Can you guess which Edina grocery store this is?
Be the first to name the store correctly and you will win a shirt featuring the Edina Mill or the Edina Theater. Winner must collect the prize by coming to the Edina History Museum during regular museum hours (or pay shipping.) Winner will be selected on Monday.
To even the playing field for newcomers, we'll also pick a winner from the list of anyone who guesses, right or wrong. So give it a shot... as Publisher's Clearing House so famously says, "You can't win if you don't enter." Submit your guess by commenting here or on our Facebook page. One entry per person. Winners picked on Tuesday, May 21st.
Happy Friday, everyone! I'm going grocery shopping....
Tim Layeux, like many other people, regularly haunts garage sales and estate sales for treasures. While most others look to add something to their own collections, Tim keeps an eye out for items for local historical societies.
Tim has brought us books by local authors, old yearbooks, Hornet and Cougar emblazoned clothing, advertising from long-gone local businesses and more. He also is a regular donor to surrounding historical societies.
A lifelong Edina resident, Tim can spot items that have local ties, even if the connection wouldn't be immediately obvious to others.
One of his recent finds: this tweed jacket. While it's in pretty decent shape, we would have no need for it in our collection except for one teeny thing: the label inside and the story that goes with it.
The label shows that the jacket was sold at Belleson's in Edina. Men's clothing doesn't change that much, at least to my female uneducated eye, but everything from the font to the wording on the label made me believe that the jacket was more than a few decades old.
Belleson's clothing store, 50th and France, 1948
I called Belleson's
, which is still going strong at 50th and France,
just a few doors down from its original location where Wes Belleson opened the store in 1948. He sold the business to his employees in 1975. Staff confirmed my suspicion that the store had long since quit using Wes' first name on its labels. My internet search and Belleson's also verified that
Griffon Clothes was no longer in business. I did see 1940s and 1950s vintage Griffon label jackets for sale on Ebay -- think "Mad Men" styled suits -- but nothing more recent.
The label's "Edina Minneapolis"
(rather than Minnesota
) reference is also telling. Before Southdale opened in 1956, many Edina businesses listed their location as Minneapolis, in part because of areas of Edina have Minneapolis zip codes and in part because Edina was not yet well-known. Until 1949, Edina didn't even have a high school to give it a unique identity in the metro area.
In my search for information, I found out that Wes Belleson took part in the D-Day invasion at Normandy..
I knew from our files that Wes opened his store after returning from the war, but I didn't know the details.of his military record that includes more than 30 missions as a tail gunner in in B-24 bomber.
Wes is now 90 years old and living in Florida. He just gave a great interview
about his war service, so I hope to chat with him soon about his Edina roots. I'm not done with my research, but I do know that a suit is just a suit. But a suit with a story -- now that's a garage sale find worth saving.
For more reading, see:
- "Thirty Missions Over Europe," interview with Wes Belleson as told to Abby Weingarten, Sarasota, FL Herald-Tribune,Sept. 26, 2008.
- "U.S. 8th Air Force saved Britain from Hitler during WW II old airman says," War Tales project, interview with Don Moore, April 19. 2013. Wes provided great photos from his war years.
- "The rag trade suits owner of Belleson's. Haberdashery has survived malls and tornado," by Dirk DeYoung, Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal, Oct 4, 1998.
- "New Belleson's owner adds shot of youth to tradition," by Catherine Conlan, Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal, Apr 21, 2002
Drive through the Grandview area of Edina and you'll see Jerry's Hardware, Jerry's Printing and Jerry's Foods. Owner Jerry Paulsen, who began his career behind the counter as a butcher, ended up as one of the largest employers in Edina. Beyond the businesses that bore his name, he also owned Cub Foods on France Avenue, and at one time, a women's clothing store. And that's just in Edina. His "Jerry's Enterprises" now encompasses
37 stores including Cub, County Markets, Save-a-Lot, and Jerry's Foods, as well as various other commercial and real estate interests that include a Jerry's Foods on Sanibel Island, FL. The man behind the name died April 5 at age 89. His funeral is April 10. For a complete obituary, see the Star Tribune. I wrote a story about the history of Jerry's Foods a couple of years ago, when the company donated many photos and other artifacts that trace Jerry's history from his start as a butcher behind the counter at Grandview Market in 1947 to his thriving corporation today. See the story and some great photos here. For being a man in charge of a large corporation, Jerry was just Jerry to his customers. They would find him sitting in the coffee shop or picking up a few items for the dishes he loved to cook at home. There's something so hometown about drinking coffee with the
local grocery store owner. I know his many customers and employees will miss the man who has made his mark on Edina.
