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.
If you want to research the history of your house or neighborhood, you can look through a number of public records like old maps, aerial photos, city directories and more. However, some of the most interesting records are in private collections, tucked away in scrapbooks and family photo albums.
I'm always happy when people share those private family photos with the public. Morningside residents, especially those living on the one-block long Alden Drive, should get a kick out of these photos from the Parsons family photo album. The Parsons were among the first residents in the neighborhood and helped document its history as it happened.
Janet Parsons Mackey recently sent these photos to us, with the following descriptions.
Here are three photos from my grandmother's (Clara Parsons) album.
The first one is labeled "Alden Drive," 1910.
The second one is their first house on Alden Drive. I think it was built on the upper flat part.... I don't think they had houses on the lower part until later.
The third one, labeled "when the vines had grown" in my grandmother's handwriting, is a house I can't identify. If one of you can do so, please let me know!
To answer those questions, I dug a little in our files. We happen to have quite a bit of information about Mackey's grandparents, Clara and E. Dudley Parsons, Sr., because the Parsons family were influential in Morningside's early development. The family dates back to Mackey's great-grandfather Rev. Henry Parsons and his wife Sarah, who helped establish Morningside's first church, now called the Edina-Morningside Community Church. Henry and Sarah owned five lots near their house at 4232 France Avenue.
Soon they were joined by son E. Dudley Parsons, Sr., and his wife Clara, when he got a a teaching job in North Minneapolis in 1907 (according to the Winter 2006 issue of About Town). The couple soon purchased seven lots, amounting to some 3.5 acres, near E. Dudley Sr's parents and built a house at 4220 Alden. From the street view image from Google maps (below), I believe the house with the vines is that house.
What do you think?
The bones of the house are the same, but the location is barely recognizable just over 100 years later. What was once a little farmstead is now part of the suburban landscape.
Instead of being surrounded by fellow homeowners, the Parsons "pastured cows and raised chickens and gardened vegetables to provide a significant part of their subsistence," according to the About Town story. “We used to cut all of the wood necessary to cook with and for winter heat,” Dudley Jr. remembered. “[And] we sold milk to the neighbors. I delivered the milk in shiny tin pails with tight-fitting covers.”
Mackey's grandmother Clara helped bring about the transformation from farm to suburb. Like many homeowners in Morningside's early platting, the Parsons bought their lots with an eye for future development. Many Morningside housewives sold off lots and built homes one by one to add income to the family coffers. While the husband worked in the city, the wife often served as designer and general contractor on the housing projects. Clara wrote in her letters how much she enjoyed the work:
The great joy about the building on the lot is that I do like to build and am right now having such fun getting bids from contractors. ... I talked with another contractor, this is going to be good. They each say they know just how it should be done and the other fellow doesn’t, but believe me like Johnny who can show the smallest figures is the man who gets it. This last one seems to know his business, he said “I’ll make specifications and tell you exactly what I will do and if any one is smarter than I am let him have it.” Another one is coming at 5:30 I wonder what he is like. Jensen was over this morning and Alm last evening. (undated letter to son E. Dudley Parsons, Jr.)
Unlike many post World War II neighborhoods that developed all at once, often with identical floor plans, Morningside developed piecemeal as lots were sold off by the original homeowner. I think part of the charm of the neighborhood is that houses from different styles and eras stand side by side.
While I'm fairly confident that the third photo is of 4220 Alden, I can't figure out the other two photos without additional research. Because of the neighborhood transformation with more houses, remodels, teardowns and lots of trees, it's difficult to match up the houses from the first photo. One of my volunteers is going to walk the neighborhood to see if he can find the addresses.
Soon the suburban landscape will change again, as many of the small bungalows and farmhouses built in the early 1900s are being torn down and replaced by larger homes. In fact, 4220 Alden recently sold to a developer and may be slated for demolition. The current homeowner graciously allowed Janet Mackey to walk through her grandparents' home when she visited earlier in June. She also had an opportunity to see their second home at 4210 Alden Drive built 1928. The house still stands for now.
