This photo of our display of Clancy's artifacts has generated some chatter on our Facebook page. I know many of you aren't Facebook users, so I'll include it here for you. Feel free to pass it along to your friends and recall old times at one of the most popular hangouts in Edina. Please share your memories by commenting here (or on Facebook) or emailing me.
Back when Highway 169 was known as County Road 18, Edina looked like this:
Alfred and Rosalla Pavelka lived here (6001 County Road 18) in 1959 with their children Diane and Lee. Alfred is listed as a farmer in the Edina phone directories. His brother (I'm guessing) Francis and his wife Delores, and their children Donald and Richard lived nearby at 5917 County Road 18. Francis worked at Superior Separator Co. Matriarch Mrs. Matilda Pavelka also lived at 6001 County Road 18.
If you can't quite envision the property from the address, here's what the area looks like now (Google satellite image).
Edina has changed dramatically since the farmhouse and old barn stood on the property. The area is now Manor Homes of Edina, condominiums built in 1981 or 1982. (I've seen both dates in various sources. The city's tax assessor card says 4/22/82.)
Here's what the area looked like back in 1957, around the time the house and barn images were taken, courtesy of HistoricAerials.com. If you want to play a little and see how the area changed over time, go to HistoricAerials.com and type 6915 Langford Way, Edina, MN in the search field.
Have fun! Happy Friday, everyone.
Here's another installment on Biltmore Lanes, the 32-lane bowling alley open 24 hours a day, located at Highway 100 and Vernon Avenue. I wrote about owner Gus Young back here, and I now have met with his daughter Margie Sampsell to get a photo of Gus and find out more about him.
I'm working on a complete story for our membership newsletter, but in the meantime here's a photo of the building from our files:
I enlarged a corner to get a closer look at that iconic sign, with the bowling pin and ball:
Coincidentally, one of our regular visitors happened to donate a copy of this cookbook, written by Gus's wife Evelyn, famous for her cooking at Gustavus Adolphus College.
For more on Evelyn, see the Star Tribune's obituary, written by Trudi Hahn. After reading the rave reviews of her cooking and scanning through the recipes, I may have to order a copy of her cookbook for my own collection. The book is out of print, but is available at Amazon and ebay. Check out this story on the Gustavus Adolphus web site for more on Evelyn's cooking and a great photo of her. I love the anecdotes like this one:
Even while she was still around, the stories about her had assumed tall-tale proportions (“Did you know she and that Cadillac of hers had more speeding tickets on 169 between Edina and St. Peter than anyone else, ever?” “Did you know she used to get ejected from basketball games for challenging the refs’ calls?”).
If you have any stories about the Youngs, or any bowling stories or photos to share -- whether at Gus Young's Biltmore Lanes or Southdale Lanes or some other Edina bowling alley -- please comment here or email me.
On Mondays, I turn the blog over to reader comments and add a few thoughts of my own.
Ask for a list of famous people in Edina, and people quickly mention sports stars and other residents who have achieved national fame, like movie star Tippi Hedren ("The Birds"), novelist Judith Guest ("Ordinary People) and Twins owner Carl Pohlad.
There is another category of famous people, who may not be famous on a national level but who are (or were during their lifetimes) very well-known within our city limits.
I'm talking about people like:
I think these big fish in our small pond played bigger roles in shaping our community history than any national celebrity ever did. What do you think? Who are the people we should remember within the Edina Historical Society collections? Please comment here or email me.
A recent reader comment had me thinking about this topic. John Shepherd wrote about public servant Harold Schwartz. While I have not yet met Harold, he's a well-known name at the museum. Inevitably, visitors reminiscing about growing up in Morningside recall the man who "was the saving grace in our community," as John put it. Thanks for writing, John!
Harold Schwartz, Morningside's Public Works employee
By John Shepherd
Time to remember Harold Schwartz. I lived in Morningside, MN, from 1954 to 1965. My parents lived at 4045 Sunnyside ave. Harold Schwartz was the saving grace in our community. He took care of snow plowing, sewers, pot holes and much, much more.
When it snowed he would lift his plow blade so that the drift wasn't left in front of your driveway. When there were garbage strikes through the years, he was there to pick up the refuse. If there was a problem during heavy rains, he was there to clean the gutters and make sure that the water flowed freely.
