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.
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.
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.
What do you call this building, located at 5701 Normandale Road?
a. Edina-Morningside Junior and Senior High School, as it was called when it opened in 1949?
b. Edina High School, as it was called after the villages of Morningside and Edina merged in 1966?
c. Edina East, as it was called after Edina West (below) was built in 1972?
d. Edina Community Center, as it is now?
Careful, your answer will no doubt reveal your age -- or at least your longevity in Edina. People often tell me to go to the high school, when they mean the Community Center. Believe me, I was confused the first few months on the job here.
Here's a circa 1990s aerial of the original high school.
Looking south at Edina's first high school, built in 1949. The photo, taken in the 1990s, shows the building next to Highway 100 on the right. Lake Cornelia is visible on the upper left. Other large buildings are: Concord Elementary (upper center) and South View Middle School (lower left) Kuhlman Athletic Field is the oval in the center.
A recent Photo Friday featured the Ernie Davis farm, site of the new Edina West High School below. (Excuse me, that's now just "Edina High School." I guess I'm revealing my age a little.) So this week I thought I'd give you a closer look at the high schools, both old and new.
I should have noted in the original post that Edina West was the second school building constructed on the Davis farm. Valley View Middle School (square lighter building at left) was built in 1964. West was built in 1972. (See current map of buildings here.)
Happy Friday, everyone!
Free tours of Edina's historic buildings: St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Minnehaha Grange and Cahill School on Tuesday, May 8. For more information, see our home page. Hope to see you there!
Mondays are the day I turn over the reins to our readers. I publish comments written about past posts, which in turn seem to generate more comments. This week, people are talking about Cinema 4 theater, Queen Anne Kiddieland and Richmond Hills neighborhood.
1. Cinema 4 movie theater - Last week's Monday mashup: Movies in the Southdale area brought back memories for several readers. Zeke Rice's photos of the movie theater at today's Galleria site generated some discussion among museum visitors and these two blog comments.
Tammy Rodriguez wrote, I fondly remember seeing many great movies at the Southdale Cinema when I was in Elementary School in the early 70's. This was back when it had the original two screens.
I also remember going to Yorktown when it opened, possibly 1973? It was much smaller than Southdale, but they had great movies there, too. I'd love to see some photos of Yorktown.
Thanks for the memories!
Chris wrote: Last night I was watching a special about the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan and my wife and I were discussing where we were when we first heard. So weird that I was trying to explain that I was coming out of a movie at Cinema 4 where the Galleria stands today. Had not thought about that place in years, and now 2x in 2 days…..very fun!
Pony ride photo courtesy of Gwen Thomas.
2. Queen Anne Kiddieland - I wrote The Valleyfair of yesteryear: Queen Anne Kiddieland more than a year ago, but we still get comments from folks who recall the small amusement park and search to find out more about the place that brought them so much childhood fun.
Mark Johnson wrote: My dad Dr. Angelo Johnson (Oxboro Clinic) would take us kids there on weekends. In the south end of the park was a dirt quarter midget race track and we had two of the little racers and would compete with other kids for trophies. I remember a kid named Jim Hall had a turquoise car that was faster than everybody else's car and he would win many of the races. The flagman always wore sunglasses and would jump high in the air when he dropped the green and checkered flags. When we weren't racing we were riding the ponies and other rides and drinking those little wax bottles of juice they sold at the concession stand. My recollection is that the park was located approximately where the old Lincoln Del was situated between France and Normandale. I remember there was a swampy pond in the back area of the park where frogs would peep and birds would fly in and out. Tall bulrushes hid the actual water, but I knew it had to be there because I could hear frogs. I miss those times.
I love the stories about QAK, and I hadn't heard about the midget race track before. Thanks for writing, Mark.
I've been trying to nail down exactly where QAK was located. I've heard the southeast corner of what is now Highway 100 and Interstate 494, but the roadways and buildings there have changed so much over the years that everyone picks a different "modern" building as the site.
So you tell me. Take a look at the aerials posted on www.historicaerials.com for that intersection, and see how it has changed over the years. My guess is that the Queen Anne Kiddieland site is essentially in the middle of Interstate 494 today. Use the Compare feature, and slide the aerial view between today and 1957 and tell me what you think.
3. Photo Friday: Aerial of Richmond Hills neighborhood - Chris Rofidal kindly provided a photo of the Richmond Hills neighborhood, and I neglected to credit the original donor, Bill and Doreen Just. Chris provided additional information on the background of the photo: Thanks for posting the picture. As I mentioned the original was given to me by Bill & Doreen Just at last years Edina Night to Unite block party. I then had it scanned so it can be saved. I was told by the Just's that a former Star Tribune photographer would fly around and take aerial shots. He did this a lot, but I don't recall his name. Seeing that we are just south of the GrandView District our neighborhood will be impacted with the new development so thanks for making reference to that topic and directing people there."
