Schools I’ve Attended – Osseo High School

My Life
Those Places Thursday
By Don Taylor

During the summer of 1965, my stepfather decided to sell the house in North Minneapolis and build a new home in Brooklyn Park. Brooklyn Park is a second-tier suburb about ten miles northwest of Minneapolis. I believe Budgar was the first to buy in a development called “Sager’s Acres.” In any event, as is often the case with new construction, building completion was delayed. The house on Bryant Avenue sold and we needed a place to live. We ended up renting a dwelling on Lowry Avenue in Minneapolis between Lyndale and Aldrich Avenue. I registered for school at Osseo with the expectation that we’d move to the new house before school started. No such luck. Somehow, we were able to find an Osseo teacher who lived in North Minneapolis and who would give me a ride to and from school until the house in Brooklyn Park was completed. I’m not sure, but I think I rode with the teacher for about a month, maybe two.  I wish I could remember her name and thank her for the rides.

Osseo Then

Osseo High School, New Wing – Source: 1967 Osseo Yearbook

Osseo was an old farming town that was experiencing the pains of massive growth. The school district (Independent School District #279) was an area consisting of Osseo, Brooklyn Park, Maple Grove, and parts of Brooklyn Center and several other towns. The original building was built in 1928. More classrooms and a lunchroom were added in 1949 and more classrooms again were added in 1957. In 1959 a gymnasium was added. In 1961 a major expansion was added and in 1964 another major expansion was added. With one of the expansions, the old part of the building was designated the Junior High portion of the school and the new expansions were designated the high school part of the building. I started at Osseo in the fall of 1965. As I recall, all of the high school classes were in the two new expansion wings of the school. The newly built gym and the cafeteria were used by the High School.  Osseo had the worst lunches ever. Just plain horrible. One meal I remember vividly was toast with a blob of spaghetti-like mix on top with a little cheese melted on top that they called “pizza.” They were also trying to be healthy, so they took chips and good things out of the machines and replaced them with apples, oranges, and other “healthy” foods. In my junior year, the Junior High students moved to a new building nearby and the old building became a newly established Junior College. Needless to say, our attitude changed greatly when we learned that they had student lounges and more adult facilities. They also had good food in their machines. Occasionally, we’d sneak around the building, enter the Junior College, and buy goodies out of their machines.

Foster Home

In the spring of 1966, I got into a big row with my stepfather. He and my mother had been fighting, which typically occurred when he had been drinking, and I broke it up and beating him until I got tired. He made it be known that he would kill me in my sleep for it, so I decided it was time to leave. After a few weeks on the street, I was arrested for trespassing (Two other runaways and I were sleeping in a model home at night.) Budgar didn’t want me back, so I was ruled incorrigible. I was lucky enough to be sent to a foster home in Brooklyn Center (not a group home) and I was able to continue at Osseo High. It was while living in the foster home I met my best friend, Doug, who lived a few blocks away from the Olson’s house on Perry Avenue.

Osseo Interests

Don Taylor junior class photo, 1967
Junior Class Photo – 1967

I was in the audio-visual group, chess club, computer club, and was seen as a generally geeky, nerdy, kid.  I was over six feet tall and under 150 pounds –skinny. I did well in high school and never needed to study to get a “B.” If I really liked a class and I decided to work for it I’d get an “A.”  At that time, they gave students two grades, the standard A to F letter grades for academics and a “Citizenship” grade from 1 to 3; three was a “misfit.” The vast majority of students received a “2,” meaning “Satisfactory.” Once, I receive an A-3. Academically superior but a misfit.  It was Spanish class. My teacher was from Boston and couldn’t trill an “r.” I, however, could trill my “r’s” and would correct the teacher’s pronunciation regularly. She was really frustrated with me. Basically, if I liked a teacher, I did well in school, if I didn’t like a teacher, I cut up constantly and did poorly.

Senior Photo – 1968

I didn’t do anything in the way of sports in high school.  Living in the foster home, I didn’t receive any type allowance or income, but my foster parents encouraged me to work to earn money. I worked at several different jobs during high school. I was a fry cook at a greasy-spoon restaurant in Crystal called Marty’s Grill. Doug worked there also. We were both stiffed on our pay when the place went out of business. I also at International House of Pancakes (IHOP), Sweden House, a smorgasbord (buffet) in Crystal and several different Embers Restaurants. I also worked at a large Holiday gas station in Crystal. (My best friend Doug worked there too.) Twelve years later, when I got out of the Navy, Doug and I also worked together at TRW in Arden Hills. So, we actually worked at three places at the same time over the many years of our friendship.

