Twin City Myth #1: The Origin of Highland

Long ago when Saint Paul was young, but not too young, just young enough to be still in part untamed, shortly after the ancient peoples had been forced from the land by white folk from the east, pushed with guns past the edge of the setting sun, the white people took the land and made use of it for themselves and renamed it Saint Paul and declared it “good.”

The land was lush and green and mostly undivided. The animals and birds and trees were plentiful and great grasses covered the hills. It was during this time, shortly after the First Great War, that Highland was born, a vast land of hills and fields that lay above old Rumtown, mostly unsettled by these same white people. And in that time Highland was a great prize that glimmered in the eyes of men who came from all parts of the city to look on the lands, and all of them were promised marvelous things.

“Here will be factories," said a man named George, who built many things during Saint Paul’s early years, “and this land will be the foundation of many lives. Here we will provide riches and food and a good many things for the people to come. And none will want for bounty and all will be fat and bear many children.”

And the people listened and clapped their hands for they were glad to hear it, and they said, “Take this Highland and use it.”

And then another man came to these same hills over Rumtown, and this man offered a different proclamation: “This Highland will be a great green haven,” he said, raising his large hands above him. He wore a hat made of brown pressed fur, a suit of the finest dark felt, and bore on his wrist a gleaming watch of silver.

“This will be a place of peace and quiet,” he promised the people. “All around you will be safe homes and pleasing streets lined with great green trees, and these homes will give refuge to those who seek solace from the noise and din of the unruly city on the river. Here there will be women and children and grass and blue skies and the distant views of the fields thither and yon.”

And the people clapped again, but not too loudly, yet they were glad for this was the dream of many. And so it went for years after the First Great War had ended. And then a street was paved through the Highland, and then a second, and the men came to the land to look upon its pastures and to discuss among themselves what to do.

It was at this time that a very great man from the east appeared. His name was Henry Ford and he brought with him a host of companions with shining suits and thick words and slick hair and fine black hats. Gold fell from their pockets as they walked through the city, clinking on the cobblestones as they passed.

And on that day, Henry Ford arrived in an elaborate machine that transported itself without water, horse, or wire, and when the people asked how it worked he replied that it was a magical machine that he had crafted for himself out of metal from the northern mines and coal from the east and rubber from jungles across the sea.

And the people were amazed, and transfixed their eyes as it moved by itself without horses or wire or steam or metal track. They saw it and exclaimed “Oh!” and bustled with joy, for the man was stern yet finely dressed and spoke with measured fervor, promising impossible things.

“One day every single one of you will have one of my machines and the color shall be black,” he said to the people, “and on that day all of you will all have the power to go anywhere at any time and every man will be his own master. These will be called motorcars and they will carry you swiftly into the future."

"More than this, you will build these magical machines yourselves, and every man who builds one shall be able to own one,” said the great man Henry Ford.

And at that the people trembled with joy. They shouted their praise and begged the man for favor. And so the great Henry Ford offered the dream of motorcars for all, and demanded the best, finest pastures in all of Highland for his great factory. And the people made promises of land and access and workers. And Henry Ford asked not only for the land, and access, and workers, but also for the river itself, and the people agreed again and offered up the flowing water and pledged their loyalty and hours of toil.

And so it was that a great factory came to Highland, and it rose on the bluff over old Rumtown, just up river from the oldest fort of the white people. And soon the factory belched smoke and churned with noise and whistles and clanking steel, and thousands of men lined at the factory gates to sweat inside, and from its gates poured motorcars one by one all day and all night to cover the land with their speed and insistence.

And soon after that the streets of Highland were built encircling the factory and lo they filled with quiet homes for the men with families and good jobs, and small apartments for the men without, and men and women and children came to the Highland from across the land and these new streets were filled with motor cars.

And so it went for many years, through hard times and easy times. And though there were many hard times, the factory that the great Henry Ford had built stayed busy and productive and gave food and gold and motorcars to men and their families for many years.

And then in Highland a great temple was built to show stories in motion pictures, and every day inside its walls a new story was told, images made of light and dark. And the people flocked to its gates and waited in line to see the flickering stories made from light itself and it kept their heads and thoughts free and light as eagles soaring over the great river.

And then a great road was built, long and straight as the tallest white pine, and it crossed the length of Highland and alongside the road a great green field was crafted from the earth. And along this field, short green grass was sown in lovely patches and trees were carefully set in place and tiny holes were drilled into the grass and flags were planted in honor of men that they may wander and frolic upon the short grasses. And lo the men came and formed into small groups and chased tiny white balls during daylight hours, wandering the well-tended pastures and forming thoughts of nature and their place within and upon it. And they tamed the land around them in threesomes and foursomes and later they drank mixed drinks and spoke again of the future and all was well for a time.

And while a long, unforgiving plague had spread across the land, causing misery and hunger throughout the hills and across the prairie, yet in Highland there was food and warmth from well-tended fires, and people came to Highland from across the city for solace and opportunity.

It was at this time that a great stone tower was built on top of the highest hill, designed by a man with dark skin, and it was filled of the purest water and surrounded by an endless staircase and at the very top the people could gaze in all directions. Inside the tower a great light was lit and it shone for all to see, marking the highest of the high hills of Highland. And the people declared it “good.” And thus the Third Ward was born.


Adam said...

You left out the bit where the second man said, "And there will be street with no sidewalks in the hopes of keeping out the sidewalk philosophers of the future..."

Darryn Kozak said...

Holy biblical translations Batman!