I found more photos of Edina's sand and gravel businesses. Hedberg and Sons was featured in the last Photo Friday. Today, Glacier Sand and Gravel and Edina Sand and Gravel get a turn.
Glacier was located at 7009 France Avenue South. I don't see an Edina Sand and Gravel in the 1959 phone directory, so I'm not sure where that company was located. I can find out with the property ID number located in the right corner, but I don't have those records at my desk here at home. Anyone know?
As a side note, don't you love the cars in all the 1959 photo records? I'm not a car aficionado, but you would immediately know what decade this photo was taken, even if the date wasn't conveniently printed at the corner.
People who complain about "big government" probably never heard of the tiny Village of Morningside, which operated with two employees, no village hall and a few contracted services from its larger neighbor, the Village of Edina.
Morningside, the far northeast corner of present day Edina, needed little government as the smallest village in Hennepin County. Its borders extended just a few blocks in either direction: approximately 40th Street and Sunnyside Avenue at the north and south, and France Avenue and Oakdale Avenue to the east and west.
Council meetings were held at the Odd Fellows Hall at the northeast corner of 44th and France, but otherwise, village business was conducted from the basement of Village Clerk Janet Riesberg's at 4003 Lynn Avenue.
From her informal home office, Riesberg typed council minutes, sold dog licenses and even registered candidates for elections sometimes minutes before midnight, the deadline for filing. A widow with three daughters, she was happy to be a “work-at-home” mother. Her children were trained in to answer the phone and assist residents.
Some Morningsiders viewed Janet’s marriage to Edina City Manager Warren Hyde as prophetic – not long after the couple’s wedding, Morningside voted to rejoin Edina in 1966 after 46 years of independence.
The other employee, Harold Schwartz, conducted his city business from a snow plow or truck. The lone Public Works employee took care of the city's ice rink at Weber park, plowed streets, and repaired roads. (Well known police officer George Weber had retired by this time. He quit patrolling for speeders in 1954 at approximately 80 years old, after 28 years on the job.)
Former neighbors of the Riesbergs visited the Edina History Museum today to see the current "Growing Up in Edina" exhibit. As we talked about the days of the tiny village, I recalled this article in our collection. If you know where the Riesberg daughters are today, the former neighbor girls would love to talk to them. Please email me if you have contact information.
Now that the presents have been wrapped... and unwrapped, the cookies baked... and eaten, and families gathered ... and gone back home, I want to talk about Christmas. Not to go all Jacob Marley on you, but I want to specifically remember the Christmases of Edina's past.
I was surprised to find that we have few Christmas photos in our collection. Sure, we have many photos of Clancy Drug and its marvelous Toyland (that I wrote about here). We also have Edina Federated Women photo albums of their successful Santa House (that I wrote about in the December issue of Edina Magazine.)
But otherwise our Christmas collection is rather slim, as I found out recently, as I searched for images for two different researchers and found surprisingly few photos. Perhaps because Christmas is celebrated in most Edina homes, nobody thinks their photos are particularly historical or special to anyone outside of their immediate family members.
Sometimes photos are special because they tell a universal story. Presents, cookies, church pageants, Santa visits, decorated businesses, shopping and tree decorating have been apart of Christmas celebrations for decades. In these similar stories, however, you can see change over time.
Photos submitted for our "Growing Up in Edina" exhibit show changes and similarities of Christmas, past and present. Just look at the Ott family Christmases celebrated on Brookview Avenue in the 1940s (slide show and story below). Bonnie and her younger sister Sherry visited Santa, but they made a special trip to downtown Minneapolis to see him and shop with their mother. (After Southdale mall was built in 1956, I suspect many Edina children sat on Santa's lap in the Garden Court. Clancy's also hosted Santa visits, while parents shopped in the downstairs Toyland.) Instead of doll clothes purchased from a store, the girls in the neighborhood received fashionable doll outfits sewn by their mothers.
What are your Christmas memories in Edina? Did you go to the Tasty Freeze lot for your tree or the Southdale Y's men or somewhere else? Who had the best light displays? Did you ever play a Wise Man or Shepherd in a church pageant? Where did you buy the Christmas ham or other dishes? Or maybe you didn't have much of a celebration because of the Depression or World War II. Perhaps you celebrate Hanukkah or have other holiday traditions. Please send in your photos and your memories. Email me or comment here.