Minneapolis and St. Paul consistently rank among the top cities for "most literate." We read. A lot. I suspect that part of the reason are weeks like this past one -- with below zero temps, wind chill advisories, snow, sleet and slick roads. What better thing to do than curl up in a blanket with a book?While the rest of America has been reading 50 Shades of Grey or perhaps the Lincoln biography, I have tried to catch up on history reading for the museum, such as this memoir From Danmark to America: The American Dream recently donated by a former resident Paul A. Thompsen.
Paul chronicles his family roots in Denmark and the hardships his immigrant "parents endured so that we could have greater opportunities that weren't available to them in the old country," Paul wrote in a letter to the Historical Society.On Dec. 29, 1937, when Paul was two years old, his parents bought a farm in the Cahill district of Edina. "Our farm sat just below the highest point on Valley View Road which provided a beautiful view of the valley and rich farm land. The southernmost property line was at the intersection of Antrim Road and Valley Road.
The location of the house and farm buildings was about where Lois Lane and Valley View Road intersect today." (See Google map
.)Here's an aerial of the farm in 1947, courtesy NETR Online Historic Aerials. You can go to the web site and zoom in, as well as look at the development of the land throughout the years.
The Thompsen farm, located in the Irish Cahill community, became a gathering spot for Danish immigrants living in the metro area. Every June, the Thompsens hosted the annual Fugle Skydning festival, which commemorated bird hunting. One year, the shooting drew the attention of Edina police who "tried to confiscate the guns to halt the shooting but when they found out all the action was on our property with safety precautions observed, they had to apologize and leave," Paul wrote.
Paul included some great photos of the farm, his one-room Cahill School and classmates, and family gatherings.
I enjoyed Paul's descriptions of life on the farm, which didn't have electricity until 1941. At the same time
, the Thompsens installed an indoor bathroom for the first time with running water, a toilet and a bathtub. "No more outhouse, thank heavens!" Paul writes. "Prior to electricity, we had to the pump house to draw the water, about 125 feet away. Then we had to carry the water to the house for drinking, cleaning or bathing."On Aug. 1, 1942, a lightning bolt struck one of the barns, filled with 5,000 bales of hay, and set the building ablaze. The Hopkins and Edina fire trucks had to drive to Nine Mile Creek about a half-mile away to keep refilling their tanks. They could do little but prevent the house from catching fire, and two barns burned to the ground. Despite the setback, Thompsens rebuilt and paid off the farm in 1944, and Paul's father "considered becoming a gentleman farmer." Within a few months, however, he was feeling unwell and sought out a chiropractor. He died
at age 56 after climbing the stairs to his first appointment.Paul was just nine years old, with three older sisters. Although the family tried to continue farming with the help of hired hands, the farm was sold in 1946 and the family moved to 5255 France Avenue in Minneapolis.I enjoyed the memoir as much as any bestselling novel. The self-published book isn't for sale, but can be read during regular museum hours at the Edina History Museum.Paul now lives in San Diego and
when he called recently, he (like every warm weather transplant I have ever met) asked about the weather, "It's 70 degrees here... what's it like in Minnesota?" This week, I'd have to say, "Good reading weather."
Paul visited Edina recently to reminisce about childhood days with his sisters Rheta Brace (left), Lilly Downer (right) and Edith (not pictured) as well as former Cahill classmate Bev Amundson (second from right).
- Does the description of the property sound familiar? Paul's description and the aerial photo makes me believe Valley View Stables operated there from 1948 to 1961. See previous blog entry or my "Last Glance" story in Edina Magazine.
- If you are an Edina author or have written about Edina, we'd love to add your book to our collection. Please email me if you can donate a book.
On Mondays, I turn the blog over to reader comments and add a few thoughts of my own.
Ask for a list of famous people in Edina, and people quickly mention sports stars and other residents who have achieved national fame, like movie star Tippi Hedren ("The Birds"), novelist Judith Guest ("Ordinary People) and Twins owner Carl Pohlad.
There is another category of famous people, who may not be famous on a national level but who are (or were during their lifetimes) very well-known within our city limits.
