We have some great treasures in our map collection. (But alas, no treasure maps.)

Still, even without a big X marking the spot to buried gold, these maps are priceless. You will have a chance to see some examples of these document gems in our upcoming "Edina on the Map" exhibit that will open in mid-March. Today, I'll give you a sneak peek at some for the Highlands neighborhood.

The white map at the bottom is the registered plat, and the other two show advertising brochures from the The Spring Company realtors, which developed the property.
Highlands includes Ayrshire Boulevard, Lochloy Drive, and Duncraig Road.
If you can't quite match up the Google map above with the real estate brochure map below, take heart. North is on the left of the realtors' map instead of the top. You can see that the Spring Company realtors also emphasized the neighborhood's proximity to three golf courses (Edina Country Club, Meadowbrook and Interlachen.) Although the brochure is undated, it points out the "new high school," (now the Edina Community Center) which opened in 1949.
I love to see how neighborhoods were marketed, with sample home exteriors and floor plans. Does anyone recognize their home in this design?
"The Trend Home - The first consideration in designing the 'Trend Home' was 'What do people in this part of the country like and need?'. A plan consistent with our climate and ways of living. As the house was to be built in 'Edina Highlands,' with its large lots, beautiful views and rolling country-side, we knew the prospective owner would live a relaxed country life."
Many of the maps in the exhibit come to us from the private collection of Frank Cardarelle, a fourth generation Edina resident and a second generation surveyor. His father platted the first Highlands addition, and Frank joined him after he graduated from that "new high school" in 1951 to plat the remaining additions.
How great is it that we have a photo of Frank presenting a map program last year to kids who live in the Highlans neighborhood? From those enthusiastic hands in the air, it looks like these Highlands Elementary second graders love maps as much as I do. (Thanks, Marcia Friedman with Edina Public Schools for sharing this photo with us.)
  • Book a program with Frank Cardarelle now to hear how your neighborhood developed. The group program is free, but please provide several weeks advance notice to give Frank time to tailor a program to your neighborhood. We're booking dates now from April to September 2014. email me or call 612-928-4577 for more information.
  • Do you have any maps or real estate brochures to share? We have a great collection between the Edina Historical Society archives and Frank's personal records, but we'd love to add to the collection. 

Who bowled at Gus Young's? Apparently everyone, according to "Twin City Tenpin," a small newspaper on file at the Minnesota Historical Society.

The bowling alley and billiards hall at 4101 West 50th Street brought in more than 3,150 bowlers each week, said the Oct. 22, 1964 issue of the now defunct publication. Gus Young was quoted as having more than 700 teams involved in 60 leagues.

"It is Gus' belief that he has more women's leagues than any other house in the city," the story states. Perhaps because he offered child care on site.
Approximately 128 youngsters take to the lanes every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday "under the direction of four capable instructors and coaches:" Dave Goggins, Junior Boys; Grace Chelman, Junior Girls; June Nelson, Junior Girls; and Alfreda Addy, Bantam Boys. Gus also sponsored a Junior Traveling League.

The bowling alley also had a snack bar and restaurant, with everything from "just light snacks to a full course meal, prepared for you exactly as you like it. Beer and other beverages are available on order."

Gus Young was most notably a basketball coach at Gustavus Adolphus College (1949-1957), but throughout the years he also spent time bowling and owning bowling alleys.

Gus Young's entry into the bowling business began when he was head of intramural activities at Carleton College. Because he had to ferry kids to the closest bowling alley in Faribault from Northfield, he ended up being late for a date with his girlfriend Evelyn (who later became his wife.) Evelyn suggested opening up a bowling alley in Northfield, so Gus did. He was proprieter of the Varsity Bowl until 1943 when he joined the Navy during World War II.

In 1957, he bought the Austin Bowl that he later sold to open Biltmore Lanes in 1959.
I haven't researched when the bowling alley closed, but I do know Gus Young died in 1977.

Thanks to Jeanne Andersen, friend and colleague at the St. Louis Park Historical Society, for bringing in the photocopied story.

