Category Archives: From the Collection

Take the Bitter with the Sweet: Abdallah’s Banana Split Dish

This banana split dish is from the 4th generation family owned business established by Lebanese immigrant Albert Abdallah. Albert opened Calhoun Candy Depot in 1909 on the corner of Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue in the Uptown area of Minneapolis. In 1916 it was renamed Abdallah Candy Company. Abdallah’s served chocolate, caramels, toffee, truffles and ice cream.

Over the years Abdallah’s persevered in the face of adversity. After the Great Depression, Abdallah’s was forced to close due to bankruptcy. However, Albert was able to pay off his debt and reopened a smaller store a few blocks from its original location just a few years later. Abdallah’s later struggled through the Food Rationing Program enacted during World War II. Finally, in 1965 the business was destroyed in a fire caused by a gas explosion, forcing them to completely rebuild.

Through hard work and dedication, Albert Abdallah was able to establish a successful chocolatier and confectionery that is still in operation today, over a century later. His great-grandson carries on the family tradition in their current location in Burnsville, using some of the original recipes perfected by Albert.

Author Bio

Alyssa Thiede in the Assistant Collections Manager at Hennepin History Museum.

Advertisements

A Survivor and Pioneer of Change: Dr. Borgen’s Dentist Chair

This dental chair was used by Dr. Fanny ‘Nusia’ Freund Borgen, the first female orthodontist in Minneapolis. Dr. Borgen graduated from the University of Minnesota Dental School where she earned her DDS in 1956 and her Orthodontics degree in 1964. She was the only practicing female orthodontist in the state of Minnesota for 20 years.

Dr. Borgen was born in Poland in 1923, and survived the Holocaust. Following the war she immigrated to the United States and became a naturalized citizen on April 9th, 1955. In 1956 she married Milton L. Borgen. For 40 years Dr. Borgen devoted her life to helping others. She practiced orthodontics in Buffalo, Minneapolis, and Wayzata. She was a highly respected and active member of her community, taking part in various organizations: Temple Israel, Hadassah, American and Minnesota Dental Association, American and Minnesota Association of Orthodontists, University of Minnesota Alumni Association, Heritage Foundation of MN, Component Association, and the USC Shoah Foundation.

Dr. Borgen passed away just one month shy of her 91st birthday on October 1st, 2014. In her will she established the Milton L. Borgen & Dr. F. N. Freund Borgen Memorial Park Endowment Fund, helping the up keep of the Temple Israel Memorial Park Cemetery.

Author Bio

Olivia Schiffman is a volunteer at the Hennepin History Museum. She has her Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, History, and Music from Hamline University. She currently works for the City of Hugo, digitizing records and compiling research on the cities one room schoolhouse, as well as the Minnesota History Museum, researching the history of underrepresented communities at Fort Snelling.

Not Just Superheroes Wear Capes: Cora Stahn’s Fairview Hospital Nursing Cape

This navy colored, wool cape was worn by Cora Eleanor (Hanson) Stahn during her years as a nursing student (1942-1944) at the Fairview Hospital School of Nursing in Minneapolis. Capes were given out to nursing students in the 1940s and early 1950s, and used by nurses into the 1960s. A student would wear her cape as she traveled from her dorm to the hospital: keeping the designated white nurses uniform clean underneath.

Cora herself was born in Granite Falls, MN in 1922 to Henry T. and Mary Hanson. After moving to Minneapolis to attend nursing school, she met her future husband Dr. Louis H. Stahn. The two married in 1945 and following the birth of their three children the family moved to Fergus Falls in 1955, and eventually to the St. Cloud area. Cora (age 95) currently lives in Sartell, MN.

Fairview Hospital first opened its doors to patients on January 31, 1916 after almost ten years of careful planning and preparation, organized by the United Church Hospital Association. To ensure that patients were receiving the care they needed, the Fairview Hospital Training School opened 15 days before the hospital on January 16, 1916. The first task of the 24 women who were hired as nurses was to make up the beds for the soon to be admitted patients. By the time Cora came to the nursing program in 1942, the United States was heavily involved in both the Pacific and European theaters of World War II. The hospital had to be prepared for “blackout drills” and the rationing of supplies like sugar, gas, and even shoes. In The Fairview Story, written by Fern Swanke, Swanke mentions that nylon hose, a staple of a nurse uniform, “[were] impossible to buy.” Due to the influx of Graduate nurses leaving to serve overseas, new student nurses were given more responsibility.