I'm talking about people like:
I think these big fish in our small pond played bigger roles in shaping our community history than any national celebrity ever did. What do you think? Who are the people we should remember within the Edina Historical Society collections? Please comment here or email me.A recent reader comment had me thinking about this topic. John Shepherd wrote about public servant Harold Schwartz. While I have not yet met Harold, he's a well-known name at the museum. Inevitably, visitors reminiscing about growing up in Morningside recall the man who "was the saving grace in our community," as John put it. Thanks for writing, John!
- George Weber (above), who not only served as Morningside's lone police officer until he was about 80 years old, but also was the school janitor, water meter reader, church deacon and foster parent.
- Pharmacist Doc Gregg, who owned Gregg's Pharmacy at the northwest corner of 50th and France for several decades.
- Mildred Carlson (or better known simply as "Mrs. Carlson"), who owned Carlson's Odd Shop at Sunnyside Road and France Avenue. The store was filled with treasures -- everything from buttons and bows to paper dolls and jumping beans to antique glassware. Mrs. Carlson was famous for her ability to find any item on her overstuffed shelves. If she didn’t stock it, she would purchase it for you on one of her shopping trips to New York and Chicago.
- City Manager Wayne Courtney, who was a well-known basketball and baseball coach in addition to his role in city government. He also hosted "The Wayne Courtney Show," broadcast on local cable television.
Harold Schwartz, Morningside's Public Works employee
By John Shepherd
Time to remember Harold Schwartz. I lived in Morningside, MN, from 1954 to 1965. My parents lived at 4045 Sunnyside ave. Harold Schwartz was the saving grace in our community. He took care of snow plowing, sewers, pot holes and much, much more.
When it snowed he would lift his plow blade so that the drift wasn't left in front of your driveway. When there were garbage strikes through the years, he was there to pick up the refuse. If there was a problem during heavy rains, he was there to clean the gutters and make sure that the water flowed freely.
Harold took care of the Ice rinks in the winter and made sure you had nice clean ice, that wasn't bumpy. I don't even know if he is still living, but If he isn't I am sorry I waited to long to give him his dues for the wonderful job he did for us in Morningside.
In 1966 when we became part of Edina I was very disappointed. Even though I went through all of the Edina School systems programs and played in all the sports systems, I was sorry to see us lose our Independence from the much larger and more wealthy community. It is time that we celebrate the people that made Morningside so strong and Independent.
Harold, my hat of to you and thank you for the wonderful years of SERVICE.
Who made a big impact on Edina? Share your thoughts by emailing me
or commenting here. Help us make sure we gather information about the people who had the biggest influence on Edina.
Although I live with a house full of collectors (who acquire everything from baseball cards to Squinkies to bobbleheads ), I collect nothing -- at home that is. Work is a different story.
In my personal life, I would never collect plates but I'm now on the hunt for them for the Edina Historical Society collection. I don't care about the "Limited Edition" plates featuring Elvis or Princess Diana. My focus is purely on Edina.
I'm looking for more plates like this one, recently donated by a member of Our Lady of Grace Church.
The plate commemorates the church's 25th year (based on the dates on the front, 1946-1971.)
Other Edina churches have issued commemorative plates on significant anniversaries, I believe. I haven't gone through our collection records, but I know I've come across at least one other in a similar style as this one produced by World Wide Art Studios. (Search for the business on Ebay
and you'll examples from churches all over the country. None for Edina was listed recently.)Our Lady of Grace's history was printed on the back of this plate:
For those who can't read the fine print, it says: "Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church had its beginning at the Edina Theater, where the first mass was said on February 17, 1946 by Father Louis Forrey, founding pastor.The school opened in September 1949, at 5300 Normandale Road, staffed by the Sisters of Mercy. Masses were then said in the basement. The present rectory was completed in April, 1954. Additional classrooms, the convent and church were added in September, 1957. The parish now consists of 1200 families and the present pastor is Father Joseph Baglio, who came to the parish in June, 1967."
(See the school's web site for more information
on its history.)I think one plate is cool, but a complete collection would be better in terms of telling Edina's story. For more information about donating a plate or other Edina object, please email me.
These men are Odd Fellows.
Note the capital letters. They are not odd fellows, but Odd Fellows as in the "International Order of Odd Fellows," a fraternal organization that dates back several centuries.
These men belonged to the local chapter, Golden Link Lodge No. 167. According to the St. Louis Park Historical Society
, it "appears to be a consolidated Lodge that covered the entire metropolitan area, since officers were from Minneapolis, St. Paul, Mound, and Spring Lake Park."