Even though they had a hand in the transformation, the Parsons still mourned the loss of the having cows in the backyard and space all around them. E. Dudley Parsons, Sr., wrote to his son Dudley about his mixed feelings:
Just a little while ago, I went into the yard of our former residence on the hill and looked about at the trees I planted and stood on the old well platform and recalled our pumping so many thousands of strokes to fill our tank in the attic – and came away sad at the thought of leaving it to strangers, even though it seemed to pay us to do it at the time. ... Maybe I’m wrong about it as your mother thinks I am – but I can’t help the feeling of sadness.
From her and her husband's letters, we know that Clara Parsons built and designed what she called "cottages" at 4224, 4220, 4218, 4216, 4214, 4212, 4210 (their final home), 4202 Alden Drive as well as 4207 W. 42nd Street. She may have built more.
Do you have information and photos about your Edina home? Please share them with us! Email me or call me at 612-928-4577 to chat or comment here.
"Monday Mashup" is a roundup of reader comments with a few observations of my own.
The recent essay by John Reid, Streetcar days in Morningside, elicited some memories for Carole Whalen Wenborg, who wrote:
I was a Bluebird and, later, a Camp Fire Girl in St. Louis Park for several years. We used to have streetcar parties that were great fun. For a price we could rent a streetcar, fill it up with friends and food, add a battery powered phonograph and a pile of 45's and we were good to go. For an hour or more we were transported around town in a mobile party room, dancing and eating. Of course, there were adults on board and I believe they enjoyed themselves as much as we junior highers. Such fun!
I hadn't heard about the mobile streetcar parties before. Thanks for writing, Carole!
Daniel G wrote:
Wonderful article. I've been researching the early history of the streetcar in Edina, and it's easy to get focused on dates, corporate names, mile markers, and other "facts and figures." I thought this was a fascinating and refreshing perspective on how the streetcars affected real people. Thanks for posting it! (BTW, that TCRT streetcar now in San Francisco turns around at a loop right near my house).
Yes! Accurate dates and data are important in historical research, but memories really show how the culture was affected by historical events. I'd love to see your research when you're done, and in the meantime, here are some more fun memories from Edina residents, who wrote essays for our "Streetcar Memories" exhibit in 2004, 50 years after the last streetcar ran in Edina.
In the mid 1930s, our family rented a farm house on what is now North Street. The back yard abutted the streetcar tracks. The house is still there. It has been upgraded, and is now very charming. To the west of the house was a dirt road that runs along Minnehaha Creek. It didn’t have the name at that time. My Dad would catch the streetcar at Brookside Avenue to go work in a machine shop off East Hennepin Avenue. He was a machinist and worked long hours during the Depression. On the return home, he always sat on the left hand seats. Mother would send us out in the back yard to see if Dad was sound asleep leaning against the window. We would know then that he would be going all the way out to the end of the line in Hopkins and he would be about a half hour late for dinner.
– Tom Divine, Edina
Friday nights in the fall the high school football games were played at Nicollet Field and the Selby-Lake cars were loaded to the gills with kids. I remember jumping out the window to get out of paying my token when we got to Nicollet. I really did it because I thought it was daring and a sort of wild thing to do. We girls didn’t have much imagination about being wild in those days.
– Kathleen Wetherall, a former student at St. Margaret’s Academy in Minneapolis
ROCKED TO SLEEP
On many a late winter afternoon, I would be riding home on the streetcar in the early darkness. After a long day at the U and trying to read some assignment for the next day – I would succumb to the carbon monoxide fumes and fall asleep. More often than not, I’d miss my stop at 43rd and Upton only to be awakened by the conductor at the end of the line, which was 54th and France. At that point, the only alternative was to put another token in the fare box and ride back to my stop hoping I hadn’t missed supper.
– Joe Sullivan, Edina
Note: You may know Joe Sullivan as the author of the great history features in the City of Edina's quarterly publication "About Town."
A MEN'S ONLY STRONGHOLD
When the 1950s started and I was nearing the end of grade school, there was a streetcar way to mark the passage to manhood. More and more I would pass by empty seats to stand on the back platform. It was a men’s only stronghold where guys of all ages would lean against the circle of windows, smoking, talking and importantly hanging out. At the time, I had no idea that this culture, along with the whole experience of trolley, was about to be uprooted.
