FROM FROGTOWN TO PIG ALLEY
Reminiscing with Mildred Nelson

No doubt there were frogs in these parts--maybe snakes too--being swampy and near the creek. This is the area where east Third Street meets Highway Number 10 (now Highway 12).

A residence on south Third Street was where Miss Florence Halsten made her home for a while with an aunt. Here, as a young girl in the 1920s, l went for my first music lessons. While playing scales my lesson was occasionally interrupted by a call from her friend Eric Bongfeldt. Coming into town when the cream was brought to the creamery by Model T, I was dropped off at the creamery at the State Bank corner--it was a bit of a hike!

A few other folks l remember making their homes along Third Street were Gust Petersons, Dr. O. J. R. Freeds (l wondered why he used three initials), Chas. Gustafsons, Mrs. Sanbo, Else Larsons, Mrs. Carrie Nyberg, the Swansons, and August Noyd. Long ago the only lady mayor of Cokato, lda Sparks Clarke, resided on this street in a house later occupied by her daughter, Maude Donahue.

The brick edifice housing the Cokato Hospital was located on the corner of Third and Swanson surrounded by an expanse of green lawn and trees. Dr. O. J. R. Freed came as a physician in June 1918, taking over the practice of Dr. O. A. Kvello. Here there were times of joy as well as grief. It now houses the “Warner Boys."

The gray stucco Lutheran parsonage was on the corner where the Greg Holt family lives. The parsonage was later divided, one part is now a home on the east side and the other part is on the south. A brick house was the home of Carrie Nyberg; in recent years it was the home of Alfred Larsons. Arnold Johnson's home was across from the Lutheran church.

This church of brick was erected in 1909. Andrew Swanberg bought the old frame building to be used in his building construction business. The 125th anniversary of the Cokato Evangelical Lutheran will be celebrated in 1995.

John Mabusth, the Big Store owner and his son, Arthur and family, were the other Third Street residents.

The elegant H. C. Bull home, one of the oldest in Cokato, surrounded by the black metal fence was here until it was demolished in 1988 to make way for public housing--if only it could have been saved. The owl in the window “stared" at me as l walked by on my way to music lessons. lt is now in the window of the Bull parlor in the museum. There was a spacious yard where Carl Runquist might be mowing the lawn.

The Harkman Tire Shop was where John and “Twister” were busy selling and patching tires.

The Titrud Brothers Hardware--the present Boger’s Hardware--was taken over by Victor and Ole Titrud from Hannberg in 1903. Carl joined them later. They were in business for many years. On the other corner was Holmer's Service Station.

The former State Bank building was where C. R. Peterson, Richard Peterson, and C. E. Osterberg would take care of your business. On the other corner J. E. Howe, Art Loberg, “Fisk” Peterson or Constance Harkman at the National Bank were at your service. Peterson's Pharmacy, McChesney's Ready-To-Wear and Blaha’s Grocery were on this street at one time or another as was the Big Store owned and operated by John Mabusth. Here one could purchase dry goods and women’s apparel from clerk Alice Westerlund, and men’s clothing and shoes occupied the west side. Too, there was a shoe repair business. Heels would “click” in the dance hall upstairs at night.

C. A. Swanson took care of your furniture needs and the “after life” was also seen to by Swanson and Reuben Hagglund as caskets were for sale upstairs, which was the mortuary.

From pleasant, rotund Mr. Rolig you could get ice cream, a soda, coffee and sweets at his Sweet Shop. The Corner Drug store owned by A. P. Peterson was taken over by his sons Adler and Clarence. Upstairs Dr. O. L. Peterson had his office. He served the community for over "thirty years, making house calls when necessary.

The other corner had Eureka Drug Store where Ted Swanberg was the pharmacist. This building also housed Mrs. Myren’s (Corkins) Dime Store and later Nyquist’s Grocery. That building is now gone. Thelander’s Department Store and the Corner Grocery, Elmer Bergstrom, proprietor, were on the corner of Third and Broadway. Down the hill was Anderson's Blacksmith Shop.

Going west on Third, a short part of it was called “pig alley.” In the spring farmers would bring small pigs in crates for sale and others would come to buy, therefore the name, pig alley!

Anderson's Lumber Company and Nelson’s Pop Factory were beyond. “Pop” Nelson’s orange and grape pop were special treats on a hot summer day. Some farmers would purchase a case, to be cooled in the stock tank, during haying. Others served nectar.

Some of the residents coming to memory on the west side of Third Street were “Poker Ole” Olson, Jorgensons, John Westerdahls, John Swansons, Lars Norstroms, my aunt Christine Morris, Ed Zierkes, Pickruhns, Osbergs, Bengstons, Sam Redmond, and Haakon Kvam. The places at the far west end often had a barn.

The houses have many stories to tell, the owners have changed, businesses have closed, but I still have memories from Frogtown to Pig Alley.

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