We have school photos and records, but not all history is recorded on paper.
I'd like to say that I know almost everything about Edina history. I could say it, and I would be wrong. I could research the community for another ten years, and I would still be wrong.
Oh, sure, I can tell you when Edina became a village (1888), and who was the first police officer (Percy Redpath). I can find a photo of your home in our archives, and let you look through your class yearbook. I can find all sorts of information about Edina schools, churches, homes, businesses and government.
After seven years at this job, I don't consider myself too immodest when I claim to be an expert in Edina history. Unfortunately, though, I can't answer questions like: remember eating lunch in the basement of Cahill School? What did our neighbor always yell when we ran across his lawn? What was the name of the girl I had a crush on in third grade?
Researchers look for answers to personal questions like those nearly as often as academic ones regarding community history. They're not writing a class paper, or even a memoir. They're simply searching their memories for pieces of their personal history.
Last Saturday, a man who attended the one-room Cahill School in the late 1930s and early 1940s stopped in. He had moved away as a kid, but had fond memories of growing up on a farm in south Edina. He looked through photos and came across a photo of his best friend and neighbor. He chuckled as he remembered the fun he had and wondered if his friend was still around.
The name wasn't in the phone book. But I knew one of the family members, who was researching the family tree. I contacted him, and he called his brother, who called an uncle... until finally the two former childhood friends made plans to connect.
I don't know everything. But sometimes the old adage is true: it's not what you know, it's who you know (or in this case, who you know who knows someone who knows.)
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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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