By James Aaron Magoffin, (A.K.A Jamie, Jim, and Jay)
When WWII started Dad (John Willard Magoffin) had enlisted in the Army Air Corps hoping to become a pilot. As it turned out he was color blind and was “washed out” of flight training. He spent the war as an officer in Newfoundland. It was while he was in transit that he and some other servicemen were invited to a party. It was at the home of a girl who was one of Mom’s classmates at Radcliff. It was “love at first sight” and they were married soon after. Dad had graduated as a business major from the University of North Carolina and when Mom (Frances Chapman) graduated in art history from Radcliff she moved to Minnesota where her parents were living.
I was born March 16, 1945 in Minneapolis and Mom and I lived with her parents until she found a nice little house in Edina on Thielen Avenue, which was purchased, sadly, with money inherited when her father died. This was the ideal place for me to grow up. Thielen Avenue is a short street that ends on the St Louis Park border at one end and 44th Street on the other.
When my Dad returned at the end of the war we were finally a real family. In the early years, before I learned to walk, things were relatively calm at home. Mom could wash, clean and have some quiet time. She would read to me and take me outside to get some sun and I would crawl around in the grass.
Things changed when I started walking and I found I could go outside all by myself. It was on one of these outdoor jaunts that I met Joey, the Collie who lived next door. He became my friend and watch dog. Joey would follow me around and if I left the yard he would “tell” my Mom.
Sometimes I would be across the street catching frogs or tadpoles in the creek that ran behind the houses. One of the nice things about growing up in the 40’s and early 50’s was that things were safer for children. My friends and I could roam around the neighborhood and if we behaved everything was fine. I could knock on a door and as long as I was not covered in dirt I could get a drink of water or even use their bathroom.
Dad had a job with the Honeywell Regulator Co. working in the marketing department. Their offices were located on the Como Harriet street car line which ran east & west parallel to 44th and into Minneapolis just south of the Honeywell Corporate offices. Sometimes Mom and I would take the street car down to the office and pick up Dad. Mom was always doing fun things with me.
Edina was growing, new streets were being created and houses were going up; I could hear a steam shovel or road grader blocks away. Time permitting, I would get on my tricycle and Mom and I would be off to find the latest project so I could supervise.
Things changed when I was old enough for school; I got to ride on a school bus and meet new friends. The class was for the most part “war” babies and one school could not accommodate all of us. Some went to Morningside and others to Wooddale, which was located at Wooddale & 50th; I went to Wooddale.
One of my new friends was Bruce McFadzean. We met for the first time in the nurse’s office. It was in the winter and both of us were so wet we could not go back to class until our pants were dry. We played together during summer vacations, but we lost contact after graduation. We met again years later at the Edina Theater. Both of us were on leave, I was on leave from the Marine Corps and Bruce from the Air Force. We both had been in Vietnam and were being transferred to new duty stations. Thanks to my involvement as a volunteer with the Edina History Center I have enjoyed meeting many other friends from my years of growing up in Edina.
Theilen Avenue neighborhood kids, Spring 1952 at Chuckie Olson's birthday party (far back row, left to right) Peter McGee, John Pfeifer, (Middle row) Kathy Peterson, Patty Peterson, Dana Hauton, Mary Hauton, Patty Mack, David McGee, Jay Magoffin, Mike Hanlon, Kathy Crone (facing back), George Crone, (unknown first name) Mack, Bobby Mack. Chuckie Olson is kneeling in front.
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