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.
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.
"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.
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
ROCKED TO SLEEP
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."
A MEN'S ONLY STRONGHOLD
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
WAITING IN BELLESON’S
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!
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:
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.
Most school children today have dined at tables that fold up and roll away when lunch time is over. But, back in the 1950s, it was a revolutionary new concept invented by Edina resident Kermit Wilson.
Wilson envisioned a need for space-saving equipment in schools that would soon be overcrowded by the exploding post-war “baby boom.” His response was a foldable table that freed school lunchrooms for additional uses.
Wilson also made bleachers, including those installed at Edina’s first high school that lasted more than 50 years. Edina firefighters also slept on foldaway Murphy beds designed by
Wilson moved his infant company SICO Manufacturing to Edina in 1954, and leased space at a 33,000 square foot at 5215 Eden Avenue in the Grandview Area. The company broke ground for a new building at 7525 Cahill Road in 1967.
Today, the company makes portable dance floors, foldable stage platforms, foldable conference tables and more sold throughout the world.
Wilson was involved in local organizations and helped form the new Edina Community Foundation.
Some of the "Then and Now" photo pairings showcased in "EdinaScapes" exhibit, now on display at the Edina History Museum. Current scenes photographed by Chip Jones.
Photographer Chip Jones clearly remembers his first camera: a Minolta XG-1 purchased from Southdale Dayton's photo department when he was attending Edina East High School.
In his mind's eye, he still sees Southdale as it looked during his childhood, with a film counter at Dayton's and the bird cage in the Garden Court.
So when I asked him to shoot the present day scenes of historic photos in our collections, he willingly volunteered for the task. The resulting paired "Then and Now" photos are part of our current "EdinaScapes" exhibit on display at the Edina History Museum until Dec. 21.
We originally envisioned a short-term display, but we both liked the images so much that the photos are nicely framed and part of our permanent collection. You can have a piece of Edina history too: the framed pairs (see right) are available to order for $120 each.
As you can see, Chip shot the present day scenes from the same angle and distance as the historic photos. Linhoff Photo worked with us to print and crop the photos to the same scale to get the look just right..
I love the display. And so have our visitors, who immediately can see what has changed -- and what has stayed the same -- over time.
Chip tromped all over town to scout locations. Some scenes just didn't work, because trees or other buildings obscured the view. But we see the potential in doing more "Then and Now" projects with other photos in our collection.
I'm grateful that a professional photographer volunteered his time and talents, especially someone like Chip, who specializes in landscape photography from a fine arts perspective.
His passion for photography grew while working on his BFA in painting and drawing at the University of Minnesota, from where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. He went on to receive his MFA in Film/Video from CalArts (California Institute of the Arts), a private art school founded by Walt Disney in Los Angeles, California with an advanced curriculum in Art, Dance, Film, Music and Theater.
Chip returned to Edina after college. He is married Megan Maloney, who also grew up in Ediina. He has been active on the Edina Public Art Committee, as well as the Crosstown Camera Club.
In addition to his business in internet marketing, he works with photography clients looking for artistic photos that fit a theme, such as a riverfront condominium wanting fine art photos of the river or a chamber of commerce requesting beautiful photos showing a strong business climate in their community.
His work can be seen locally at Jason's Deli at Centennial Lakes and the Town Planner calendar, as well as private offices. His website also has an Edina gallery.
Chip grew up wanting to paint and draw, but he found his art through the lens of his camera purchased from his hometown shopping mall.
We want your stories for the Edina Reads writing contest. Deadline is Oct. 1. To inspire you, here is a wonderful story from our collection. We shared Chuck Gilbertson's essay about his horse Copper with Edina Sun Current readers during our past "Growing Up in Edina" exhibit, but for those who missed it, here's a sweet boyhood tale from 1950s Edina.
By Chuck Gilbertson
I was eleven years old in 1951, and I wanted to be a cowboy. About a mile from my house in Edina was McNellis Riding Stable at 66th and France Avenue. I rode my bike out to the stables one day and asked Mr. McNellis if I could have a job. “Yes,” he said. “I cannot pay you, but if you want to go riding after you are done working, you can.”
When I got home from work the first day my mother would not let me in the house as my tennis shoes and jeans were covered with manure. Mom hosed me down. My dad asked me all about it and was pleased that I had a job.
I spent the entire summer working for Mr. McNellis. At that time, 66th and France was about the end of Edina, as far as residential communities were concerned. Southdale shopping center did not exist.