Harold took care of the Ice rinks in the winter and made sure you had nice clean ice, that wasn't bumpy. I don't even know if he is still living, but If he isn't I am sorry I waited to long to give him his dues for the wonderful job he did for us in Morningside.
In 1966 when we became part of Edina I was very disappointed. Even though I went through all of the Edina School systems programs and played in all the sports systems, I was sorry to see us lose our Independence from the much larger and more wealthy community. It is time that we celebrate the people that made Morningside so strong and Independent.
Harold, my hat of to you and thank you for the wonderful years of SERVICE.
Who made a big impact on Edina? Share your thoughts by emailing me or commenting here. Help us make sure we gather information about the people who had the biggest influence on Edina.
I have a job where I get to read people's diaries. It always feels a little forbidden, like sneaking peeks at a sister's diary once you figured out where she kept the tiny key to her journal's padlock.
Not saying I ever did that. Ahem.
In this case, I'm not looking for secret crushes --- but hey, wouldn't that be interesting? Instead, I'm looking for what a personal story has to say about the history of a community.
The Edina Historical Society owns the diaries of Beverly Yancey (pictured below right), one of Edina's 17 or so black families who settled here following the Civil War. Both he and his wife Ellen played leadership roles in Edina's early life, serving on the Village Council, establishing the local PTA, and forming the Minnehaha Grange.
Their descendants donated the diaries to the Edina Historical Society many years ago.
The volumes remained in storage, occasionally reviewed by researchers looking for answers on how Edina, which once had a fully integrated community, could transform into a completely white village by the 1920s.
Narratives of the time reflect a community that seems truly "color blind," according to author Deborah Morse Kahn in her book Edina: Chapters in the City History. Various pioneers describe picnics, friendships and socializing with the Gillespies, Fytes, and Yanceys without ever mentioning their race. (See picnic photo at Yancey berry farm below from Kahn's book.)
Researchers do not find any mention of race in Yancey's journals either. As any farmer in any century, Yancey is most concerned about the weather and his crops.
At least as far as anyone can tell. Most researchers have done a cursory review only. As you can tell from the entry above, the writing is difficult to decipher:
"Wether (weather) of ____ got meel (meal) from mill Had a bad ____ chopped stove wood got a bad cold ________ children not well."
Such is the case of many diaries during this period. The diary of Sarah Baird, a fellow Granger and friend to the Yanceys, is only marginally easier to read, given the cramped writing in pencil on narrow ruled paper. James Parsons, an Edina resident and son of local historian Dudley Parsons, made a heroic effort to transcribe Sarah's diaries, housed at the Minnesota Historical Society. He completed two years, those leading up to Edina's incorporation in 1888. (The transcript is available for review at our museum.)
Volunteer Martha Johnson is now making a heroic effort to transcribe the Yancey journals. Martha has had practice decoding handwriting, having transcribed the 1931-1932 log books of Edina's first police officer Percy Redpath. Despite eye strain and slow translation, Martha finds the work interesting and rewarding.
Will the Yancey diaries reveal anything about race relations in early Edina? Probably not, at least in a direct way. Sarah Baird's diaries mention the Yanceys many times, without once noting their race or her own (white). However, Beverly Yancey will no doubt chronicle everyday life during the early settlement years in Edina and the accomplishments of two of its leading citizens, Beverly and Ellen Yancey.
On Mondays, I turn the blog over to readers, whose comments reveal a different side to history than what is found in the written record in our collection. A few readers have commented on a post published last year about The corner store: Docken's family served Brookside neighborhood. They remember the people and the sights, sounds and smells of the community store.
Long-time Edina Historical Society member Charles Brown remembered the store and the family:
The photos shown are where the Dockens lived. They lived in the house on the left. They had a son named Tom who I knew as a boy. He graduated from St. Louis Park about 1947. My father drove school buses for Edina which took high school kids to SLP. The people who lived in the house to the right were the "Walls". The Dockens store was right on the corner of 44th and Brookside. It was a two story building and had living quarters upstairs. The street car tracks run right across the street from them. I knew the Garners too when they moved in. They had a son "Meryl" who lived with them.
Former neighborhood resident Al Linick wrote:
Mr. Brown's comments are correct, and what a treat to read about another person's recollections about this place.
In the early 50's, we kids of 10 or 11 or so knew it as "Garner's Store", there was a sign outside on the building that said so, and we knew Mr Garner, who watched (very carefully) over us while in his building.