The original building that housed the nursing program was raised in 1956 to make room for the Fairview Mental Health and Rehabilitation Unit.

Author Bio

Olivia Schiffman is a volunteer at Hennepin History Museum. She has her Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, History, and Music from Hamline University. She currently works for the City of Hugo, digitizing records and compiling research on the cities one room schoolhouse, as well as the Minnesota History Museum, researching the history of underrepresented communities at Fort Snelling.

Minneapolis Hosts the Woman’s Relief Corps

Long before women won the right to vote in 1920, women were given the opportunity to vote in small-scale local elections through organizations like the National Woman’s Relief Corps (WRC). This ballot box was used by the women of the WRC to discreetly vote for the acceptance, or rejection, of a new candidate hoping to gain membership.

With the lid to the ballot box closed, votes were secret and each member cast either a white or black marble to indicate how they felt about the new candidate. If the box was full of white marbles the candidate was accepted, if it contained black marble the candidate was “blackballed,” or rejected from membership.

2017.0531.008 open

Founded in Massachusetts after the Civil War in 1879, the WRC began as a “secret” organization that served as auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and established Posts throughout the county. Women who had remained loyal to the Union were eligible to obtain membership regardless of race or where they lived during the war.

On July 22, 1884 Minneapolis hosted the Second National Convention of the WRC, establishing  the state of Minnesota’s headquarters in parlor No. 1, of the luxurious West Hotel located of Fifth and Hennepin. According to the Journal of the Second National Convention, “parlors were filled” by local members as well as National officers and delegates from abroad.

Author Bio: Olivia Schiffman is a volunteer at Hennepin History Museum. She has her Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, History, and Music from Hamline University. She currently works for the City of Hugo, digitizing records and compiling research on the cities one room schoolhouse, as well as the Minnesota History Museum, researching the history of underrepresented communities at Fort Snelling.

Les Amis d’Escoffier Dinner at the Hotel Radisson

Hungry? This souvenir plate commemorates the 1957 menu for the annual Friends of Escoffier dinner. The banquet was one of the highlights of the Twin Cities’ gastronomic calendars, and provided an opportunity for the host hotel – in this case, the Hotel Radisson – to show off their skills to a cross-section of Minnesota tastemakers.

The local Friends of Escoffier, or Les Amis, were part of a larger movement to honor famous French chef Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935). Men, and later women, gathered to enjoy elaborate French-inspired feasts. At the 1957 dinner, a solo table was set for the deceased chef, complete with full place setting and a portrait.

Escoffier

August Escoffier (from The Gourmet’s Guide to London, 1914)

Serving a roomful of gastronomes was no small undertaking. Work on the menu and procuring necessary ingredients began months in advance. During the evening itself, there was a two-person team serving every six guests. This event was carefully observed and heavily publicized, and the Hotel Radisson left nothing to chance.

The Radisson’s efforts appear to have paid off. The following day, George Rice of the Minneapolis Star reviewed the dinner (under the heading “After This, the Little Woman’s Meals Will Seem Awfully Dull”). His column was full of enthusiasm about the six-hour affair, including nine courses and six wines. The night was “a gastronomic tour de force,” the “eye was delighted,” the “nostrils are charmed,” the palate was “nearly overwhelmed,” the service was “flawless,” and the kitchen staff received a standing ovation at the end of the night.

Attendees came from a range of backgrounds – union organizers, hotel managers, cooks, doctors, and, of course, journalists – and paid only $35 for the night.

“I enjoyed the challenge of putting it on, preparing the 200-pound live turtle into soup, flying in crawfish tails from Denmark, salmon from British Columbia, pate de foie gras and truffles from France, and caviar from behind the Iron Curtain. It took 1000 man hours to prepare the dinner for 127 men.”

