Nancy Wallace Wild drew this map of her world as she saw it in 1922 when she grew up on 50th and Halifax in Edina. Instead of boutiques at 50th and France, there was a blacksmith. Where movie-goers now line up to see art films at the Edina Theater, farmers came to drop off their milk at a creamery. Where the bank parking lot is today, the Wallace home graced an expansive lawn several feet from the dirt 50th Street. (Long-time residents may remember the Wallace home, which served as Edina's first standalone library in the 1950s and 60s.)
In a few short years, the rural village Wild describes would change dramatically when Henry Brown's cattle pasture would transform into upscale homes of the Country Club District, which was platted in 1924. The "new Edina School," (which residents now refer to as Wooddale School) would replace the much smaller 1888 brick school on the other side of the creek.The Grange, a meeting hall for a farm organization, would move to make way for St. Stephen's Episcopal Church at 50th and Wooddale.
I love this map because it shows in detail an Edina that no longer exists and as no properly surveyed map could. No other map would designate a "big hill for sliding" or a "bag swing," things that rank as significant landmarks for kids, but not so much for official mapmakers.
I did learn from her map that the area had a block factory, which appears to be on 49 1/2 Street, then just wheel tracks behind the Wallace home. Wild describes it in Allie, her 1997 memoir about her sister, not because it was an important Edina industry but because it was a gathering spot for children.
"What normally would not be considered a playground was the block factory and its two sand pits, located a short distance from our house, accessible by way of the wheel tracks behind our property. Its main attraction was the huge, flat stacks of finished cement blocks of finished cement blocks. The stacks, three or four parallel to each other, must have been about 100 feet long, a fourth as wide and 10 or 12 feet high. They served as our play 'palaces.' To get on top we just had to find a place of unevenly stacked blocks, places also where secret inner stairways formed, and climb up, often scraping ourselves on the rough cement but not minding. Once up there we could walk and run along the flat, slightly uneven surface, always on the lookout for the 'holes' where the inner stairways were. The two nearby sand pits provided another kind of sport; we made running leaps into the sand, leaving many a shoe or sock behind. Even the factory itself had playtime possibilities, like climbing the conveyor belt and then sitting on the side of the square funnel at the top and peering down to where the loose sand blended with the powdered cement. That was scary!"
Wild isn't the only one who drew a map of their childhood haunts. I will include more child's eye views of Edina in upcoming blog posts as well as in our upcoming exhibit, "Growing Up in Edina."
Assignment Edina: Draw a map of your own childhood landmarks. Who were your neighbors? Where did you play? How far did your world extend - could you bicycle miles away or did could you only go as far as you could hear your mother's whistle to come home? I'd love to see what you come up with.
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