For many reasons, quite a few neighbors around Minnehaha Park absolutely hated the commerce that sprang up outside the park from the 1890s onwards. All the commercial businesses were not equally hated. Everyone needed grocery stores near by, and James R. Hartzell was one who ran a grocery at 50th and Hiawatha. He was popular and respected. In many years he also ran the pony ride concession at the park.
But others running businesses near but outside the park had a harder time of it, with prominent citizens doing everything they could to run them out. This worked less well that one might think, though the ultimate result was that places designed to draw crowds and provide entertainments were closed down but neighborhood conveniences stayed.
In 1907, a building permit was issued to real estate entrepreneur Chas. Synder (who also sometimes ran the pony ride at the park). He began this building in the very same month that the strip of pavilions closer to the railroad tracks were torn down.
This little grocery changed hands many times over the decades that it stood. Here, details date the picture to the summer of 1924, and by using the usual tools, we’ve figure out that it was run by Peder Grotta Iverson. He was a Norwegian immigrant who rented (likely contracted to buy) this little confectionery from Ida Hoeffken, who lived a few blocks away.
Peder was known as Peter in his new country. He and his wife Emma had 5 children, 4 boys and their daughter Beatrice who was right in the middle of the pack. They’d lived in Iowa, and it’s not certain why they came to Minneapolis. But the Hiawatha Confectionery seemed like an excellent opportunity. The shop was located at 4900 42nd Ave. So. on the high ground opposite Minnehaha Park. They had a house right across the street, so working long hours was easy.
The Iversons settled right into neighborhood life. They took a stand on the early 1920s’ hottest neighborhood controversy: should the new high school be named Nokomis or Roosevelt? (They were supporters of the Nokomis name.) They provided the same sort of amenities people still want from neighborhood marts: bananas, sandwiches, gasoline, ice cream. They kept a jug near the water spigot for motorists to top up their overheating cars. They had a scale out front so people could weigh themselves.
At this time, Peder and Emma were in their 40s and the kids were growing up fast. Of course it was a family business, and at least Beatrice helped in the store. A good thing that was, too. Because in 1924, “bandits” attempted to rob them.
Breathlessly exciting newspaper stories recall what happened. Two men peered in the windows, then entered with “revolvers leveled. ‘Stick ’em up, quick!’ they ordered.” Brandishing the ice cream scoop, Emma said, “Get out of here. We know you!” And 18-year-old Beatrice cried, “You won’t stick us up!” and swung the broom. The men fled, and were chased down the street by the two ladies. They got away. The bandits were thought to be between 22 and 27 years old, of slender build, and dressed in “modified sheik style” (whatever that was).
The Iversons’ attempt to make a go of it at the Hiawatha Confectionery only lasted three years. By 1925, someone else was running the place. And unfortunately, Beatrice died young, at just 21. She had no children or grandchildren to tell the story to, about that one time when she and her mom chasing armed stick-up men out of their store and down the street with a broom and a spoon.