  • Were you one of the thousands of people who bowled at Gus Young's? Please comment here with your memories there or any other Edina bowling alley. Please contact me if you have photos of your bowling league or clippings of your own to share.

  • I'd love to see original photos by Bill Moore that ran in this story. Even though these are grainy microfilm photocopies, they're still pretty cool. I have been unable to hunt down either the photographer or anyone associated with Twin City Tenpin. If you know anything more, please email me.or call 612-928-4577.

    For more photos and info
    on Biltmore Lanes and Gus Young, see blog posts here and here.

As owner of the mill that gave Edina its name, George Millam is arguably one of the most photographed "founding fathers" of Edina.  We have several photos of him in our collection, all taken near the end of his life when the long idle mill was about to be torn down.

Here the 80-year-old sits in his abandoned mill in about 1932. The photo ran in the Minneapolis Tribune.
But those photos don't provide a complete picture of the many decades of George Millam's life in Edina. Thanks to a recent meeting with George's great granddaughters, however, we now have photos from George's life as a young husband and father.

Here the young couple is pictured with early in their married life, with an unidentified daughter, possibly Lillian, who died at age three from drowning in a cistern.
Karen Frederickson, whose grandmother Mary Edna was George and Margaret's daughter, provided additional family photos that help provide a more complete view of the "old miller of Edina." The community called him the miller long after the Edina Mill quit operating due to low water and competition from the Minneapolis industrial mills.

The Millams were among the founding families of Edina. George Millam was one of 47 milling community residents who signed a petition to form the independent village of Edina in 1888. By then, the Scottish immigrant had lived in the community for almost 20 years. He came to Edina in 1869, hired by then-owner of the mill, fellow Scotsman Andrew Craik.

After saving for three years, Millam paid for his sweetheart Margaret Gibb's passage from Scotland to Edina. The couple, married 62 years, would raise nine children, in addition to Lillian. One daughter Mabel would marry Frank K. Willson, from another Edina founding family.

His descendants,along with other families of Edina's founders,will be honored at a Founders' Day program on Thursday, Dec. 12. The community celebration of Edina's Quasquicentennial, or 125th anniversary, will begin with an open house at historic Cahill School and Minnehaha Grange Hall, where the historic 1888 vote took place. The celebration moves across the street to Edina City Hall at 6 p.m. for a social hour and a concert by the Edina Chorale. A 7 p.m. program with short readings and songs that retell "125 years of history in 45 minutes" will be followed by cake in the lobby.

The public is invited to attend all or part of the festivities. The program is a free Quasquicentennial event, sponsored by the City of Edina.

  • What are some historic events in Edina that happened during your lifetime? Edina's history books cover in detail community life until about Southdale's opening in 1956, with a few highlights from the 1970s when Edina transformed from a village to a city. What should future history books cover from the 1950s to present day? Please comment here or email me with your ideas.
  • Our membership newsletter features other photos and a three-page feature on the family. To receive our newsletter with history features and news about our events and programs, become a member today. Memberships start at just $15 per year. Your dues support our work to collect, preserve and tell the history of Edina.
PictureHarry Halvorson during World War II
Much has been said on this blog about those who gave their lives in service to their country. Today on Veterans' Day, let's talk about those who served honorably, came home, had families, and built Edina.

Those who died gave the ultimate sacrifice, and we do not want to diminish their contribution. In fact, the Edina Historical Society has worked with researcher Marshall Schwartz to identify and create biographies of  the 38 Edina residents who died in service for a proposed Veterans' Memorial at Utley Park.

But Edina's history of military service goes beyond those 38 people. Thousands of other veterans left their families and jobs, endured battle, lost friends, suffered injuries and lived to tell the tale.

Or, not tell the tale. Many veterans simply went on with their lives, with their families having no idea of what their war experiences were like.