(Editor's note: See Historic Aerials website for a view of the dramatic changes at 66th and France from 1947 to 1957. Southdale and related development changed Edina from a rural area with riding stables, chicken coops and dairy farms to a thriving suburb. The image below is from 1947, but use the slider tool at the website to compare and contrast two years. This site is not affiliated with the Edina Historical Society, but it's a great resource for researching land changes over the years and you can purchase prints from them.)TV cowboy Roy Rogers in 1951
Copper was my favorite horse. He was good humored and easy to ride. Mr. McNellis taught me how to bridle and saddle the horses. Quite often he would let me go with him on trail rides. Sometimes Mr. McNellis would let me ride Copper out to the fields in the morning to bring the other horses back to the stable. I felt like a real cowboy.
Summer vacation was coming to an end. Mr. McNellis told me he was going to sell Copper for $75. I rode my bike to the bank and withdrew $75 of my paper route money. Then I went back to the stable and gave Mr. McNellis the money. Riding home down France Avenue I was proud as could be. When I turned on to Brookview Avenue where I lived, all the neighbor women came out in the yards to watch me. My mom came out the front door with her fist in her mouth, which she did when she was nervous. She said, “Oh, Chuckie, what have you done now?”
I put Copper in our one car garage and left the door open. I tied rope back and forth across the opening. A small crowd gathered by my homemade horse stall. My plan was to keep Copper in our garage and ride him to deliver papers down Lakeview Drive and Golf Terrace. When school started, I would ride him to school and tie him to the bike rack.
I am quite sure that dad must have noticed the minute he turned the car onto Brookview as he was coming home from work. He got out of the car and walked toward me asking mom what was going on. She told him.
I was sure he would be proud of me because of his farm background. Instead, he said to me, “Get on that horse this minute and take him back to Old Man McNellis. He is blind in one eye and older than the hills.” Tears started rolling down my cheeks, but I did what I was told. When I got back to the stable, Mr. McNellis was laughing. “I figured you’d be back,” he said as he reached into his pocket for my money. I never saw Copper again.
Chuck Gilbertson lived just over a mile and a half from the McNellis Stables. His trek with Copper back in 1951 took him through a much less populated area than it is today.
We want your stories for the Edina Reads writing contest. Deadline is Oct. 1. To inspire you, here is a wonderful story from our collection.
By John Reid
We moved into the house at the corner of 44th and Grimes in the summer of 1932. Well, it wasn’t quite on the corner, since the streetcar tracks ran on a private right of way next to it. The big yellow cars would come rocketing by every half hour, on their way to Hopkins or to Minneapolis.
They seldom stopped on the inbound trip since an extra fare was charged when they crossed France Avenue - so few folks boarded at Grimes. It could have been a convenience for us, but it was the height (depth?) of the Depression and money was tight. Even the dime fare made a difference in those days. When we were really sick, we did use that stop to board to go to the doctor.
But it was wonderful to have a way to get downtown and back without a car. I was admonished to take “any Como car” to return home on my own from forays with my mother, and ventured on my own when about 11 or 12 years old. The Como Hopkins cars went by the house, the Como Harriet’s turned in the loop at 44th and France and also went on to 50th or to 54th and were turned on the wye there. From then on the downtown library, stores and theaters were accessible to all of us, car-less homemakers and kids alike.
As the winter hit in ‘32 a new phenomenon appeared. The dishes on the pantry shelves started to rattle every time a car passed. It seemed that the frozen ground transmitted the vibrations set up by the heavy cars. The cessation of the phenomenon was a good herald of Spring. The amount of the car’s weight was demonstrated when a car labeled “Oak Harriet” hit a fire truck when going uphill on Upton Ave. The fire truck was tossed on its side into a corner lot and a picture appeared in the paper of it lying there, looking helpless.
The cars had a thick concrete platform in front and back that held them on the track as they made time along the straight stretches near the lakes. Summers were wonderful, with the windows open and the smell of the flowers in the backyards along the route south of 31st. in Minneapolis. Modern light rail is far too antiseptic in comparison. When the PCC cars were put into service after the war they were very unsatisfactory; spooky silent wheels that didn’t have to nice screams on curves, curved walls and roofs that cramped the insides and the windows didn’t open! Just like a bus. I sometimes passed them up to take the next wooden car.
The same 44th and France corner without streetcars today. Image from Google maps.
We kids couldn’t resist playing with the streetcars! The “big kids” who lived there would put pennies on the track. They emerged squashed quite flat and bigger. Stones were also tried. They exploded with a loud bang when they were hit. Once the streetcar stopped and the conductor yelled about it being dangerous. Sometime about then the game of “streetcars are poison” arose. The idea was to hide so that no one on the cars could see you. The one who spotted the oncoming streetcar got points, although there wasn’t much point to the whole thing.
There was some danger to those of us who walked the tracks to get to the stores at 44th and France Ave. Otherwise we had to cross 44th street at the octagonal stop sign, and the cars often didn’t pay much attention to the kids. Using the tracks was faster, and if we didn’t hear the cars they would blast their electric horns, so no one was hit as far as I know. There were a couple of times when cars came from both directions at once when it was best to go over the edge of the embankment to avoid them.
