Ethan Adam Laub - Memories of Sherwood Forest Minnetonka in the 60s and 70s.
Recorded Dec 9, 2019
Bill = Bill Jepson
Ethan = Ethan Adam Laub
Bill: Hello my name is Bill Jepson and I live in Sherwood Forest at 2415 Sherwood Hills Road, and for a long time we have been wanting to record the history of Sherwood Forest (a neighborhood in northeast Minnetonka MN) , and the first person I thought of was Ethan Adam Laub, and he is going to talk to us today of his memories of Sherwood Forest.
Ethan: Hi, I was born Ethan Adam Laub, my parents were Daryl and Nikki Laub. My dad and mother were both actors and they did theatre in the twin cities and also later were on the radio. My Dad was on the CBS radio , Columbia Broadcasting System , and my mother was on the National Broadcasting System NBC when there was such a radio network.
Ethan: Anyway thats a whole nother side story. My Dad was a childrens TV personality also in the Twin Cities, he was on the air from 1951 to 1962, and played kids show characters. He played TN Tatters the clown and Captain Daryl a sea captain, live shows done on channel 11 and then channel 5.
They were very good friends with Roger Awsumb who was Casey Jones and Clellan Card who played Axel around the same time. There were alot of broadcasting parties at this house, with Dave Moore of WCCO TV, and Roger Awsumb, Casey Jones, and John Gallos who was Clancy the Cop.
Bill: Your mom probably had a good singing voice as a voice talent?
Ethan: Not as much singing, but she was a voice actor and my dad was a voice actor as well, he had great deep pipes. He continued acting until he was about 86.
Bill: Like Steve Cannon I suppose?
Ethan: Yeah Steve was a young pup, according to my Dad.
But let's back to the neighborhood.
So I was born in 1962 when my Dad still had his TV show and by the time I was 4 months old, the show had been canceled and he was off doing something else, selling TV shows for United Artists.
My parents bought this land, that I'm living in now, in 1953, I believe it was for $1300. It's a 3/4 acre lot, beautiful, surrounded by woods on 3 sides. The address is 11405 Park Ridge Drive and it was probably one of the earlier homes. The Sherwood Forest history says that the first home was the John Bolster home in 1944, which is the old log cabin home a half a block northeast of here on Park Ridge Drive which has been for sale for about 15 years for around $400K. It is next to the two ponds when you enter Sherwood Forest from the east at Hopkins Crossroad 73. Across from my house is the 2nd house that was built in the neighborhood, the Shiltz house, also at first, the Schmitt home. No relation to the beer families. The home next to me on the east side was the Myhro home, that was also one of the earlier homes. A white cream stucco home that was built in 1947. And the Vince Wilson home was 1946 at 11600 Park Ridge Drive.Which was significant because they were very close friends of ours and they were the first homes.
So my parents bought this in 53, and started construction in 1954, and moved in in February 1955. I have only one sibling and her name is Darcie, she was born at Methodist Hospital, as was I. She was born in 1955. So this house is a midcentury modern house, very classic, my parents loved the Frank Lloyd Wright style homes and they saw some designs in a magazine, which I still have, something like "Modern designs for young living" , and it was built by the Norson builders. Fred Norson was the architect for this and their were some customization of the plans from the magazine. It's a small slab on grade house, about 1000' with a summer porch on the west end, beautiful lot. And my parents lived here until my mother Nikki passed away in 2008, and my Dad Daryl lived here until 2014, at which time he moved to a retirement home called the Glen. The house was empty but we maintained it.
Bill: How old were they at their passing.
Ethan: My mother was 82 and my dad was 90.
So more about me: I'm divorced my ex wife's name is Megan Adam, I have 3 children . I have Catlin born in 1994, Shannon born in 1998, and a son named Michael Peter Laub Adam born in 2000. I moved back in here in 2016. So I grew up here, moved away in 1986 after going to the Uof M, graduated in 1985, got married in 1986.
Bill: So your memory is from 1966 to 1986 of this neighborhood, right?
