I was surprised to find that we have few Christmas photos in our collection. Sure, we have many photos of Clancy Drug and its marvelous Toyland (that I wrote about here). We also have Edina Federated Women photo albums of their successful Santa House (that I wrote about in the December issue of Edina Magazine.)
But otherwise our Christmas collection is rather slim, as I found out recently, as I searched for images for two different researchers and found surprisingly few photos. Perhaps because Christmas is celebrated in most Edina homes, nobody thinks their photos are particularly historical or special to anyone outside of their immediate family members.
Sometimes photos are special because they tell a universal story. Presents, cookies, church pageants, Santa visits, decorated businesses, shopping and tree decorating have been apart of Christmas celebrations for decades. In these similar stories, however, you can see change over time.
Photos submitted for our "Growing Up in Edina" exhibit show changes and similarities of Christmas, past and present. Just look at the Ott family Christmases celebrated on Brookview Avenue in the 1940s (slide show and story below). Bonnie and her younger sister Sherry visited Santa, but they made a special trip to downtown Minneapolis to see him and shop with their mother. (After Southdale mall was built in 1956, I suspect many Edina children sat on Santa's lap in the Garden Court. Clancy's also hosted Santa visits, while parents shopped in the downstairs Toyland.) Instead of doll clothes purchased from a store, the girls in the neighborhood received fashionable doll outfits sewn by their mothers.
What are your Christmas memories in Edina? Did you go to the Tasty Freeze lot for your tree or the Southdale Y's men or somewhere else? Who had the best light displays? Did you ever play a Wise Man or Shepherd in a church pageant? Where did you buy the Christmas ham or other dishes? Or maybe you didn't have much of a celebration because of the Depression or World War II. Perhaps you celebrate Hanukkah or have other holiday traditions. Please send in your photos and your memories. Email me or comment here.
By Bonnie Ott England
One year our mom, along with several other mothers in our neighborhood (5500 block of Brookview Avenue), decided to give their daughters Toni dolls for Christmas, along with clothes they would make themselves.
The Toni dolls were new and very popular. They came with a home permanent and rollers, so you could pretend to give them a permanent and curl their hair. The gift of the dolls was to be a secret. My sister Sherry and I, and our friends Nancy Hallberg and Ginger and Georgia Hafner, would find the dolls along with their wonderful wardrobes, under our trees on Christmas morning. While my friends and I were in school, or at night after we had gone to bed, our moms would be busy on their sewing machines making magic in the form of beautiful doll clothes.
My mother Helen Ott was an excellent seamstress, having worked for Munsingwear. She could and did sew anything, and she was very good at fashioning the tiny doll clothes. She even made doll coats using wool and gabardine fabrics from my dad's old suits. There were patterns for the clothes - ball gowns, robes and pajamas, drum majorette outfits, skating outfits, cowgirl outfits, and others. I still have my doll, although she was damaged in a house fire in 1982. She is a little melted, but I am glad I can share her with my grandchildren and they can still dress her in her
Our parents loved Christmas and always made it special for us when we were little. We did all the traditional things, such as hanging stockings, decorating the tree with tons of tinsel, visiting Santa at Dayton's, falling asleep with great anticipation on Christmas Eve, and slowly descending the stairs on Christmas morning, wondering if Santa might still be there. We got all the girly things, like dolls and buggies, ironing boards and doll beds. But we also got a set of American Flyer trains one year. Such happy memories during a safe and sane time - growing up in Edina.
- Did you see the story in the Minneapolis Tribune about Dave Maetzold's 30 year tradition of Christmas lights on Halifax Avenue? Read it here.
- One of my volunteers Larry Nickander told me a story about his classmate (who shall remain nameless) who provided a tree for his homeroom. Shortly after the tree was installed, police showed up to question the youth, who admitted he had cut down the pine from a homeowner's lot. Because he drove a distinctive car in the 1940s, the perpetrator wasn't difficult to track down.
- The Minnesota Historical Society has a great online photo database. You can type in a key word and find photos listed for that topic. See MHS's Christmas photos here.