But we did have some excitement the day a big wind blew for hours. As I came from the Morningside School towards home I could see that all of the mothers were out in the street waving things. The poles that held the trolley wire had leaned over until the wire was maybe two feet from the street! We were told to go down to Curve Avenue and cross the tracks there, where the wires were higher and Constable George Weber was directing traffic. At the Grimes crossing the cars were warned away by a lot of hand waving, but something better was needed.
Some of the Boy Scouts brought the tug-of war rope from the church, and slid it under the wire to the moms. They tied it between the posts of the “cross buck” warning signs and festooned it with towels and kerchiefs to make it visible to traffic. One woman came from the Country Club and accelerated as she approached the rope. SHE wasn’t going to stop! All of the assembled crowd yelled and her bumper hit the rope. The big timbers to which it was tied snapped, tossing the cross buck signs toward the car. She did make a panic stop with her bumper maybe an inch from the wire. She just sat there for a minute or so. We finally had to go in for dinner and didn’t see the repair crew, but the line was restored in hours.
During the Depression the “knights of the road” were seen along many rail lines, riding the rails to jobs or to warmer climes. Some of them even came to our back door, asking for a handout. Mother didn’t want to turn them away, and usually could find a job for them to do to earn lunch.
The final removal of the line was during my days at the U of M. I had an old ’33 Plymouth and didn’t use the streetcar much. Of course, if I needed a part from the dealer downtown it was very handy! France Avenue was deteriorating. The city owned it out to the middle, Edina and Morningside owned the other half, the almost bankrupt streetcar company was responsible for maintaining the areas between the tracks and, to cap it all off, it was a State highway. Each partner had others to blame and nothing was done to fix it. The potholes made it so undriveable that Edina simply widened their half into a full size road of new concrete that was entirely on Edina property. The Minneapolis half sat going further to ruin as the months passed.
To stop the streetcars the Edina road crew showed up with tools and disconnected one rail of the track, and lifted it out of place. Some pictures were taken of councilmen watching this. The cars still ran to the loop at 44th, but not for long.
The line is gone now, everyone uses cars and children are shepherded everywhere. The land used by the streetcar line was nice and flat so houses were built along the right of way. But the lots aren’t very wide!
So it seems incredible that we let this entire system disappear. Sometimes even now I dream that I am back in Minneapolis trying to figure out how to get back to Morningside. I am looking for Hennepin Avenue-and on it a big yellow trolley that was somehow saved comes by . . . .
Don't be fooled by the "Minneapolis" in the Biltmore Motor Hotel's advertising literature. The Edina motel was actually located on today's Vernon Avenue (now the site of condominiums at 5250 Vernon) Built in 1954, the hotel served many Edina newcomers, who stayed at the Biltmore while they waited for their new ramblers to be built during the village's suburban boom.
After the Vikings and Twins came to town in the 1960s, the Biltmore also advertised its convenient location to Met Stadium, as you can see in the advertising brochure below.
Here's another page of the brochure that shows the interior: rooms, coffee shop and convention facilities.
Harold Adolphsen, who later owned Hopkins House, attributed the success of his motel to consistent advertising with brochures like these. He and his wife Carolyn, who ran the hotel's gift shop, donated this brochure and other artifacts to us several years ago.
The Biltmore closed in 1984, but with 30 years as a Edina mainstay, many generations remember dining, dancing and swimming at the Biltmore.
In honor of the NFL season opener tonight, here's a great story from our files about former Vikings great Fred Cox, when he moved to Edina next door to Maggie Smith (now Stewart). If you have a great story to tell, submit yours by Oct. 1 to the Edina Reads writing contest, which is part of the official events for the city's Quasquicentennial, marking Edina's 125th year.
By Maggie Smith Stewart
Watching sports got us through the winter in Edina. My dad was a Sports Fan. Our family of five had four season tickets for every Minnesota sports team. We had tickets to the Minnesota Kicks before anyone in Edina knew what soccer was.
But my Dad’s true love was the Vikings.
These were the Fran Tarkenton years; the Bud Grant dynasty, and we didn’t miss a home game. Dad would have us loaded into the car for the short ride to the Met Stadium an hour and a half before the game so we could watch warm ups. Whoever was sitting out the game, went to a friend’s house to watch on TV. My mom always offered to stay home.
Our seats were in the middle of the Vikings’ office staff seats. This was a rowdy group, who talked and cheered the entire time. Being a kid, I didn’t listen to the gossip from the office. It must have been priceless. I do remember the sound of the massive down snowmobiling mittens the man in back of me wore. When the other team had the ball, he would start a slow, steady clap with these mittens that would incite the entire Met Stadium to start clapping along and screaming “DEFENSE!”
Maggie Smith and her two brothers.
