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  Tuesday January 27th, 2015    

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Armory Auto Show (03/24/2014)
By Frances Edstrom

Armory Auto Show

The photo below is one that your Packer Partisan columnist, David DeLano, found while going through things at his motherís house. It is a picture of an auto show held in 1922 at the Winona Armory. Davidís late grandfather William Anderson had a Hupmobile car dealership at the time.

The Hupmobile, built in Detroit from 1909 through 1940, competed head-to-head with Ford and Oldsmobile. Ford, of course, is the only brand that remains.

According to Wikipedia, Hupmobile was the first U.S. auto to build an all-steel body and install heaters in the cars. Yet bad marketing decisions ó pricing the cars out of reach of all but the wealthy, for one ó led to the downfall of the company, which could not survive the Depression.

Happily, this and other photos of the auto show will be preserved at the Winona County Historical Society. Sadly, this is not always the case with items we find while cleaning out houses.

Too often, the younger generation (even if they arenít feeling particularly young) is given the task of disposing of all the things in the house of the older generation ó parents, grandparents ó who for one or another reason are no longer going to be living in the house. It is a difficult job, made more difficult by the fact that it has to be done on a deadline, because the house has been sold to someone new.

Iíve had to help empty a house twice, once for my parents and once for Johnís parents. The task is so daunting that the inclination is to hire a dumpster and throw everything into it without even looking at it.

No one wants most of the stuff. Now that we live longer, often when parents die or move, their children are already beginning to think about downsizing. The grandchildren often donít want what they see as ďold fashionedĒ furniture and decorating items.

And then there are the photos. Kids donít know what to do with photos, slides, or videos. Everything they have, with the exception of their own childrenís school photos, is digital, to be called up with a flick of the thumb on the cell phone screen.

My sisters solved the problem of what to do with all those photos. They saved the few they wanted and sent the rest to me. Great. I am the least organizationally skilled of the bunch, and when my brother asked for a wedding photo of my parents (they were married in uniform during WWII) I had to send my daughter to the photo albums to find it.

Johnís family at one time owned Edstrom Studios, a photo studio that did graduation and wedding photos. They also took professional portraits of their own children every time someone got a new shirt. (Not really, but when we were going through all of them, it seemed like it!) Johnís mother and her caregiver finally did organize all of the studio photos and gave each of the five children a grocery bag full of photos of themselves. I think Johnís bag of pictures is still in our basement. I did take one studio portrait of John as a 10-year-old and hung it at the cabin. I want to label it ďOur Founder.Ē

We did find some things that we donated to the Winona County Historical Society. Nothing was as wonderful, however, as the treasure that I was fortunate to come upon through a friend. Karl Finkelnberg was in town briefly for a funeral, and a swift cleaning of the family home. Practically on his way out of town on a weekend, he called me and said he had found a few things the Historical Society might want. Among the few things were the 1898 architectural plans drawn up by his ancestor, W.A. Finkelnberg, for the original Levee Park in downtown Winona.

If, when you are cleaning out an old house, you arenít positive of the historical worth of items such as plans or photos or artifacts, the Historical Society is happy to look at the items to see if they are significant. You never know when a picture of the neighborhood grocery store, or of the neighborhood as it looked when it was first built, may be just the thing they are looking for.

Before it goes into the dumpster, think about what value it could have in telling the story of the history of the Winona area. Call 507-454-2723. 


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