Sherburne History Center

Sherburne History Center
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Friday, June 22, 2018

Miss Elk River 1939: Promoting the Community


Beauty contests have been the rage of popularity in the United States.  In 1939, while the country emerged from economic doldrums, the Miss Elk River beauty contest gained the enthusiastic attention of Sherburne County.  The wave of popularity continued into 1940 as Miss Margaret Spence represented the community at the Miss Minnesota contest. 

The contest in Elk River presented an unusually popular spectacle. “The contest attracted to Elk River one of the largest crowds seen here for a long time,” the Sherburne County Star News reported.   Ticket sales required a second and third show to entertain everyone interested in the pageant.  Unfortunately, news reports failed to detail the talent portion of the contest.  Yet, the reports emphasized the poise and charm of all the contestants as they presented themselves to judges. 

Miss Spence went on to compete in the Miss Minnesota Pageant 1940, staged near Marshall, Minnesota.  The reports do not note Miss Spence’s placement.  The winner of Miss Minnesota 1940, Virginia Kepler, hailed from Minneapolis. 

Business leaders sponsored the Elk River contest and covered all expenses for Miss Spence to continue in the state contest.  Clearly, the merchants sponsored the program to promote Elk River and boost the local economy.  An event that succeeded in bringing money and visitors into Elk River for at least one day in 1939.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Recognizing National Donut Day


National Donut Day originated by the Salvation Army in 1938.  A means to recognize all of their members that served donuts to soldiers during World War One.  The Salvation Army served more than donuts to soldiers.  According to Wikipedia, volunteers established huts near the front lines in France to serve baked goods to U. S. troops. 

National Donut Day began as a fundraising event for the Salvation Army, and remains a source of income to this day. 

In honor of National Donut Day, here at the Sherburne History Center we publish this photo of Bake Anderson and his Bakery in Elk River.  From a different time than the World War One volunteers; Bake Anderson provide culinary delights to a generation of Elk River.


Friday, May 25, 2018

Technology Provides Interesting Improvements to Sherburne Farms



Improving technology significantly impacted Sherburne County in the 1930s.  Increasing access to electricity made life so much easier for local farmers.  The local telephone company promised a telephone in the house could save your life.  Electric refrigerators reduced waste caused by the less functional ice box, the new machines also provided “26 percent more storage space.”  Perhaps the most significant advances in technology allowed farmers more time and greater productivity. 

The advertising for new farm equipment seemed magical in the enhanced production the machines provided.  The Allis-Chalmers Sherburne County Star News advertising Allis-Chalmers tractors in March 1938, promised “work just melts away.”  The ad promised “with an air-tired WC you plow up to 5 miles an hour.”  With this speed it was like adding extra equipment to a “slower outfit.” 

The Allis-Chalmers ad alluded to other technological improvements.  In advertising later in the month, the newspaper praised the virtues of rubber tires over steel wheels.  According to the advertising, rubber tires reduced costs, saved money of repairs, and increased productivity.  Clearly, new air-tired tractors, with greater speeds could only help the farmers of Sherburne County. 

New technology in the household and on the farm made life so much better for Sherburne County residents during this age of new development.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Shadick's Yet Another Elk River Institution


Summer’s beginning, memories of luxurious heat and the pleasure of cold ice cream springs to mind.  Memories takes us back in time, one constant fixture of summer in Elk River continuously comes to mind: Shadick’s Confectionary.

Opening in 1928 and remaining on Main Street until 1954, Ernie Shadick introduced new and unusual treats to the Elk River palate, providing sweet flavored relief from summer heat.  Yet, his early life in Anoka County gave no indication Ernie L. Shadick was destined to operate the sweet treat institution in Elk River. 

Born in 1899 to Herbert and Bertha Shadick, he spent his early life in and around St. Francis.  He served in the Army Air Corps during World War One.  Discharged December 1918, after ten years in Minneapolis, he found his way to Main Street, Elk River. 

Pineapple, one of the many
unique flavors offered up at
Shadick's in 1938
Beginning in 1928, Shadick purchased and modernized the Riverside Confectionary in downtown Elk River.  In 1931, the Sherburne County Star News noted the Riverside, under the ownership of Shadick kept “a large number of ice compartments full of different flavored ice cream.”  The store also improved the ice cream freezers.  A move that allowed even more variety of uniquely flavored ice.  The newspaper noted, the new equipment manufactured “brick ice cream with fancy centers, fresh fruit ice cream, sherbets, malted milks and ices.”  The machine also guaranteed production “under the most sanitary conditions.”  As the company improved the store name evolved, often referred simply as Shadick’s. 

Still later in his career, Ernie Shadick created a popcorn phenomenon.  In 1937, he purchased a popcorn machine and proceeded to sell over four tons of popcorn in the first twelve months.  Shadick’s popcorn, the newspaper claimed, “sold throughout Minnesota, and is a popular product,” found everywhere in the state. 