-Chef Jorgen Viltoft, quoted in the Minneapolis Morning Tribune, January 15, 1957

According the Hotel Radisson’s own advertising column:

“The only sad note in the Escoffier banquet preparations took place last week when the large choice turtle, which had won the hearts of the Radisson staff and become a pet, had to be sacrificed for the preparation of soup of the banquet.”

“At the Radisson,” January 1957

The final annual Escoffier dinner in Minneapolis was held in 1958, although there was an attempt to revive the tradition in 1970.

This was cataloged as part of the museum’s ongoing comprehensive historic inventory project. Your financial contributions make this and our other activities possible. Click here to make a donation today to support local history preservation efforts at Hennepin History Museum. Thank you!

Nate Goldstone & and the Brookside Drug Store

Nate Goldstone’s Brookside Drug Store, located at Excelsior Boulevard and Brookside Avenue in Saint Louis Park, was a local staple for more than 40 years. Brookside Drug Store first opened in 1939; Nate Goldstone took over the store in 1946 and operated it until finally making the decision to sell in 1988.

These prescription medicine bottles were donated to the museum in 1990 by the Noble Medical Clinic. While Brookside is no longer here, we are lucky to have these bottles as part of our collection. They are a reminder of a store and a man that left their mark on our community.

In addition to the pharmaceutical services, Brookside Drug was a popular soda fountain stop; adults grabbed breakfast and lunch during the daytime, while local students stopped off for after-school sodas and snacks. With time, Brookside Drug — and its owner Nate Goldstone — became firmly established as part of life in St. Louis Park. Former Brookside Drug customers may also remember longtime employees such as Ethel Freeland and Birdie Carlson, who, like Goldstone, spent most of their careers at Brookside.

Do you remember Brookside Drug and its legendary owner? Or if you weren’t a St. Louis Park resident, did you, or do you have, your own Brookside Drug and Nate Goldstone in your neighborhood?

Sources

6001 Excelsior Boulevard, St. Louis Park Historical Society

“Pharmacist Mixes Love into Rx for Life.” Jake Tapper, Minneapolis Star, June 4, 1981.

Citizens State Bank of St. Louis Park advertisement, Minneapolis Star, May 21, 1988, p. 7

Neither Rain nor Snow nor Poison Ivy: Life as a Rural Mail Carrier in Hennepin County

Did you know that rural Hennepin County was served by one of the nation’s few female mail carriers for nearly four decades? Elizabeth Titus of Robbinsdale carried this box with her for the duration of her 38-year career in Hennepin County. On rural routes, customers depended on their carriers to do much more than only deliver the mail; specialized boxes like this one were designed to serve as a miniature, portable post office, with slots for stamps and supplies, and room to hold cash collected from customers.

Elizabeth started her career as a mail carrier during World War I,  a time when the post office was forced by labor force shortages to consider women for more positions. She started out as a substitute, often delivering wartime news – both reassuring and sometimes heartbreaking – from loved ones far away from home. Eventually she got her own permanent routes, covering an approximate 1,000 miles each month.

Working as a rural mail carrier was a job filled with both joys and challenges. A farm resident herself, Elizabeth was familiar with the rigors of rural life. In addition to delivering the mail, she at times helped put out fires or capture errant cattle!

The note on this stamp box, written by Elizabeth herself, says it was put into service in 1918. At that time, Elizabeth delivered the mail using a team of horses. Eventually she switched to a truck, although for many years horses remained the most effective way to navigate the mud and snowdrifts sometimes found on Hennepin County’s more rural roads.

The stamps in this box are marked Route 11. During the 1940s and early 1950s Elizabeth was delivering mail to approximately 460 families – and increasingly, businesses — along rural Route 11. The stamps shown here are for the Reinhard Brothers, 4301 Highway 7 in St. Louis Park.

The worst part of her job? According to Elizabeth, it was poison ivy.

“You can shovel away snow,” she told the Minneapolis Morning Tribune in 1946, “you can work from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. the next day during Christmas, you can get through in spite of mud, loads of chicks, turtles, and catalogues but very seldom can you escape that ole debbil poison ivy.”

She retired in 1953, splitting her time between her home in Robbinsdale and her new husband’s home in Michigan.