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 – 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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Scheffer Elementary School, Saint Paul, Minnesota

 My Life, My History, My Schools
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor circa 1955.
“Donnie” (Larson) Taylor  circa 1955

I’m not positive why we moved from Hastings to Saint Paul, MN. I know that my mom was working as a nurse’s aide when we lived in Hastings and she was working for another hospital when we lived at the Capital Apartments in Saint Paul. I think she was a nurse’s aide at Gillette State Hospital for Crippled Children, but I’m not positive. My grandmother was working at the time also, but I don’t recall where.  I think it might have been a laundry. My mom took a bus to work every day and I believe my grandma walked.  The two of them tried to make sure one of them was home whenever I was home.

My Memories

Photo of Sylvia Larson (later Matson) in nurse's uniform - circa 1955
Sylvia Larson (later Matson) in nurse’s uniform – circa 1955

I don’t remember any great excitement about my first day in school when I began kindergarten at Scheffer Elementary. It was just something that a kid did. I do remember that the school was nearby, maybe three blocks away or so. I also remember it had a huge playground but there was something dark and foreboding about the school building itself. Of course, I walked to school. On most days, I walked with other children from the apartment building I lived in; sometimes I walked with kids from the buildings nearby. I don’t recall ever having a parent walking me to school. I don’t recall school crossing guards or anything like that. Kids just sort of took care of themselves in the mid-1950s.

That winter, somehow, I attracted the attention of a bully named Cynthia. I didn’t do anything to her, but in true bully fashion, she began rubbing my face in the snow whenever she saw me.  I was in kindergarten and she was in second or third grade. Much bigger than I was. I grew afraid of Cynthia. She was the bane of my existence. I told my mother and my grandmother about it, but they both worked and neither were about to intercede. They talked with one of the neighbor kids, a fifth grader I think, who agreed to keep an eye out for me and step in if I was getting picked on.  I think that worked for a while, but then I was walking somewhere alone and Cynthia spied me. She rubbed my face in the snow again. I came home cold and wet, the tears and melted snow indistinguishable on my face.  I had been taught by my mom and grandma to never, never ever, hit a girl.  My grandmother told me that this girl, who was acting like a bully and like a boy, needed to be responded to like she was a boy. She gave me permission to smack her. A few days later Cynthia saw me again, knocked me down and began mushing my face into the snow.  I round-housed her with a big one in the face. She stopped for an instant, surprised, even shocked, then her face turned to anger. I had really angered her. I think I got the worst “snow mashing” of my life that day. She ground my face into the snow and ice with all her might. The good news is, however, that was the last time she pushed my face in the snow. I saw her many times before spring arrived and the snow piles vanished, but she left me alone after that.

Scheffer Elementry School

Photo of Scheffer Elementary School - Saint Paul, MN
Scheffer Elementary School – Saint Paul, MN

Scheffer Elementary was an old, forbidding beast of a school when I attended it in 1955. It was built about 1900 and felt old. It had large windows with a top portion that could be opened to provide ventilation in the summer. But in the winter, the windows were drafty beyond belief. I remember two floors but I don’t remember a top floor containing dormers. Scheffer was built without a gym, as was typical in its day, but did have a large playground outside. That playground was Como Playground, which was the first city playground created in 1903.  Before Como Playground, parks were typically public squares and not active places for children. I only attended Scheffer for the one Kindergarten year, so I don’t have many recollections but, looking at photos activated a memory. Scheffer Elementary was demolished in 1970 and replaced by a Scheffer Recreation Center.

Other people recall the school’s bell as being significant. I don’t recall it. The school’s bell has been preserved and is now in the current Scheffer Recreation Center. The center of today has a baseball field, two softball fields, the center building housing indoor facilities.

A Memory Activated – Baking!

