Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My neighborhood: Tippecanoe

Here's the thing: It's the sort of pride in place that melts into the flat surface of the word "irony". Like it never existed to begin with. Really, the neighborhood I'm in is, popularly, nothing more than a way to give name of a library, a school, a park. Public places unified by a word so ludicrous it's wonderful.


It is a place. A collection of blocks that make up a distance you can probably walk without breaking a sweat.

It's like being abroad and fearing that the place you're from doesn't exist that far out. If you're from Milwaukee, you say Chicago instead. Little man complex.

It's the same way, but on the neighborhood level. We do this for Tippecanoe.

It's a place even the internet scarcely knows about.
Tippecanoe is located on the city's far south side. A solidly middle class and well maintained neighborhood. Most of the neighborhood's homes date back to the 1940s and 1950s. The homes are often in the Cape Cod style and made of red brick. The area was named from the political rallying cry "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" by landowner John Saveland, an outspoken local Republican who intended to develop it as an upper income suburban community.
Maybe it's because even the people whose lives happen here aren't aware that they're here at all? Bay View, they think, they tell, that's where I live. And there's pride in that. Or at least acknowledgement.

But it's not so, neighbors. We're not Bay View. And we're more than just the civil buildings. We're a people, a place. Beautiful , strong. We're Tippecanoe.