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The Hasty Tasty was "among the most charming cafes in Minneapolis during the '40s and '50s," according to the authors of Minnesota Eats Out:  An Illustrated History. The Edina location didn't have the famous glass staircase of the Lake and Hennepin location, or the chalet-style charm of the 3601 Lyndale store, but its proximity to the Edina Theater made it a popular spot for students. The menu offered a vast selection of sandwiches from A to Z.

As noted in past posts, this photo is part of the historic City of Edina tax assessor records, now housed in our museum.

Quiz: The Hasty Tasty was two doors west of the theater. The Norm Cleaners stood between them. What other restaurants operated from this location? First correct answer wins an Edina Mill shirt.
 
 
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If you grew up in Edina during the 60s and 70s, you probably spent a few summer afternoons watching puppet wagon shows. Built to look like a castle with a drawbridge door, the puppet wagon was hauled by truck from park to park throughout the summer. Park and Rec summer staff made the puppets, wrote original plays and entertained the hordes of Baby Boomer children who flocked to the summer playground program. Children's author Nancy Carlson provided this clipping from the local paper -- she circled herself in the picture. (She claims she always had messy hair so she was easy to identify, even from the back of her head.) Do you remember the puppet wagon? Or any of the other summer park and rec events, including turtle races, elephant rides, summer olympics, or cowboy days? Tell us your memories by commenting on this post or emailing me.

Help us show and tell what growing up in Edina was like for you. We're looking for entries from the public for our upcoming exhibit. Deadline is June 30, 2011.
 
 
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Party favor glasses were handed out at a March 2011 swim meet to honor Edina Swimming and Diving Coach Art Downey, who was worn the horn-rimmed style glasses for more than 55 years.
The glasses, without the story, are worth about a buck. Purchased in bulk from Oriental Trading Company, they're the cheap plastic kind you wear for a costume party if you want to look like Buddy Holly or Clark Kent.

Or Art Downey.

If you don't know who Art Downey is, where have you been for the past 55 years? Apparently not in Edina. For more than half a century, Mr. Downey has coached the Hornets swimming and diving teams. As you can see in one of his earliest yearbook photos above, Art Downey wore that same style of spectacles when he first came to Edina. He's still wearing the same kind of frames today.

"Art has been an icon, and his glasses have been an icon.  He has not changed glasses from when he started coaching," said Rick Ringeisen, the head coach for the Lakeville South Swimming and Diving team, in an interview with KARE 11 news (see video below).

Indeed, Ringeisen passed out 150 pairs of black, horn-rimmed style glasses to people at the meet -- all to honor Art Downey.  "Art has literally won every honor that you can win as a coach, and many of them multiple times.  He's in eight different hall of fames.  So we thought what's the highest form of flattery but imitation," Ringeisen said.

The human interest feature received great media coverage, from television, the Minnesota State High School League (see page 21 of Spring 2011 publication) and local online newspaper Edina Patch. In the past, we might have saved newspaper clippings and filed them in our biography archives under "Downey, Art." As more media becomes digital, we now have to think about how to preserve the new media.

Edina Patch graciously honored our request to get copies of the photos they ran on their web site.
We also hunted down the glasses.

Or, I should say, John Soma, Assistant Principal and Activities Director at Edina High School, did on our behalf. The party-favor style glasses will join our collection of objects that tell the story of Edina -- right there with police officer George Weber's gun, badge and whistle, a crazy quilt sewn by pioneer women in the Grimes family, a scale used at Gregg's Pharmacy, and thousands of other items.

The glasses aren't worth much now, I know. Moreover, when I imagine an "Antiques Roadshow" type appraisal in 100 years, I don't think the value will rise much over time.

Without the story, the glasses are still black plastic frames with no lenses sold in bulk. However, with the story, they're priceless. That's why we are happy to have them in our collection.