– Tom Clark of Edina
It would not come as a surprise to me if ten years of my first 20 were spent on the Como-Harriet streetcar. (It was not known as a trolley!) Travels to church, downtown, the ‘U’ for the Youth Symphony Series, the state fair and college. At least twice a week trips were the norm for a one-car family who lived two miles from the end of the line.
Never to be forgotten were trying to get the seat with the heater on the floor during the winter, the open back platform for the smokers and the clink of that 10 cent token hitting the silver dome in the coin counter.
– Mary Westerberg Fenlason, Edina
Summer and winter we went about our business in any weather. I love to think about the ride along the “freeway” by Harriet and Calhoun in summer when the Motorman would open the throttle full bore. The car would rock and the wind felt so good on a hot night. That was air conditioning of the day.
I even used the car to go from home to home on my Public Health rotation during nursing school. That was COLD to wait for the car as we didn’t have such nice warm clothes as we have now. Wool in the wind offered little protection. In winter, the car was warm and welcoming after the wait on some corner.
– Lila Borst Larson, Edina
WAITING IN BELLESON’S
In 1933 we moved to Morningside about a block west of the Westgate Theater site. There we had a choice of services with the Como Hopkins running along its own right of way on the South side of 44th Street, the Como-Harriet to 54th and France coming down France Avenue and the Como Harriet ending at its own loop just east of 44th and France.
The favorite place to wait for the streetcar was initially inside (or just outside) the front door of Lars Belleson’s Country Club Market.
This store was the forerunner of the Country Club Market chain formed when Lars sold out to go into the haberdashery business on 50th Street. We could see the Como Hopkins coming far enough in advance to run across the street if it arrived first.
– James Grunnet, Edina
Did these stories prompt any memories? We'd love to hear from you. Please comment below or email me. Happy Monday, everyone!
Some of the "Then and Now" photo pairings showcased in "EdinaScapes" exhibit, now on display at the Edina History Museum. Current scenes photographed by Chip Jones.
Photographer Chip Jones clearly remembers his first camera: a Minolta XG-1 purchased from Southdale Dayton's photo department when he was attending Edina East High School.
In his mind's eye, he still sees Southdale as it looked during his childhood, with a film counter at Dayton's and the bird cage in the Garden Court.
So when I asked him to shoot the present day scenes of historic photos in our collections, he willingly volunteered for the task. The resulting paired "Then and Now" photos are part of our current "EdinaScapes" exhibit on display at the Edina History Museum until Dec. 21.
We originally envisioned a short-term display, but we both liked the images so much that the photos are nicely framed and part of our permanent collection. You can have a piece of Edina history too: the framed pairs (see right) are available to order for $120 each.
As you can see, Chip shot the present day scenes from the same angle and distance as the historic photos. Linhoff Photo worked with us to print and crop the photos to the same scale to get the look just right..
I love the display. And so have our visitors, who immediately can see what has changed -- and what has stayed the same -- over time.
Chip tromped all over town to scout locations. Some scenes just didn't work, because trees or other buildings obscured the view. But we see the potential in doing more "Then and Now" projects with other photos in our collection.
I'm grateful that a professional photographer volunteered his time and talents, especially someone like Chip, who specializes in landscape photography from a fine arts perspective.
His passion for photography grew while working on his BFA in painting and drawing at the University of Minnesota, from where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. He went on to receive his MFA in Film/Video from CalArts (California Institute of the Arts), a private art school founded by Walt Disney in Los Angeles, California with an advanced curriculum in Art, Dance, Film, Music and Theater.
Chip returned to Edina after college. He is married Megan Maloney, who also grew up in Ediina. He has been active on the Edina Public Art Committee, as well as the Crosstown Camera Club.
In addition to his business in internet marketing, he works with photography clients looking for artistic photos that fit a theme, such as a riverfront condominium wanting fine art photos of the river or a chamber of commerce requesting beautiful photos showing a strong business climate in their community.
His work can be seen locally at Jason's Deli at Centennial Lakes and the Town Planner calendar, as well as private offices. His website also has an Edina gallery.
