Anyone who has even casually studied Edina history has seen this photograph: a man standing tall with one thumb looped in his suspenders, speaking at town meeting at the Grange Hall.
The locally famous photo appears in two history books about Edina and in the Edina History Museum’s main exhibit hall with captions explaining that the Edina Village Council met at the Grange.
True. But the Edina Historical Society later discovered that the photograph is not of an actual meeting of either the Grange or the Edina Village Council. Instead, the subjects were carefully posed by an Edina photographer for a national advertiser.
“I think it was for an insurance company and it appeared in Time magazine,” said Don Broderson, a former resident who is the little boy in the circa 1942 photograph.
At age 8 or 9, he posed with fellow Morningside residents for neighbor Don Berg, a Minneapolis Tribune photographer who also ran his own studio, Don Berg Photography.
Among those pictured are Morningside Constable George Weber, peering over his glasses at a piece of paper. Others include another Tribune photographer Powell Krueger (third from left, behind Weber) and his wife (left, front row).
The photograph is reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting of the same era, “Freedom of Speech,” one of four images inspired by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1941 State of the Union address. In his speech, Roosevelt promoted the concept of the four basic freedoms to which all people are entitled: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
Interestingly enough, the Morningside photographers may have mimicked Rockwell’s practice of recruiting neighbors as models. The painter wanted his subjects to look like real-life people, and some of his friends and neighbors appeared in several of his paintings.
Morningside photographers Powell Krueger and Don Berg relied on their neighbors for many photo assignments.
Krueger recruited Broderson and other local children to pose as angelic-looking choir boys in a photo shot at Edina’s Colonial Church. One boy was singled out to look like a rascal, with his hair mussed and his eye blackened with burnt match sticks.
Krueger’s photos, many on file at the Minnesota Historical Society, range from Dr. Martin Luther King’s visit to Minneapolis in 1967 to sports figures to Hubert H. Humphrey and his family. (To view those photos, follow this link) Don Berg's photos, also at MHS, include those of industry, political figures and news events. (To view those photos, follow this link.)
Krueger was always with a camera, whether on assignment or not, Broderson recalled.
One day when he and his good friend Deming, who was Krueger’s son, played in a newly dug basement in the neighborhood, a wall collapsed and crushed Deming’s leg. After the ambulance was called, Powell Krueger took out his tripod and took pictures, Broderson said. “I’ll never forget that.”
The Edina Historical Society continues to research these local photographers and their work.
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.