Harry Halvorson was one of those who didn’t talk much about the war except to say that the Marines who secured the bases where he was stationed and the Seabees who built them were true heroes of exceptional bravery. His own military history might been left unsaid, but his son Jay sat down with his father to document Harry's service in World War II. Jay submitted the following essay for our exhibit, "Edina's Greatest Generation: On the Home Front and the Front Lines" a few years ago.

I supplemented the story with photos and links to other sources for those who want to know more Harry's intersection with big moments in history, like PT boats' key role in cutting of Japanese supplies and atomic bomb testing at the Bikini Atoll
. I hope Harry's story gives you a greater understanding of the war, as told through the experience of one man.

Thank you, veterans.

By Jay Halvorson
Harry Halvorson quit high school at the end of his sophomore year in June of 1941.  He attended Dunwoody Institute, while managing the service station at 38th Street and 24th Avenue at end of the block where he lived.  He often said that by the time he was 17 he was making more money than his father.  He turned 18 in April of 1943 and was drafted in May of that year.

After receiving his draft notice Harry took a camping trip to Ely, Minnesota, with his long time friend Wally Ball.  This trip led to a lifetime of enjoyment of the Minnesota North Shore that has since extended to his great grandchildren.
Advertisement for Great Northern Railway's Empire Builder. Source: Scotty Moore
In July he rode the Empire builder to Sandpoint, Idaho, for basic training at Farragut Naval base.  After basic training he was sent to diesel engine school on the campus Iowa St. University in Ames from October to December.   At the time he thought he was headed for Machinist Mate duty on a submarine, but he couldn’t pass the underwater swimming test even though he was an experienced Minneapolis lake swimmer and diver.

(See this KSPS public television clip (beginning at 31:56 to get an idea of what swimming training was like at Farragut. Actually, the whole documentary about this key WWII naval training base is worth watching.)

So after graduation, after a brief visit with the folks in Minneapolis, he was sent to PT boat school in Melville, Rhode Island.

He trained off the Rhode Island and Massachusetts coast from January to March of 1944.  A PT boat was powered by three massive V12 Packard engines.  His job was to maintain the engines in good running order and to operate them per the Captain’s commands while at sea. 

The first time Harry ever tasted a pizza was during his time in Melville.  Another trainee of Italian heritage from New York City was able to get a pass for a brief home visit.  He returned with homemade pizza for the guys in the barracks to try.  An unforgettable experience!                                              
One of the two surviving operational Liberty ships, the SS Jeremiah O'Brien, at the Golden Gate Bridge. Source: The National Liberty Ship Memorial
In the spring of 1944, upon completion of PT boat training, Harry rode the train across the country to San Francisco.  There he boarded a Liberty ship for the long voyage to New Guinea.  While still within sight of the Golden Gate Bridge, he became seasick and spent his first days at sea either throwing up or lying in his hammock.  Liberty ships were built quickly and cheaply.  The quarters for personal in transit consisted of open area with poles to sling hammocks between.  Seating in the mess area was limited, so often meals were taken standing up.                                                                                                          
USS PT-105 running at high speed, during exercises off the U.S. East Coast with other units of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Five, 12 July 1942 Source: U.S. Navy, via Wikipedia
Upon reaching New Guinea the ship sailed up a wide river for a distance, and Harry was disembarked at a PT boat base.  Early in the war, during the John Kennedy PT109 era, the Navy looked upon PT boat as a low cost way to attack enemy ships.  This soon proved to be suicide for the PT crews so their mission moved to interdiction of enemy supplies.

From the spring of 1944 to the end of the war Harry’s boat served in New Guinea, The Dutch East Indies and the Philippines looking for Japanese supply vessels, mostly at night. 
General Douglas MacArthur’s strategy called for leaping over and cutting off the Japanese whenever possible.  This left many small numbers of Japanese cut off far behind the “front.”  The Japanese command attempted to resupply these garrisons via boat of barge at night.  The PT boat’s mission was to stop this resupply effort.

When the war ended in August of 1945 Harry’s squadron was in the Philippines.  The War Department had no further need for PT boats so after removing anything of value, they were set on fire and cast adrift. 

