People who complain about "big government" probably never heard of the tiny Village of Morningside, which operated with two employees, no village hall and a few contracted services from its larger neighbor, the Village of Edina.
Morningside, the far northeast corner of present day Edina, needed little government as the smallest village in Hennepin County. Its borders extended just a few blocks in either direction: approximately 40th Street and Sunnyside Avenue at the north and south, and France Avenue and Oakdale Avenue to the east and west.
Council meetings were held at the Odd Fellows Hall at the northeast corner of 44th and France, but otherwise, village business was conducted from the basement of Village Clerk Janet Riesberg's at 4003 Lynn Avenue.
From her informal home office, Riesberg typed council minutes, sold dog licenses and even registered candidates for elections sometimes minutes before midnight, the deadline for filing. A widow with three daughters, she was happy to be a “work-at-home” mother. Her children were trained in to answer the phone and assist residents.
Some Morningsiders viewed Janet’s marriage to Edina City Manager Warren Hyde as prophetic – not long after the couple’s wedding, Morningside voted to rejoin Edina in 1966 after 46 years of independence.
The other employee, Harold Schwartz, conducted his city business from a snow plow or truck. The lone Public Works employee took care of the city's ice rink at Weber park, plowed streets, and repaired roads. (Well known police officer George Weber had retired by this time. He quit patrolling for speeders in 1954 at approximately 80 years old, after 28 years on the job.)
Former neighbors of the Riesbergs visited the Edina History Museum today to see the current "Growing Up in Edina" exhibit. As we talked about the days of the tiny village, I recalled this article in our collection. If you know where the Riesberg daughters are today, the former neighbor girls would love to talk to them. Please email me if you have contact information.
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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:
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