Chip grew up wanting to paint and draw, but he found his art through the lens of his camera purchased from his hometown shopping mall.
We want your stories for the Edina Reads writing contest. Deadline is Oct. 1. To inspire you, here is a wonderful story from our collection.
By John Reid
We moved into the house at the corner of 44th and Grimes in the summer of 1932. Well, it wasn’t quite on the corner, since the streetcar tracks ran on a private right of way next to it. The big yellow cars would come rocketing by every half hour, on their way to Hopkins or to Minneapolis.
They seldom stopped on the inbound trip since an extra fare was charged when they crossed France Avenue - so few folks boarded at Grimes. It could have been a convenience for us, but it was the height (depth?) of the Depression and money was tight. Even the dime fare made a difference in those days. When we were really sick, we did use that stop to board to go to the doctor.
But it was wonderful to have a way to get downtown and back without a car. I was admonished to take “any Como car” to return home on my own from forays with my mother, and ventured on my own when about 11 or 12 years old. The Como Hopkins cars went by the house, the Como Harriet’s turned in the loop at 44th and France and also went on to 50th or to 54th and were turned on the wye there. From then on the downtown library, stores and theaters were accessible to all of us, car-less homemakers and kids alike.
As the winter hit in ‘32 a new phenomenon appeared. The dishes on the pantry shelves started to rattle every time a car passed. It seemed that the frozen ground transmitted the vibrations set up by the heavy cars. The cessation of the phenomenon was a good herald of Spring. The amount of the car’s weight was demonstrated when a car labeled “Oak Harriet” hit a fire truck when going uphill on Upton Ave. The fire truck was tossed on its side into a corner lot and a picture appeared in the paper of it lying there, looking helpless.
The cars had a thick concrete platform in front and back that held them on the track as they made time along the straight stretches near the lakes. Summers were wonderful, with the windows open and the smell of the flowers in the backyards along the route south of 31st. in Minneapolis. Modern light rail is far too antiseptic in comparison. When the PCC cars were put into service after the war they were very unsatisfactory; spooky silent wheels that didn’t have to nice screams on curves, curved walls and roofs that cramped the insides and the windows didn’t open! Just like a bus. I sometimes passed them up to take the next wooden car.
The same 44th and France corner without streetcars today. Image from Google maps.
We kids couldn’t resist playing with the streetcars! The “big kids” who lived there would put pennies on the track. They emerged squashed quite flat and bigger. Stones were also tried. They exploded with a loud bang when they were hit. Once the streetcar stopped and the conductor yelled about it being dangerous. Sometime about then the game of “streetcars are poison” arose. The idea was to hide so that no one on the cars could see you. The one who spotted the oncoming streetcar got points, although there wasn’t much point to the whole thing.
There was some danger to those of us who walked the tracks to get to the stores at 44th and France Ave. Otherwise we had to cross 44th street at the octagonal stop sign, and the cars often didn’t pay much attention to the kids. Using the tracks was faster, and if we didn’t hear the cars they would blast their electric horns, so no one was hit as far as I know. There were a couple of times when cars came from both directions at once when it was best to go over the edge of the embankment to avoid them.
But we did have some excitement the day a big wind blew for hours. As I came from the Morningside School towards home I could see that all of the mothers were out in the street waving things. The poles that held the trolley wire had leaned over until the wire was maybe two feet from the street! We were told to go down to Curve Avenue and cross the tracks there, where the wires were higher and Constable George Weber was directing traffic. At the Grimes crossing the cars were warned away by a lot of hand waving, but something better was needed.
Some of the Boy Scouts brought the tug-of war rope from the church, and slid it under the wire to the moms. They tied it between the posts of the “cross buck” warning signs and festooned it with towels and kerchiefs to make it visible to traffic. One woman came from the Country Club and accelerated as she approached the rope. SHE wasn’t going to stop! All of the assembled crowd yelled and her bumper hit the rope. The big timbers to which it was tied snapped, tossing the cross buck signs toward the car. She did make a panic stop with her bumper maybe an inch from the wire. She just sat there for a minute or so. We finally had to go in for dinner and didn’t see the repair crew, but the line was restored in hours.