Harry was home for Christmas of 1945
, returning on an aircraft carrier with plane decks refitted with bunks, but his time in the service was not complete.
'Able'', atomic bomb detonated in 1946 by the US Army. Source: U.S. Navy, via Wikipedia
In early 1946 he returned to the South Pacific.  He was the Motor Machinist mate on a crash boat on Bikini Atoll.  At the end of the war the U.S. War Department was anxious to further test atomic bombs.  They had several captured ships Japanese along with obsolete US ships brought to Bikini Atoll to test the effects of an atomic bomb.  It took several months for all of the ships to arrive and for all of the other planning that goes into such a large undertaking. 

During this period Harry operated the motors on a crash boat.  The mission of the crash boat was to keep the sea plane landing area clear of debris and to take anyone arriving via seaplane to their destination.  Only two others served on the crew of the crash boat, an officer and a boson’s mate.  They patrolled the landing area ahead of any expected sea plane landings for floating debris of which they found plenty.  Instead of pulling aboard whatever they found, the boson’s mate would blast it to bites with a .50 caliber machine because a virtually inexhaustible supply of ammunition had been left on the island at the end of the war. Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal was one of Harry’s passengers at this time.  He paid him a very nice compliment about how clean and neat the boat was.The bomb test took place on July 1st, of 1946. 

Soon after the Navy was interested in reducing manpower so Harry was able to get a discharge several months early.  After working in a test center in Seattle he was discharged on Dec. 28, 1946.

In the fall of 1947 Harry married his sister’s best friend, Bev,
whom he had met while home on leave in December of 1945.  Due to the huge post war demand for houses, they lived in a series of rented rooms until the finally moved into a small house on 17th Avenue in South Minneapolis in November of 1949.               

By 1954 Bev and Harry had three children and another one on the way.  It was time for a bigger house.  Harry’s uncle, Nels Pearson, was building houses in Brookview Heights at that time.  The Pearsons had moved into 6601 Warren Avenue during the summer of that year.  During a Sunday visit to the Pearson’s, Bev and Harry took a look at the other houses just beginning construction on Warren Avenue and decided to buy the one at 6609.  
In those days Brookview Heights, with the exception of a few stands of oaks, was devoid of trees.                   Harry’s father Hans, a Minneapolis park keeper for 32 years, gave a hand in selecting and planting trees and shrubs around the new house.  Hans went to the nursery owned by his old friend Mort Arneson, another former Park Board employee, to buy the needed greenery for the new yard.

Bev and Harry brought children 4, 5 and 6 home to 6609 Warren Avenue and lived there until he retired to Oregon in 1973.  
  • To honor the veteran in your life, take an hour or two to interview him or her. For some tips on getting started and a list of questions, see the Library of Congress website. Even if you're not familiar with military history, anyone can ask the questions that range from training to meals to friendships made.
  • Your history might unveil some surprising history. For those of you who help make pizza a $3 billion per year business, you may be surprised that most Midwesterners had not eaten pizza until after World War II.  Harry, like many American GIs, discovered pizza while stationed in the Italian areas of the United States or overseas in Italy. For more on the history of pizza, see Ed Levine's story on Serious Eats website.
  • We'd love to include the history of your Edina veteran in our collection. Please consider donating a copy of your interview or story the Edina Historical Society. For more information, email me or call me at 612-928-4577. In the meantime, comment here or on our Facebook page to honor any military veteran.
Edina History Museum's next exhibit is..... drumroll please... "Edina on the Map."

If you love maps as much as I do, I know I have your attention. But for those of you yawning, recalling those map exercises in elementary school where you had to find longitude and latitude and estimate travel times, you'll still love this exhibit.