(Note: Like other collectors, I have a hard time calling a collection complete. As I was doing research for the Art Downey file, I saw a bobble head of the coach on the team's Facebook page. I would love to add one to our collection.... anyone?)

Please contact me if you would like to donate an object with a great Edina story.

 
 
I have been following a great blog for the Hennepin County Libraries Special Collections, which has more than 25,000 books and other items in ten unique collections. I asked Ian Stade, the primary blogger, to share information on some of the items that pertain to Edina. His first post is on Morningside, the northeast corner of Edina that operated as an independent village from 1920 to 1966. The post couldn't be timelier - we are co-hosting a walking tour of Morningside and Waveland Park with the Linden Hills History Study Group on Wednesday, May 25.

Morningside Directory, 1962
In the early 20th Century, Edina was mainly a sleepy farming community with one exception, Morningside. 

In 1905 the Lake Harriet Line of the Twin City Rapid Transit Company was extended into the Northeast corner of Edina. Heirs of the landowners in this area of Edina, Jonathan and Eliza Grimes decided to plat the family homestead for development and 55 acres became the foundation for the Morningside district.  The April 11, 1905 Minneapolis Journal reported, “[The] new district, Morningside, is composed of sixty-nine lots, 100 by 200 feet each, to cost from $250 to $1000. The district lies between 42nd and 44th streets and will be crossed by three new avenues, Alden, Scott and France. Electric cars will stop at three stations adjacent to the [Grimes] property. Tenants who live outside the city limits will have low taxes and at the same time only 5-cent carfare to town.”

Morningside evolved into a modern-day streetcar suburb while the rest of Edina remained rural.  The residents of Morningside expected improved streets, curbs and gutters, sidewalks and city water.  These were not high priorities for the rest of Edina.  The Edina council initially resisted these improvements but by 1908 agreed to provide road building materials Morningside handled the job of doing the building.  In 1909 two men from Morningside asked the Edina council to buy six streetlights and they promised to install them.

A Morningside Improvement Association was formed and worked to get Morningside residents on the Edina Council.  By 1912, Nils N. Leerskov was elected as the first Morningside resident on the Edina Council.  The requests for Morningside improvements increased in Edina Council meetings.  In 1920 the friction between Morningside and the rest of Edina came to a head after the Council refused to reconsider special assessment fees for work near 44th Street and Grimes Avenue.   On September 17, 1920 a Morningside resident wrote in the Lake Harriet News, “It is time that Morningside emerged from its chrysalis stage and became a recognized entity instead of being a revenue appendix of 8,500 acres of pasture, woodland and cornfield.” The writer went on point out that Morningside contained almost one third of the population of the Edina Township and these stats:

Population 502

Households, 147, number of renters, 0. Voters, 532. Telephones, 106.

The writer concluded his letter to the editor with an invitation to a community picnic on September 18, 1920 to discuss Morningside’s future.  The meeting brought together 150 residents and incorporation was explained by Morningside Civic League president A.G. Long.  There were other speeches against secession but in the end 25 property owners signed a petition requesting the Hennepin County Board call an election regarding incorporation of Morningside.  On October 26, 1920, Morningside residents met to create a slate of officers for an upcoming election.  On November 5, 1920 the Morningside village board met with the Edina council to discuss the disbursement of Morningside assets.  Also at this meeting, R.L. Jensen resigned from the Edina council so he could be the new Morningside community president.  By May 1921 the political separation of the two communities was complete.

In the mid-1920s the two communities clashed about the placement of an elementary school in the school district they both shared.  They ended up building elementary schools in both communities and sharing the Edina-Morningside junior and senior high schools.

By the 1960s the citizens of Morningside started to prepare for another vote – rejoining Edina.  Morningside Mayor Jack Beegle and his wife Charlotte began a campaign to be annexed to Edina.  Beegle argued the village’s ability to meet growing infrastructure obligations and expections would not be sufficient in the future.  On the other hand, Morningside Councilmember C. Wayne Courtney made a passionate plea against annexation: he thought they would lose their identity, representation and that taxes would go up.