_Happy Christmas memories on Brookview Avenue
By Bonnie Ott England
One year our mom, along with several other mothers in our neighborhood (5500 block of Brookview Avenue), decided to give their daughters Toni dolls for Christmas, along with clothes they would make themselves.
The Toni dolls were new and very popular. They came with a home permanent and rollers, so you could pretend to give them a permanent and curl their hair. The gift of the dolls was to be a secret. My sister Sherry and I, and our friends Nancy Hallberg and Ginger and Georgia Hafner, would find the dolls along with their wonderful wardrobes, under our trees on Christmas morning. While my friends and I were in school, or at night after we had gone to bed, our moms would be busy on their sewing machines making magic in the form of beautiful doll clothes.
My mother Helen Ott was an excellent seamstress, having worked for Munsingwear. She could and did sew anything, and she was very good at fashioning the tiny doll clothes. She even made doll coats using wool and gabardine fabrics from my dad's old suits. There were patterns for the clothes - ball gowns, robes and pajamas, drum majorette outfits, skating outfits, cowgirl outfits, and others. I still have my doll, although she was damaged in a house fire in 1982. She is a little melted, but I am glad I can share her with my grandchildren and they can still dress her in her
Our parents loved Christmas and always made it special for us when we were little. We did all the traditional things, such as hanging stockings, decorating the tree with tons of tinsel, visiting Santa at Dayton's, falling asleep with great anticipation on Christmas Eve, and slowly descending the stairs on Christmas morning, wondering if Santa might still be there. We got all the girly things, like dolls and buggies, ironing boards and doll beds. But we also got a set of American Flyer trains one year. Such happy memories during a safe and sane time - growing up in Edina.
"A picture is worth a thousand words..." The adage proves true with this photo, which I've already written about once here when a closer look at this photograph of the Country Club District showed bridge footings in Minnehaha Creek which led to all sorts of questions about that bridge and whether there ever was a bridge on Bridge Street.
The same researcher who pointed out the bridge footings later commented that developer Samuel Thorpe's sales office could be seen in this photo as well. Can you tell where it is? Yeah, me too. I needed a little help. See the building by Wooddale School? That, he told me, was the sales office for the Country Club District.
As far as I knew, Thorpe Brothers real estate company, established in 1885, was based in downtown Minneapolis. But it made sense to me that the company would set up sales offices in the towns where they were selling lots in new developments.
With every else going on getting ready for our exhibit opening, I didn't think much more about it until another researcher was looking at Country Club District sales brochures. See the tract office on the bottom left?
Here's a closer look:
You can see Wooddale School and its tall chimney in the background. I have to say, this sales office seem like quite the Taj Majal of tract offices. Thorpe apparently wanted his sales office to reflect the "character and beauty" of the development he was selling.
They are, by definition, temporary, closing up shop when most of the lots are sold. The Thorpe sales office is long gone, but I don't know if it was moved or demolished. If you know, please comment here or email me.
The sales brochure also shed some light on the Bridge Street question, but the document is too big for my scanner. I'll write Part II of the saga when I have the photographic evidence available to back up my claims. But --- I just can't wait to say this -- I was right. (The three most beautiful words in the English language might be "I love you," but I'm also very fond of "I was right.")
This photo is definitely worth 1,000 words... of explanation. Stay tuned for the next chapter!
Gleeks out there, you know what a mashup is. For those who don't, it's a work that recombines and modifies existing works to create something new. Welcome to Monday Mashup, in which I will provide updates to old posts and throw in a few new things to keep things interesting.
1. Edina cake eater story on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. I had dozed off during the show and woke up to a genealogist telling Greg that his ancestor Alrich Magner Hojem was one of the richest men in Edina, Minnesota in the 1900s, and because of his ego and his wealth, he became known as a cake eater. Eventually, all Edina residents were derogatorily nicknamed “Cake Eaters” because of their wealth.