How could you not with old real estate brochures and maps like this?
La Buena Vista (Spanish for "beautiful view") is described as "120 Acres of Beautiful, rolling, wooded open countryside, that has been platted into 125 choice homesites. Some picturesque lots on spring-fed Nine Mile Creek."
The real estate brochure emphasizes the subdivision's choice location that provides "country living with city conveniences." The large map (right) shows that while Edina is in the spacious countryside, it's also close to jobs and attractions in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

For those who can't quite place where La Buena Vista subdivision is, here's a Google map of the area and its surroundings.
Subdivision names sometimes are remembered as long as it takes the ink to dry on a plat map. In fact, many residents don't know the official names of their subdivisions; instead, they reference an area landmark or street name when giving directions.

La Buena Vista is now part of "The Heights," so dubbed in the recent City of Edina neighborhood naming project. (You can see the neighborhood boundary map and learn more about neighborhood associations on the City's website.)

We're still in the development stages of the exhibit, with an expected March 2014 opening date. I now have the fun task of exploring our map collection as well as those of Frank Cardarelle, a second generation Edina surveyor. Between him and his father, they have surveyed most of Edina. The La Buena Vista brochure is just one treasure in his collection that he will share with us for the exhibit.

Look for more great maps in the weeks to come.
  • The exhibit idea comes from the Minnesota Historical Society's former "Minnesota on the Map" exhibit at the Minnesota History Center. Thebook by the same title by David Lanegran is available at bookstores and at Hennepin County Libraries. While MHS looked at the whole state, we'll focus in on Edina.
  • We're inviting neighborhood associations to book a program at the museum, to get an indepth look at how their area has changed over time. The programs are free, but require reservations. Email us for more information on possible dates.
  • Do you have maps of any kind or real estate brochures to share? We're looking for everything from 50th and France shopping maps to streetcar maps to major highway maps. If you're willing to loan or donate the items for our exhibit, please call 612-928-4577 or email me.

Maybe because it's Halloween, but these dolls have a zombie-like appearance, don't they? (Or is it just me watching too many episodes of the "Walking Dead"?)
The dolls are actually beautiful one-of-a-kind figures, hand-carved by artists living in adult shelters in Minnesota during the 1930s. They were collected by public health nurse Bertha Bruschweiler, who lived in Edina at the time.
Bruschweiler provided some of the fabric for the artists to create detailed ethnic costumes. This Dutch boy (below) carries water buckets and has wooden shoes. Other costumes have canes, unique hats, detailed leather shoes and embroidery.
According to paperwork provided by the donor, the artists visited libraries to study the facial features and dress of ethnic groups and then created dolls representing Spain, Russia or a Slavic country, Sweden or a Scandinavian country, Germany and Holland.

The 10 dolls came to us via a circuitous route. Bruschweiler retired and lived in Lake Wales, Florida, in the 1960s.She gave the collection to her neighbor, Mrs. Sam Turner, who in turn donated the collection to the Lake Wales Public Library where it was displayed for several years. As the library recently reassessed its collection, staff decided that the dolls don't represent Lake Wales and asked if we would be interested.

Believe it or not, it was a tough call. Our mission is to collect, preserve and tell the history of Edina, Minnesota. Do these dolls fulfill that mission? Normally, we wouldn't take just any collection just because it was owned by an Edina resident. Our storage space would be overflowing if we did that.

But these were acquired by an Edina woman, who worked directly with the artists in her capacity as a public health nurse. She helped create them by providing materials. They were created by local artists, if not from Edina then from the Minneapolis area.

And it doesn't hurt that the dolls have high display value.

I'm still researching where Bertha Bruschweiler may have worked in the 1930s. I can tell from online research that she worked for Minneapolis Vocational School, from an online 1953 yearbook:

"The average student at Vocational does not realize how much he is tied up with the office staff. All program and attendance cards, as well as re- quests tor excuses, records, bulletins, and announcements, go through the capable hands of the well- trained force in Vocational office. Vocational's school nurse is a very busy person. Not only is Bertha Bruschweiler on call tor First Aid assistance throughout the day, she must arrange tor physicals for new students. assist the doctor who comes every three weeks and take care of clinic, doctor and dental appointments. Mrs. Bruschweiler checks in students who have been absent because of illness. She often winds up a busy day by making necessary home calls..."

