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....
Do you remember Carlson's Odd Shop in Morningside? Or Officer Weber, Joyce's Bakery, the cookie lady and Mrs. Glover? Then you're officially an "Morningside Old-Timer." Mark your calendar for a reunion of friends from the neighborhood: Saturday, June 22 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Weber Field warming house.
I have a feeling that there will be a great turnout for this event. More than 250 people returned for a neighborhood reunion back in 2005 during Morningside's centennial, when the Edina Historical Society held a grand opening of "Morningside: A Century of Good Neighbors" exhibit. The annual picnic for current Morningside residents attracts around 300 people each year.
I may not have grown up in Morningside, but I do know one thing: it's a very tight little community, perhaps because it was a separate village for almost 50 years. Even though the neighborhood rejoined Edina in 1966, there will "always be a Morningside," the local paper editorialized after the election to merge Morningside with Edina.
This reunion will be very informal, according to one of the organizers Jim Joyce, with the main goal of reminiscing and renewing acquaintances.
"A few of us 'Old-timey Morningsiders' got to thinking it would be fun to gather together at one of our favorite Morningside hangouts, Weber Field, to see who's still around and try to recall some of those times from our yesterdays of the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s ... and beyond," the reunion press release states."Maybe we talk about things and people such as Hawkins, Carlson Odd Shop, Tastee Treat, Mrs. Glover and Miss Baker, Harold Schwartz, Wayne Courtney, Constable Weber and not to forget 4th of July bike parades at Weber Field, Scout
meetings at Morningside Church, movies atWestgate Theater
, pot belly stove huddling at the skating rink warming shack and early morning treats at Joyce's bakery. Or just hanging out at Vic's Texaco station, Wimmer's (Wimpy's) bike shop and Lake Harriet's north beach and bandstand."
Organizers will set up tables in the warming house on the north side of Weber Field with -- what else? -- Weber grills. People are encouraged to bring food to share, as well as some photographs of family, neighbors, classmates, the village and village characters.
Maybe some of those characters will even show up in person, Jim says. "We are working on opening up what's left of the old Morningside grade school from noon to 1 p.m., in case you want to see where you spent part of your youth with Mrs. Glover, Miss Baker and our other fine teachers and classmates. We don't think Mrs. Hutchinson, the Morningside principal for many years, will be able to make it, but we may be able to arrange for a visit by one of our other teachers from that era."
To RSVP or assist in spreading the word, setting up tables, re-constructing the Fourth of July bicycle parade or bringing in old photos, please contact the Morning for Old-timey Morningsiders (MOM)
Or share your memories here. What makes Morningside a special place to live? Who do you hope shows up at the reunion? If you have photos to share and would like help scanning them, please email me
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.)
Edina resident Bruce Kohn was intrigued when he heard stories of his wife's ancestor Henry Sibley, a fur trader who served as Minnesota's first governor. The more he heard about the man's first wife, a Dakota woman, and her daughter Helen, the more questions he had. He spent the last two decades digging into historical records to flesh out the story, which has now been published as "Dakota Child, Governor's Daughter: The Life of Helen Hastings Sibley." The book is sold at the Edina History Museum gift shop
for $15. Please call the museum at 612-928-4577 or email me to check inventory if you want multiple copies. Bruce lives nearby and can personalize signed copies, upon request.
- The Daughters of the American Revolution recently honored Kohn. See story Dec. 12, 2012 story in Edina Patch.
As I was flipping through old copies of the City of Edina's newsletters from the 1970s and 1980s, a sheet with two photographs fell out. The paper, headlined A.D. Strong Company, shows Jerry's Hardware. With the recent death of owner Jerry Paulsen
, it's only fitting to highlight a Jerry's business this week.
The other photo provides a view to the east down Vernon Avenue or 50th Street
A closer scan of the photo shows Edina Chicken and Pizza, as well as Direct Service.
I published a 1959 photo of the same location
in a previous Photo Friday post. You can read about Olson Brothers drug store, Wong's cafe and Direct Service in that post, but I'll republish the photo here so you can get the side-by-side comparison of 1959 and... well, I'm not sure what year. Any ideas? Since it was with a collection of 1970s and 1980s artifacts, I'm guessing that's the right 20-year period. If you know your cars (or your Edina Chicken and Pizza), you probably can narrow that date down.
And here's how it looked in 2009, from Google maps.