During the Depression the “knights of the road” were seen along many rail lines, riding the rails to jobs or to warmer climes. Some of them even came to our back door, asking for a handout. Mother didn’t want to turn them away, and usually could find a job for them to do to earn lunch.
The final removal of the line was during my days at the U of M. I had an old ’33 Plymouth and didn’t use the streetcar much. Of course, if I needed a part from the dealer downtown it was very handy! France Avenue was deteriorating. The city owned it out to the middle, Edina and Morningside owned the other half, the almost bankrupt streetcar company was responsible for maintaining the areas between the tracks and, to cap it all off, it was a State highway. Each partner had others to blame and nothing was done to fix it. The potholes made it so undriveable that Edina simply widened their half into a full size road of new concrete that was entirely on Edina property. The Minneapolis half sat going further to ruin as the months passed.
To stop the streetcars the Edina road crew showed up with tools and disconnected one rail of the track, and lifted it out of place. Some pictures were taken of councilmen watching this. The cars still ran to the loop at 44th, but not for long.
The line is gone now, everyone uses cars and children are shepherded everywhere. The land used by the streetcar line was nice and flat so houses were built along the right of way. But the lots aren’t very wide!
So it seems incredible that we let this entire system disappear. Sometimes even now I dream that I am back in Minneapolis trying to figure out how to get back to Morningside. I am looking for Hennepin Avenue-and on it a big yellow trolley that was somehow saved comes by . . . .
Nope, it's not a typo. While this blog normally features "Photo Friday," this week it's "Photo Wednesday" because I can't wait two more days to show you this great photo donated by the granddaughter of Red Joyce, who owned a bakery in Morningside for several decades.1931 ad
Finally, photographic evidence of a long-time local business that served generations of Edina and Morningside residents.
According to the 1966 phone directory ad (above), Joyce's Bakery opened in 1922, just two years after the little neighborhood of Morningside seceded from Edina to create its own village. (Note: the owner was not related to 1960s Morningside Mayor Ken Joyce.)
Owner W.J. "Red" Joyce was well-known for his red hair and his white bread.
Located at 4406 France Avenue South, Joyce's Bakery shared a building with Carlson's Odd Shop, Burr Cheever's barber shop, Morningside Hardware and Griffen Drug.
You probably know the building now as the Bruegger's Bagels building at Sunnyside Avenue and France Avenue. If addresses haven't changed, Joyce's Bakery is in the same space as Gear Running store is today. (See Google street view image below of the corner.)
At some point in the 1960s, Joyce sold the business. The new owner kept the name and many of the same products. I met the new owner at our Morningside exhibit in 2005 and he told me that he couldn't stay in business after shopping trends changed; shoppers bought bread and rolls during their regular supermarket trip rather than running a separate errand to shop at Joyce's.
When I followed up to find out more information and photos, his phone number was disconnected. Years later, the original owner's granddaughter Liz Welch emailed me this week with today's great photo and she promises more to come. I may wait until a Friday to show them here, but we may have a "Photo Monday" or "Photo Tuesday" in our future!
What do you remember about Joyce's Bakery? We have received some great comments on our Facebook page:
I met author Dick Ramsey when he came in to the Edina History Museum to research the area of 44th and France for his book titled (logically) 44th and France.
While every other writer who has visited the museum has produced a history book, Ramsey wrote a fictional story set in Depression era Morningside.
As the cover shows, history affected the story but Ramsey didn't try to replicate the neighborhood exactly. Businesses inspired by Carlson's Odd Shop (Ordinary's Odd Shop) and Griffen Drug (Ralph's Drug Store) among others show up in the story, but necessarily in their real locations.
The book is available at the museum gift shop for $10, cash or check only, during regular museum hours.
Find out more about the book in this Q and A with Dick Ramsey:
Q. What inspired you to write a book set at 44th and France? Did you grow up in the area?
A. Yes, I did grow up in the area, at 46th and Drew. Yet, my second home was 44th and France and my realization in 1942 and ’43 that the shops within contained all the goodies anyone would want for a lifetime. But the key to such treats for us six and seven year-olds were discarded or forgotten pop bottles worth two-cents each at the A&P Grocery Store. Then, with 12 to 15 pennies bulging in our front pockets, we could choose from a chocolate soda for twelve cents at Ralph’s Drug Store, ten-cent cutouts of Superman from Carlson’s Odd Shop, or a ten-cent ice cream sandwich from the Dairy Store, part of the Convention Grill.
