We’ve been talking on the Patrick Lalley Show about the big announcement of the downtown hotel and parking ramp proposal. It looks like a big deal for the city and we’ll have plenty more to discuss as it goes forward. But the discussion had me reflecting on the incredible transformation of the downtown in my life.

When I first started working downtown in the early 1990s, there were precious few offerings. Zandbroz had recently opened. There were a few retail outlets and a couple restaurants, including Minerva’s. But you could tell there was potential.

Long before that, when I was a kid, we rode our bikes or homemade skateboards from the North End down the hill to downtown.

It was basically abandoned most evenings and weekends.

The old Michaels & Burkes department store (where Lucky's is now) was still going and Minerva’s was there but other than that, not much. On the occasion of my grandmother’s birthday we all went down to Minerva’s for lunch.

My cousin Kathy and I went across the street to Shriver’s Department Store (now Shriver Square) bargain basement where we purchased matching blue jerseys with read and white trim with a big 32 on the front. They were probably knock-off O.J. Simpson jerseys but there were no NFL markings.

Which would be all fine and good, a fact long lost to the dim mists of downtown history if not for one thing. I was never good at keeping track of such things as school pictures and the like.

So as luck would have it, on the day scheduled to take pictures of the graduating 8th Grade class at St. Joseph Cathedral Junior High, I thought it was a perfect day to wear that particular jersey to school.

First of all, I’m not sure how it was possible they even let me into a Catholic school, that had at least a minimum dress code, with that shirt on. But they did.

But the real implication is that that jersey, that moment, is forever memorialized in that 8th grade photo. Because not only did they let me wear the jersey, the photographer or one of the nuns – understanding the long-term torture of the photo – put me directly in the middle of the picture.

So there it is, forever memorialized first on film, and now on Facebook, that OJ jersey, that day in my family history, and that era in downtown Sioux Falls.


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