The headquarters of this group was at 4388 France Avenue in Edina, the building located in the northwest corner of 44th and France. In this circa 1950s photo, Hawkins Confectionery and Morningside Grocery & Meats also occupies the building.
This is the current Google maps street view of the building. Although there have been some updates over the years, it still looks much the same as it did when it was built in 1918.
Here's a closer look at the Odd Fellows sign above the door to the stairway to their second floor meeting hall.
Not only did the Odd Fellows meet here, but the rest of the neighborhood also found uses for the space. As Dudley Parsons, Sr. wrote in his Feb. 27, 1920 "Morningsider" column in Lake Harriet News
"The Odd Fellows’ Hall on France Avenue and 44th Street is a community center of increasing usefulness. Not only are the lodge meetings and social functions held there but regular Saturday afternoon dancing classes, neighborhood parties and entertainments, and the service of the Morningside Church and Sunday School. The Hall is equipped with kitchen accommodations and has a stage for amateur dramatic performances. There is a commodious reception room and there are two other rooms available. The Hall is occupied nearly every night in the week
."It was here in 1920 that Morningside residents met to discuss seceding from Edina, and later where the Village of Morningside council held its meetings.
The organization itself was "known affectionately as the 'Oofs,' wrote Parsons in his November 19, 1936, column, noting the importance of the lodge in creating a sense of neighborliness.
"For a quarter of a century it has been gathering weekly – and sometimes oftener – two score of the neighbors in pleasant social business and pastime. I suppose that fully a hundred families have been represented in these gatherings – lodge meetings, lectures or dancing parties. It is very doubtful that ever a member of these families is ill or unfortunate without the intelligent sympathy of the others, and many an hour of pain and grief has been lessened in its intensity by the comfort of this ministration. I am the right person to say this because I have never been a member of any lodge..."According to Minneapolis Tribune stories, the Golden Link Lodge met in other cities prior to 1920.
Their name is listed in local phone directories until at least 1967.
Were you an "Oof," as Parsons would say? Did you go to one of the dances or other community gatherings in the meeting hall? Please share your memories with us by commenting here or emailing me.
- While the Edina chapter is no longer, the Odd Fellows organization still exists, and includes some Minnesota chapters. For more about the group's unique history and present day activities, see its web site.
- Why the odd name? Well, there are a lot of theories. Like many of the early fraternal organizations, the group formed with guild members with a mission for charity work.
One theory is that the "original Odd Fellows were men who were engaged in various or odd trades, as there were organizations for some of the larger trades" (such as the Masons, for example.)
This is The Woodshop of Avon, at
3918 Sunnyside Road. Even if you've never been inside, you no doubt have noticed it, if you're a patron of the Convention Grill. The Woodshop is just west of the Convention, with the parking lot in between.
Compare the modern Google image above with this undated photo below when the Dennisons ran the Westgate Dairy store here.
And here's what the building looked inside when Elmer and Gerry Dennison owned it. As you can see, they sold a variety of groceries, not just dairy products.
The dairy store originally was located inside the Convention Grill building.
I heard from several people disputing that fact after I wrote that the Convention opened with the dairy store in the east half of the building (where the current mirrored dining room is now.)Not to gloat or anything, but here's the proof. The Westgate Dairy Store sign hangs outside the Convention. Morningside Hardware (with the sign visible in the background) is just to the east.
If you look carefully, you can see the reflection of the Westgate Theater
marquee in the store's window.
And here is an Ives Dairy truck making deliveries at the rear of Convention Grill. (Okay, maybe I'm gloating a little bit, but I also readily admit when I'm wrong.)
All photos Edina Historical Society collection, 2000.204
We have several photos of the store donated by the Dennison family, but I didn't find much more about the family or the business in an initial sweep through the files. I'll dig a little deeper as I have time, but I'd love to talk to the family of Elmer and Gerry Dennison
to find out more.about this little Morningside business. If you know where I can find them, or can share any memories, please comment here or email me.Have a fabulous Friday, everyone!
Yes, you've seen a few photos of the Edina Theater. Every book about Edina history contains at least one photo of the iconic landmark shining from 50th and France. But you probably haven't seen this one.
Edina Historical Society Collection, 1996.065.0001.
