Lazarus at the Door, by Nora Clauson (Spring 1967)


Nora Clauson

A Study of East Side Churches
and one
Public Housing Project

” A poor relation is…a rebuke to your rising…
a fly in your ointment…the ounce of sour in your
pound of sweet…A Lazarus at your door.”

(Apologies to Charles Lamb)

Set in the midst of her more or less affluent neighbors, Roosevelt Homes is a community within a community…truly a “Lazarus at the Door”. To some of these neighbors a more fitting analogy would be that of Oaks and Spanish moss, but like it or not, they are neighbors.

Certainly Roosevelt Homes does not contain all the poor in St. Paul, or even of it’s East Side. Scattered over the area, in attic and basement apartments, there are other “hidden” poor. The specific differences about a “housing” address is that because of it, residents, regardless of the circumstances that brought them there, acquire a “Lower-Class” status that becomes Public Domain.

Were Roosevelt Homes an independently functioning community, the situation would be simply irritating to all concerned. But such is not the nature of government housing. There cannot be profit from housing, which means that residents of this essentially “bedroom community” must look elsewhere for food, clothing, and other essential needs. To some these essential needs include Spiritual needs, yet here especially, because of an understood separation of Church and State, there can be no established Churches in Public Housing.

Books could be written on the general discrimination encountered because of housing residence. Even experts within the Housing industry readily admit that segregated housing projects have created whole new “ghettos”. Regardless of previous credit, residents who want to move find that they no longer have credit when they search for apartments in the local community. Although answers to fire calls, with in the Housing community, are usually prompt, because of possible “property damage”…and possible criticism by “taxpayers”, police protection was for a long time practically non existent. This was understood to be an internal matter, to be settled by the Housing Authority itself, yet, ironically, nowhere was a prospective tenant ever informed than upon entering federal housing, he was, in essence, giving up certain rights taken for granted by most citizens.

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God’s Hills, by Nora Clauson

The following was found in my grandmother’s files:


I will lift mine eyes to the hills
Oh Lord, I remember thine hills
Brown, earthy
Furrowed with green
Wooded hills beyond the hilly fields
White with plumblossoms
Shimmering with popple
Blazing with maple
Dark with pines above the winter snow
I have loved thy hills
Since I climbed to them first as a child
With my hand in my father's hand
Saw thy hills through my father's eyes
Heard Thee speak through my father's eyes
Heard Thee speak through thy whispering trees

I would lift mine eyes to thy hills
Oh Lord, I have sought them before
When my bustling village below
pressed too close
and I could not hear Thee
I had hurried then to thy hills
Till I stood neath the sheltering pines
Heard Thee speak in the torrent of rain
Joined the birds in their chorus of song
Crunched brown needles
under my feet
and gave thanks
Or in winter when snow covered all
save tracks of the rabbit and deer
and my own
and the dead leaves that clung
to the oak
Then I stood in thy woods and was still
Heard thy voice and descended to serve

Annorah Hayes Kennedy (headstone rubbing)

Awhile back I digitized my grandmother Nora’s genealogy research. I uploaded many pictures to Flickr, fleshed out our family tree online, and am now planning to post much of the remaining work on this blog.

One of her artifacts was a rubbing of the headstone of my great great grandmother, Annorah Hayes. You can find a link to the scan at the bottom of this post. What follows is my transcription:

wife of 
at sheboygan Wis.
Aug. 15, 1860
Apr. 30, 1889

A precious one from us has gone,
A voice we loved is stilled,
A place is vacant in our home,
Which never can be filled.

Annorah Hayes Headstone Rubbing (PDF, 6.3 MB)

How Rusk County Girls Kiss

I found the following scan of a poem in my grandma Nora’s notes, and decided to share for posterity as I couldn’t identify it with a Google search:


The Appollonia girl bows her stately head
And fixes her stylish lips
In a firm, hard way and lets them go
In spasmodic little snips.

The Bruce girl removeth her specs
And freezeth her face in a smile
As she sticks out her lips like an open book
And cheweth her gum meanwhile.

The Warner maiden so gentle and sweet
Lets her lips meet the coming
With a rapturous warmth and the youthful soul
Floats away on a sea of bliss.

The Tony girl says never a word
And you'd think she was rather tame
With her practical view of the matter in hand
But she gets there just the same.

The Ingram girl, the pride of the West
In her clinging and soulful way
Absorbs it all in a yearnful yawn
As big as a bale of hay.

The Hawkins girl gets a grip on herself
As she carefully takes off her hat,
Then she grabs up the prize in a frenzied way
Like a terrier shaking a rat.

We have sung you a song of the girls who kiss
And it sets one's brain awhirl
But to reach the height of earthly bliss
You must kiss a Glen Flora girl.

With your arms 'round her waist, her face upturned
In a sweet confiding way, 
You care not for the whole wide world
Though the wind through your whiskers play

And closer together you draw
Till they meet in a rapturous glow
And the small boy behind the fence
Cries, "Gallagher, let her go!"

Judging by some handwritten notes on the scan, I believe it was published in a book titled Wisconsin Folklore, by Walker Demarquis Wyman. The book appears to be out of print, but I was able to find (and order) a used copy on line.

Wyman, W. Demarquis. (1979). Wisconsin folklore. [Madison]: University of Wisconsin--Extension, Dept. of Arts Development.