Remember Queen Anne Kiddieland?
If you grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, you no doubt spent some time at the small amusement park located at the southeast corner of what is today Interstate 494 and Highway 100. Although it was just over the border in Bloomington, Queen Anne Kiddieland was a popular destination for Edina youngsters with its pony rides, kiddie rides and miniature Rock Island Rocket, a children's sized train driven by popular children's TV host Casey Jones (played by actor Roger Awsumb.)
Queen Anne had a party room, which was a popular spot for children's birthday parties.
Ron Danly, who grew up on 3 Spur Road, with his brothers Rob and Todd, celebrated one of his birthdays below.
Patches the Clown, nearly as famous as Casey Jones among the elementary school crowd, made an appearance.
These photos were taken from a video donated recently by the Danly family that features riding on homemade go carts, playing in the back yard, and celebrating holidays. I wanted to show you the video, instead of the above still photo clips. And let me assure you that I spent waaaaaaay too much time trying to do just that. I successfully edited it, and can see it on my computer but I get an (deep sigh) error message when I try to upload it to the blog. Take my word for it, the movie is very fun. I will seek help and try again... because, I assume you would rather see it yourself than just take my word for it.
Note: I wrote about Queen Anne for Edina Magazine. See that story here.
If you grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, your childhood was recorded on 8 mm film or Super 8 film... and if you're like most people, you haven't looked at those home movies for years. Even if you have a projector, who wants to haul it out, set up a screen and run those short reels in the dark?
You don't have to go through all that work, if you transfer your movies to DVDs. Our friends at the Peggy Kelly Media Arts Studio at the Edina Art Center can help you get your movies out of storage and onto your TV and computer screen. The Studio is open to the public for do-it-yourself media projects. You don't even need to take a class; staff will get you started and are available to answer questions along the way. In an hour or two (depending on much film you have), you can have your entire movie collection transferred to DVD.
Appointments are required. For more information and fee schedules, call 952-903-5782.
The Art Center recently helped us transfer some home movies of Nancy Carlson, featured in our "Growing Up in Edina" exhibit. The movies tell more than the history of her family - Christmas mornings, birthday parties, summers at a lake cabin -- they also tell the history of Edina. The film shows images of her newly built Chowen Circle neighborhood in the 1950s and 1960s, swimming at the new Edina pool, climbing onto the school bus on the first day of school, and skating lessons at Pamela Park (below).
Nancy recalls that she was about 7 years old in this circa 1960 film. She is seen leading the line of skaters in a tan skirt and red sweater.
I want to note that the full-size video looks much better in real life. Blame me for any quality issues; I'm just learning how to upload and edit photos to the web. I hope to get better with practice, as I hope to upload more images from our "video vault" in the coming months.
Do you have old film gathering dust in a closet? Transfer those movies and you might be surprised at what you find. If you see anything that tells Edina's history, please consider sharing a copy with us.
The most frequently asked question lately at the Edina History Museum: Is it too late to get something in the "Growing Up in Edina" exhibit? The answer: you can submit your stories, photos and childhood treasures at any time, and in fact, we hope you do. Several visitors, inspired by what they've seen, have promised to participate.
Our exhibit room is pretty packed, but we can still make room for additional items. We also hope to continue to publish stories here on the blog and in our newsletter, so keep 'em coming.
Here's one story recently submitted by Bob Herman, who recalled childhood in Edina in the 1950s and 1960s.
By Bob Herman, Edina HS Class of 1969
(Married to Karen Gaasedelen, Edina class of 1978)
I am now 60 years old and I spent 1951 to 1974 and 1991 to present time in Edina.
I have great memories growing up in Edina....
Our flyer advertising our "Growing Up in Edina: A Show and Tell Exhibit" invites the public to "bring your friends, bring your family" and I've enjoyed seeing people do just that.
The Lonsbury family visited the museum last week and let us take their photo at the old Wooddale School auditorium door. Siblings John, Ann and (far right) Mark accompanied their mother Joan (in doorway) and strolled down memory lane together.
We invite you to bring the whole family in on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. We'll be closed on Thursday for the holiday, but stop in before or after your holiday shopping on Saturday morning. The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to noon.
I especially get a kick out of neighborhood pals that have come in. Decades may have passed since they rode their bikes together or sat in an Edina classroom, but they have the greatest time as they remember relive their childhood together.
Admission during regular hours is free. If you can't come in on a Thursday or Saturday, we will open the museum by special appointment for a small fee ($5 per person, $25 minimum per group). Call 612-928-4577 at least two weeks in advance to arrange a showing.