The fun, however, did not end when we were out of money. We could always cross Sunnyside Road to the Westgate Theatre and gaze at the still photos of the movie being shown. Why, it might be John Wayne, and an entire afternoon’s contemplation. But first, a visit to Art’s Edina Motors was always high on our docket. There, we watched the mechanics work on—and yell and scream at—temperamental automobile engines before we left to fight World War II in the vacant lots and alleys on the way home.
Q. Even though this book is fiction, you did some research at the Edina History Museum while writing 44th and France. How much of the book is based on actual Morningside places and events?
A. In both 44th and France and an earlier book With One Hand Tied…, the Edina and Morningside setting was not necessarily used to showcase particular local events. Instead, it represents more of a nostalgic look back at an area that, during the Depression and World War II, helped frame our development.
We treated the jaunt to 44th and France as almost automatic during the course of typical days. It was a hub of activity where, even if you had no money, you could always place bottle caps on the street car tracks and have them flattened by the next car coming. You could put them in your pocket and pretend while gazing at the arrangement of strange plants with ominous looking leaves in the window of the barber shop before going in the hardware store to check-out the zillions of nails, screws, nuts, and bolts in hundreds of sizes sitting side by side in metal bins.
Q. This is the second book featuring the character Gail Stuart. Tell us about him and his story.
A. Gail Stuart is introduced in With One Hand Tied... It opens in November of 1954 at the fictitious Eastern State University in fictitious New Cambridge, Iowa where 18-year-old Gail is a freshman. He is suddenly falsely accused of stealing a midterm Geology test. How he extricates himself from this difficulty tells the rest of the story, which is a romp with duplicitous administrators who perceive their morality above reproach, with double-dealing fraternity hacks, with sleazy self dealing reporters, and a whole host of characters, many wacky, who either want Gail innocent or guilty.
In contrast, 44th and France plays out in 1938, when Gail is only two and consequently a minor character. It tells the story of nine year old Pat Koskuisko who inadvertently overhears his fourth grade teacher being blackmailed by a St. Paul private detective. Gail's mother, Charlotte, never one to back away from giving people what they deserve, designs a neat scheme to blackmail the blackmailer.
Q. Will there be a third book? Will it be based in Morningside or Edina?
A. I have a third book, just underway, picking up in 1957 with Gail now 21 and a senior at Eastern State. The setting is again Eastern State University with some segments in Minneapolis, Morningside and Edina.
Q. What do you do when you're not writing?
A. I work about half the time for a publisher of city and state histories and economic overviews used by chambers of commerce, cities, and economic development organizations to interest companies in relocating. Otherwise, I read history and historical fiction, maintain an interest in philosophy, play golf, attend concerts, shows, and listen to my companion/editor complain in advance about a future book the length of With One Hand Tied… Hmm. Could eleven-hundred pages produce cracks in a 25-year relationship?
Do you remember Carlson's Odd Shop in Morningside? Or Officer Weber, Joyce's Bakery, the cookie lady and Mrs. Glover? Then you're officially an "Morningside Old-Timer." Mark your calendar for a reunion of friends from the neighborhood: Saturday, June 22 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Weber Field warming house.
I have a feeling that there will be a great turnout for this event. More than 250 people returned for a neighborhood reunion back in 2005 during Morningside's centennial, when the Edina Historical Society held a grand opening of "Morningside: A Century of Good Neighbors" exhibit. The annual picnic for current Morningside residents attracts around 300 people each year.
I may not have grown up in Morningside, but I do know one thing: it's a very tight little community, perhaps because it was a separate village for almost 50 years. Even though the neighborhood rejoined Edina in 1966, there will "always be a Morningside," the local paper editorialized after the election to merge Morningside with Edina.
This reunion will be very informal, according to one of the organizers Jim Joyce, with the main goal of reminiscing and renewing acquaintances.