What do you think? Do these dolls belong in the Edina Historical Society collection? Do you know anything about Bertha Bruschweiler or her husband William? What "handicapped workshop" may have had artists working on woodcarving in the 1930s?

As always, I'd love to hear from you. Share your thoughts by commenting here or emailing me.
As you would expect of a history museum, our collection includes artifacts that are more than a century old: a wool blanket made from sheep shearing done at the Sly Farm in the 1880s, pieces of the 1857 Edina Mill, a crazy quilt sewn by Morningside pioneer Eliza Grimes and her daughters.

What you might not expect are items that are just weeks old, like this Southdale scarf created for the Grand Reopening of Southdale Center in September.

Bob Kojetin, one of our board members, bought the "very limited edition" scarf designed Jenna Freimuth, winner of the mall's design contest and donated it the same day. It will join other objects, documents and photos in our Southdale collection.

Freimuth said the design is inspired by Southdale and Minnesota's 10,000 lakes. The Simon Youth Foundation receives $20 for each scarf sold. The Scarf also includes a tag stating "Designed Exclusively for Southdale Center" and a "Southdale Center" (below photo) as part of the design.

I'm not sure if any of the scarves are left. Visit Guest Services at the mall for more information.

Do you have any Southdale Center items, new or old, to donate? We'd love to have a complete collection of mall maps, boxes or shopping bags from memorable stores, old employee ID badges or even the giant bird cage that graced Garden Court. What Southdale artifacts should we try to collect and preserve? Comment here or email me with your ideas.
Meet Bob Buresh,  who started as an Edina volunteer firefighter when he was just an 18-year-old high school senior and retired as the city's Public Safety Chief, heading both the police and fire departments.
Bob Buresh, Edina Historical Society photo
Not a bad career path for someone who got involved with the Fire Department as a Boy Scout, along with his friend Bill Feck, another Edina boy who became Fire Chief. They both joined the U.S. Air Force together in 1951 but returned to the department as volunteers after the service. Bob took  a job as a full-time firefighter in 1957 and then worked his way "up the ladder," so to speak, getting promoted to lieutenant in 1963, to captain in 1967, to assistant fire chief in 1968, and chief in 1975. He retired in 1987.

The history of his career -- and the Edina Fire Department -- is told through these artifacts that Buresh donated last week. The 35 items include firefighting turnout gear, his dress uniform blazer and hat, as well as badges, pins, nametags, photo ID card and Village of Edina business cards.
Here's a closer look at a few of the items. Do you notice that some pins have one horn, while others have two or three? As I learned when creating an exhibit with the police and fire departments a few years ago, the horns indicate rank, with one signifying lieutenant, two for captain, three for assistant chief and four for chief. Bob accumulated quite a collection during his long career.
(Can you see Bob's height on his Village of Edina identification badge? He still stands straight and tall at 6-foot-4.)

Bob wore this hat (decorated with the three horns) when he was assistant chief. The dress blazer also indicates rank, with three stars on one sleeve.
I especially like the turnout gear -- the protective clothing worn while fighting fires. Both the coat and the hat look like they've been through a few battles.
Bob also served as head of the Minnesota Fire Chiefs Association, which worked to get a firefighter's memorial at the Minnesota Capitol. This is replica, the first in a series of 700. The firefighter wears No. 10 on his hat, the same number as Bob's when he was Edina chief.
Several years ago, one of our volunteers Bob Reid did an oral history with Bob Buresh and other fire chiefs to get a history of the department. I think it's time for another interview, this time to focus in on Buresh's childhood. Bob had some great stories to tell about ski jumping as a kid in Edina.

"You mean the one at Hyland Park in Bloomington?" I asked.

Nope, the one off Skyline Drive in Edina in the late 1930s, he said, when the area still was undeveloped countryside.