I dozed off again and thought I dreamed the whole thing the next morning until I found a comment on our Facebook site. Kate Genovese posted a link to the show and asked, "hi! last night's CSI episode: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2104211/ had a reference to Edina and the supposed origin for the term Cake Eater. is it true?"
Like any legend, it's hard to pin down the exact facts for the Cake Eater name. (I've heard everything... the Marie Antoinette "let them eat cake" quote to the starving is one story. Another theory is that Minneapolis Washburn students, who had the nickname first, got it because they were the children of wealthy executives of Washburn-Crosby Company, the predecessor of General Mills (maker of flour/cake mix.)
When Edina started winning state athletic championships in the 1960s and became known for its relative wealth, Edinans then were called cake eaters. Some residents have embraced the term: cheering sections at high school tourneys have eaten cake en masse and our girls hockey teams host an annual "Cake Eaters Classic."
While the wealth part of the CSI tale has some truth to it, I believe the "Alrich Magner Hojem" character is fiction. Greg's back story is that he comes from a wealthy family and that likely fits with Edina's reputation. A number of TV shows have said their rich characters were from Edina. Do you remember Brandon and Brenda from Beverly Hills 90210? Unfortunately, they mispronounced the name of their supposed hometown - Eh-DEE-nah.)
I did email CBS to see if the writer or producers have any Minnesota connection, but so far have received only a standard computer generated reply.
2. Ralph's Shoe Repair to leave Southdale mall? The last of the original tenants of Southdale mall may have to leave. If you have missed the story, see the Minneapolis Star Tribune "A mall pioneer nears the end" published Dec. 15 about the three-generation business.
What is our role as a historical society in this story? As we would with any long-time business about to close its doors, we want to make sure decision-makers have all the historic background so they make an informed decision. In this case, everyone knows Ralph's long history and unique status as the mall's only original tenant.
Should the store close (and we hope it doesn't come to that) we'll make every effort to document and save the business history. For example, when Clancy's closed its lunch counter, the Edina Historical Society contacted the owners to get menus, napkin holder, sign, table, and dishes for our permanent collection.
Historic preservation groups and historical societies can save buildings and artifacts, but unfortunately, they can't save business operations. Only customers can do that. History has shown us that over and over again.
A perfect example is Clancy's, which closed its diner because of numbers, mainly red ones. The staff wore black the last day as they hustled filling orders - a difficult job since the cooks ran out of supplies. "If we were this busy every day, we wouldn't be closing," noted waitress Kristina Austin to a newspaper reporter. Morningside Hardware, a longtime fixture at 44th and France, closed for the same reason: owners said they couldn't make money on nuts and bolts alone. They needed local residents to buy their big ticket supplies, like lumber, from them too, instead of going to the big box chains.
Save history. Patronize your long-time neighborhood businesses today.
3. Reader comment: "Was looking for name of the gravel pit (thought it was Hedberg) and came across your blog . Just skimmed the categories and am ready to relive my youth. Moved to Edina when I was 5, 5609 St. Andrews. At 11 moved to 6612 Cornelia Dr. Remember the gravel pit, the dump, Devaney's stables at corner of 66th and France, attending Bob Barker show for opening of Southdale, 44th and France, Carlson's Odd Shop. Oh, the memories. I am now 66 . I have two sisters, 71 and 64 who will enjoy your blog. John Bauernfeind
As it happened, we recently acquired tax assessor photos of the Hedberg gravel operation, so I made sure to write about that last week for Photo Friday. I have had several people talk about "the dump" at 77th and France (later the site of the France Avenue Drive-in and even later, National Car Rental.) I'll have to see what else I can find.
I didn't grow up in Edina, so I rely on blog readers, museum visitors and people in the community to guide me on what history should be collected and preserved. What do you think should be included in our collections?
Drive along France Avenue south of Southdale mall, and you wouldn't guess that much of the land was once filled with gravel pits. One of the larger operations, Hedberg and Sons, was located at 7557 France Avenue South, the site of the Galleria and Centennial Lakes shopping centers today. Hedberg, Glacier Gravel and Oscar Roberts' gravel pits covered much of the area both east and west of France Avenue into the 1970s.
