Today we're running the first of what I hope to be a series called "My Place in History." Museum visitors often tell me about favorite spots in Edina (or near our borders) that evoke strong memories. A photo of Minnehaha Creek will prompt stories about fishing or rafting or --- in the case of a group of friends over age 90 -- skinny-dipping as boys on the way home from Wooddale School. An ad for the Biltmore hotel often starts conversations about first nights in Edina, wedding receptions and pool parties. In every case, unfortunately, I don't have a microphone or time to document those great stories.
A few weeks ago, visitor Rosemary Strobel was reminiscing about the Tastee Treet, located on the Minneapolis side of 44th and France. Many former Morningside youngsters have sighed about that summer-time institution of their childhood, but I wanted more details. Rosemary kindly agreed to write down what she remembered, and she even sent a couple of photos.
I would love to read more stories about places important to Edinans. I hope you are inspired to write about your own place in history and send us your story.
By Rosemary Strobel
The old Tastee Treet was popular with us neighborhood kids since forever. It had six red stools inside by the order counter for people to eat in the AC. Then there were the cheap seats outdoors under the awning. One year they were really old patio tables and lawn chairs.
It was open from around noon until 10 p.m. all summer from May to the start of cold weather in late September or October. It served O-rings, Fries, Grilled Burgers and all sorts of ice cream desserts and drinks. The place was usually frantic with the day's soccer or ball game crowd from Linden Hills Park. A guy named Clark owned or managed the place most of the time I knew it. In the winter, he sold Christmas trees out in front of it.
There was a big older woman who ran the antiquated 1950's flat top grill. I can still picture her dealing out cheese onto the sliders like it was a deck of cards.
At night, the place glowed like a Chinese lantern. Gaudy turquoise and red and white neon framed its rooftop sign, sizzlingly white fluorescent lamps filled the refrigerated glass enclosed room with a cold unearthly glow. Outside under the metal canopy, millers and smaller insects threw themselves at the security lights or fluttered around the ballast ends of yellow masked fluorescent bulbs under the eaves. And there was ALWAYS the happy music, usually 1950's from a local Oldies radio station, issuing from a well-placed PA speaker on the apex of the awning.
Tastee Treet closed in 1991 to another "family," who ran it as Tastee Treet for a season or two, then it was made into Big Mike's Super Subs about 2000-2002 where the only change to the building was a different sign.
Unfortunately, the sign atop the new business still had the ice cream image from the Tastee Treet. The only problem: ice cream was not on the menu. Very confusing for customers and irritating for staff. Eventually, the ice cream cone was painted over.Sadly, when Milio's came, they clad the entire cute little building in its current drabness and removed the ice cream cone signboard on the roof in favor of the current neon signage. I was once inside, just before Big Mike's became Milio's. It was still like Tastee Treet, but the interior had been opened up and painted white, the stools removed, the ice cream machine was replaced by a self-serve pop fountain machine and the kitchen was closed off from the order area and presumably also remodeled inside.
My dad is a rail fan, and we went to lots steam trains and transportation museums when I was growing up. We visited ruined mills, power dams and South Dakota ghost towns. We hung out in the same pine woods that greeted George Washington and picked berries by the old iron forges. Of course, dad was a motorman at Lake Harriet, and I played on the old section of tracks that used to be in the alley the near Xerxes Avenue. I really got into old neighborhood history 1979 with the columns Mr. Dudley Parsons wrote on Edina and the stories the old streetcar guys told in their magazine.
Just an ordinary person who likes to find out what was here and learn about the places I pass every day, until they are sold, remodeled or levelled and built brand new.
Rosemary Strobel grew up in southwest Minneapolis in October 1974 and attend St. Peter's Lutheran at 5401 Fuller Ave. and Minneapolis Lutheran High, which had newly moved into the second floor of the Edina East building.
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.
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.
Edina bought its first police car in 1930 -- all black (because that was the only option available.). After authorization from the Village Council, first police officer Percy Redpath spent extra money to have "Village of Edina" lettering on the doors.
Eighty-three years later, Edina's police squad design will feature a black car body with lettering on the door, a throwback to its origins after many years brighter colored accents and a white roof.. Edina Police Chief Jeff Long announced the change in the city's blog, noting, "From the mid-1940s all the way to 1990, our squad cars had only a patch or badge on the door. In keeping with history, we have chosen to return to our roots and place a simple patch on our car."
