Here is another great story submitted for our upcoming "Growing Up in Edina: A Show and Tell Exhibit" that will open Saturday, Oct. 29. If this sparks any memories for you, please comment here or email me. If you have one of the Wooddale Carnival posters to loan, I would love it for the exhibit.
By Susie Paplow
Growing up in Edina was a true joy… the lessons I learned, the teachers who inspired me, my warm and friendly neighbors and the wonderful world I was introduced to through the programs and activities Edina had to offer. All of this shaped me into the adult I have become.
I lived in Edina at 4910 Bruce Avenue from 1968 through 1977. The people who lived on Bruce Avenue were extremely social – block parties, Mr. Benson playing Santa Claus every year, the annual 4th of July picnic at the Wiltz Manse [the former Baird historic home], the Bruce Avenue Open (for the adults only), an annual golf tournament. I wonder whatever happened to the trophy that would bounce from house to house each year or if they still even have the golf tournament. It was a wonderful neighborhood full of kids and adults enjoying life.
However, my most vivid memories of Edina are of the days spent at the wonderful grade school I attended from kindergarten through 6th grade. Of course, I am speaking of the infamous Wooddale School. Sadly, it no longer exists - just the cornerstone memorial on the site but it certainly still exists in my memory. I think of it often: my teachers Mr. Kenyon, Mrs. Fairbanks, Mr. Behring, Mr. Waggoner, Ms. Chapman, Ms. Bisanz, all truly inspiration and influential.
I spent so much time at Wooddale. During the school year, of course, but also during the summers where I participated in the wonderful summer parks program Edina offered, with its puppet truck and the Olympics at the end of each summer. I still have the many ribbons won for croquet tournaments, bean bag tosses, 500 yard dashes and my badge that says “I’m from Utley Park.” The parks program was truly wonderful.
The amazing Wooddale Carnivals, does anyone still have those posters? Each year the school had a poster contest, and the posters were placed in shop windows up and down 50th and France and we would rush out to see if we received a ribbon! The Carnival was an amazing day, the school rooms magically transformed into a series of games, events, cake walks, goldfish in bags, the mysterious “fortune telling room.” It was a sensory explosion walking through the doors of the school. You didn’t recognize it as the place you went to from 7:45 to 3:30 every weekday. I think I still have a black plastic spatula, one of the many goodies included in the carnival gift bags we all received. The Wooddale Carnival was something we waited for all year long.
However the biggest influence on my life was the introduction to the world of theater and dance through the Wooddale School Dance Program. Attached you will find programs and several pictures from some of the years I participated. I have since grown up to become a professional performer and choreographer. All of which would never have happened if I had not had my start at good old Wooddale School.
Enjoy the trip down memory lane. Perhaps you are one of the many young girls listed in these programs or appearing in these pictures. If you are, I hope you are well and hope that you have as soft spot in your Edina as I.
Note: I emailed Susie to find out more about her career. After high school graduation, Paplow won a spot in the Pushcart Players, the premier touring theatre for young audiences in New Jersey and traveled from school to school presenting educational yet entertaining musicals designed to inspire children to think, learn and create. "Pushcart is a wonderful company and I have traveled the world with them - from Russia to Vienna to two private invitations to the White House," she wrote back.
She earned an "Applause Award" for outstanding contribution to the State's arts programs, with work at most of New Jersey's professional theaters, "but my true passion goes back to bringing the joy and magic of live theater directly to the kids in their school. It takes me right back to being on the Wooddale Auditorium stage, with its old fashioned footlights and strip lights. It inspired me then and has shaped the course of my life."
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