In the 1940s, in spite of restrictions and rationing, Shadick’s Confectionary continued to offer quality treats in Elk River.  The shop remained in place until 1954, when Ernie Shadick sold his enterprise.  After the sale, an institution in Elk River slowly faded so that only the memories of chocolate ice cream and big bags of popcorn from Shadick’s Confectionary stir in our mind as spring heats into summer.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Improved Roads Create a Need for Speed



Transportation advertising found in the
Sherburne County Star News, 1938
Country roads became smooth bands of pavement throughout Minnesota in the 1920s. As gravel and mud disappeared, replaced by sleek, flat thoroughfares, roads generated a new need for speed and power.  Automobiles graduated from the small buggy model-T’s to the V-8 power of Ford and Chevrolet. 

Newspapers in the 1930s witnessed a dramatic change in the object of advertising.  No longer the small cars or buggies.  With the completion of the Jefferson Highway through Sherburne County, and roads running north, the Sherburne County Star News began advertising what must have seemed like truly powerful machines of transportation.

Deluxe Ford V-8’s “bigger and more luxurious than any previous Ford V-8,” the newspapers advertised.  Delivered for only $802, “why pay more” the ads wondered.  Chevy and Buick also promised greater power in their automobiles.  In addition, they offered new improvements and options such as: a glove compartment, hydraulic brakes, three ashtrays, a spare wheel, and 2 tail lights.

The improved highway system gave justification to greater speed and more luxury in automobiles.  Yet, probably unforeseen by transportation planners, the need for speed marked a significant change in viewpoint for the residents of Sherburne county. 

Ironically, the newspapers documented another change.  In the same pages urging “buy your modern car now!” Harold Caley urged framers “it’s a good time to look over your harness before spring work starts.”  Some traditions died more slowly than others.


Friday, April 13, 2018

Weather Extremes 1936 Caused Major Challenges to Sherburne Farmers



Weather extremes, the newspapers documented in 1936, wreaked havoc in Sherburne County communities.  Floods and high water in April and a ten-week drouth in August the weather played a significant role in life during a bad year in the 1930s economic depression.

The headlines of the Sherburne County Star News, in April 1936, reported high water marks on the Elk River.  Camp Cozy suffered the greatest catastrophe.  The newspaper reported flooding and ice flows destroyed footbridges crossing the Elk River.  High water destroyed cabins along the river.  Yet, these reports seemed only a precursor to the weather extremes of later in the year. 

In the summer months, heat waves burned crops and killed people in the upper Midwest.  The St Paul newspapers in the summer 1936 reported 100 people dying from heat.  Newspapers noted the heat allowed men to fry eggs on the city pavement.  The heat in Sherburne County seemed lower, yet still destructive.  A ten-week drouth ruined crops throughout the farming communities of Sherburne County. 

The county newspaper reported a lack of rain from June to August 1936.  The heat seemed so oppressive entire families slept outdoors to possibly catch an evening breeze.  By August 13, the newspaper reported “66 days without an appreciable rain.”  When it finally rained, hailstorms wiped out any crops that might have survived. 

On a positive note, the newspapers reported a good hay crop.  Dairy and cattle farmers may survive the drouth as indications suggested farmers held on to a surplus of hay from 1935 and managed an early harvest in 1936. 

A reprieve from extreme weather conditions in September provided relief to the county.  Along with aid from WPA programs, farmers in Sherburne County survived another season of weather extremes.


Friday, April 6, 2018

Veteran Bonus Impact Reached Deep into the county



World War Adjusted Compensation, billion dollar words that generated 20 years of controversy and bloodshed in the United States.  Although Sherburne witnessed no violent protest, the law passed in 1924 impacted Elk River and the county for a generation. 

In 1924, Congress pass legislation awarding veterans of the World War a bonus for their service.  Veterans received promises of bonds to be paid after 20 years maturity.  President Calvin Coolidge opposed the legislation, arguing “patriotism bought and paid for is not patriotism.”  Despite his veto, Congress passed the World War Adjusted Compensation Act, promising veterans money in twenty years. 

The arrival of the economic depression in the 1930s, unemployed and homeless veterans asked for their money earlier than promised.  In 1932, Bonus Army protests in Washington, D.C. led to riots and the deaths of two veterans.  In 1936, Congress passed a new legislation promising the veterans their money. 

In Sherburne County, the promised money reached an estimated 300 veterans.  The Sherburne County Star News estimated the county veterans would receive $181,000.  Over a third of that money, $75,000 would be paid to Elk River veterans. 

With the assistance of American Legion Posts throughout the county, veterans applied for, and received bonds from the Federal government.  The vets redeemed the bonds at any post office or bank.  
 
In 1936, in the midst of the economic crisis; unemployment high; and civilian Conservation Corps and the WPA maintaining projects in the county, this monetary windfall surely delivered hope to a number of Sherburne County residents. The full amount paid to Sherburne County veterans remains unknown, the implied economic impact played a significant role for Sherburne County veterans and their families.