The Flanagan Memo

Re: Augie's big comeback, a great idea for sodas and where you want that new downtown park ... I mean exactly.

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Bob Boldt, who has been eating lunch almost daily for 50 years at Peter's Grill on 8th Street, has come up with a dandy idea. Put a soda fountain into Peter's.

Well, that would certainly work.

Boldt points out that old-fashioned-style ice cream, milkshakes and malts are coming back into fashion. "All Peter's would have to do is add a few ice cream chairs, a couple of pink-striped awnings and presto -- Peter's Grill and Ice Cream Shop."

He added that it may never happen in our lifetime, "but we can dream, can't we?"

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As for Augie -- that is Augie Ratner, who opened Augie's on Hennepin Avenue S. some 60 years ago -- he is deceased, but the club he named continues, and he is back in the news.

Coming up is a new book about Augie, his friends and enemies, by Neal Karlen, known for his work in the New Yorker magazine, New York Times and elsewhere.

Titled "Augie's Secrets," it could be published in 2013.

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Now, about that park.

Every so often, someone speaks up to suggest a nice, big park in downtown Minneapolis, but they do not say which buildings they plan to bulldoze to make room.

Many park advocates note that all great metropolitan areas have spectacular downtown parks, and Chicago's Millennium Park is mentioned often.

Well, swell, I love Millennium and New York's Central Park, but where is the needed space for such a spot?

There is also a move to extend Nicollet Mall to the Mississippi River. That park would be called Gateway Park and feature, of all things, a splendid fountain at the crossroads of Nicollet and Hennepin Avenues.

Now there is an idea, and it has been used before.

When I first met Minneapolis, I came by train and was greeted by the original Gateway Park with its greenspace and big fountain. The space, which had become a skid row, was once, I am certain, a stunning addition to our town. It was destroyed when that part of town was successfully redeveloped.

Now, I would love to see a Gateway Park return. I'll tell you that the original fountain now stands in our splendid Lake Harriet Rose Gardens.

There is more to the story of our parks, and if you want a look, buy "The Como-Harriet Streetcar Line" book by Aaron Isaacs and Bill Graham (available through the Minnesota Streetcar Museum at On page 35 there is a picture of the former Bridge Square, with Gateway Park in the middle and the former Nicollet Hotel overlooking it all.

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Tuesday is Election Day; do not forget to vote. Soon all of those advertisements will depart from TV.