in my car by The Walk houses and places.
One day when I drove, I walked home at the end of clinic, clear forgetting my Bronco back in Mancini’s lot.