The Fabulous Fifities


Census: 11,289 (an 87.6% increase since 1940)

The decade of the 1950’s was busy. World War II was over. School activities were fun for all the new parents. In April, the City Council reapportioned the wards—the 2nd and 4th being reduced in size because of so many new homes being built. In May, the school board election saw Hans Mickelson and Free Bayard elected. Dr. F. P. Hosterman was president. A Robbinsdaîe Post headline, September 7, reported “District 24 Schools jammed as registrations increase; 29 new teachers begin work here.”

In 1950, Robbinsdale High School’s 24-year- old second-year coach Ed Kerman took the basketball team (pictured above) the Lake Conference, District 18, and Region 5 competitions. The Robins entered the state basketball tournament for the first time. The team lost to Duluth 42–40, but the town was thrilled and businesses on West Broadway Avenue closed to mark the occasion.

On February 21, B. J. Gearty of Gearty-Davis Funeral Home became president of the Robbinsdale Businessmen’s Association, succeeding Harold D. Campbell. Gearty, a funeral director here for 29 years, died in 1982, at age 72. Byron J. McCullagh, local attorney, was elected vice president and Richard Parish, also an attorney, was elected secretary-treasurer. Parish later served terms as State Representative and as State Senator from 1958-1976.

In June, free chest X-rays were offered to all residents over 15 years of age by the Christmas Seal Mobile X-ray unit. This effort to reach every home was led by Mrs. A. Michael Schultz.

The First Robbinsdale State Bank moved into its new building at 42nd Avenue and West Broadway on the site of Christensen’s blacksmith shop. It had completely outgrown the “Fawcett” Building built in 1922, for the then Security State Bank. The grand opening was held February 23, 1951, with 5,883 people attending, which was remarkable for a February event. J. W. Roche, vice-president, was congratulated by Arthur Quay, president of the First National Bank of Minneapolis, as were directors Walter C. Sipe, William H. Cavanagh, A. M. Berg; cashier, Sven Grundstrom and assistant cashier, L. M. Randahl. T. P. Howard continued as president until 1953.

In 1950, the main shopping district was West Broadway with Ruff’s
Grocery, Eva’s (girls, and women’s clothes), Jullie’s Men’s Wear (Adolph Jullie), Hackenmueller Meats, three hardware stores, three drug stores, Ben Franklin Bank, Ben Franklin “dime store” and two lumber yards, among others. Robin Center and the Terrace-Wards areas were still swamps.

Groundbreaking for the , 43rd and Chowen Avenues, occurred on May 28, after three years of services being held in a small house near the present site. There were twelve charter members. Reverend Gerald V. Walder led the church a with only one break in service. The first services were held in the new building on July 15th, 1951.  Six years later, Rev. Walder was replaced by Rev. Donald L. Walkes and Olivet was merged with Hope Evangelical United Brethren Church of Minneapolis. In 1962 ground was broken for a new addition to hold a sanctuary, pastor’s study, secretary’s office and nursery. In 1968, Olivet Evangelical United Brethren Church changed it’s name to Olivet United Methodist Church. Five years later, Rev. Gerald V. Walder returned to Olivet and served as pastor. A a beautiful pipe organ was purchased in 1980 and the congregation burned their mortgage in 1981. Rev. Walder retired in 1987.  The Olivet United Methodist Church in Robbinsdale was designated as a Minnesota Conference Historic Site by the United Methodist Church in 2010.

In September, two 50 x 130 foot lots by Parkview and Chovven Avenues were deeded to the city for $1.00 by Guy Fallden. An adjoining property owner said he would provide fill to level off the lots for a “tot lot” playground. Plans were also being made for Mud Lake Park, which eventually became Manor Park.

The September 18th City Council meeting voted to seed and sod the two block area of Sanborn Park.  It was originally an unsightly hole and had been used as a dump. Dredging material from the north end of Crystal Lake was used to fill. This interestingly, must have broken the seal of the lake bottom. because the lake level promptly bogan dropping for about seven years.

This post is part of a series loosely based on the book Robbinsdale Then and Now by Helen Blodgett.