Normally, today I would bring you our popular feature "Photo Friday." Today, I'll tell you the story of the photo I wish I had.
One of my regular volunteers Larry Nickander grew up in the Morningside neighborhood, joined the military during the Korean War, moved around the country for his job, and then returned to Edina while his two children were in elementary school.
Many more people had the same idea in the 1960s. Following the construction of Southdale mall (1956) and major freeways in the 1960s, Edina's population boomed, as this 1964 story in the Edina-Morningside Courier (June 4, 1964) shows. The headline: "Playmates Number 97. Little Girl Has Friends, And Friends, And Friends".
Larry recalls that a reporter, who must have heard that this new neighborhood was full of children, stopped by with a camera and told one of the youngsters to find as many of his friends as he could. When a crowd showed up, he instructed them to run down a hill and snapped their photo. Larry's son was one of those children.
I wish we had the original photo, but newspaper ownership has changed over the years and the old photos aren't in the Edina Sun-Current's archives.
Isn't it a great photo? It really illustrates the population boom in Edina at the time. (My photo of a photocopied newspaper isn't particularly fabulous, but it's the best we can do unless this magically prompts someone to come forward with the real thing. Hey, you never know... )
The story reads:
"When eight-year-old Janet Stoddard climbs a tree in the nearest vacant lot this summer vacation, she may discover more playmates than woodticks.
The latest census on woodticks is unavailable, but the neighborhood kids number 97.
Janet, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ray Stoddard of 5605 Countryside Rd., lives in a block-and-a-half section off Tracy Ave. where 30 houses line the cul-de-sac road.
Janet regularly calls on the B.F. Woodcock family at 5609 Countryside Rd., where youngsters Nancy, 7, Jeff, 9, John, 11, and Lynn, 13, live.
The five of them visit the tree house and climb trees next to the Woodcock's.
The lot has such significance as a playground to the children that when its sale was once a neighborhood rumor, the Woodcock children ran to their mother to see "how much money does daddy make." They wanted to buy the lot.
To add to the neighborhood confusion, two Dunn families reside in it. So do the Stoddards's and the Stoddart's."
Larry and I talked about this story a few times over the years - prompting me to search our archives, call the newspaper for the photo, search the Minnesota Historical Society archives... to no avail. Microfiche copies of the newspaper are available, but since Larry couldn't narrow down the date, I wasn't looking forward to searching several years' worth of newspapers.
Then, just before our "Growing Up in Edina" exhibit opened, Larry brought in the clipping. I asked him how he found it. His answer: "I asked my wife." Thank you to Larry (and Larry's wife who knew exactly where the clipping was located) for bringing the story in.
For another photo that illustrates Edina's huge number of kids, see this post. (One day, I'll have to look up the exact census figures...I'm guessing a bazillion isn't quite accurate.)
Norma Smith Christopher's cascade photo in the previous post made me think of this essay submitted early this summer by Charles Brown, who lived near the cascade. The shortened story ran in the Edina Sun-Current as well as in our quarterly newsletter. After reading this, I had to wonder how many kids ice skate to school these days? If you do, let me know!
Charles Brown and his grandmother
By Charles Brown
We moved to Edina in August of 1944 from Minneapolis. My father worked for the school district then. He drove bus and did janitorial work for Wooddale School. I was in second grade and was nine years old.
Our address was 4652 Vernon Avenue, which was also known as Highway 100, or the “Beltline.” Our house was a small one right on the highway, and our driveway entered it! In those days, Highway 100 was two lanes wide! At the intersection of Highway 100 and 50th Street there was a four-way stop sign.
I had three sisters – Madeleine, La Donna and Janice – all younger than I. My mother’s name was Abbie. My father’s name was Elmer; he went by “Al”.
Where Edinbrook Lane is now, it was all fields up to about 49th Street West. At night in the summer you could see fireflies light up the entire field.
The corner store
Brookside Avenue went through to and connected with Interlachen Blvd. and Vernon Avenue. There was a service station and grocery store there where they met.
For years it was owned and operated by Robert Solberg and his wife Arlene. Their daughter’s name was Roberta. Prior to them, the store was owned by the Buckets and the Garners. This was one of the few stores around that time in the neighborhood.