While I was living at the foster home, I really needed and wanted a driver’s license. In order to get one, I needed to get a copy of my birth certificate. That is when I learned that my birth surname was Taylor. A name I had never heard before. It was shortly after that when I changed my name. My foster parents couldn’t put me on their insurance, so in order to afford insurance, I decided to try to move back with my mother, who truly missed me. Budgar and I were able to co-exist for much of my senior year. However, once I graduated, Budgar want me gone so I moved into a small house in Northeast Minneapolis with a couple friends.

Osseo Today

Image of Osseo High School Today (from air) source Google Maps.
Osseo High Today – Source: Google Maps

Today, Independent School District 279 serves Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Corcoran, Dayton, Hassan Township, Maple Grove, Osseo, and Plymouth. It has 19 elementary schools (K-5), four middle schools (6-8), three high schools, including Osseo, and an area learning center (9-12). Osseo High School is a four-year school with a huge campus. The old 1924 building with the 1935 and 1948 additions were demolished for a new gymnasium. The 1959 gym was converted to a new cafeteria in 2002 along with adding new office spaces. From 2002 to 2005 the exterior was renovated. Finally, in 2014-2015, more classrooms were added along with a choral rehearsal room. Frankly, I don’t think I’d recognize the school today as the same one I attended 50 years ago.

It has been 50 years since I graduated from Osseo. I hope there is a reunion. I’d love to see the old school and possibly catch up with some old friends.

 

Schools I’ve Attended – Jordan Jr. High

My Life
Those Places Thursday

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.We rented the house on Fremont Avenue for only a few months in 1962. During the summer of 1962, Budgar[i] bought a duplex at 2419 Bryant Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN and we moved there. We lived downstairs and had renters living upstairs. Grandma Kees lived with us for a short time. Budgar and her argued all the time. He called her a liar and she knew he was an abuser. In any event, Budgar threw Grandma Kees out before Christmas, 1962.  It is interesting that I have no photos whatsoever of anyone at that house. Not me, not my mother, not Budgar, not even my sister Sharon, who was born in the fall of 1962.

Budgar wouldn’t give me an allowance. He said I needed to earn my way. So, while living on Bryant, I had a paper route most of the time. I always delivered the morning paper. I’d get up about 3:30, get my papers about 4 am, and have my route delivered by 5:30. I’d be home by 6 for breakfast and to get ready for school.

Photo of 2419 Bryant Ave N, Minneapolis, MN in May, 2013.
2419 Bryant Avenue – Today (May 2013)

Across the street from where we lived on Bryant was the Franklin Junior High attendance area. Likewise, two blocks south was also Franklin Junior High attendance area, so we lived just about as far away from Jordan Junior High as was possible and still be in the Jordan attendance area. During the winter, some of my friends and I would hop on the back bumper of the city bus. It was really dangerous because the bumpers on the bus only stuck out about a half an inch and the sign on the back of the bus wasn’t sturdy enough to rely upon.  Better than the city bus, we learned the route a postman took and could hop the back of his mail truck for several blocks. We’d also just hop the back fenders of moving cars occasionally.  I think all of us could hop off the back of a car moving at 30 miles per hour without falling. On really snowy days we would just grab a passing vehicle and slide on our shoes for blocks on the snow-packed streets. Budgar hollered at me a couple of times about my needing to walk and not shuffle my feet as I was going through shoes way to fast. Little did he know…. I remember putting linoleum inside my shoes to make it through the summer and not need new shoes until winter.

I attended all three years of Junior High at Jordan starting with 7th grade in 1962 and completing 9th grade in 1965. It was the longest I ever attended a school. There were a couple of excursions during that time, but more about them later. I remember school lunches at Jordan (after my grandmother moved out) or any other school I ever attended.

Photo of Mr. Goodrich in 1963
Mr. Goodrich in 1963 Source: Jordanian 1963

By the time I got to the 9th grade, I was pretty much incorrigible and continually battled with Budgar and with my teachers. I had a Home Room teacher named Mr. Goodrich. He and I didn’t get along at all. I think I received the paddle from him every day for two weeks straight. I am sure I was the bane of his existence in 1965. Within the 20-minute homeroom period, I pretty much always smarted off. Sometimes, I’d be sent down to the Vice-principal’s (Mr. Carlson’s) office, but mostly, Mr. Goodrich and I would step out into the hallway, and he’d give me from one to three good swats with a paddle, depending upon what I had done. For me, it was something of a game and a mark of status in the school.