Did you go to Edina Chicken back in the day? What years was it in business? Share your memories of this little corner of "Jerry's World" here oremail me
. Happy Friday, everyone! Looking for something fun to do this weekend? We have a couple of options:
- Braemar Ice Show, Friday and Saturday, April 19 and 20, 6:30 p.m. The 48th annual show salutes Edina's Quasquicentennial, the 125th anniversary of the city's founding. For more information, see our 125th website. The Braemar skaters are amazing and include the 2013 Junior National Championship Team.
- Last chance to see "Growing Up in Edina: A Show and Tell Exhibit" at Edina History Museum. Admission is free. Open Saturday, 10 a.m. to noon, as well as during a special open house on Sunday, April 22. Doors open at 2 p.m. Sunday, followed by a program on "Edina's Hometown Heroes: More than Names in Stone" presented by Marshall Schwartz. A short Annual Meeting will follow refreshments. Everyone is welcome - come to all or part of the festivities. Invite a friend! I had the pleasure of hearing Marshall speak earlier this year, and I thoroughly enjoyed his moving presentation about Edina veterans killed in service to their country. For more info, see our Programs page.
The Edina Historical Society would like to invite all of you to a special event on Sunday. Because we don't have all of you on our mailing list, we're posting our invitation here:
We hope you come. You have probably driven by the Edina History Museum on 70th Street many times and thought, "I should go there someday." But you're on your way to somewhere else, or we're not open and that "someday" never comes. Make that "someday" this Sunday, when we will open our doors at 2 p.m. to give visitors a last chance to see our popular "Growing Up in Edina" exhibit before it closes April 27. Bring your family or old friends and remember your childhood (gravel pits, Queen Anne Kiddieland, the Puppet Wagon, Clancy's and more are part of the exhibit.) At 2:30 p.m., listen to a moving presentation on "Remembering Edina's Fallen Veterans: More than Names in Stone" by Marshall Schwartz. Sometimes we book speakers only on the recommendation of other groups, but I had the pleasure of hearing Marshall's talk earlier this year and can personally give it "two thumbs up." Having spent hundreds of hours researching the names of Edina veterans killed in service to their country for the proposed Edina Veterans' Memorial, Marshall learned fascinating stories about these hometown heroes.
After a short refreshment break, the Edina Historical Society will hold a brief annual meeting
, that will include highlights of the year from "Schoolmarm" Jan Solomonson
, an interpreter at our living history field trip programs at Cahill School and Minnehaha Grange. Of course, I'll be there and would be happy to talk to you in person. Meet our board members as well. Come for all or part of the day's festivities. Admission, as always, is free. Everyone is welcome - bring a friend!
- Thanks to sponsorship by Skip and Debbie Thomas, we were able to mail invitations to our membership. Skip, who has been active in many community organizations, recently joined the Edina Historical Society Board of Directors.
- A separate organization is planning and funding the memorial, proposed for Utley Park. For more information about the project, contact the Edina Park Board's Veterans Memorial Committee. More info at the City of Edina website.
- Marshall Schwartz, a member of the Veteran's Committee as well as the EHS Board, donated his research to the Edina History Museum and wrote a book about Edina veterans. The spiral bound book will be sold at cost (estimated $12) at Sunday's event.
- To read more about Edina veterans, see our Issue 1, 2011 newsletter featuring moving stories from Marshall's research.
Card catalogs like this one have become a hot decorating trend, now that most libraries have abandoned paper indexes in favor of computers. Lately, I've seen old card catalogs re purposed into everything from liquor cabinets
to jewelry boxes
. Because our building houses the Edina History Museum as well as a research library, many visitors mistake ours for an historic artifact part of some exhibit.
Au contraire. Ours is still frequently used by researchers. The drawers house the index to The Crier, the monthly newspaper for the Country Club District, published between 1930 and 1941.
Early on in our organization's history, an Edina Historical Society archivist and volunteers combed through each issue and painstakingly typed an index card for every article, topic and person named in the newspaper.
Even if someone was mentioned once, in just one sentence of a Society column, we have a card listing his name, as well as the headline of the story and month, year and page the story appeared.