Where the streetcar tracks were at Brookside and 44th, there was a store for a while owned by the Dockens. At Solbergs is where the kids hung out. The newspaper companies dropped off their papers for the paper boy carriers. Mr. Solberg always had cold pop, candy and groceries. Mr. Solberg was great with the kids and was always there for us.
As a matter of fact, he was great at repairing just about anything and ran the station for many years as Bob’s Phillips 66 Service. I ran a NAPA parts store for several years in St. Louis Park when I grew up and sold Bob parts for most of those years.
A boys’ paradise
In the summer we built “chugs,” a board with four wheels and raced down Brookside Avenue. In the winter, we had our sleds and did likewise. With good ice we could go almost to Division Street
We had a lot of fun on the creek, fishing and swimming in the summer and ice skating in the winter. There are channels on either side of the cascade. I and my sisters learned to swim in the one closest to our house. From there we graduated to diving off the cascade itself. At one time we had a diving board rigged up on the front of it.
In the winter we shoveled off the ice on the back side of the cascade. It made a very large rink and a lot of kids came there to play hockey and speed skate. I used to skate to school down to the mill pond, change to my shoes and after school skate until dinner time, as they always had a warming house and a flooded rink at the mill pond. It was great! I did this up to sixth grade.
Wooddale School was great. All lady teachers in those days. My second grade teacher was Mrs. Moback, third Ms. Bertilson and Cuskey, fourth Ms. Lanore, and sixth Mrs. Felt. (spelling may not be correct on some) Bus drivers/custodians were Ed Glover, Al Brown, Leonard Dvorak, Scotty Cowsow, and George Halverson that I remember.
Our principal, Mr. Scarf, was a very firm man but a good man. I remember him well. We had a cafeteria which had several cooks and good food. I worked the kitchen clean-up for my lunches to help at home. They were tough times for some of us.
The Sunnylope Road development was not complete at the end of World War II. After the war when the men came home, building commenced again. Sunnyslope West and in between it and East Sunnyslope had barely any homes built yet. I watched them build those big beautiful homes.
Before they were built they put in the water and sewer lines. That whole area is sand and gravel and when they tried to dig the street up they had nothing but trouble! I watched as the big backhoes shovel machines tried to dig down 10 feet or so and the ground just kept falling! They finally got it done by putting in shoring planks then lay the pipe and remove the shoring.
I used to carry water to the operators for 25 cents a quart from my house so they had a drink. These were veterans of the “Sea Bee’s.”
When I got to be about 12, I started to caddy at the golf course. My mother used to sew pads in my shirt shoulders as I carried “doubles,” two golf bags. This kept the bags from tearing the skin off my shoulders!
I had a regular bunch of customers along Sunnyside Road. In the summer and fall I would take care of their yards and in the winter would shovel their driveway. I always had a few dollars to spend. I learned early that those who asked, got!
Interlachen Boulevard was a beautiful road. David Diehl, a childhood friend, still lives there in the same house. Another friend Floyd Olson, better known as Ole, lives on Bedford Avenue. It was open country here too with hardly any homes built on the majority of the land. It was a boys’ paradise!
Many of the kids I grew up with had streets and roads named after their family. Some I remember are: the Hansons, Bill and Ed; and the Tracys, Dale and Barbara. I went to school at Wooddale from 1944 to 1949. In 1949 to 1950 I went to the new Edina high school. We were the first students to go there. It was quite a change and we had the best of everything. I moved to St. Louis Park the following year, and graduated from there in 1955.
I made a lot of friends in those years at Edina, played sports against them in high school and still talk to some to this day over 60 years later!
Norma Smith took this photo of the new man-made cascade on Minnehaha Creek in 1934 of her father Gordon Smith and sisters Joyce and Carol and nephew Harold. The Smiths lived in the Country Club District at 4612 Arden Avenue. I wrote about the cascade here, and I have heard from several people since then about how much they loved the cascade when it was running at full power in the early days. Touted as the "Little Niagara" of Edina, the cascade drew residents for picnics and relaxation.
Norma (who grew up and married Bob Christopher from the neighborhood) describes the photo as taken from Highway 100 opposite Sunnyside Road. Highway 100 was just a dirt road back then; today's freeway obscures the view from that location. You can see the cascade in Google's satellite aerial view. Look west (or left) of Highway 100 and you can see the remnants of the cascade.
This "horse" captures the attention of every second-grader who visits the Edina History Museum during our behind-the-scenes storeroom tour.
Adults like her too. Isn't she a beaut?
