Many of the stories submitted for our "Growing Up in Edina" exhibit have come from out of state. Although they have moved far away, they still think fondly of their time in Edina. Steve Smetana writes from Texas about his memories of the four seasons in Minnesota.
By Steve Smetana
Wooddale Elementary, Class of ‘73
Minnesota is certainly the land of seasons and Edina had the best in the world! Fall brought on the beginning of school and in 1966, I started Kindergarten in Ms. Anderson’s class at Wooddale Elementary. The school was of classic brick structure and its two stories of classrooms ringed a central auditorium. The North side of the school faced the playground and which was the scene of the greatest athletic event of our time. My older brother, Doug, hit a softball from home plate that struck the school building halfway to the top. The longest shot ever! Edina quickly changed from the dazzling colors of the maples to grey colder days. Halloween marked the true end to Fall and yielded pounds of candy to any that would walk the streets between Brookview and Wooddale Avenues. Back in school, lunch time in the basement cafeteria at Wooddale brought wonderful smells of hot dogs and goulash, especially when the cold weather was setting in, the cafeteria seemed warm and inviting.
I grew up across the street from the Arden Park hockey rink at 5300 Brookview Avenue from 1964 to 1972, and Fall was the beginning of hockey season! (No greater time than hockey season in MN) My brother got a job at General Sports and was paid for a month’s worth of work with a case of red Titan left hooked hockey sticks. The novelty there being that we didn’t have to heat straight hockey stick blades in the oven and then wedge them into the door frame to craft the perfect curve. The most obvious benefit from living across the street from the ice rink was our ability to put on our skates in the living room, skate out the front door, glide the path, cross the street, down the hill and over the boards! (30 second trip)
Having been away from Edina for so long, I often wonder if Winter there still lasts for ten months! Other than an occasional ice fishing trip or skiing vacation to Sugar Hills, Winter belonged to the rinks and warming huts. The Arden Park Warming hut, with its wood stove and hot chocolate dispenser, served as a sanctuary from the cold and a place to prepare for the next game. A unique attribute of Edina is our reputation as “cake eaters”. To this day, 1800 miles and 40 years away, I hear the sarcastic comments from other displaced Minnesotans about our perceived elevated status. But we bled just like the next kid when it came to pucks and sticks and hockey. In all my years of hockey, most of my stiches came from playing goalie in our Edina basement. My brother had a great slap shot and I had a great move of diving at his stick!
Other winter happenings included: The Inaugural Groundhog Day bicycle race around Lake Harriet, shoveling snow, construction of extensive tunnels in the snow and ice mounds left by the plows, searching for our white Westie dogs in Winter, collecting Red Barn Christmas glasses, breaking off huge chunks of ice and floating down the Minnehaha on them, Bus #52 that picked us up at the corner of 53rd and Kellogg – we would hold onto the bumper and slide down the street or fill the exhaust pipe with snow balls to see them blow out (neither of which is recommended), broom ball for the parents and hockey for the few kids that could skate until 10 pm, movies at the Edina theater and of course shoveling snow.
Classmates included: Bruce Lyall, fellow hockey player, who had a pet raccoon and made great grilled peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwiches, Roger Saltau, whose dad had the coolest job of linesman at the Vikings games, Steve McLaren who shared an interest in the ‘69 Moon Landing and had the coolest Saturn 5 Rocket and 2001: A Space Odyssy toys, Brian Day - whose dad worked at Pillsbury and brought us “products being tested” to sample, Pinky Benning, who we never knew why her dad (PE Coach) called her Pinky, and Derek Malmquist – who was a fellow hockey fan of the early North Stars.
This season, usually over a weekend, allowed us to find all those lost pucks from the prior hockey season deep in the snow banks. We would make the long walk to church at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church. One year, dear Mrs. Parker, who was our always our neighbor, and had the novelty of having the first color TV in the neighborhood, invited me over for my 6th birthday party to watch the movie Born Free in Technicolor! “Field Days” at Wooddale Elementary was always a highlight. Sporting competitions, cake walks, spin art and an prize drawing at the end of the day – I won the grand prize one year which was an Instamatic camera that could develop a picture in 60 seconds! One year we bought a red convertible VW bug from the local TV star, Casey Jones…….And after the 4th day of Spring, Summer arrived with the May flies.
Everything about Summer revolved around Minnehaha Creek. The tar covered bridge covered the best rocks to find monster crawfish and plentiful bullhead. We would spend hours playing football, throwing rocks and leaf diving by the creek. One year, the creek dried up and left dozens of huge carp in isolated pools in the creek. Of course we had to bring one home for the inflatable pool in the backyard.
Al’s candy store, on the corner of 54th and France Ave, provide vast array of sweets, mostly for a penny. It seemed to be a long walk for a boy on his own, but with a quarter in my pocket the thought of rows upon rows of candy spurred me on. Not sure a bag of candy ever made it all the way home….In fourth grade, I was rewarded for good school grades with a trip to Clancy’s to retrieve a four foot tall stuffed Henry dog from the top shelf over the soda bar. My brother and I usually spent a couple of weeks each Summer at the Ken Yackle hockey camp at Braemar Pavilion.
The Summers flew by, made shorter by travels to Camp Christmas Tree and Camp Warren. It seemed the snow had just stop flying when the colored ball atop the F&M Bank would start flashing white again indicating winter was on its way.
Perhaps leaving when I did inextricably tied my childhood to Edina. There was no gradual evolution to Jr high, high school and college. Just one day in sixth grade, I said goodbye to my friends and went west to Utah. The end of an era, clearly defined by a series of 32 seasons.
If you are kid in Edina, you are one of the lucky ones!!!
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