It's about this time of year that we get a call or two from someone digging up their flower garden and finding a spike or railroad tie in their yard. How did it get there?
Was there a dump on their property? Or did a railroad once run across their land?
Actually, for residents living around 44th Street, the archeological treasures are more likely from the Como-Harriet streetcar line, which took passengers to points throughout the Twin Cities. The route ran as far as Lake Minnetonka to the West and White Bear Lake to the East and all points in between. Edina's Morningside neighborhood developed as a "streetcar suburb" when it was extended to Edina in 1905.
Sadly, the streetcar quit running in 1954 and homes were built on top of the route and right of way. Now that more than 50 years have passed, new residents don't see any evidence of the once popular form of travel - until they plant a rose or tulip bed and discover pieces from Edina's past.
Want to find out more? Check out a couple of great books by Aaron Isaacs: "Twin Cities by Trolley" and "The Como-Harriet Streetcar Line: A Memory Trip Through the Twin Cities." Both are packed with photos and maps. Our gift shop sells the Como-Harriet book (see Gifts); both are in bookstores and are available at Hennepin County Libraries as well.
A picture is worth a thousand words when it comes to describing Carlson's Odd Shop, a longtime 44th and France business. Although many people shopped there regularly, no one had photos of the legendary interior. The Edina Historical Society searched and found the owner's daughter, who was happy to donate this photo and several others.
My family and I just returned from a weekend trip to see relatives in North Dakota. Part of our road trip tradition is driving through my husband's hometown of Fargo and hearing him narrate a tour of significant landmarks from his childhood.
We drive by his home, his grandparent's home, the neighborhood park, the favorite family restaurant (now under a different name) and Hornbacher's grocery store where he and his buddy would bike to get their famous peanut butter rolls. We also drive by places that no longer exist; the municipal pool his grandfather built is now an asphalt playground.
As important as these places are to him, only the family homes show up in any of his photo albums. Just as today we don't take photos of going through McDonald's drive-through or shopping at Target, people didn't take photos of their everyday haunts back then either. Only time and change has made those places significant to us.
People come to the Edina History Museum to find photos of those everyday places from their past. High school reunion groups want pictures of the places they hung out Friday after football games. Grown-ups want to see pictures of dirt roads they biked as children. Everyone wants to show their kids how indescribably full Carlson's Odd Shop was.
We have thousands of photos, but not every Edina place and time period is in our collection. Because we connected with the owner's daughter, we do have photos of the interior of Carlson's Odd Shop - but we don't have any of Joyce's Bakery next door.
Even with small camera phones, people simply don't take photos in stores and restaurants, unless they're on vacation. If you are that rare person who did take photos of your hometown haunts, I'd love to talk with you!
My kids and I are going to drive through town this summer and take photos of their significant landmarks and everyday activities. Who knows? Someday, they'll take their kids on a road trip and find their house torn down or remodeled beyond recognition. Perkin's will be a vegan restaurant, and their school turned into condominiums. As author Annie Dillard wrote, "How we live our days is how we live our lives." Although we take photos of special occasions, our life history is defined by those everyday moments.
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Jennifer Adam is the Executive Director of the Edina Historical Society. She welcomes your contributions. Comment on a post or send an email (see below). Traditional mail, of course, can also be sent to:
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Help us bring you Edina history with this web site by becoming a member or donating today. Click on the link to our GiveMN.org site to make a donation with a credit card. The Edina Historical Society is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that depends on contributions to continue operation.