MINNEAPOLIS — Ahead of Valentine’s Day comes a love story for the ages. It was lost for decades but unearthed when a young couple decided to give their Minneapolis home a facelift.
“To us, it’s kind of cool to see a little bit of the past,” said homeowner Matt Tessmer.
There’s a saying that, if the walls could talk, they would have many interesting stories to tell. For Matt and Carrie Tessmer, those walls with words to share could be found upstairs.
“It’s truly a mystery how any of this stuff made it into our wall,” Carrie Tessmer laughed.
It all started back in November 2020 when they decided to renovate their relic of a restroom inside their more than a century-old home. It was that process of peeling back layers and layers of paint and plaster just behind the toilet that revealed treasures from lifetimes before.
“Take some rubble, put it to the side and there’d be more stuff after,” said Matt Tessmer. “It is trash to those people, but to us it’s kind of cool to see a little bit of the past.”
Inside were numerous toiletries once manufactured down the street.
“There were a lot of Minneapolis brands in here,” said Carrie Tessmer. “Some of the medicine they used, all the razor blades [and] rose water and glycerin.”
There was even makeup and an old bottle of shoe polish. But perhaps the most interesting find hidden in their bathroom wall had nothing to do with the bathroom at all.
“I’m like, ‘Am I reading this correctly?’” Carrie Tessmer questioned.
They found love letters from not only one, but two budding romances — to Hazel and Pauline.
“Oh my God,” Carrie Tessmer said. “Honestly, I didn’t know what to think.”
Each note made the same request asking both Hazel and Pauline to a dance while declaring their undying devotion.
“‘I hope you still love me. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX,’” Carrie Tessmer read from the note.
The letters were then signed with affection from someone named “John B.,” who also went by the name “Lolly.”
“We have zero clue who this John B., this ‘Lolly’ person is,” Carrie Tessmer said.
Neither note was dated, so perhaps they were written at different times or perhaps written by a young Casanova pining for attention.
“Upon reading some of them we realized it was actually probably more likely a kid like between the ages of 13 – 18,” said Carrie Tessmer. “They were talking about first lunch, ‘I have study hall this period.’”
Lessons of love learned at a young age that maybe were never meant to go beyond the bathroom’s four walls, but are now sparking the need to know more.
“I would love to know the story behind it and also why the letters did not get delivered and why they ended up in our bathroom wall,” said Carrie Tessmer.
After some research, the Tessmers found a John Pavlo who would have matched the original deed to their home. He and his family lived in their house from the 1920s through the 1950s. He also had a son named John.
“John Joseph Pavlo would have been about 17 at the time when he lived in this house with his family,” said Carrie Tessmer.
There was also John Book, who was born in the 1930s. He bought the house decades later as an adult. The Tessmers also found some of his old homework in their attic.
“It’s even more of a mystery because we don’t know if it was written by John Pavlo as a 17-year-old in the ’20s, or if it was written by John Book when he was a kid and he just threw it in the walls when he bought the house in the ’60s,” Carrie Tessmer said.
It’s a story in which the ending has yet to be written, or is maybe just still waiting to be uncovered.
“Whatever project we have next I’m sure we’ll find something,” the Tessmer laughed.
The Tessmers said they’re still not giving up trying to figure out who “John B.” is. They also added that, before they closed up their bathroom wall during their renovations, they put a picture of themselves with a note about who they are for future homeowners to find.
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Minneapolis Fed's Kashkari on why there's still so much economic uncertainty
When Neel Kashkari first joined the Federal Reserve eight years ago, he quickly gained a reputation of being a frequent dissenter who often opposed raising rates.
These days, the president of the Minneapolis Fed has found himself in the opposite position: mostly agreeing with the rest of the rate-setting committee.
He fully participates in every meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, but only has a vote on it every few years. Last year when he was a voting member, Kashkari didn’t object once to hiking rates or holding them steady as part of the Fed’s war on inflation. More recently, he’s also seen eye-to-eye with other policymakers on being patient and waiting awhile longer before they start cutting rates.
“I’m not shy about expressing my view,” he said in an interview.
But it takes a lot of confidence on what’s going on in the economy to say your view is right and the rest of the committee is wrong, he said.
“And right now, we’re getting so many mixed signals,” he said. “And things are reacting differently than we had expected. It’s hard to have that type of confidence or conviction.”
Never one to completely go along with the crowd, Kashkari has set himself apart in other ways. For example, he has suggested the Fed keep interest rates high for longer over time than most others on the committee. That makes him a “hawk” in Fed speak, a reversal from pre-pandemic days when he was a “dove” who wanted to keep rates low.
Regardless, Fed officials, including Kashkari, are hopeful as inflation has been coming back down after soaring to more than 9% at one point in 2022. Since then, the consumer price index has cooled off considerably to 3.1%, inching closer to the Fed’s 2% target.
And it’s happened so far without a much-anticipated and feared recession.
Kashkari answered far-reaching questions about the economy, edited here for length and clarity.
Q: First, how are lasagna prices these days? (A tray of frozen lasagna he often buys for his family has become one of his unofficial inflation gauges.)
A: The interesting thing is, I saw it in Lunds maybe a month or two ago. Before the pandemic, it was about $16. And then it went up to around $21. And it was still $21. But they had a sale — $5 off. So it was back down to $16. So I bought two.
Q: Any other observations from the grocery store about inflation or supply chains?