All the tack, in case you missed the name emblazoned on the side, was donated by J.A. Danens and Son, who dug many of Edina's basements with horse and scraper. You can tell the Danens took pride in their work. The tack -- despite being used on sweaty hard-working horses -- is in pristine condition. After a long day of digging, the Danens cleaned everything. (Later on, when they used machinery, they washed their trucks every day.)
Here's a closer look at the name...
and the scraper.
It's hard to believe that a horse and scraper could dig a house basement, but that's how it was done. Here's the photographic evidence: Danens' horse team digs out basements near Alden and West 51st Street in Edina's new South Harriet Park, early 1940s.
This is a bit late for a horse and scraper operation, but patriarch Joe Danens, who started the business in 1913, resisted modernization. He had dug most of the basements in the Country Club area with horses and scraper and continued to work a team even after 1936, when his son Calvin “Sonny” Danens bought power shovels, dump truck and bulldozer.
With machinery, however, J.A. Danens and Son were poised for the post-World War II building boom. In 1947, Sonny estimated that the company was digging 400 to 500 basements in a year. By 1975, Danens had dug 75 percent of all Edina and Minneapolis basements south of Lake Street.
From 1950 to Sonny’s death in 1975, Danens and Son worked on Southdale, Edina City Hall (1954), Edina’s first high school and several Minneapolis downtown buildings. Danens’ projects included Northern States Power building, all of Dayton’s stores parking ramps, the Federal Reserve Bank, Minnesota Orchestra Hall and the Sheraton Ritz Hotel.
Danens helped transform Edina by helping expand Highway 100 in the 1970s. “(My wife and I) both can remember when there was no road, no Highway 100, just a trail used in the winter. They never did get a road across until 1920 and they called it the new road for years,” Sonny said.
Danens started with a building near 50th and France and expanded to a large garage in the Grandview area (5116 Brookside Avenue). Sonny sold all his equipment at a huge public auction in 1975 when he retired; soon after, he died during open heart surgery. His wife Marion Green Danens died last year, but she often came into the museum to visit the horse and reminisce.
The Danens name lives on with an Edina street named after the family.
I don't often read a person's diary over their shoulder, but this time I had permission. Carolyn Loechler Smith, who grew up at 4637 Casco in the Country Club, kept a diary, which she brought to the grand opening of "Growing Up in Edina: A Show and Tell Exhibit." In the spirit of that title, she showed me her diary, and told me a little about it.
In this 1932 entry, Carolyn writes about the Edina Mill, located at 50th and Browndale on Minnehaha Creek. Long closed, the empty mill drew local children, including Carolyn, who played inside and along the creek banks. She describes the interior and calls it "sacred to Betty A (a friend) and I."
Although many people considered the building an eyesore and a danger to children, many Edina residents -- both long-time pioneer families and new Country Club residents -- fought to save the mill. You have only to drive by the location to know how that battle ended. Carolyn, of course, wrote about it: "25 Nov. 1932 They are tearing the Old Mill down - one of history's wonderful mills. About 85 years old. Miss Swenson fought to save it."
Miss Swenson was one of the teachers at Edina's Wooddale School. Carolyn also brought a list of her Edina school teachers. She also has architectural plans of her family home on Casco that her father drew.
Here is Carolyn (left) and her childhood friend Grace. (I wrote about Grace and the sweet story of how she met her husband of 67 years here. Her husband told me the story when we were gathering material for another exhibit, "Edina's Greatest Generation.") The two "90-plus year olds," as Carolyn put it, decided to see this exhibit together.
We do exhibits as part of our mission to interpret Edina's history, but this story illustrates two other reasons:
1. People contribute to our collection and add to our understanding of Edina history. Sure, we do educate the public, but often, the public educates us!
2. The museum provides a gathering place for the community. In this social media world, it's still important for people to hang out face-to-face. I love seeing people meet up with people from their past: Grace and Carolyn ran into other Edina acquaintances. One of our exhibit participants, Bonnie Ott England, re-connected with Betty Gustafson (of Nelson's Dry Goods), who sold her some of the very doll clothes Bonnie and her sister Sherry have on display. Former Boy Scouts of different generations talked about their experiences over our Scouting artifacts.
We had a great exhibit opening. Although the party is over, the exhibit will run through next fall. So come on in - "show and tell" your own treasures and reconnect with old friends. We are open Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturdays, 10 a.m. to noon, and by appointment for groups. Admission is free during regular hours; we request a donation of $5 per person (minimum $25) after hours. Please allow at least two weeks before scheduling an appointment: 612-928-4577.
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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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