Long also showed photos of past car designs: "Department history is very important to those of us who work here. If you have ever taken a tour here you have noticed the incredible job that department historian Officer Kevin Rofidal has done to keep our history alive."
So true. We worked with Kevin a few years back in creating an exhibit about Edina Police and Fire Departments' history and put together this timeline of squad design and technology history. Besides some great old photos, it also contains some fun facts like:
You couldn't open a newspaper in early April without seeing a story about the death of Jerry Paulsen, owner of several Edina businesses including Jerry's Foods, Jerry's Hardware and Jerry's Printing.
But unless you're one of Jerry's 3,700 employees, you probably missed one of the most in-depth looks at Jerry's long life and involvement in the Edina community: a full issue of the company newsletter was devoted to the man who gave his life and his name to so many businesses.
"I felt I couldn’t do him justice with just an article in the newsletter so decided to devote the entire edition to him," said Carol Jackson, Jerry's Foods Corporate Manager.
The newsletter is in our collection, but I've had so many requests to see more Jerry's photos that I asked Carol for a pdf for our online audience. See the photo pages below, and you can read the full newsletter here.
These are just a few of the stories written about Jerry Paulsen, who died April 5, 2013, at age 89.
Drive through the Grandview area of Edina and you'll see Jerry's Hardware, Jerry's Printing and Jerry's Foods. Owner Jerry Paulsen, who began his career behind the counter as a butcher, ended up as one of the largest employers in Edina. Beyond the businesses that bore his name, he also owned Cub Foods on France Avenue, and at one time, a women's clothing store.
And that's just in Edina. His "Jerry's Enterprises" now encompasses 37 stores including Cub, County Markets, Save-a-Lot, and Jerry's Foods, as well as various other commercial and real estate interests that include a Jerry's Foods on Sanibel Island, FL.
The man behind the name died April 5 at age 89. His funeral is April 10. For a complete obituary, see the Star Tribune.
I wrote a story about the history of Jerry's Foods a couple of years ago, when the company donated many photos and other artifacts that trace Jerry's history from his start as a butcher behind the counter at Grandview Market in 1947 to his thriving corporation today. See the story and some great photos here.
For being a man in charge of a large corporation, Jerry was just Jerry to his customers. They would find him sitting in the coffee shop or picking up a few items for the dishes he loved to cook at home. There's something so hometown about drinking coffee with the local grocery store owner. I know his many customers and employees will miss the man who has made his mark on Edina.
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.
Today, let's put on our Sherlock Holmes hat and investigate a little mystery that has stumped me and my colleagues at the Eden Prairie Historical Society: what was the now-destroyed building that once overlooked Garrison Pond?
Theories abound: mushroom house, cockfighting arena, gazebo, schoolhouse, teahouse, monastery....Researcher Craig Olson has heard them all as he has tried to find out more about the small ruins, now the site of Bioscrip at the southwest corner of Highways 169 and 62.
Here's the Google image below of the Bioscrip site.
Craig wrote us because he was curious about this building he remembered visiting more than 20 years ago.
"In the early 80's a friend of mine showed me this spot in Eden Prairie where he would walk up the hill and eat his lunch while on break at work. It was an octagon shaped building (ruins when I saw it), with only partial walls and a basement with bars on the windows. I believe the basement was made of poured concrete and the top was brick. It also had a fireplace in it with some strange carvings or impressions in some of the bricks like mushrooms.The building was probably no more than 20-25 feet wide.
I went back in the early 90's to see it, but it was almost completely destroyed by then. I have looked on HistoricAerials.com and have seen it in the photos from '57, '66 and '79.":
Here is a 1979 image from Historic Aerials.com of the location. To further peruse the area through the years and zoom in closer, see their great web site. (I confess: I don't see an octagon shaped building on a quick perusal. Maybe you can. View it as a "Where's Waldo?" type of challenge.)
Craig asks, "My main question is what the building was used for. I have heard several opinions... but no one can actually confirm. Apparently there was a man named Larry Russell that had photos of the building when it was still standing and knew quite a lot about it, but he has passed on. Any information pertaining to this would be greatly appreciated."
I consulted Frank Cardarelle, a surveyor who has offices near the property, and he believes it was a gazebo built by a homeowner in his large backyard. He remembers it as a little retreat for the builder, who never quite finished it before the land was sold.
