This is how old school photos usually look. Look at the straight lines. The excellent posture. The well-behaved children.
Now look at this 1912 photo (below) at the same building, the Edina School, which was located near the site of today's City Hall. Note the chaos. The goofy faces. The laughter.
I love it. Although most school photos from this era show a somber group of children, this one "is quite fun as there are a lot of antics going on with the group," Carol Hansen noted when she emailed me the photo. I couldn't have put it better myself.
As I zoom in closer it looks like this group is boys only. I can see a couple of girls at the far right, most likely waiting their turn for a photo. Although this photo was taken one hundred years ago, the boys act no different than those today who are asked to pose for a group photo. (Yes, I have a son and three brothers. I know from personal experience.)
The top row (above photo) far right is Phil Bailey, Carol's uncle. Below him in the white hat and scarf is her uncle Harry Hansen. The bottom row (below photo), far right in dark hat and clothes is her father Ernie Hansen.
These boys grew up and stayed in Edina. "All three men were part of the volunteer fire department and eventually part of the Fire Department after it was full time," Carol writes. "I guess it was the family business after farming."
They are somewhere in this group photo of Edina's first volunteer fire department. Don't they still look like a fun group of guys?
If you can help identify anyone in this photo, please email me or comment on this post.
Please note: I know you careful readers will probably have noticed that the first two photos look like they're taken at different buildings. The windows are different, and the first building is brick and the second is stucco. The Edina School, built in 1888, was remodeled several time to accommodate the ever-growing population of the brand-new village. The "yellow brick" school became the gray stucco school, and eventually lost its bell tower. Two new schools -- Morningside and Wooddale -- were built in 1924 to replace the overcrowded Edina School.
For a year and a half, a tall bank robber who often wore a floppy-brimmed fishing hat broke state records by committing 23 robberies in Minnesota. Dubbed the "Fishing Hat Bandit," John D. Whitrock was arrested in Edina and credit union president Dean Wickstrom helped reel him in.
In return, he received a fishing hat autographed by Whitrock along with a letter that apologized for his "illegal withdrawal."
Wickstrom framed the two items along with the story about the arrest and displayed them for a time at
Real Financial Center, where Wickstrom helped bring the bandit's bank-robbing spree to an end in January 2005.
Wickstrom loaned the display board to the Edina History Museum for our 2007 exhibit about Edina's police and fire history. Visitors commented so much on the "Fishing Hat Bandit" items that we also included them in the next exhibit on Edina's early suburban history.
Here is a copy of the infamous hat. Wickstrom had asked for the real thing, but the FBI told him the hat was "evidence." The man known for his polite demeanor during his robberies decided to send him an autographed duplicate.
Here's his letter that arrived with the hat.
The loaned display has now been returned to Wickstrom, who will loan it to the Edina Police Department for its City Hall display of artifacts from the city's police history. Police officer Kevin Rofidal, who was instrumental in putting together our exhibit on the police and fire departments, has collected items and stories for the permanent display case at the police station.
For more information on the fishing hat bandit, see these online resources:
Today will be hot. Maybe not hot by equatorial standards, but by Minnesota averages, today's temperatures will be uncomfortably high.
As you sit in your air-conditioned home, think about the kids of 1959. Although many homes had a window air-conditioner, most did not have central air. The best way to cool off was the new Edina pool, located at Lake Cornelia Park near 66th and France. Attendance averaged more than 4,000 per day, as you can see by these long lines.
These photos were taken for City's Tax Assessor files. Here's another look at the lines on the other side of the building.
Here is the back of the diving board and access to the mechanicals underneath the pool.
And here is a view from inside the pool.
It's Friday. It's hot - still a perfect kind of day for the pool.
Would you rather live on 43 1/2 Street or Morningside Road?
E. Dudley Parsons, one of Morningside neighborhood's first residents, thought Morningside Road just sounded better than 43 1/2 Street. "It seemed to me that this was a most clumsy designation for a thoroughfare," he recalled in 1938 for his "The Morningsider" column in the Hennepin County Review.
Because of his efforts, the roadway that was platted as 43 1/2 Street in 1905 was renamed Morningside Road in 1911 by the Edina Village Council.
Here's the strange part: there was no 43rd Street in Morningside, then or now. So why wasn't the road just named 43rd; why include the 1/2?
Parsons answered that question in an oral history interview: "On the original plat of Morningside there was proposed a 43rd Street that was to run through the area from France Avenue to Wooddale, just along the edge of the slope. The street, however, remained only 'theoretical.'"
As you can see by the Google map below, Morningside does have fairly long blocks, comparatively speaking. Forty-Third Street was intended to run mid-point of Alden Drive and Scott Terrace (as a continuation of 43rd Street in Minneapolis), but was never built, most likely because the hilly topography wasn't conducive to putting a street there.
"There was no 42nd Street at all during the early period," Parsons also noted. "Alden Drive ended in a pile of sand, in fact right below our house."
St. Louis Park also designated the street as Morningside Road, but it strangely called the short street just south of Morningside Road 43 1/2 Street.
Note: Thank you to researcher Dan Lapham, who found the Parsons column while reading through the Hennepin County Review newspapers and brought it to my attention. The newspapers are housed at the Hopkins Historical Society.
Hawkins Confectionery, at the northwest corner of 44th Street and France Avenue, sold fireworks around July 4th every year. Although people flocked to the stand, as this 1930 photo shows, Morningside Village Council minutes indicate that at least some residents didn't want fireworks sold in their community. The last year exploding fireworks were allowed was 1941, until they were outlawed, in large part because of the writings of popular Minneapolis Tribune columnist (and Edina resident) Cedric Adams.
Where did you get your fireworks (and set them off)? What is an important part of the July 4th celebration for you and your family?
Meet Charles Reynolds and family. They're the proud homeowners of the first house built on France Avenue in the newly platted Morningside neighborhood. Built in 1905 at 4300 France Avenue -- back when France Avenue was a dirt road -- the house still stands today. (See Google maps image below)
The house was included in our recent walking tour of Morningside, co-sponsored with the Linden Hills History Study Group and led by Peter Sussman. Because the porch is now enclosed, I didn't immediately recognize the Reynolds' house, although I had seen the photo many times and written about it for our 2005 Morningside exhibit.
I love the original photo because it includes the family: a young couple and their first child, who grew up saying she was the first child born in Morningside, according to Sussman. It would be hard to prove or disprove the girl's claim, but it seems likely.
Do you have a photo of your family standing in front of your house? We have one of my husband and me standing by the Edina Realty "SOLD" sign at the curb with the house in the background. I don't have one that includes our children, who were born later. I'll have to remedy that and take a family photo this weekend, even though my kids might roll their eyes and wonder why.
My answer, which you would think they would have memorized by now, is: you'll appreciate this some day.
I know this because so many visitors come to the museum looking for their childhood. They love seeing our photos of the house they grew up in. Once they see the image, they remember things like the huge front tree started out as a tiny seedling or the garage had yet to be built.
But one thing is missing from our photos. The city Tax Assessor files show the houses: the bricks and mortar, and often even cars in the driveway but usually no people. A few of the older photos in our collection, like this one of the Reynolds family, show residents with their homes.
Do you have a great photo of your family at your Edina home? I'd love to see it. Call me at 612-928-4577 or email me to tell me about yours.
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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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