On May 6, 1966, eighty-five percent of Morningside 1,100 voters went to the polls and by a 2 to 1 majority, voted for annexation.  There were hard feelings after the vote by some residents but 13 years later even Courtney admitted he was wrong on all three counts with his worries about identity, representation and taxes.

One thing still makes Morningside unique from the rest of Edina, it still gets its water from Minneapolis.

Morningside now has a neighborhood association and the city of Edina has recognized its historic importance. Morningside is also home to the historic Grimes house and historic bungalows.

Special Collections has an atlas of the Morningside neighborhood and some small club collections from Morningside Literary Club, Morningside Social Club and Morningside Women's Club.  We also have the Morningside directory (1962-1966), pictured above, at Minneapolis Central Library in our city directories collection on the 4th floor.

The Edina Historical Society has done some great blog posts about racial relations in Morningside and a  1920 Morningside woman participating in an election for the first time.


 
 
Brown Derby Restaurant, 1959
I love this photo. Debbie Reynolds and Tony Randall's The Mating Game is showing at the Edina Theater. Arthur Murray's Dance Studio, a 50th and France institution still going strong, is on the right. Guy standing in the Brown Derby doorway looks like he's wondering why someone is taking a photograph.

The answer: the photo was taken to document buildings for tax assessment purposes. We have the documents at the Edina History Museum. I will (try to) post photos from the collection every Friday because they're so great and deserve to see the light of day.

The original 1934 architectural drawings for the Edina Theater show the Brown Derby in that same location. I'd have to do more research to find out when it closed. Many people have told me that they never set foot in the door because the restaurant served beer (probably of the 3.2 variety), and their parents didn't think children belonged in a bar. (I'm guessing a few parents visited the place out of sight of their youngsters.)

If this photo sparks any memories, please comment or send me an email.
 
 
Because St. Louis Park and Edina share a border and much history, I asked my friend and colleague Jeanne Andersen, trustee with the St. Louis Park Historical Society, to contribute to our blog. Jeanne has created a website The Brookside Timeline, which will interest Brookside residents just over the border in Edina, and also maintains the St. Louis Park Historical Society website.
This is Highway 100 as it looks today in Google maps. You can drag the map in any direction to follow the route of the roadway into Edina.
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The author Jeanne Anderson and her little sister Laurie taken in 1968 in their front yard, showing two of the doomed houses on the other side. Note there are no cars on the highway!
From age 4 to age 18, I lived with my family on Highway 100 in St. Louis Park, a block north of the border with Edina (which is just north of 44th Street).  When my dad built our house in 1961, the road was two lanes each way; there was no wall, no fence, no median, and there were houses across the “street."  We could cross at the stoplight at 41st Street at Brookside School, or take the crumbling stairs under 44th Street, but back then it was just as easy to simply run across.  The speed limit was 45 and we often made left turns into our driveway. But it could be dangerous, and we often heard the squeal of tires followed by a big crash.

It sounds noisy and scary, but I loved the highway, and would sometimes sit in my front yard with my dog and wonder where all those people were going.  Being interested in history, I also wondered where the road came from – was it an Indian path?  Did early settlers build it? 

I left St. Louis Park and eventually Minnesota for many years, but for some reason in the mid 1990s I became very interested in the topic again.  The first place I went for information was to Frank Motzko, whose family of plumbers had lived a block north of us on the highway since the 1920s.  I became immersed in the history of the Brookside neighborhood where I grew up, and my interest gradually grew to include the history of all of St. Louis Park.  In 2002, Minnesota pulled me back, and now I live a mile away from my childhood home, where my father still lives.