To give you some idea how much land was devoted to sand and gravel operations, take a close look at this 1951 photo of south Edina. To help orient you, the road that goes through Lake Cornelia near the top is 66th Street. The north and south street near the middle is France Avenue.
And all those very light colored areas south of 70th Street are sand and gravel businesses.
Here's a Google satellite image of the same area today. Amazing, isn't it?
Four photos for you on Photo Friday. One wouldn't have told enough of the story, so I had to include all of them. Enjoy!
Note: I wrote more about the gravel pit businesses here.
_Before Arneson Acres housed the Edina History Museum, it was the home of Mort and Katherin Arneson. Their sprawling acreage had trees and plants they sold at their St. Louis Park nursery, a greenhouse and a fabulous sliding hill right outside their door. For many years, the Arnesons welcomed children to slide on their hill.
Today, Arneson Acres is a 14-acre city park better known for its beautiful gardens, but it is also a great place for all kinds of winter activities. Children still find the Arnesons' hill irresistible for sledding!
In the spirit of the Arnesons, the Edina History Museum will open its doors the first three Saturdays in February: 4, 11, 18. Sled down the hill, strap on your cross country skis or snowshoes, or enjoy a quiet walk around the park, and then stop in the lower-level Terrace Room to warm up before the fireplace. Enjoy hot chocolate and treats, and visit the museum exhibit rooms. Free. 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
One of our volunteers recently came across a newspaper clipping about Mort Arneson's practice of allowing neighborhood children to sled on his property while he vacationed in Florida every year. The Edina Courier published this story on the front page of the Nov. 9, 1967, issue:
Residents of the 70th Street and Normandale Road area presented Morten Arneson with a plaque for his "generosity in allowing the freedom and enjoyment of 'Arneson Acres' to the children of the following neighborhood families: G.T. Armstrong, MB. Blair, A.W. Brunsell, J.W. Buckley, D. L. Budolfson, D. O. Comb, W.C. Corwin, D. Giovanelli, J. L. Kamiske, Dr. M.F. Lynch, J. D. Murphy, K. Priebe, Dr. P.J. Scanlan, J. L. Sowle and J.C. Verdorn."
Now, as then, children flock to Arneson Acres for winter fun. Although the hill is brown now, I hope it is snow-covered by our February sledding parties. As the news story says, "Once the snow flies, sleds and skis will abound throughout 'Arneson Acres.'"
On the last day of school, did your friends sign your:
a. autograph book
b. a "slam shirt"
d. something else
Your answer likely depends on when you grew up. Even elementary schools publish yearbooks these days, so children of today typically sign yearbooks, or autograph booklets created by their teachers, or both.
If you grew up in Edina in the 1970s, you probably wore your dad's big white shirt on the last day of school and asked your classmates and friends to sign a cuff, a sleeve or a collar. Patricia Bender donated this shirt to the Edina Historical Society with writings from her classmates at Cahill Elementary.
Popular band teacher Hal Freese signed the collar.
This photo, posted on the Cahill Elementary Facebook page, shows the signing party in progress.
I suppose it was difficult to pen a poetic saying on a cloth shirt -- many sported a "kick me" request in the back middle or simple signatures. The same could not be said of the decorative autograph books in the 1880s that contained poems, clever puns or hand-drawn sketches along with the signature.
In addition to Ella Grimes' book (top photo), we also have a 1889 autograph book (below) that was found at a garage sale. The owner is unknown, except for a first name of Katie, but many of the signatures are daughters of prominent Edina farmers of the day: Bull, Fortwinkler (also known as Fortwingler), and Slye, among others.
Mary L. Bull wrote:
"Whether the tempest lull or blow
Whether the waters ebb or flow
In fortunes high or fortunes low
In days of weal or days of woe
This be my motto for friend or foe
Gather the roses as you go.
Your friend and teacher
Mary L. Bull
Edina, Feb. 26, 1889
If a child today has an autograph book, he's most likely collecting signatures of Mickey Mouse or Cinderella at Disney theme parks or autographs of celebrities, rather than his buddies in homeroom
These artifacts are on display in our exhibit "Growing Up in Edina: A Show and Tell Exhbiit." I like them because they show despite changes over the years, many aspects of childhood remain the same. Whether you grew up in 1880 or 1980, you most likely collected signatures of your classmates.