Really? A gazebo? That answer seems way too tame. I was hoping for wild stories about mushroom-growing monks who held cockfights on the weekend and served tea on weekdays.
If you can solve this mystery, please email me or comment on this post.
This is the second post in a series on the history of neighborhood names in Edina. (See the first on Morningside here.) The City of Edina has formed a Neighborhood Identification Steering Committee to determine neighborhood names and borders. For more on that group, see the city's Name Your Neighborhood Blog.
City's blog icon
I've booked a hotel room on Lakefront Avenue and never glimpsed water. I've seen a Pleasant View Road without one. And, I've noticed, many flower-named streets don't have blooms lining the boulevards. Let's face it, many streets and neighborhoods don't live up to their names.
White Oaks neighborhood in Edina does. White Oaks actually has white oaks. The woods, marsh and hilly terrain in the area north and west of 49th and France give the neighborhood a character much different than its neighbors: Country Club District to the west and Morningside to the north.
I don't need to give you the borders of the neighborhood; you can easily guess them by looking at the Google aerial view (below). Surrounded by a grid of streets, White Oaks is distinct with its winding roads and woods.
When Samuel Thorpe purchased land to develop the Country Club District in 1922, he reportedly was not interested the wooded, hilly land to the east because it was much harder to develop than the level open fields of Browndale Farm on the banks of Minnehaha Creek.
This map depicts how Nancy Wallace Wild recalled the area when she was growing up on 50th Street before her neighborhood was developed.The "big hill for sliding" and the swampy area made great play areas for children, but not great residential lots.
By 1936, construction equipment had advanced enough that J. Frank Ecklund, a Sears Roebuck executive who dabbled in real estate, purchased the land for development. He made a key decision: instead of leveling the hills and clear-cutting the trees, he created a plan designed to "preserv(e) the area's rugged topography, mature trees and natural feel," according to History of the White Oaks Neighborhood.
In 1940, Ecklund and his wife Catherine (Kay) took further steps to ensure that the open meadow and lowlands remain natural. First, the Ecklunds encouraged the creation of a non-profit volunteer-based White Oaks Improvement Association (WOIA). They then deeded 3.5 acres circled by Meadow Road and 48th Street to WOIA for a park and also deeded 1.5 acre marsh near the Sunnyside Road entrance to the Village of Edina with the stipulation that it remain undeveloped.
In 1986, when an empty lot adjacent to the marsh was slated for development, the neighborhood rallied with a "Save the Marsh" campaign. They raised $20,000 to purchase the property from the developer, and the City of Edina contributed another $20,000 to preserve the land.
At the neighborhood association's 50th anniversary in 1990, Kay Ecklund was honored for her "preservation and foresight in the development of one of the earliest and most beautiful plattings utilizing natural rugged topography and trees." The White Oaks Improvement Association continues to plant trees.
Photos of the neighborhood from our collection show the rolling terrain and trees. Look behind the children in the photograph below and you'll see the mature trees in the new neighborhood. This photo was taken in 1941 (about five years after White Oaks was platted) of residents Mary MacPhail, Richard E. Larson, Margaret Schimer and Phillip Larson. As you can see, the trees provided plenty of leaves for play.
The Schimer family's first house in White Oaks was at 4704 Townes Road. Pictured here in 1939, the land has towering trees in the front yard.
Dear Wooddale School students,
I pulled these out of our photo collection after a few visitors mentioned the school murals after exclaiming over the Wooddale auditorium door, front doors, auditorium seats and other pieces from the now-demolished Edina school that are now housed in our exhibit rooms.
Tell me more about these paintings. We probably have info in the files, but since it's PHOTO Friday, I'll provide the photos and you provide the text.
The school, torn down in 1985, was located at the northwest corner of 50th and Wooddale, the site of Wooddale Park today. Opened in 1926, Wooddale -- along with Morningside School -- were the only schools in Edina for many decades. Although generations of residents fondly remember Wooddale, younger residents have no knowledge of the school, which has been gone for more than 25 years. Keep the memory alive and please comment here or email me.
Happy Friday! Enjoy the first weekend of summer vacation.
Please support the blog by becoming a member and/or joining us for the Peterson Family benefit concert on June 14.
If you need more visuals to prompt your memories, see this 11-minute YouTube video uploaded by former Wooddale student Juli Wunder Simmons. The murals appear around the 4:15 mark.
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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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