I wish everything in our collection had such a detailed finding aid. While it's not part of an official exhibit, the card catalog does prompt visitors to remember Edina's libraries, from librarian Mrs. Vinson at the Morningside Library to the
cozy reading nooks at the first Edina Library, housed in pioneer James Bull's converted house. People who grew up before the age of computers remember flipping through the card catalog to find books by their favorite author or find books on a particular topic for a term paper. They even recall the smell of old books and the ink from the "date due" stamper. One day, I suppose, the Criers will be scanned and easily searched by computer. We won't need our card catalog for research purposes, but
we'll no doubt find a spot in some exhibit for an artifact that prompts so many memories.
- For more on the history of Edina's libraries, see Joe Sullivan's story in the Winter 2004 issue of About Town, the city's quarterly newsletter.
- This week is National Library Week (April 14-20). See what's happening at Edina libraries by checking the Hennepin County Library website.
- Visit our research library! Besides The Crier, our library houses yearbooks, phone books, photographs, maps, house records, books and many other items. Research your home, neighborhood, family, community organization or just browse for fun. See here for hours and directions.
I have made no secret about my love of old phone books. (See blog post on our collection here
.) Because the earlier ones list everything from the head of household's occupation to the names and ages of everyone at the address, researchers use them for everything from writing house histories to finding classmates for school reunions. Our collection begins in 1931, and the first few books list only residents of the Country Club District. As more people throughout the community had phones, the directories encompassed the rest of the Village. Before phones, major cities still published "city directories" listing residents by name, occupation and address. I was excited (yes, really) to see that the Hennepin County Library now has Minneapolis directories from 1859-1917 available online
. I had been meaning to look through the library's microfiche collection, but somehow I have never made it downtown to browse just for fun. The online collection is part of the library's Minneapolis History Special Collection, that also includes photos, yearbooks, house files, and more. You don't even need a library card to access the directories, and searching is free.
You can look at each book page by page. Or, by clicking on the "Simple Search" tab, you can look for relatives by name or search for residents of a particular address.
I searched for "Edina" and came up with some names - notables like Frank and G.A. (George) Code. (I wrote about the family our regular monthly feature in Edina Magazine here
.) You can see that occupation is listed back then too. The Codes' work as "gardener City market" is easier to understand than some job titles (like "smutter," for example.)
Searching for Edina, technically not part of Minneapolis proper, takes a little creativity. Keep in mind that Edina was part of Richfield until 1888, although some people are listed as living in "Edina Mills" prior to that date. You also typically won't get specific street addresses for Edina because... well, Edina didn't have much for streets back then. With some searching, I found all the residents of Rural Route No. 2 listed in the 1903 Minneapolis directory.
Perhaps you can tell that it's easy to kill an hour or two looking through the city directories. I had a good time just looking at the ads alone.
I know I'm not the only geek -- er, researcher -- who loves them. Our collection gets a lot of use, and I'm sure the Hennepin County Library's will get even more as people can browse through them from the comfort of their own homes. Have fun!
- The Edina Historical Society recently received a grant from Edina Rotary to purchase scanners to begin digitizing our collection. We need additional funding to purchase updated software and computers. Our newest PC is more than four years old. Our oldest is about 12 years old. (Some visitors have suggested that we put our office equipment on display as historic artifacts!) If you would like to chip in a few dollars for this high-demand project, please donate via credit card at our GiveMN site or send a check to Edina Historical Society, 4711 West 70th Street, Edina, MN 55435. Thank you to Edina Rotary!
I had a great view of winter when I looked out my office window this morning.
Too bad it's spring.
Yes, for those of you Edina snowbirds basking in the sun, your hometown experienced a snowstorm this morning. I'll leave it to the meteorologists to review past records, but based on news reports last night (and some hazy memories), spring snowstorms aren't that unusual historically. This is Minnesota, after all. We're used to a little bad weather.
Amidst some complaining via Twitter, students attended school as usual. Traffic moved -- albeit slowly -- along Highway 100. Edina snowplow drivers had the roads cleared and lived up their stellar reputation.
Near midday, the snow paused. People walked in the winter -- uh, make that spring -- wonderland of Arneson Acres Park.
Visitors even made it to the museum to see "Growing Up in Edina: A Show and Tell Exhibit" before it closes April 27. And I assisted a researcher, who was looking through our Park and Rec files.
Somewhat ironically, we found this story on indoor Edinborough Park in the Sunday Magazine section of the Star Tribune, Oct. 25, 1987.
The cover photo showed how our definition of winter might change, now that we had a warm park all year around.
Just for fun, we changed things around a little to reflect the snowstorm today.
See what we did there? Happy spring, everyone!