Cedric Adams. Photo courtesy Pavek Museum of Broadcasting.
Unarguably the most popular radio broadcaster in the Midwest after World War II was WCCO’s Cedric Adams, who also had a successful newspaper column for the Minneapolis Tribune.
His radio show was so popular that pilots claimed that they could see the lights go out all across the region promptly each night after he signed off his 10 p.m. newscast.
Cedric grew up in a very small town in southwestern Minnesota, Magnolia, with a population of 261, but as an adult, he made his home in Edina. While most other notable Edinans lived here quietly, Cedric made his adopted town famous by his columns and radio shows. He broadcast his shows several days a week from his home office and even had a show called Dinner at the Adams’, aired from his dining room table.
With an infectious chuckle and a folksy style of “good neighbor” humor that became the trademark of WCCO, Cedric talked about his children, weight, marriage, clothing, neighbors and life in the suburbs.
Who knows? Perhaps Cedric, in his way, contributed to Edina’s post-war housing boom. After all, he was an unparalleled salesman. When he advertised Purity Bread on air, sales increased 145% in the Twin Cities alone. Purity couldn’t keep up with the orders. When Cedric spoke for TCF Bank, people actually sent him money and wanted him to deposit it. One listener sent him $10,000 to deposit for him. He was a master at connecting with people and sponsors were plentiful.
His influence amazed even famed comedian Bob Hope: “It is amazing that one man can wield the power that Cedric holds on the Twin Cities and suburbia. The mere mention in his column that the nights are getting chilly and his office is flooded with a thousand bed-warmers.”
One can only guess the impact of a photo brochure "Cedric Adams' Album," celebrating the announcer's 25 years with radio and newspaper. The undated pamphlet (courtesy of the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting) features an TCF home mortgage ad with Cedric, and a feature story showing him at home with his family at 5404 Larada Lane.
Here is one page:
And here is the city tax assessor photo of the same house from the street.
The family later moved to this house:
Cedric Adams and his wife also lived at 5710 Blake Road before buying their first home on Larada Lane. His final home is at Lakewood Cemetery, Lot 203, Section 26∙5.
Cedric's also owned businesses in Edina, including Cedric's restaurant, Cedric's clothing and the Biltmore hotel. I'll post more about those on another day.
For more info:
Meet Charles Reynolds and family. They're the proud homeowners of the first house built on France Avenue in the newly platted Morningside neighborhood. Built in 1905 at 4300 France Avenue -- back when France Avenue was a dirt road -- the house still stands today. (See Google maps image below)
The house was included in our recent walking tour of Morningside, co-sponsored with the Linden Hills History Study Group and led by Peter Sussman. Because the porch is now enclosed, I didn't immediately recognize the Reynolds' house, although I had seen the photo many times and written about it for our 2005 Morningside exhibit.
I love the original photo because it includes the family: a young couple and their first child, who grew up saying she was the first child born in Morningside, according to Sussman. It would be hard to prove or disprove the girl's claim, but it seems likely.
Do you have a photo of your family standing in front of your house? We have one of my husband and me standing by the Edina Realty "SOLD" sign at the curb with the house in the background. I don't have one that includes our children, who were born later. I'll have to remedy that and take a family photo this weekend, even though my kids might roll their eyes and wonder why.
My answer, which you would think they would have memorized by now, is: you'll appreciate this some day.
I know this because so many visitors come to the museum looking for their childhood. They love seeing our photos of the house they grew up in. Once they see the image, they remember things like the huge front tree started out as a tiny seedling or the garage had yet to be built.
But one thing is missing from our photos. The city Tax Assessor files show the houses: the bricks and mortar, and often even cars in the driveway but usually no people. A few of the older photos in our collection, like this one of the Reynolds family, show residents with their homes.
Do you have a great photo of your family at your Edina home? I'd love to see it. Call me at 612-928-4577 or email me to tell me about yours.
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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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