At least, I hadn't come across the photo in my eight years as director. I "discovered" the tiny two-inch by three-inch photo, hidden away in its proper archival storage sleeve, when I was pulling another photo from the envelope. I say "discovered" because the snapshot was never lost; it just hasn't been published (as far as I can tell) since it was donated in 1996.Arguably, there are better photos of the theater. When only one photo is used to illustrate a story, writers invariably pick one that shows the theater among the other businesses along 50th Street for context.I will date myself and say this photo is the B-side of our theater's photographic record: good but not as commercially successful as the A-side.
I love the details in this little snapshot, like the original fancy marquee, and the movie title "Meet John Doe,"
which tells us this photo was probably taken in 1941. You can also see "AIR CONDITIONED" on the Brown Derby Cafe
window (lower right) and "COOL" on the ticket window (lower left)....
You know, .just in case you missed the huge sign hanging front and center that proclaims, "IT'S COOL INSIDE."
Do the signs tell you that air conditioning might have been a big deal at the time? It was. The theater was one of the only, if not the first, places in town to offer a cool escape from the summer heat and the problems of the Depression and then World War II.
If I had any self-control whatsoever, I would wait to publish this post until the dog days of summer. But this fabulous picture has waited long enough to see the light of day, don't you think?Many thanks to
Bob Moore, who donated the photo from his grandfather Ben B. Moore's collection. Ben lived in the Country Club and was an active neighborhood and community booster and served on the Village Council. (If the name sounds familiar there's good reason. He donated home movie footage of St. Stephen's Church construction, mentioned here
. He was also involved in the Minnehaha cascade project, described here
.) His grandson Bob also is involved in Edina, serving on both the Heritage Preservation Board and the Edina Historical Society Board.For more reading:
- See Joe Sullivan's story on Edina's movie theaters in the Fall 2001 issue of the city's quarterly newsletter, About Town.
- For a history of the theater sign and its designation as a Heritage Landmark, see the Heritage Preservation Board description on the city's web site.
Photo Friday is back, after a too-long hiatus while I tried to catch up on cataloging a huge backlog of donated artifacts and photos. More about that on Monday.
Today, let's take a look back at a photo donated in 2001 of an earlier Edina. I'm guessing this dates from the 1950s, but you car aficionados may be able to get more specific. (I can't tell a 1958 Oldsmobile from a 1960 Ford, but I know many of you can.)
Any guesses of this photo's location? For those who grew up in southwest Edina, this question is a no-brainer. But the rest of you might have more difficulty, since the area looks (almost) nothing like this today.
Take a good look.
Give up? It's the intersection of Cahill Road and 70th Street, the heart of the Irish Cahill settlement dating from the 1850s.
First settled in the mid-1850s, the Irish Cahill community almost immediately built a church, school and store at this important crossroads. Nearly a century later, the same institutions stood at the same corners (although some in newer buildings.) Cahill School
was built in 1864. Although a modern brick Cahill School was built in 1948, the pioneer era school still was used for kindergarten classes until 1958. The school stood vacant for more than a decade, until it was restored in 1969 and moved to Tupa Park. Today, the Edina Historical Society runs living history programs
in the historic building. Hugh Darcy's son Moses built a general store across the street from Cahill School. Destroyed by fire in 1918, the store was rebuilt on the same site. From 1944 to 1965, retired Edina teacher John Cameron owned what was then called "Cahill Grocery" in the phone book, but was more commonly known as Cameron's Store by neighborhood residents.St. Patrick's Church, not pictured, served the community at the southwest corner of the intersection. Although the church was also destroyed by fire, the congregation rebuilt a new church at the same corner. By the 1930s, Protestant families had moved into the predominantly Irish Catholic neighborhood and, by all reports, felt welcome. They held services at Cahill School until they built Calvary Lutheran Church in 1938.
Both churches have since moved. The old St. Patrick's church is gone, but Calvary's first church still survives as a single family home and the only reminder of a bygone era.I like this photo because it shows an important crossroads, both the physical location and the moment in time. By the late 1960s, new retail and housing had transformed the formerly rural landscape forever.
- For more photo fun, look at historic aerials of the area at (called appropriately enough) historicaerials.com. Here's a link to 70th and Cahill images.
- To see the intersection as it looks today, see the Google map satellite view here.
- For another view of Cameron's Store, see this old post here.
- What do you remember about this area? Did you frequent Cameron's store? Were you one of the last students at Cahill school? Share your comments here or email me with your stories.