Highway 100 as unpaved Aurora Avenue

I found that the history of Highway 100 in St. Louis Park actually came in two phases.  The first phase was where my house was, between Excelsior Blvd. and Edina. The Brookside subdivision, on the west side, was platted in 1907 by Suburban Homes, which had bought the property from Calvin Goodrich.  Suburban Homes advertised in the Minneapolis paper that it was a “creekside garden spot” as many parcels abutted Minnehaha Creek.  The building of homes there was made feasible by the electric streetcar that ran down Motor Street (approximately 44th Street), allowing people to live in the suburbs and commute to work in the city.  Some homes that were built that long ago still exist today.  It was then that today's Highway 100 had the name of Aurora Avenue 

In 1909, Browndale Park was platted on the east side of Aurora Avenue approved by the St. Louis Park Village Council with the proviso that Aurora be 30 feet wide instead of 20. The land had been the farm of Henry Brown, and it does not appear that houses were built on the east side of Aurora until after WWII.  It looks like Aurora stopped at 44th Street; on the other side of the tracks was an Oddfellows Lodge, fruit orchards, and, in the early 1920s, the Country Club development.

Aurora is paved, renamed Vernon Avenue


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Aurora was paved by the State for the first time in 1927.  At right is a picture of Frank Motzko’s aunt standing in the graded road just before it was paved.  The 1.77 mile cement road stretched from Excelsior Blvd. south to about present-day 50th Street, where it veered southwest along present-day Vernon Avenue to about where 53rd Street is today.  It was three lanes wide:  two lanes each way and a “suicide” turning lane in the middle, according to Frank Cardarelle, a surveyor and president of the Edina Historical Society.

I spoke to another man who was three years old and living on Aurora just south of Excelsior Blvd. when they were paving it and he remembered how his mother had to tether him to the house because he wanted to go out and play with the big trucks! 

In 1933, St. Louis Park changed most of its street names, and Aurora became Vernon.  It’s unclear what the Edina section was called, but at times it was Trunk Highway 5, Highway 169, and the Mankato Highway.  Whether it was St. Louis Park or Edina that named it Vernon first, I don’t know, but it was part of an alphabetical sequence in the Park, if that’s a clue.  1933 was also the first year that St. Louis Park published a directory, and the map enclosed showed that section of Vernon also labeled as Highway 169. It would remain labeled so in directory maps until at least 1945, long after Highway 100 was built. 

Depression project expands the "Beltway" with famed Lilac Way

The so-called second phase of Highway 100 was the “Beltway” that was built out of farmland in 1934-41 as a work program during the Great Depression.  Dubbed “Lilac Way” because of the lilac trees and roadside parks that decorated it, the original section of the new highway stretched 12.5 miles from Robbinsdale to 78th Street in Edina, incorporating the older Aurora/Vernon/169 from Excelsior Blvd. to 50th Street.

The houses across from my parents’ were removed in 1968/69 and the highway, at least to 44th, was widened in 1972.  Our Vernon Ave. became a service road, and my one attempt to climb the fence and run across the now freeway ripped my pants and scared me to death.  Access to the highway from our house was now limited to Excelsior Blvd. or 50th Street.  My dad could now pull out of his driveway without fearing for his life.  A sound wall now blocks the view from the house and I miss the river of cars going who-knows-where.  I love driving on it, especially when I get quizzical looks at my HIWY 100 license plates.

Edina stories: fact or fiction?
There are two stories I read or heard somewhere about the Edina stretch of Highway 100.  One was that there were no roadside parks and it was not planted with lilacs or considered part of Lilac Way because of a spat between a village official and Carl Graeser, the idiosyncratic chief engineer of the Beltway.  Another is that the unmarried Graeser mysteriously left all of his money to a woman from Edina when he died. 

For more info
We have a ton of information about Highway 100 on our web site, at www.slphistory.org/history/highway100road.asp   Additions or corrections are always appreciated; contact me by email if you have more information. Thanks to Frank Cardarelle for helping me read our 1926 highway department right-of-way map!