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.
Today is a perfect day to go to an amusement park, don't you think? Beautiful blue Minnesota skies, high 70s, cool breeze... If only we all could play hooky and ride on a roller coaster or four and eat a funnel cake for lunch.
Besides the summer like weather, I can attribute my mood to the serendipitous coincidence of finding out that Valleyfair is now open for the season on the same day I saw this 1948 ad for Excelsior Amusement Park in our files.
I wasn't researching Excelsior, but the ad appeared alongside a news clipping from the June 17, 1948 issue of the Edina-Morningside Suburban Press.
If you grew up between 1925 and 1968 in the Twin Cities, you probably went to Excelsior for summer fun (unless you were the children of my parents, who thought the place was too run down in the late 60s for little kids.)
They may have been right. Excelsior was a teen hangout in the 1960s, thanks in no small part to its Danceland, that booked such big name acts as the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones. You can read more about the history on the sites listed below, but let's just say cops were called out to the place with some regularity to establish order.
Even if you can't sneak out this afternoon, why not take a virtual trip to the bygone days of Excelsior Amusement Park by checking out these links:
As always, I love to live vicariously. Tell me about your fun days at Excelsior Amusement Park or any other memory this story brings to mind. Comment here or email me.
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