Outside, the streetcar line ran perfectly parallel with 44th street, and made a stop at Garner's store to disembark commuters who would then walk the rest of the way to their early and mid 50's suburban homestead destinations - sometimes a mile or more. Then the streetcar would proceed due west - straight as an arrow - to Excelsior on the big lake.
(Note: See Google map below of the neighborhood today.)
A few years later I had a Strib paper route, and Garner's store was where the Tribune company trucks dumped off the paper bundles, and we "carriers" as we were called, would go there and pick them up, and then distribute them to the subscribers. In those days the paper was printed and delivered, as a twice a day service, so a carrier would have an evening route, and or a morning route. If you had an evening route, then you had to have a Sunday morning route too, (only one paper delivery on Sundays).
The winter time was especially fun, as it was about a mile and a half from our home on Oxford avenue to the Garners store, and the early fifties historically produced some very cold winter years. I would bundle up in my snowsuit, and take my sled upon which I had attached a large wood box suitable to hold two stacks of newspapers inside, and with our wonderful family dog of indeterminate breed set off for Garners store to pick up the papers. It was great fun and adventure crunching through the snow and listening to the train horns and whistles at 5 or so in the early morning darkness until arriving at Garners store all lit up with its solitary single welcoming floodlight.
I think Garners store was a wood frame building. It may have acquired a coat of stucco on the outside. Not sure of that, but there was a long wooden porch in front, and the porch as well as the floors inside were coarse wooden floorboards that creaked with every step. It had high ceilings, and I recall that there were ceiling fans. I also recall clearly that it smelled old, and worn, and musty.
Does anyone have a sense or a good guess as to the dates of the Garner store? 44th street is a "modern" street built straight as an arrow going west to support development along the streetcar line.
But the old street, that crosses the train tracks just to the north of Garners store and wandered south to what was, Brookside Lane?, looked a lot more like an early wagon (even stage line) route, that then paralled the railroad line for a while. I think that road dates to much older, and we know that the streetcar line going west to Minnetonka predates the 1920's by many years does it not? Or not . . . can anyone comment?
In other words, I think it is quite possible that the store called Docken's or Garner's might be way, way older than the 1926 date mentioned in the earlier part of the original post. Wouldn't it be fun to find out?
Jeanne Andersen, member of the St. Louis Park Historical Society, responded:
Al, although Docken's was in Edina, I have a page for it on our St. Louis Park Historical Society web site http://www.slphistory.org/history/dockenstore.asp, mostly because I grew up about a block away. ... I have much more on the Dockens - they farmed the site starting in about 1897. Enjoyed your memories!
Thanks to our writers today. If you have additiona memories of the store owned by Dockens and then Garners, please share your comments here or email me.
Although I live with a house full of collectors (who acquire everything from baseball cards to Squinkies to bobbleheads ), I collect nothing -- at home that is. Work is a different story.
In my personal life, I would never collect plates but I'm now on the hunt for them for the Edina Historical Society collection. I don't care about the "Limited Edition" plates featuring Elvis or Princess Diana. My focus is purely on Edina.
I'm looking for more plates like this one, recently donated by a member of Our Lady of Grace Church.
The plate commemorates the church's 25th year (based on the dates on the front, 1946-1971.)
Other Edina churches have issued commemorative plates on significant anniversaries, I believe. I haven't gone through our collection records, but I know I've come across at least one other in a similar style as this one produced by World Wide Art Studios. (Search for the business on Ebay and you'll examples from churches all over the country. None for Edina was listed recently.)
Our Lady of Grace's history was printed on the back of this plate:
For those who can't read the fine print, it says: "Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church had its beginning at the Edina Theater, where the first mass was said on February 17, 1946 by Father Louis Forrey, founding pastor.The school opened in September 1949, at 5300 Normandale Road, staffed by the Sisters of Mercy. Masses were then said in the basement. The present rectory was completed in April, 1954. Additional classrooms, the convent and church were added in September, 1957. The parish now consists of 1200 families and the present pastor is Father Joseph Baglio, who came to the parish in June, 1967."
(See the school's web site for more information on its history.)
I think one plate is cool, but a complete collection would be better in terms of telling Edina's story. For more information about donating a plate or other Edina object, please email me.
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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.