Music Room, Jordan Jr. High (c. 1937)

During junior high, I learned that I was good at almost everything scholastic and I didn’t need to study. I did great in science and math, very good in history, civics, and social studies, and about average in English. I was a klutz in sports. Even though I once did 1000 sit-ups without stopping, I couldn’t climb a rope up 20 feet in gym class. (I had core strength but no upper body strength). I did well in the shop classes they had, particularly well in print shop but I still did okay in woodworking and metal shop as well. I got a few stitches in my head because in woodshop someone came around the corner with the base for a soapbox derby car and smacked me in the head by accident. I was also in the school orchestra and learned how to play the cello using a school-owned instrument. I had enough skill that my orchestra teacher suggested I try out for the Minneapolis Junior Symphony Orchestra. I asked Budgar to buy a cello for me. Of course, he wouldn’t. I had to have my own instrument to be considered for the Junior Symphony and couldn’t afford one on my newspaper delivery income, so I never had a chance to try out. I wonder how different my life would have been had he purchased that cello… I still love the sound of the cello; it is my favorite instrument.

Jordan Junior High School, Minneapolis, MN (1924 photo)

I remember gaining some “cred” when a school bully was picking on skinny little me. (I was probably over 6 foot and under 135 pounds in 9th grade.) We were to meet in the alley behind Frank’s Grocery store, a half a block from the school.  He and I fought; there were probably 50 kids there to see the fight. My first punch was a lucky punch that broke his nose; after that, I kept hitting on it whenever I could. Blood everywhere. Don hit me a few times but nothing damaging. After a few minutes of fighting, the police showed up, and everybody ran. Neither Don nor any of the other school kids messed with me after that. I didn’t look for fights, and they didn’t look for me either.

Jordan Junior High School, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Photo of Jordan Jr. High during demolition, 1985
Jordan Jr. High during demolition, 1985.

Jordan Junior High was at 29th and Irving Avenues in North Minneapolis. It was named after Charles Morison Jordan, a Superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools. The school opened in 1922. It was razed in 1985. Today the school location is Jordan Park. Next to it is the Hmong International Academy.


Endnotes

[i] Budgar is a combination of “Bud” my step-father’s nickname and “Edgar” his actual first name. In the 1960s, I always called him “Bud,” and I learned to call him “Budgar” later in life.

Elizabeth Hall Elementary – 6th Grade

Schools I’ve Attended

My Life
Those Places Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.My mother married Budgar (Edgar J. Matson) on 8 December 1961 in Webster, South Dakota. We celebrated the following Christmas at the Spring Lake Park house. I remember Budgar’s two daughters from his previous marriage being there. They received a bunch of Barbie stuff. It might be when things started to become difficult between Budgar and myself.  He made me play a board game, “Barbie Queen of the Prom,” with his two daughters, Janna and Heidi.  I was not amused.

Shortly after Christmas, we moved from the small house on Monroe Street in Spring Lake Park to a much larger home in North Minneapolis.  We rented the upstairs of a fairly large duplex at 1502 Fremont Avenue North. Fremont was a very busy street.  It was a multi-lane one-way street that commuters used to go into the city in the morning. The owners of the house lived downstairs and we rented the upstairs.

Photo of tront of 1502 Fremont Ave N, Minneapolis
1502 Fremont – Front

I have no photos of the house from the time we lived there; however, in 2013 I visited the neighborhood and took a couple photos of the house. The house, built in 1900, has fared well over the years and it looks better now than it did in 1962. I’m pretty sure we moved in there the first few days of January 1962.

It was a very rough part of town. I had lived in the country and in the suburbs before that and Fremont Ave. was my first experience living in the inner city. The three and a half block walk to school was dangerous. There were kids that would beat you up and take your lunch money. Some would beat you up just because they could. I quickly learned to take a route to school that avoided the Franklin Junior High kids, who were the older kids most likely to beat you up. It wasn’t too bad in the dead of winter, but as the year warmed up the likelihood of being accosted on your way to school increased exponentially. Not much could be done; parents in those days didn’t drive their kids to school. Besides which, Budgar thought it built character to be beaten up occasionally.

Elizabeth L. Hall Elementary

Photo of Elizabeth L. Hall Elementary c. 1960
Elizabeth L. Hall Elementary (from the back) circa 1960. (This was the view I saw when walking to school.) Photo Courtesy: Minneapolis Public Schools.

