When I was growing up, my mom would send my brothers and me to the little corner store to pick up a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread if she ran out between her weekly trips to the bigger supermarket downtown.
"The Little Store," as we called it (although that was not its real name), stocked the necessities along with penny candy and pop for the youngsters enlisted for the marketing errands. The store looked like a house, but the owners lived upstairs and operated the business on the first floor.
What store am I talking about?
Brookside area residents would probably say Docken's store, but those near Cahill might think of Cameron's. Tedman's might come to mind for those living near Valley View Road (although the owners lived behind the store, not above it.) Those who lived near the Minneapolis border might venture to Ray's Dairy store, while Morningsiders had Morningside Grocery near the northwest corner of 44th and France.
The answer: none of the above. I didn't grow up in Edina, but as you can see, the description fits nearly every little corner store that operated until 1970s or so, when two-car families became the norm and Mom could run her own errands or Dad could pick up the essentials at the gas station on his way home from work.
Docken's Community Store (as it is named in the Edina phone directories) was in a house at 4356 (later renumbered to 4360) Brookside Avenue, just north of the streetcar tracks that ran along 44th Street, making it an easy destination for commuters coming home after work. Arthur and Lila Docken operated the store from at least 1926 to 1949, when it was purchased by Jon and Eloise Garner. (Many customers pronounced the name "Gardener's" or "Gartner's," having only heard the name and not seen it spelled.)
Now the site of the Brookside Court condominiums (built in 1965), the house/store was located on the northwest corner of Brookside Avenue and 44th Street.
Jeanne Anderson from the St. Louis Park Historical Society researched the Dockens and the store, which was important to the Brookside neighborhood on both sides of the SLP-Edina border. She writes, "The Dockens reportedly owned all the land behind the store, down to the creek. People could pay a fee and picnic on the site and swim in the swimming hole upstream from the CP Rail trestle over the creek. The Dockens also kept horses on the property. The undated photo above shows two houses side by side on the property. The store itself is not pictured and would have been toward the left. Edina directories list six separate addresses on the block, although one or more of the buildings may have been a duplex."
The Garners closed up shop in 1957 or 1958, perhaps as a result of a loss of business following the end of the streetcar operation in 1954.
Unidentified woman, possibly Mickey Docken.
Those are just the highlights of the story. Prompted by questions from a researcher, Jeanne recently came over to the museum and we looked through directories and our files, as well as online newspapers to find more.
Turns out the Dockens have a long history in Edina. A society note in the Minneapolis Journal dated August 18, 1905, lists a Miss Docken as a guest at a party given by Miss M. Blanche Craik for bride-to-be Mabel Millam. Craik and Millam were names associated with the Edina Mill.
Arthur Docken had a feed store in Hopkins prior to opening his Brookside market. His children attended St. Louis Park Schools. During her junior year at the University of Minnesota, daughter Lila Agnes "Mickey" Docken was selected to be a stewardess for American Airlines. She died on January 10, 1945 in a plane crash five miles north of Lockheed Air Terminal in Burbank, California. She and the pilot, along with 21 passengers, all members of the armed forces, lost their lives.
For more information, see the St. Louis Park Historical Society web site. Jeanne also was kind enough to share her research for our files, so come on in if you want to know more. Our research is a "work in progress" and we can always learn more. Help us out. Do you know more about the Dockens or the Garners? Share your knowledge by commenting here or emailing me.
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