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
When I looked at this photo, I immediately thought of the classic summer baseball movie, "The Sandlot."
The movie takes place in the summer of 1962; this photo is from the summer of 1961. But our boys don't look like the rag tag group of misfits who play with hand-me-down equipment in an empty lot. Thanks to sponsorship from Donaldson's
department store at Southdale, Edina boys had sharp-looking uniforms. (Yes, like the snooty rival team in "The Sandlot.") But don't hold their sharp-dressed looks against them. They turned out just fine. They are: (front row)
Pat Carr, Tom Keegan, Skip Thomas, Roger Viendahle, Fred Heiser.(back row) George Diehl, Roy Carr, Gordie Alexander, Brian Gockley, Terry Mikan, Jay Bennet, and Tom Marra. You probably recognize a few names in there. Terry Mikan is the son of famed basketball player George Mikan
, who lived with his family at 5520 Knoll Drive. Skip Thomas, a local realtor and a new member of our board, donated the photo, and I thank his mom for writing the names on the back of the picture so we can identify those boys today. Before you ask, I'll tell you that we don't have an entire collection of baseball team photos through the years. We have photos donated here and there as well as a few years stuck in a Park and Rec scrapbook. We'd love to have photos of any of the Edina sports teams, as well as action shots. Pleaseemail me if you have photos to share or comment here if you have stories to tell from playing baseball in Edina. (Please tell me there was a huge dog that stole baseballs or that you had batting practice with your dad's prized autographed ball.)
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.
If you have any doubt that there was a Baby Boom following World War II, you need to look no further than this Edina Park and Rec film footage from the 1950-60s. More than 100 kids took part in a summer playground program at Concord Elementary -- yes, just at one playground -- in 1959.
That was the first thing that struck me as I watched this film footage. The parade of kids was never-ending for the Circus Day program, one of the many themed events happening every Friday in Edina parks. Bob Kojetin, then Park director and now a member of our board of directors, pointed out several kids who have gone on to achieve state judge office, start successful businesses and, well, grow up and now retire some 50 years later.
Another themed program shown here is Costumes of the World. Prizes were awarded for best in show. Other theme days were Park Olympics, Bike Day, a cowboy and Indians day, and more
The second segment shows a 1963 Camp A Night,
an overnight camping trip on the old Hayes Farm, which later was developed into Braemar Park. The dozen or so young boys were chaperoned by just one man, Bob himself. He grilled them dinner (looks like kabobs) and mixed up pancakes for breakfast. The third segment (circa 1964) shows volunteer playground leaders at a week-long camping trip at the YMCA Camp Menogyn in the Boundary Waters.Grab your popcorn and watch some or all of this approximately 14-minute film. I'd love to hear your reactions to Edina's park past. Did you attend the playground program -- or perhaps see someone you know in the film? What was your favorite activity? Please comment here or email me with your memories.
Edina's first major snow fall brought sledders to Arneson Acres this week.
They were no doubt in school on Thursday morning when I took these photos, but they left evidence of their fun with all the tracks in the snow.
The view out my window reminded me to reserve the lower level Terrace Room at the Edina History Museum for our annual sledding parties. (Well, annual is a bit of a stretch, since we had to cancel last year's dates because of the lack of snow.)Mark your calendar for Saturday, February 2, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Backup date will be Feb. 16 if the weather isn't cooperative.) Bring your sled or snowshoes and enjoy the park, and then come inside for free hot chocolate and treats, and warm up by the fireplace. Parents should supervise their own children, and all activities are undertaken at your own risk. It's quite a hill, and a favorite of neighbor kids for decades. See this past blog post on Mort Arneson for more about the park and the sledding hill.We'll also have our "Growing Up in Edina" exhibit open to visitors. If you have your own growing up memories about sledding or winter in Edina, please comment here or share them with me by email.
Back when Highway 169 was known as County Road 18, Edina looked like this:
Alfred and Rosalla Pavelka lived here (6001 County Road 18) in 1959 with their children Diane and Lee. Alfred is listed as a farmer in the Edina phone directories. His brother (I'm guessing) Francis and his wife Delores, and their children Donald and Richard lived nearby at 5917 County Road 18. Francis worked at Superior Separator Co. Matriarch Mrs. Matilda Pavelka also lived at 6001 County Road 18.
If you can't quite envision the property from the address, here's what the area looks like now (Google satellite image).
Edina has changed dramatically since the farmhouse and old barn stood on the property. The area is now Manor Homes of Edina, condominiums built in 1981 or 1982. (I've seen both dates in various sources. The city's tax assessor card says 4/22/82.)Here's what the area looked like back in 1957, around the time the house and barn images were taken, courtesy of HistoricAerials.com. If you want to play a little and see how the area changed over time, go to HistoricAerials.com and type 6915 Langford Way, Edina, MN in the search field.
Have fun! Happy Friday, everyone.
Here's another installment on Biltmore Lanes, the 32-lane bowling alley open 24 hours a day, located at Highway 100 and Vernon Avenue. I wrote about owner Gus Young back here
, and I now have met with his daughter Margie Sampsell to get a photo of Gus and find out more about him. I'm working on a complete story for our membership newsletter, but in the meantime here's a photo of the building from our files:
I enlarged a corner to get a closer look at that iconic sign, with the bowling pin and ball:
Coincidentally, one of our regular visitors happened to donate a copy of this cookbook, written by Gus's wife Evelyn, famous for her cooking at Gustavus Adolphus College.
For more on Evelyn
, see the Star Tribune's obituary
, written by Trudi Hahn. After reading the rave reviews of her cooking and scanning through the recipes, I may have to order a copy of her cookbook for my own collection. The book is out of print, but is available at Amazon and ebay. Check out this story
on the Gustavus Adolphus web site for more on Evelyn's cooking and a great photo of her. I love the anecdotes like this one: Even while she was still around, the stories about her had assumed tall-tale proportions (“Did you know she and that Cadillac of hers had more speeding tickets on 169 between Edina and St. Peter than anyone else, ever?” “Did you know she used to get ejected from basketball games for challenging the refs’ calls?”).
If you have any stories about the Youngs, or any bowling stories or photos to share -- whether at Gus Young's Biltmore Lanes or Southdale Lanes or some other Edina bowling alley -- please comment here or email me.
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.)