In this poem I embark on a quest for something forbidden to me. Among the landmarks of that journey, I try to escape the watchful spire of St. Michael's from the front of my house.

I have so many memories of this particular library: The Ironwood Carnegie Public Library. It was here that I began to choose and read books. And when I was much younger, it seemed such a treat to take out any book I wanted, especially after having my ears cleaned.

Right across from the library was my doctor's office, and two doors down was Ronnie's Music Store. For years I never reflected on the irony of having these two places--one that reminded me of my ears, and one that reminded me that I had ears and fed my secret dreams of being more than a legend in my own living room.

After leaving the library, I'd go down on Aurora Street. It's hard to convey from this photo how once vibrant the town seemed. If you went straight ahead, you'd be in Hurley, Wisconsin, the town on the other side of Montreal River, in three minutes flat.
Hulstrom's was probably my favorite store of all in Ironwood: It was one that promised pleasure from the sins available on display. They sold counterfuls of candies, a rack of out-of-town newspapers that made Ironwood Daily Globe seem like a joke, spinning stands of cheap MAD paperbacks, and rows of cellophaned X-rated magazines. In the back were Faygo soda drinks and a wide variety of ice cream goodies.

The last time I was there, though, Hulstrom's had expanded into the store, which once sold typewriters, on the left. Sometimes if I close my eyes and remember, I can remember all of the old Hulstrom's with startling veracity.

Before I left the scene of my crime, there was no mistaking the Hiawatha's stern stare; he was facing me from his perch. (Ironwood had erected the world's largest fiber-glass statue back in 1964 as an attraction to the tourist trade, and it was high enough that during winters, we could see his headdress. I sometimes thought he was always watching out for St. Michael's.)

Copyright © 2001 by Raymond Luczak. All rights reserved.