"A few of us 'Old-timey Morningsiders' got to thinking it would be fun to gather together at one of our favorite Morningside hangouts, Weber Field, to see who's still around and try to recall some of those times from our yesterdays of the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s ... and beyond," the reunion press release states."Maybe we talk about things and people such as Hawkins, Carlson Odd Shop, Tastee Treat, Mrs. Glover and Miss Baker, Harold Schwartz, Wayne Courtney, Constable Weber and not to forget 4th of July bike parades at Weber Field, Scout meetings at Morningside Church, movies atWestgate Theater, pot belly stove huddling at the skating rink warming shack and early morning treats at Joyce's bakery. Or just hanging out at Vic's Texaco station, Wimmer's (Wimpy's) bike shop and Lake Harriet's north beach and bandstand."
Organizers will set up tables in the warming house on the north side of Weber Field with -- what else? -- Weber grills. People are encouraged to bring food to share, as well as some photographs of family, neighbors, classmates, the village and village characters.
Maybe some of those characters will even show up in person, Jim says. "We are working on opening up what's left of the old Morningside grade school from noon to 1 p.m., in case you want to see where you spent part of your youth with Mrs. Glover, Miss Baker and our other fine teachers and classmates. We don't think Mrs. Hutchinson, the Morningside principal for many years, will be able to make it, but we may be able to arrange for a visit by one of our other teachers from that era."
To RSVP or assist in spreading the word, setting up tables, re-constructing the Fourth of July bicycle parade or bringing in old photos, please contact the Morning for Old-timey Morningsiders (MOM) Committee:
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.
These men are Odd Fellows.
Note the capital letters. They are not odd fellows, but Odd Fellows as in the "International Order of Odd Fellows," a fraternal organization that dates back several centuries.
These men belonged to the local chapter, Golden Link Lodge No. 167. According to the St. Louis Park Historical Society, it "appears to be a consolidated Lodge that covered the entire metropolitan area, since officers were from Minneapolis, St. Paul, Mound, and Spring Lake Park."
The headquarters of this group was at 4388 France Avenue in Edina, the building located in the northwest corner of 44th and France. In this circa 1950s photo, Hawkins Confectionery and Morningside Grocery & Meats also occupies the building.
This is the current Google maps street view of the building. Although there have been some updates over the years, it still looks much the same as it did when it was built in 1918.
Here's a closer look at the Odd Fellows sign above the door to the stairway to their second floor meeting hall.
Not only did the Odd Fellows meet here, but the rest of the neighborhood also found uses for the space. As Dudley Parsons, Sr. wrote in his Feb. 27, 1920 "Morningsider" column in Lake Harriet News:
"The Odd Fellows’ Hall on France Avenue and 44th Street is a community center of increasing usefulness. Not only are the lodge meetings and social functions held there but regular Saturday afternoon dancing classes, neighborhood parties and entertainments, and the service of the Morningside Church and Sunday School. The Hall is equipped with kitchen accommodations and has a stage for amateur dramatic performances. There is a commodious reception room and there are two other rooms available. The Hall is occupied nearly every night in the week."
It was here in 1920 that Morningside residents met to discuss seceding from Edina, and later where the Village of Morningside council held its meetings.
The organization itself was "known affectionately as the 'Oofs,' wrote Parsons in his November 19, 1936, column, noting the importance of the lodge in creating a sense of neighborliness. "For a quarter of a century it has been gathering weekly – and sometimes oftener – two score of the neighbors in pleasant social business and pastime. I suppose that fully a hundred families have been represented in these gatherings – lodge meetings, lectures or dancing parties. It is very doubtful that ever a member of these families is ill or unfortunate without the intelligent sympathy of the others, and many an hour of pain and grief has been lessened in its intensity by the comfort of this ministration. I am the right person to say this because I have never been a member of any lodge..."
According to Minneapolis Tribune stories, the Golden Link Lodge met in other cities prior to 1920. Their name is listed in local phone directories until at least 1967.
Were you an "Oof," as Parsons would say? Did you go to one of the dances or other community gatherings in the meeting hall? Please share your memories with us by commenting here or emailing 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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