The news even surprised one of our board members Bob Kojetin, who never heard tales of an Edina ski jump while he was Park and Rec Director, albeit decades later.

(Yes, there are three Bobs in this story, in case you're counting: Bob Reid, Bob Buresh and Bob Kojetin.)

Now that you've met Bob Buresh, I'm sure you'll see more of him as we find out more about these great Edina Fire Department artifacts and hear more stories about growing up in Edina.

What can you tell me about ski jumping or firefighting in Edina? Isn't this a cool collection? Share your thoughts with us by commenting here or emailing me.
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"Monday Mashup" is a roundup of reader comments with a few observations of my own.

The recent essay by John Reid, Streetcar days in Morningside, elicited some memories for Carole Whalen Wenborg, who wrote:
I was a Bluebird and, later, a Camp Fire Girl in St. Louis Park  for several years. We used to have streetcar parties that were great fun. For a price we could rent a streetcar, fill it up with friends and food, add a battery powered phonograph and a pile of 45's and we were good to go. For an hour or more we were transported around town in a mobile party room, dancing and eating. Of course, there were adults on board and I believe they enjoyed themselves as much as we junior highers. Such fun!

I hadn't heard about the mobile streetcar parties before. Thanks for writing, Carole!
Daniel G wrote:
Wonderful article. I've been researching the early history of the streetcar in Edina, and it's easy to get focused on dates, corporate names, mile markers, and other "facts and figures." I thought this was a fascinating and refreshing perspective on how the streetcars affected real people. Thanks for posting it! (BTW, that TCRT streetcar now in San Francisco turns around at a loop right near my house).

Yes! Accurate dates and data are important in historical research, but memories really show how the culture was affected by historical events. I'd love to see your research when you're done, and in the meantime, here are some more fun memories from Edina residents, who wrote essays for our "Streetcar Memories" exhibit in 2004, 50 years after the last streetcar ran in Edina.
Tom Divine standing with his family at his Edina home on North Street.
In the mid 1930s, our family rented a farm house on what is now North Street. The back yard abutted the streetcar tracks. The house is still there. It has been upgraded, and is now very charming. To the west of the house was a dirt road that runs along Minnehaha Creek. It didn’t have the name at that time. My Dad would catch the streetcar at Brookside Avenue to go work in a machine shop off East Hennepin Avenue. He was a machinist and worked long hours during the Depression. On the return home, he always sat on the left hand seats. Mother would send us out in the back yard to see if Dad was sound asleep leaning against the window. We would know then that he would be going all the way out to the end of the line in Hopkins and he would be about a half hour late for dinner.
  – Tom Divine, Edina
Friday nights in the fall the high school football games were played at Nicollet Field and the Selby-Lake cars were loaded to the gills with kids. I remember jumping out the window to get out of paying my token when we got to Nicollet. I really did it because I thought it was daring and a sort of wild thing to do. We girls didn’t have much imagination about being wild in those days.
–    Kathleen Wetherall, a former student at St. Margaret’s Academy in Minneapolis

On many a late winter afternoon, I would be riding home on the streetcar in the early darkness. After a long day at the U and trying to read some assignment for the next day – I would succumb to the carbon monoxide fumes and fall asleep. More often than not, I’d miss my stop at 43rd and Upton only to be awakened by the conductor at the end of the line, which was 54th and France. At that point, the only alternative was to put another token in the fare box and ride back to my stop hoping I hadn’t missed supper.
– Joe Sullivan, Edina

Note: You may know Joe Sullivan as the author of the great history features in the City of Edina's quarterly publication "About Town."

When the 1950s started and I was nearing the end of grade school, there was a streetcar way to mark the passage to manhood. More and more I would pass by empty seats to stand on the back platform. It was a men’s only stronghold where guys of all ages would lean against the circle of windows, smoking, talking and importantly hanging out. At the time, I had no idea that this culture, along with the whole experience of trolley, was about to be uprooted.
– Tom Clark of Edina

It would not come as a surprise to me if ten years of my first 20 were spent on the Como-Harriet streetcar.  (It was not known as a trolley!)  Travels to church, downtown, the ‘U’ for the Youth Symphony Series, the state fair and college.   At least twice a week trips were the norm for a one-car family who lived two miles from the end of the line. 