Ethan: Yes, born in 1962. I have alot of early memories of my Mom and Dad being actors and broadcasters, so we have alot of movie film, silent 8, super 8. A little bit of the neighborhood, we'll get to that in a second, my memories of the early stuff are with the Myhros next door. She was a piano teacher and vocal teacher. And when I say piano teacher she was full time, she had a baby grand in her house, a spinet downstairs, and she had students coming 6 days a week to her house. And so what she did was she organized in about 1957, Christmas Caroling around the neighborhood. And they at first would do the main circle down here (Park Ridge Drive to Live Oak Drive). The upper level of Sherwood Forest, above that crazy big hill. We kids, somehow we named it Devil's Hill because it was such a treacherous hill. People now named it Killer Hill because they run it, but originally it was Devil's Hill. But we wouldn't go up there, it was where all the newer homes at the time. So we would end up between the ponds of the circle and we would have a big bonfire, and we would go ice skating on both ponds. The front pond to the east, behind the big rock, was designated the figure skating pond. On the back pond, which is slightly bigger, the dads of the neighborhood put big boards all the way around it and made it a hockey pond.They were painted white, and they were there for at least 30 years. The boards were 4 feet high, so you could check into them. As a little kid you couldn't climb over them so you had to find an opening. So it was a very very active neighborhood, and again these were the original families that were in here, from the 50's and 60's. So the carolers would come by and we would gather on December 15th on a Thursday night at 6:30PM and we'd light a huge bonfire. And the caroling was led by Irene and Norman Mhyro. Norman would have two old fashioned pots of hot cocoa on the hot stove on the table along with donuts sometimes, but no hot dogs. And Irene had the mimeographed copies of the lyrics for the Christmas Carols.
She again was a music teacher at home, and he worked for Northern States Power. And many of us played instruments, so we'd bring our instruments down, and I brought my trombone down and of course the Myhro's were all musical, so they had a flute, and a clarinet, and an oboe and a sax.
And John their older son played trombone too. And Michael Schmitt who lived in the Schmitt home across from me, he was two years younger than me, he played trumpet and so we'd stand around that bonfire and play christmas carols and sing and we'd probably spend 45 minutes and people would skate and laugh and sing and maybe someone else would bring schnapps in their cocoa, but it was a really great family gathering lasting only about an hour. And other families would come early to skate or stay late. And then ironically, my sister Darcie met her husband on the skating pond during the party. Because her husband Carl Hedstrom was a student of the Myhro's and they were doing that whiplash thing where they skate around that started their marriage right there.
Bill: You mentioned Schmitt across the street in the Schiltz house. I talked to him on his front porch probably about 6 years ago, he was about 90 years old.
Ethan: Jim Schiltz, probably the second owner, 'cuz he moved in around the same time as my parents did, and they bought that house from the Schmitts. So Jim Schiltz and his wife was June, whose maiden name was Dvorak.
Bill: What do you know about the boulder.
Ethan: All I know is that where the streets split there used to be a white picked fence there, and when it was icy, people would just roll right into that and almost roll into the pond. So I think they went to Hedberg that owned the gravel pit just south of here, which is now Cedar Pass, a big development where all the Vikings and Twins and athletes live now and the legend goes that they got a huge boulder from there and replaced the fence and put it right there. And we always called it the big rock and that's where the school buses would pick up the kids. And we didn't have to go very far, we went up to Tanglen Elementary which was built in 1967 or we'd go to Hopkins North Junior High, or we'd go up to Lindbergh High School.
Bill: So that whole campus with 3 schools was built around 1967 after being bought from a 100 acre dairy farm.
Ethan: So that's where my girlfriend Karen's mom's boyfriend, Conrad Fochs grew up, and we're going to interview him in January. He is 87 and he lived on the north side of Hillside Lane on a 10 acre dairy farm in the 1940's. And he grew up here and went to Oak Knoll School, which was the local school house before the 60's on the west side of Hopkins Crossroad 73, just north of Sherwood Forest.
We used to buy eggs from the very last farm in the area, and that was the Fletcher, Clarence Fletcher, and they were right across from football field of the highschool. They were on the north side of Hillside Lane, the house is still there, and they had another little house there, and they had a little bit of corn in a and a chicken coop and a whole field back there that is now Adath Jeshurun Synagogue (Beth Shalom?). When I was still a kid they were still farming and they had cows, corn and eggs that we always bought from them.
And a side note about Conrad Fochs, if you are looking south at Tanglen Elementary School from Hillside Lane there was an abandoned farmhouse to the right. And the school people would yell at us when we tried to play over there. The school started in 1967, who knows if someone actually still lived there, by the time I was going there in 1973 there might have been someone, but in '74, '75 it was abandoned.
Bill: I took pictures of the last small barn standing in the 1990s, on the north side of Hillside across from the High School to the west of the entrance to Adath Jeshurun.
