RAMBLING DOWN BROADWAY 1920s & 30s
Reminiscences of Mildred Nelson

Ascending mission hill from the south we enter Broadway. There were the stately residences of C. A. Swanson, Frank Swanson, A. P. Peterson and A. L. Thelander The Elim Mission church, although changed in design, has been there for "ages" (1916.) At an evangelistic meeting, as a child, Reverend Glen Nelson, the pastor, scared me "near to death."

Across the street the Cities Service Station was erected where formerly stood the brick home of Emil and Julia (Klingenberg) Berg. He was a Lutheran church organist and she was my ?rst Sunday School teacher. Nels Dokken was a gas truck driver. A miniature golf course for a shorttime was next to G. A. Jorgenson’s one-pump gas station.

The Pantry Cafe, for a short time was the business of two efficient ladies, Fluth and Esther Anderson, and later Ernest Olson.

Christopher and Larson had a car agency which burned in 1919. That wonderful Model T Ford touring car was purchased here for $575 and with minimum instruction, father drove it home. Virgil Webb later was a dealer in a new building. For a brief time Ted Swanberg was the pharmacist in a drug store located here.

On the corner was the two-story brick building, the property of Titrud Bros. Hardware, which is still operating as a hardware store. Any kind of hardware, as well as machinery, was for sale. Windmills were sold and erected by Carl, the mechanic, and helper, Ray Swan. Bookkeeping duties were taken over by Victor. He was the gentleman. On my way to school (roomed in town in winter), meeting Victor, he’d always “touch” his hat with a “Good morning." I felt so grown up. Upstairs over the store were apartments. A chiropractor had an of?ce there at one time. My, what a long stairway! In the back part of the store a tin smith by the name of Axel Ahlstrom plied his trade. l especially remember him being very accommodating in making me a hectograph tray, a teaching tool.

The service station under management of O. A. Holmer began the next block. Next was the Red and White Grocery which was owned by Holmberg and Holmquist. The apples, oranges, and candy for Lutheran Sunday School Christmas program came from here.

The town hall has always been in the present location, with renovations and ?nally, a new building. In front was the water fountain for man and beast.

"Shorty" Jackson was on hand to wait on folks in Peter Calgren’s Saloon where tobacco, snu? and like sundries were for sale. During prohibition “lean” beer could be purchased too. A nickel for a cone at the bakery quelled any desire to enter there.

"Terveisia kuinka se mene,” you might hear on entering the Farmer’s Mercantile. The Finns were busy conversing. This was a general co-op store where groceries, meats, and in earlier years, dry goods were sold. A couple of early managers were C. O. Nelson and A. W. Nelson (no relation) and clerks, Helmi Strolberg and Oscar Juntilla.

The Cokato Merchant's Hotel was situated next to the Great Northern railroad until it burned to the ground in June, 1977. In early days it was a busy place when salesmen arrived by train with trunks and cases of samples. The railroad park, with its neat white band- stand, was a beehive of activity on Saturday night when farmers and town people came to shop and hear the Town Band play. Somebody came up with the idea of selling homemade candy to raise money (con?rmation class), but oh my, my candy turned sugary.

The Cokato Bakery, ever a popular place, at one time the State Bank. Much delicious bakery goods have been supplied by different owners--Lunds, Alstads, Salmelas to name a few. The living quarters are upstairs.

Ann Peterson, whose husband was "Spill” Peterson (painter), established quite a fancy business, a tea room, where fancy meals were served. Another restaurant was operated by Frank Grassinger. Charley Kleist, the red- headed barber, clipped away in his small shop. The Enterprise (Cokato paper), with Maude Donahue Hall as editor was located on this block.

Elmer Larson’s Women's Ready-to-Wear, was a very nice dress shop with the friendly owner and his wife, Winnie, the hat maker, ever ready with the needle. What a beautiful flowered crepe dress was purchased here!

The Ben Franklin store with the Glen Fitzgeralds as managers and later Howard and Florentine Johnson, were behind the counter at the Gamble Store. The White Front Meat Market was where John Nelson and Harold Anderson were at your service.

The State Bank which sad to say, is no more because of last summer's tornado, was a stately edi?ce. The long stairway led up to the telephone office and Dr. J. T. Ahlstrom’s dental office where those painful procedures of pulling and filling teeth were experienced.

Across the street stood the National Bank which was a total loss as a result of the 1935 Christmas Eve ?re. Coming to Julotta service Christmas morning, it was a sad sight, seeing what was left of the ice-encrusted building. The upstairs of?ces of Dr. L. M. Hendricks and attorney W. E. Reyerson were a loss as well.

The Women's Civic League thought a public restroom was a necessity, especially for farm women, nursing mothers, and children. In a small building next to the bank it became a realization but after a few years fell into ruin.

George Butcher's Cafe, and later Wayne and Marie Larson's Grill in the Moberg building, were eating places in this block. Earl Tracy's patients patronized Larson’s Grill where a meal was perhaps thirty-?ve cents!

The Star Car Agency was owned by William Nyberg where the greasy mechanic was the "tipsy" aviator, Bill Strandlund. Nyberg's plump wife took care of the gas pumps.

A bowling alley was in operation for a short time; it is now the Nelson and Paulson Law Of?oe. Next was Akerlund’s Studio where Mr. Akerlund, the Swedish immigrant with the black drape over his head, “snapped” pictures since the early 1900s. The studio and adjoining apartment have been restored by the Cokato Historical Society.

Across the street (corner of Peterson Park) stood the Episcopal Church. Services ceased there in the 1920s. The church was there for many years and severely vandalized. The little house on the southeast corner of Peterson Park, built in 1877, was the former home of Gordy and Helen Bergstom for over ?fty years.

Till next time...

This article originally appeared in the Winter 1993 edition of In The Midst Of. (c)1993, Cokato Historical Society.