By November, my brothers and I started offering to stay home with a friend. Winter games, it seemed, were better on TV. Trekking up the ramps to our seats was like walking up Everest. We carried “stadium bags” that most likely were purchased from some government Antarctica expedition catalog. Even the steam and the smell of the boiling brats couldn’t keep us warm. At home, before being rounded up into the car, we developed “Stall Techniques.”
My older brother, Martin, was good at walking slow. He’d meander out of his room while the rest of us waited, sweating profusely in woolens inside the Riviera, breathing in the exhaust fumes inside the garage. My younger brother, Paul, would hum the Mission Impossible theme song. Dad would pull out and start down the block when Paul would say he forgot the binoculars. We’d drive back and pull into the garage. I’d say I had to use the bathroom about the time we’d get to France Avenue.
The warmer games were great, even if we had to watch through binoculars to get a good look at the boy’s gym teacher, Mr. Fisher, who had a weekend job as a line ref.
Then something wonderful happened in Edina. Fred Cox, the Vikings’ kicker, moved in across the street.
At the time, he had three young kids and I was just at babysitting age. I had a job. I suppose I watched those kids while the Cox’s went to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with Alan Page, or maybe when they dined at Perkins with Gene Washington. The boys I knew at Southview Junior High were more than envious.
I remember the youngest Cox, little Freddy, had a passion for taking off his clothes and running out of the house and down the street. I would chase after that cute little naked toddler for what seemed like all night. Eventually, I lost the job to my neighbor, Sue Trussel. Apparently Sue would take the Cox kids up to the Valley View Drug Store and let them pick out any candy they wanted.
One day Mrs. Cox called me over and asked if I would like to do Fred’s fan mail for him. I was paid three cents a letter. I’d “autograph” the 8X10 of Freddy the Foot, put it in a big manila envelope and address the letter to the fan. Sue Trussel might have been an entrepreneur, but I was a budding writer. I would read letters that Fred Cox received from fans and I couldn’t help write back. It seemed I was a sucker for a kid’s scrawling, misspelled print and story.
Some kids would send football plays drawn out in crayon, complete with X’s, arrows, and lines. There were detailed instructions for Mick Tingelhoff and Lonnie Warwick and for Fred to play out.
“Great idea!!,” I’d write back, “I will show this to Bud.” (Thinking that Fred Cox probably was on first name basis with Bud Grant.)
One kid wrote that there was a mean kid at his school. He said that this mean kid told him “Fred Cox could care less about you. He’ll never write you back.” I sent him two autographed pictures (one for the bully) and told him to tell the kid that he was wrong.
On vacation one summer in El Paso, Texas, I saw the autographed photo “Fred” had sent to my little cousin, Timmy. It was framed and on his bedroom wall.
The years went by and I kept that job and my secret. But the highlight of having the Viking’s all time leading scorer across the street from us came one late August day when I was outside playing football on the street with my brothers and a couple of their friends. It was a typical game for the only girl in the neighborhood in the 70’s. No one was throwing to me. And then, out came Fred. Everyone froze and muttered shy “hi’s.”
He asked, “Can I play?”
Someone screamed, “You bet!!”
He said, “I’m on Maggie’s team. The rest of you over there.” And he pointed to the other side.
“We kick off," he said. Everyone lined up and I went up to the ball. He signaled for me to throw it to him. I passed it underhand and Fred Cox kicked. The ball rocketed over the boy’s heads. In slow motion, television style, it sailed down the block past three houses and the intersection. The boys laughed and turned to chase it. It took a bounce at the end of Ashcroft Avenue, and headed down the steep hill on 62nd street.
As I lost sight of the boys running down 62nd, I turned and looked at Fred. He smiled, nodded, and walked back into his house.
Over the years, I've heard some great stories from Edina History Museum visitors. A trio of lifelong friends (nearing age 90) confessed to skinny-dipping in Minnehaha Creek on their way home from Wooddale School. A veteran of World War II recalled his first battle experience. Newcomers in the 1950s talk about how they made Edina their home.
There's a reason "story" appears in the word "history." Everyone has a story to tell, and now is the time to tell yours. Edina Reads is seeking entries for a special writing contest in honor of the city's Quasquicentennial celebration, marking Edina's 125th year. Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners.
I love that the contest is open to all forms of writing, fact or fictiion. Entries will be judged on the extent to which they creatively portray Edina's history or community nature. You must be a past or present Edina resident or student of Edina schools. For more information on contest rules, see the Edina Reads website.
I encourage you to write your story. Some of my favorite stories on the blog have been those submitted by readers, and I'm looking forward to reading more. Start writing now -- deadline for submission is Oct. 1.
I will publish some great stories we've received over the years. Because they have been published previously here, in local media or in our newsletter, they are ineligible for the contest. I hope they inspire you to write your own story.
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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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