Elizabeth L. Hall Elementary was built in 1960 as a K-6 school. There were ten classrooms, a kindergarten area, lunchroom, and gymnasium. It was a four block walk to school and I had to cross Emerson, a fast running one-way heading North that carried much of the commuting traffic. If I remember correctly, my teacher’s name was Mr. Malmburg. He was the first male teacher I had in school. He did an excellent job of keeping control of the class. I think the school worked hard at developing the social skills of the students rather than focusing on academic skills. About a week before the end of the school year, Mr. Malmburg left the school for a job in Germany. A substitute came in for the final week and the class went utterly out of control, especially the last couple days. On the last day of school, and for us sixth-graders the last day of elementary school, many of us boys were so disruptive that we spent our last couple hours in the assistant principal’s office. My mother had to leave work and come to school to take custody of me and my report card. The school detained me because I jammed a screwdriver into an electrical outlet blowing a breaker thus plunging several classrooms into darkness. I have no doubt we would have been suspended if it wasn’t our last day.  That poor substitute teacher.  I feel sorry for her today. She probably never wanted to come back to Elizabeth Hall school ever again. I didn’t either.

An addition of another six classrooms was added the following year, in 1963. Today, Elizabeth Hall is a “magnet school” supporting K-5. According to Trulia and Realtor, it is graded as a 1 on the scale of 1 to 10. Its academics don’t seem to have improved much.

That summer, we moved again, about a mile away to Bryant Ave. so, I begin Junior High School at Jordan JHS, which is another story.

Sources

Internet: Minneapolis Public Schools History // Schools and Facilities // Elementary Schools // Elementary Schools D – H // Hall // Planning for the Future

Image Source: Internet: Minneapolis Public Schools History // Schools and Facilities // Elementary Schools // Elementary Schools D – H // Hall // Slideshow

Schools I’ve Attended – 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade

My Life
Those Places Thursday

By Don Taylor

Parkview Elementary, Fridley, Anoka County, Minnesota

Photo of 5852 NE 2nd St., Fridley, MN
Fridley House, circa 1958

In August 1958, we moved from Anoka to Fridley into a tiny little house on NE 2nd Street. At the time the address was 5853, however, sometime during the ensuing years, the address has changed to 5881. Zillow says that the house was built in 1948 and is a 480-square-foot one bedroom home. My grandmother and my mother had the bedroom. I had the bedroom closet as my bedroom. It was a large closet for such a small house but was really small as a bedroom. As I recall, it was only inches longer than my bed. My clothes dresser blocked the side of my bed by my feet. Boxes under the bed contained most of my clothes and my boy things. I had model airplanes hanging from the ceiling. The Fridley house is the first house I lived in that is still standing. There are still houses that I lived in that were built before the Fridley House, but none of the places I lived before I lived in Fridley are still standing.

Photo of Sylvia Larson by side door of Fridley House.
Sylvia [Larson] in nurse uniform c. 1958 –     Patty Hopkin’s house in distance.
My mother was still working at Anoka State Hospital when we were living there. I have a photo of her in her nurse’s uniform on the steps to the house.

My grandmother’s ledger (From the Donna Darling Digital Collection) says we paid $55/month in rent. I remember life in Fridley as idyllic. A short block away was a huge open field that I played in. Later that field was where I trapped gophers (See “My First ‘Job’ – Trapper.” Down the street was “Melody Manor,” a new development. There was a park where I joined “Little League” and learned to play baseball. I was pretty much a bench warmer and only remember batting once or twice when our team was many runs ahead.

My best friend was a girl, Patty Hopkins, who lived on Main street. (I wonder what ever happened to her.) Her house was across a vacant lot (now Skyline Park) to a house no longer there. A few houses down 2nd Street was where Mark and Rodney Sabo(?) lived. If I was going to get into trouble, it would be with them. There were a couple derelict houses between where we lived that were a source of fun – mostly things like knocking down hornet’s nests and yellow-jacket nests. The derelicts are long gone and a 2-1/2 story apartment is there today.  Also, about a half a mile away was the Mississippi River and Chase Island. There was usually a tree down bridging the distance from shore to the island. Lots of fun playing there. Of course, I wasn’t supposed to go there to play – it was across both a busy highway (without any lights) and across multiple railroad tracks. Sometimes, I’m amazed that I lived through my youth.

My Mom and I with American flag at Fridley house

We lived in the Fridley house for two and a half years, by far the longest I had lived anywhere up to that point in my life. As I recall, we painted that house, fenced it, put on awnings, put up a flagpole, and did many other improvements to the house, yard, and property even though we were renters. My grandmother planted moss roses along the side by the side door – they are still one of my favorite flowers. I love how they open-up to full bloom every morning and close every night.