Are we missing anything? Do you remember slam shirts or autograph books, or did you sign something else? I'd love to hear your story - please comment here.
_I had a chance to review our clipping file on the ABC Foundation, when Nancy Otterness came in recently to find information for the group's 40th anniversary celebration in 2012. While the story of pioneer black families in Edina is heavily researched, this story from the modern era is lesser known.
In 1972, a group of residents decided to form a local chapter of the national A Better Chance (ABC) Foundation, which invites academically talented students of color to attend a school district where they can get a quality education and prepare for the challenges of college. ABC students, who transferred to Edina schools from all over the country, have gone on to attend top colleges and assume positions of leadership and responsibility in their community.
The concept was revolutionary in 1963, when the national ABC Foundation formed. Keep in mind that 1963 was the peak of the Civil Rights movement - this was the same year that Alabama Governor George Wallace won the office on the slogan of "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever." At the same time that Martin Luther King was jailed in Birmingham, thousands marched on Washington for Civil Rights legislation and NAACP field officer Medgar Evars was assassinated, the foundation found ways for students of color to attend top schools throughout the country.
The local program began with a strong base of community support nearly ten years later, and students of color enrolled rather quietly at Edina, Minnesota, schools. Not every resident wanted minorities living next door, however. Edina then, as now, was predominantly white. Establishing a group home for primarily black students on France Avenue generated some controversy. "I thought the worst that could happen would be a black family moving in," said one homeowner to the Minneapolis Tribune. "But that was far from the worst." Other residents said their opposition was not based on race, but rather the number of students in the house.
Despite the initial fears, the program went on to great success. According to the above clipping from the student newspaper in 1982, female students lived in the group home and male students were placed with host families. The program, funded exclusively by donations, paid for food, housing, and plane tickets home during Christmas and summer breaks.
A Better Chance, which will celebrate its 40th year in 2012, is planning a reunion of students, host families, board members, and the public at a Gala Celebration on May 4 at the Edina Country Club. The group is looking for any historically significant information to share about the program (newspaper clippings, photos, or experiences). For more information, contact Sherry Nuness, Executive Director of ABC, at 952-848-3101 or see the organization's web site here.
On April 18, 1937, parishioners gathered at Wooddale School for the first worship service of a newly formed episcopal church in Edina. The actual church building would soon follow, with construction underway in 1938 at the corner of 50th and Wooddale Avenue.
The almost 75 year-old St. Stephen's Church is a well-known Edina landmark that seems a permanent part of the 50th Street landscape. But Ben B. Moore, village recorder and Country Club District resident, captured the corner when it was an empty lot filled with trees and a sign announcing the construction project. (Minnehaha Grange No. 398 had previously stood at this site, but the building was moved to near its current location after Country Club District developer Samuel Thorpe acquired the property.)
His film footage shows Edina of a bygone era, with Wooddale School (now demolished) in the background, 1930s construction vehicles, and a much quieter 50th Street. I've seen still photos of the groundbreaking ceremony and cornerstone laying in The Crier, the monthly newspaper for the Country Club, but this is the first film footage I've seen. Ben Moore's grandson Bob Moore recently donated a copy of the film to the City of Edina to show on cable Channel 16.
The building has undergone several remodeling projects and additions since 1938, but the church still remains a faithful interpretation of an English country church, according to Edina Associate Planner Joyce Repya. For that, the church was given the city's annual Heritage Award this year.
St. Stephen's kicked off its Diamond Jubilee celebration year on Nov. 6, 2011 and has a variety of events planned. One is to hold a reunion of former singers from St. Stephen's in April. This page (below) taken from the church's jubilee brochure, asks readers to help identify singers in the first junior choir, shown in the 1939 photo. Do you know any of these young women? What are your memories of St. Stephen's Church? What do you think of the construction film? Please comment here or email me.
For more about the church and its history, see the Heritage Award story (page 38) in the city's Summer 2011 About Town publication or the church's web site.
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