Monday's conversation with Clenece Hills went very well, I must say, though I couldn't help calling her Mrs. Hills since I hadn't seen her since she was my junior high mass media teacher.

Here's the link. I don't come in until the 15:30 mark, but Mrs. Hills has some interesting conversation with North Lawrence stalwarts Ted Boyle and Jack Todd about some deep North Lawrence history, spanning all the way back to 1849, until then. Some notes and highlights:

  • While I grew up associating the term "Sand Rat" with North Lawrencians, I never knew North Lawrence people originally called mainlanders "blue bellies" on account of the blue bib overalls they wore that would bleed into their bellies when they swam in the river (yes, everyone used to swim in that muddy old river), and that North Lawrence once segregated its grade schools into black (Lincoln Elementary, now the Ballard Center) and white (Woodlawn Elementary, where I went in the Eighties long after it was integrated).
  • In talking about the Kansas River - which divides North Lawrence from the rest of Lawrence - as a source of water fun, Jack and Ted also mention Lone Star Lake, which was considered the upscale alternative to the river before Clinton Lake usurped its place. I mention this because doing my undergraduate years at Murray State University, when I was a lot mopier than I am now, my first poem I ever workshopped was about drowning over and over in a mythical river, a neurosis spawned no doubt by my mom's repeated stories about people getting sucked under by the currents of the Kansas River. I ended my undergraduate years publishing a piece in the university literary journal on Lone Star Lake that's considerably less depressing; it turns out that zine compiler Issuu has somewhat randomly put that journal online (go here and flip to pp23-25)
  • I speak about the bridges over the river, particularly the North Lawrence bridge, around the 34:30 mark. I even, at the end, draw the perhaps-never-before-made comparison between Brooklyn and North Lawrence. It seems obvious to me - both are subcultures of a city separated from the main culture by a river, and both have developed themselves from places mainlanders go to slum, to places mainlanders go to live. Part of my obsession with New York is the bridges (which I recount in my "What It's Like Living Here" on Numero Cinq), an obsession that no doubt started on that North Lawrence bridge. Incidentally, my wife and I were married next to the Brooklyn Bridge.
My wife and I, with the East River in the background

My wife and I, with the East River in the background

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AuthorJohn Proctor