Norma Smith Christopher's cascade photo in the previous post made me think of this essay submitted early this summer by Charles Brown, who lived near the cascade. The shortened story ran in the Edina Sun-Current as well as in our quarterly newsletter. After reading this, I had to wonder how many kids ice skate to school these days? If you do, let me know!
Charles Brown and his grandmother
By Charles Brown
We moved to Edina in August of 1944 from Minneapolis. My father worked for the school district then. He drove bus and did janitorial work for Wooddale School. I was in second grade and was nine years old.
Our address was 4652 Vernon Avenue, which was also known as Highway 100, or the “Beltline.” Our house was a small one right on the highway, and our driveway entered it! In those days, Highway 100 was two lanes wide! At the intersection of Highway 100 and 50th Street there was a four-way stop sign.
I had three sisters – Madeleine, La Donna and Janice – all younger than I. My mother’s name was Abbie. My father’s name was Elmer; he went by “Al”.
Where Edinbrook Lane is now, it was all fields up to about 49th Street West. At night in the summer you could see fireflies light up the entire field.
The corner store
Brookside Avenue went through to and connected with Interlachen Blvd. and Vernon Avenue. There was a service station and grocery store there where they met.
For years it was owned and operated by Robert Solberg and his wife Arlene. Their daughter’s name was Roberta. Prior to them, the store was owned by the Buckets and the Garners. This was one of the few stores around that time in the neighborhood.
Where the streetcar tracks were at Brookside and 44th, there was a store for a while owned by the Dockens. At Solbergs is where the kids hung out. The newspaper companies dropped off their papers for the paper boy carriers. Mr. Solberg always had cold pop, candy and groceries. Mr. Solberg was great with the kids and was always there for us.
As a matter of fact, he was great at repairing just about anything and ran the station for many years as Bob’s Phillips 66 Service. I ran a NAPA parts store for several years in St. Louis Park when I grew up and sold Bob parts for most of those years.
A boys’ paradise
In the summer we built “chugs,” a board with four wheels and raced down Brookside Avenue. In the winter, we had our sleds and did likewise. With good ice we could go almost to Division Street
We had a lot of fun on the creek, fishing and swimming in the summer and ice skating in the winter. There are channels on either side of the cascade. I and my sisters learned to swim in the one closest to our house. From there we graduated to diving off the cascade itself. At one time we had a diving board rigged up on the front of it.
In the winter we shoveled off the ice on the back side of the cascade. It made a very large rink and a lot of kids came there to play hockey and speed skate. I used to skate to school down to the mill pond, change to my shoes and after school skate until dinner time, as they always had a warming house and a flooded rink at the mill pond. It was great! I did this up to sixth grade.
Wooddale School was great. All lady teachers in those days. My second grade teacher was Mrs. Moback, third Ms. Bertilson and Cuskey, fourth Ms. Lanore, and sixth Mrs. Felt. (spelling may not be correct on some) Bus drivers/custodians were Ed Glover, Al Brown, Leonard Dvorak, Scotty Cowsow, and George Halverson that I remember.
Our principal, Mr. Scarf, was a very firm man but a good man. I remember him well. We had a cafeteria which had several cooks and good food. I worked the kitchen clean-up for my lunches to help at home. They were tough times for some of us.
The Sunnylope Road development was not complete at the end of World War II. After the war when the men came home, building commenced again. Sunnyslope West and in between it and East Sunnyslope had barely any homes built yet. I watched them build those big beautiful homes.
Before they were built they put in the water and sewer lines. That whole area is sand and gravel and when they tried to dig the street up they had nothing but trouble! I watched as the big backhoes shovel machines tried to dig down 10 feet or so and the ground just kept falling! They finally got it done by putting in shoring planks then lay the pipe and remove the shoring.
I used to carry water to the operators for 25 cents a quart from my house so they had a drink. These were veterans of the “Sea Bee’s.”
When I got to be about 12, I started to caddy at the golf course. My mother used to sew pads in my shirt shoulders as I carried “doubles,” two golf bags. This kept the bags from tearing the skin off my shoulders!
I had a regular bunch of customers along Sunnyside Road. In the summer and fall I would take care of their yards and in the winter would shovel their driveway. I always had a few dollars to spend. I learned early that those who asked, got!
Interlachen Boulevard was a beautiful road. David Diehl, a childhood friend, still lives there in the same house. Another friend Floyd Olson, better known as Ole, lives on Bedford Avenue. It was open country here too with hardly any homes built on the majority of the land. It was a boys’ paradise!
Many of the kids I grew up with had streets and roads named after their family. Some I remember are: the Hansons, Bill and Ed; and the Tracys, Dale and Barbara. I went to school at Wooddale from 1944 to 1949. In 1949 to 1950 I went to the new Edina high school. We were the first students to go there. It was quite a change and we had the best of everything. I moved to St. Louis Park the following year, and graduated from there in 1955.
I made a lot of friends in those years at Edina, played sports against them in high school and still talk to some to this day over 60 years later!
Search this blog:
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:
Thank you, your message has been sent
Support this blog!
Help us bring you Edina history with this web site by becoming a member or donating today. Click on the link to our GiveMN.org site to make a donation with a credit card. The Edina Historical Society is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that depends on contributions to continue operation.