I know the main focus of the Night to Unite is crime prevention, but I like that neighbors talk about the history of their homes and neighborhoods as they get to know each other better. If you discover interesting neighborhood history, please share your stories with us. Email me or comment here.
Night to Unite is Tuesday, Aug. 7 this year. For more information, see the Edina Police web site.
4. Edina man helps save Minnesota's oldest manufacturing plant - Chuck Mooty of Edina and his cousin Paul Mooty have revived a business that dates back from 1865. Normally, I don't write about anything outside of Edina, but this piece of history (with its small Edina connection) is too interesting to pass up.
The Mootys have re-opened the Faribo blanket mill that closed in 2009 in the economic downturn, and the story has captured the attention all over, including a story in the Star Tribune today and an segment on the CBS Early show last year. (See video below)
Remember this movie theater?
Although it wasn't quite a "blink and you'll miss it" business that opened one year and closed the next, the Southdale Cinema (6901 France Aveune South) certainly didn't have the longevity of the Edina Theater at 50th and France (more than 75 years and still going strong) or even the Westgate Theater that lasted more than 35 years at Sunnyside and France.
Southdale Cinema survived about 14 years. It opened in 1966 as the first twin movie theater built in Minnesota (according to Cinema Treasures web site) and included an art gallery. In 1975, the theaters were divided to make four auditoriums.
The Southdale area business photos that we've been running on the past several "Photo Friday" posts prompted some readers recall the long gone cinema, which closed in 1990. Reader Jeff Strate gave me the link to these photos on Zeke Rice's Flickr site, and Zeke graciously granted permission for us to use them in the blog.
"My first job was at Southdale Cinema in Edina, MN, a fun mid-century theater that was built in 1966. I was working the last night it was open, August 16, 1990, and these are some pictures I took that night. The next day we had this horrible parade where the employees marched to the new theater, Centennial Lakes. Nothing like marching through a suburb in polyester uniforms. The Galleria mall expanded to this space after it was torn down. The final quality films that played: Die Harder, Air America, Arachnaphobia, Ducktales and Pretty Woman," he wrote on his Flickr site.
It was my first job, and I think I started there in 1989. At the time the fabulous mid-century design didn't stand out to me, but looking back now I just love it," he emailed.
Mid-century design is now considered pretty hip, thanks to shows like Mad Men, lights like these and the color orange has made a comeback. Zeke pointed out that movie theater seats were displayed in the lobby to promote the new location (and new comfy seating) at the Centennial Lakes theater.
Zeke took photos of his fellow employees the last night.
I wonder what the 1990 prices of concessions were?
"The day shift at the theater during the week was always pretty quiet, with only three people working (other than the manager): the box office (ticket seller), usher (ticket ripper), and concessions. The regular, day-time usher was an older man named Bill, who I remember being a little afraid of at first, but soon discovered he had a sly sense of humor - and a bit of a temper if someone tried to get in without getting their ticket ripped," Zeke continued.
"One day they was a flurry of excitement when the manager got a phone call - he told one of the employees to go to one of the back doors that exited directly from the auditorium to the parking lot. A few minutes later, I saw a rather short man and a scantily clad woman cross from one auditorium to the next - it was Prince, going to see a movie and attempting to be anonymous," Zeke wrote.
It wasn't the theater's first brush with fame; according to Cinema Treasures web site, Francis Ford Coppola screened Apocalypse Now there and got a lukewarm reception.
Centennial Lakes 8 (below) opened in 1990, and closed a couple of years after Southdale 16, another AMC theater, opened basically next door in 2001.
Zeke said he would ask other coworkers for their stories about Southdale Cinema and Centennial Lakes. What are your memories? If you have information about these theaters or any others in Edina (Yorktown Cinema Grill, France Avenue Drive-in), please comment here or email me.
Thanks to Zeke Rice for his photos and stories. Thanks also to Jeff Strate, who discovered Zeke's photos.
Everybody remembers their favorite teacher. Many Edina residents fondly reminisce about Miss Bemis or Mrs. Glover, their first teachers. Others credit band teacher Hal Freese for inspiring a lifelong love for music. Several visitors have pointed out teachers in these photos below and admitted that they were their first crushes.
I have been surprised how much emotion these photos from our "Growing Up in Edina" exhibit have evoked. Now that I think about it, I should have expected that teachers would have a lasting impact on the children in their classrooms. I know my teachers did for me.
If you can help identify any of the teachers in the photos below, please email me or comment here. For a figurative gold star or Blues Clues sticker, give a shout out to those teachers who made a positive difference in your life.
(Above) Cahill School faculty 1965.
(Above) Cahill School faculty 1970.
Thankfully, the photography studio printed the names right on the photo in later years.
We do not have a complete collection of teacher or classroom photos. Students and teachers have donated photos, usually one or two at a time, over the years. Morningside School donated a large number before the building was demolished in the 1970s. I would love to have more photos, originals strongly preferred. (We can provide scans or copies to the donor.) For more information, call me at the museum, 612-928-4577 or 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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