Photo of Kiindergarteners learning bread baking, Scheffer Elementary - c. 1950
Learning to bake bread at Scheffer Elementary

While I was researching Scheffer Elementary School I ran across an amazing photo that triggered memories. The photo was a St. Paul Dispatch and Pioneer Press photo from 1950 of kindergarteners at Scheffer Elementary learning about baking bread. I saw the photo and gasped out loud, “Wow! I remember that.” I remember the tall paper chef hats and making bread. Before I saw that photograph, I would not have remembered when or where it happened but I would have remembered having had a very similar experience. It is so fantastic to see the photo.  Thank you, Minnesota Historical Society, for allowing the photo to be shared.

The Future

Plan for next generation recreation center.

The City of Saint Paul is planning and designing a new Scheffer Recreation Center to replace the existing 1970’s building. Yikes! Talk about something making you feel old.  Not only has my first school been demolished and replaced, that replacement building is undergoing replacement and should be gone in the next couple years.  It is so ironic that the next generation Scheffer Recreation Center, planned for 2018-2019 will have a gymnasium, a walking track, and other sports features that the original school did not have.

Further Research

Research the Capital Apartments that were behind the Capital during the 1950s. 

Sources

  • Internet: Saint Paul // Departments // Parks & Recreation // Design & Construction / Current Projects // Scheffer Recreation Center Project – (see: https://www.stpaul.gov/departments/parks-recreation/design-construction/current-projects/scheffer-recreation-center-project – accessed 23 Jan 2017.  Also see CAC Meeting #2 Presentation
  • Internet: Saint Paul HistoricalKindergarten children baking bread at Scheffer School – ID: 433. – Date: 1950 – Image courtesy Minnesota Historical Society.
  • Internet: Saint Paul HistoricalScheffer School – ID: 431 – Date: c. 1900 – Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society.
  • Photos of “Donnie” and “Sylvia” are from the “Don Taylor personal photos collection.” Photographer unknown.

 

Schools I’ve Attended

Those Places Thursday
My History

By Don Taylor

I often see articles and blogs that remind readers to write about their own life. Something that several suggest is to write about schools that you have attended. Most people have a few schools, but I have 15 schools that I have attended.  It is more of a book rather than an article or two. Looking back, I have attended seven elementary schools, one junior high school, three high schools, and four colleges. So, I thought I’d examine the school’s history and see what I can remember of my attending.

  • 1955 – Scheffer Elementary[1], St. Paul, MN– Kindergarten.
  • 1956 – Emerson Elementary, Minneapolis, MN – 1st grade.
  • 1957 – Cambridge Elementary, Cambridge, MN – 2nd grade.
  • 1957 – Franklin Elementary, Anoka, MN – 2nd grade.
  • 1958 – Parkview Elementary, Fridley, MN – 3rd, 4th, & 5th grades.
  • 1960 – Spring Lake Park Elementary, Spring Lake Park, MN – 5th & 6th grades.
  • 1961 – Elizabeth Hall Elementary, Minneapolis, MN 6th grade.
  • 1962 – Jordan Junior High School, Minneapolis, MN 7th, 8th, & 9th grades.
  • 1965 – Osse0 High, Osseo, MN – 10th, 11th, & 12th grades.
  1. 1966 – Billings Senior High, Billings, MT – part of 10th grade.[2]
  2. 1967 – Mumford High, Detroit, MI – part of 11th grade?
  • 1968 – Graduated from Osseo High School

————-

  • 1974 – Chapman University, Orange, California (Navy PACE)
  • 1976 – Chaminade University, Honolulu, Hawaii (Navy PACE)
  • 1981 – Anoka Ramsey Community College, Coon Rapids, MN
  • 1984 – Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, MN

————-

For each of the schools I attended, I plan to look at the school’s history and see what memories I can jog loose about me and my attending that school.  My guess is that most of the elementary schools that I attended are now gone.

————- Disclaimer ————-

 

ENDNOTES

[1] If you had asked me before, I would have said I attended Schaeffer Elementary. Researching for this article I learned it was Scheffer Elementary. I double checked my DD Form 398 – Statement of Personal History. I indicated Schaeffer on mine when I completed it in 1968. Also, the form only included spaces for five schools; I had to continue on another page.

[2] I will need to look closer at this school.  For some reason. I think I went to Central High in Billings but a quick Internet search indicated that would be a Catholic school.  I am sure I attended a public school when living in Billings.