Never to be forgotten were trying to get the seat with the heater on the floor during the winter, the open back platform for the smokers and the clink of that 10 cent token hitting the silver dome in the coin counter.
– Mary Westerberg Fenlason, Edina

Summer and winter we went about our business in any weather. I love to think about the ride along the “freeway” by Harriet and Calhoun in summer when the Motorman would open the throttle full bore. The car would rock and the wind felt so good on a hot night. That was air conditioning of the day.

I even used the car to go from home to home on my Public Health rotation during nursing school. That was COLD to wait for the car as we didn’t have such nice warm clothes as we have now. Wool in the wind offered little protection. In winter, the car was warm and welcoming after the wait on some corner.
– Lila Borst Larson, Edina
When they weren't using the streetcar, the Grunnet family drove this vehicle parked at their home on Sunnyside Avenue in Morningside.
In 1933 we moved to Morningside about a block west of the Westgate Theater site. There we had a choice of services with the Como Hopkins running along its own right of way on the South side of 44th Street, the Como-Harriet to 54th and France coming down France Avenue and the Como Harriet ending at its own loop just east of 44th and France.

The favorite place to wait for the streetcar was initially inside (or just outside) the front door of Lars Belleson’s Country Club Market.

This store was the forerunner of the Country Club Market chain formed when Lars sold out to go into the haberdashery business on 50th Street. We could see the Como Hopkins coming far enough in advance to run across the street if it arrived first.
– James Grunnet, Edina
Did these stories prompt any memories? We'd love to hear from you. Please comment below or email me. Happy Monday, everyone!
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Whew! The doors just closed and we've sold the last of our advance tickets for tomorrow's Edina Historic Home Tour. We will have a fantastic turnout and (fingers crossed) great weather for a tour.

Since I am now locking up and going home, I thought I'd answer a few questions that have come up today,

I ordered online - how do I get my ticket? Check in at any of the three homes (addresses are on your receipt and listed below) to pick up your ticket. We do have a list of online reservations, but please bring your receipt in case there are any questions.

Where can I buy tickets the day of the tour? The addresses weren't listed in any of the newspapers.

You can buy tickets at any of the three homes tomorrow only, from 1 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $20; please note that we accept cash or check only. 

The homes are (see map here)
1886 Baird house - 4400 West 50th Street
1929 Country Club District Mediterranean - 4506 Arden Ave
1912 Morningside bungalow - 4006 44th Street West

We deliberately did not publish the addresses in advance. People have been known to knock on homeowners' doors and ask to buy tickets in the weeks before a tour, and we didn't want our wonderful tour participants to have to field ticket questions every day leading up to the tour.

Do children need a ticket? Yes.

Where can I park? You may park at Wooddale Park, at the intersection of Wooddale Avenue and West 50th Street and on the street where allowed. Because the three homes are close together, please consider walking or biking between homes.

Thanks to the great organization skills of tour chair Dianne Plunkett Latham, we've had very few questions. We're also fortunate to have volunteer docents from three awesome community organizations - Edina Garden Council, League of Women Voters of Edina and Morningside Woman's Club -- who will be available at each house to answer questions.

Before you head out to the tour, please note:
  • Please do not walk through the neighbors' lawns as you travel between homes. Great tours depend on the goodwill of the neighborhoods, who put up with an afternoon of traffic, so please help us ensure that we can do more home tours in the future.
  • We will be selling "Greetings from Edina" postcard T-shirts at the Baird house, for $15 each, cash or check only. Thanks to Ceil Smith for staffing our Tshirt tab

I will be selling tickets the Baird house tomorrow, so say hello, if you have a chance. I'll be the one with the "Marci Matson" name tag and a big smile because I'm so happy with our turnout for our first Historic Home Tour.
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