A: The shelves are usually full now. I think supply chains are mostly back to normal. We see that in the data. I see that in real life. But what people are experiencing is, by and large, prices aren’t coming down. They’ve just stopped rising. So that’s the big disconnect. We say, ‘Hey, we’re winning over on inflation because inflation is coming back down.’ But people aren’t happy because prices are still high generally speaking.
Q: The inflation data looks pretty good right now. How confident are you that the war on inflation is almost over?
A: It’s definitely going in our direction. I think we’re all reluctant to declare victory prematurely. I wish I could say, ‘We did a great job and that’s why inflation has come down.’ I think we’ve played an important role. But I think mostly it’s been supply [chains healing]. So in a sense, the inflation rates were transitory, just a lot longer than we anticipated.
Q: Why didn’t higher interest rates cool off the economy very much?
A: I do think it’s happened somewhat, but I think this goes back to the notion of a neutral interest rate. There are dynamics when the economy is recovering from a downturn, in this case the COVID downturn, when all of a sudden the neutral rate can go up. If there’s all this pent-up demand, it’s possible that that neutral rate has just soared in the short run. The big question is, where’s it going to settle in the long run once we get through this reopening period? That’s a big macroeconomic debate people are having. Are we going to go back to a low-rate environment that existed for a decade before, or are we going to something different? And I’ve heard really good arguments both ways. Nobody knows for sure.
Q: What gives you the most pause about inflation now?
A: We weren’t able to diagnose the high inflation when it hit us. And then we didn’t do a very good job of diagnosing why it stayed high for as long as it did. And now, we’ve been surprised at how quickly it’s come down in the past six months. There’s so much about this economy that is hard to have confidence in. It makes me reluctant to be too definitive in saying anything right now.
Q: Is there anything in particular you’re waiting to see before you say, ‘OK, now we can lower rates?’
A: A few things. One we want to have, and this is what Chairman [Jerome] Powell has said. It’s not that we need to see better inflation data. We just want to see more data, which is also good data, until we’re really confident we’re going get back to 2%. So on the inflation front, let’s just get a little bit further away before we start lowering rates. Because financial markets are so prone to exuberance. The moment we give a hint, they run off to excesses. And so if we even say, ‘Well, we’re going to cut 25 basis points,’ they’re going to say, ‘Hallelujah, they’re going to extrapolate it far beyond what we intend.’ And so I think we’re all saying, ‘Let’s be really sure before we make that first cut.’
Q: Why did labor supply bounce back so much? Initially there was a lot of uncertainty if workers who left the labor market during the pandemic would ever return.
A: We don’t know fully. Immigration is definitely playing a role. But I also think it’s just Americans want to work. And maybe it’s the inflation, that people are saying, ‘Oh my gosh, prices are going up, I need to work just to try to keep my head above water.’ Some of those retirees, maybe they went back to work part-time. Maybe remote work opened some possibilities for some folks. Maybe all of the above.
Q: What’s been the biggest surprise for you about the economy?
A: Just the resilience — GDP [gross domestic product] continuing to put up great numbers. And by the way, people wanting to spend.
Q: You’ve talked about a gas station you go to that put in a bunch of automated screens to help with the labor shortage. Do they still have them?
A: No, they got rid of them. A few months ago, I went in there and they had ripped out all the computer screens and went back to glass doors. And I went up to the manager and said, ‘What’s going on? You just spent all this money on these computer screens.’ And he said, ‘Oh, yeah, those never worked right. And besides, we’re fully staffed now.’
Q: Does the labor shortage seems to be getting better?
A: Businesses say it’s still tight. They still have to work hard to find the workers they need, but it’s much better than it was a year or two ago. The unemployment rate is still low and wages are still growing attractively from a worker’s perspective. And then you have the structural issue that this whole region does not have enough workers over the long term.
Minneapolis Public Works employees vote to authorize strike
Minneapolis Public Works employees represented by Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 363 voted on Wednesday evening to authorize a strike.
In a video posted to social media, a union member said LIUNA Local 363 represents over 400 city of Minneapolis employees.
The union also said 98.6% of the city employees voted to authorize a strike.
In a news release Wednesday night, LIUNA Local 363 said that members are “exhausted from staffing emergencies, demoralized by persistent turnover, and affected by staffing shortages…” In recent years, staff members have also been tasked with encampment clean up, where the union said they are exposed to biohazards, infectious agents, needles, human waste and more.
LIUNA 363 said it is bargaining to address staffing issues and the city’s failure to keep up with local area wages.
“Our members’ work ensures clean water, safe streets, well-kept public spaces, and accessible parks,” said AJ Lange, Business Manager of LIUNA Local 363. “We don’t just do our jobs – we keep the city functioning. Yet, despite our critical role, workers feel undervalued and overlooked.”
In a Facebook post from Monday, the union encouraged members to cast their votes.
“After over six months since your negotiating team began bargaining, City of Minneapolis negotiators still refuse to engage in meaningful discussions about worker health and safety protections, sustainable staffing levels and work schedules, and increasing wages to rates competitive with surrounding metro area cities. They continue to stall, deny information requests, and demand concessions. #RespectUsPayUS,” the post reads, in part.
LIUNA Local 363 said it will return to mediation on Thursday. There must be a 10-day notice before a strike.
The union said its current contract expired on Dec. 31.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has reached out to the city of Minneapolis and will update this article if a response is received.
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