Parkview Elementary

Parkview Elementary was about six long-blocks away (nine long-blocks in a mile) and I walked. I don’t remember much about third grade. I know the school was new.  In fourth grade, I had Mrs. Peterson as my teacher. She, as I recall, was older and she saw something in me that she encouraged. Fourth grade was the year I shifted from “getting by” to one of the smart kids. She became an “Ancestor of Spirit” for me that year. She helped make me the person I am, today. Maybe it was also because it was the first school I attended two years in a row.  In any event, I excelled that year and carried on into the following year.

Photo of Parkview Elementary c. 1957.
Parkview Elementary – Fridley, MN c. 1957

I wrote about my 5th-grade memories previously. They are at Fifth Grade – Parkview & Spring Lake Park Elementary.

Today, Parkview Elementary is the Fridley Community Center and supports a senior center, adult education, and a youth hang-out center called “The Zone.”

 

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Franklin Elementary, Anoka, MN – 1958

My Life
Those Places Thursday

By Don Taylor

Sylvia and Donald Larson
Mom and I on the roof of the bakery; the Rum River is in background

There was probably no place we ever lived that was a cool as our place in Anoka.  First of all, it was upstairs of a bakery, so we woke up most mornings (6 days a week) to the smell of freshly baking bread. Our apartment was smaller than the bakery downstairs so we a large flat roof area we could go out on and be outside when we wanted to. Also, out back was parking. Today, the building is gone and is a parking area for “Walker on the River” apartments.

Next door to our apartment was a vacant lot and next to it was a bar. (Today, it is Atlas Staffing.) We didn’t have a television, but my grandmother used to bring me along to the bar which did have one.  I remember the awe of seeing the Tournament of Roses Parade in color at the bar.  My recollection is that it was the first nationally televised, live, color television program. The bar was packed in anticipation of the Rose Bowl also being telecast.

Next door to us on the other side was a small, neighborhood drug store.  I don’t have a lot of regrets in my life, but probably my biggest regret did start in Anoka at that drug store. In those days, both my mother and grandmother smoked (though my mom didn’t inhale).  It was common for an adult to write a note allowing a kid to purchase cigarettes for them.  Mom and Grandma wrote notes so often that the Drugstore didn’t question me if I asked to buy cigarettes without a note and just said it was for my mom or my grandma. As long as I bought Winston, they didn’t think anything of it.  Sadly, that is when I began smoking. I then smoked most of the time for the next forty years. (Although as Mark Twain said, “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.”) I quit for about ten years then started up again and smoked for another eight years.  I quit smoking again last August (2016) but I still really miss it.

Photo of Stone structure in Rum River in Anoka, MN
Stone “fort” in Rum River

It was only a few hundred feet to the Rum River. The river was a great place for a 7-year old to play (albeit dangerous). There were these old stone buildings that acted as forts. I wasn’t allowed to play amongst them by myself, and I was supposed to always have a buddy with me, but…  They were so much fun to play in and around. I stayed away from the river side and didn’t hang out there when the river was up. It appears that only one of them remains today. The internet suggests that the stone buildings were part of a house, but I always thought they were footings for the first bridge across the Rum River. In either event, they were a lot of fun.

One of the worst experiences in my life also occurred in Anoka. Things were always financially tight in our house. But my mother somehow found the where-with-all to buy me a brand-new bicycle for my 8th birthday. Of course, I rode it all over – around town and down to the Mississippi River, about a half a mile away. Then, after having the bike for only ten days, I failed to follow my mother’s directions; I didn’t lock it up.  Sure enough, it was stolen. I was devastated; my mom was so disappointed in me. The bike theft was reported to the police, and we went to the police station a couple times to see if it was in their recovered items, but it was never seen. I don’t believe I have ever had another brand-new bicycle.

Franklin Elementary c. 1958

Another great feature of living in Anoka was school. Franklin Elementary School was about two blocks along Main Street from where we lived. Although Franklin Elementary was an old school, it had a modern addition that was only five years old, or so, when I attended. So, it seemed like a new school to me. My classroom and the gym were in the new section.

I’m not sure why we moved from Anoka to Fridley.  I know that my mother worked as a “nurse’s aide” at the Anoka State Hospital both when we lived in Anoka and after we moved to Fridley in August 1958. The Anoka State Hospital was a huge facility and deeply disturbing. My mother never talked with me about her time working at the hospital. Years later, she did speak with my wife somewhat about her experiences. Apparently, there were several babies with extreme brain abnormalities. My mother used to hold them and cuddle them to give them peace during her off time. My mom told my wife that sometimes she felt guilty that she didn’t come home right away to take care of me, but she knew that these babies needed her so much more than I did.  This story reminds me of what a wonderful, caring person my mother is and that she never spoke of it speaks volumes about her humility.