Ethan: So that's my memories of Sherwood Forest. The other thing is we would drive up Devils Hill towards Sherwood Hills Road (Bill Jepson lives at 2415), and take a right going west down Hilloway , where it became gravel in the 1970s. Byrnes Road was gravel. Everything to the right was field and rolling hills and trees and thats where Ridgedale is today in the distance to the north. Today this area is Pine Island Circle off of Hilloway.
My dad would build huge kites to fly there with me. He would make a frame out of wooden strips of wood, and go to the butcher shop and get sheets of brown paper to build 6 feet in diameter kites. And we'd fly them in there by Pine Island Circle today.
Bill: And we have aerial photos from every 10 years since the '40s of Ridgedale and Sherwood Forest on the U of MN website, that we can show with your story in a presentation. We can see the horse pastures in the '60s where Ridgedale is today. Do you have pictures of that?
Ethan: No I don't. I wish I did. And so it was on the south side around 1950 lived Fred Salisbury. Now he was a wealthy man, an eye doctor, an optometrist, his property now is the Ribnick Fur people house, huge house. Freds house was twice the length of this house with a basement. It was a very Frank Lloyd Wright rambler type house.
He donated the large plot of land that is now Hilloway Woods to the University of Minnesota as a game preserve. It might have been called Byrnes Park for a while there. And then the Boy Scout Troop of Oak Knoll planted white pines there in 1950. It was oaks and elms and other deciduous trees and then the Boy Scouts got seedlings from the State of Minnesota, and that was their project and they planted all of these seedlings on 25 acres or so over there.
They didn't cut down any trees, it was mostly field with random oaks and elms in there. So when you walk through there now, all those white pines are 70 years old.
So Fred Salisbury's brother owned a mattress factory; North Star Mattress factory, and was quite wealthy too, and that may have been how they bought all that land together, and then donated it to the U of MN. Today it is a park owned by Minnetonka I believe.
Gwen Mayer, lived next door to Fred Salisbury, and is still there today with her husband Mason. They walk their German Sheperds every day, and she will remember alot about that.
Bill: And then nearby live Ron and Marge Vegemast at Listening Point on 4 acres of Sherwood Hills Road across the street from me. I invited him 8 years ago or so to give his presentation of the history of Sherwood Hills Road's development which he coordinated. It is a recording on our history page of the SFA website. He was a very successful engineer who died two years ago, but he told the story with pictures and maps of how they bought all the land there in the early 1960s. He sold 2 acres to Clem and Ronnie Moore who built 3 houses on the east side of it, with the tennis court. And John and Betty Eide at the end of Sherwood Hills Circle. There is a big wooden sign still there at the entrance with the names of the 8 families who lived there at the time. And most of them owned horses in the 1970s too. Also Tim Pickford was at that presentation and he provided these great photographs, which are on the website of all the kids at the bus stop (Hilloway and Sherwood Hills Road) and playing in the fields up there in the 1960s and '70s. So we want to combine Vegemasts history of that part of Sherwood Forest with your history of the big circle and ponds part of Sherwood Forest.
So Ethan, what about when you went down Hilloway and took a right on Plymouth Road, what did you see, where Ridgedale and the Library is today?
Ethan: Well what I remember is simply rolling meadows and trees.
Bill: Okay after a break here, we are now going to talk about the Fetterly Lane area just south of Ethan's house (on Park Ridge Drive) east of 73 crosstown.
Ethan: When you go west down Fetterly you get to Mr. Fetterly's house up on the hill at the end, a couple blocks down.
Bill: Thats right below my house of 28 years. From my back yard view of downtown I look down on the length of Fetterly heading east.
Ethan: Yes that's where the Fetterlys lived. And Ridgedale is named after that steep ridge there that is parallel to Sherwood Hills Road on top. And this gets into the early heritage of this area. Mr Fetterly owned many acres of that land that is many houses now. So as a kid, those houses were being developed in the late 1960s, 1968 I think, right after Lindbergh High School and Tanglen Elementary were built in 1967 a mile away. Which would explain why his land value went up and he sold the land to developers.
Bill: Yea, that's where my 3 boys went to school too.
Ethan: And I went there at the time. So Fetterly had this old yellow house. When I was a kid, a friend of mine, Smith lived nearby them, and the Andersons lived in a white house, next to Fetterly. There were only two houses back there. I remember the Fetterly house on the hill eventually was abandoned. My friends Ted and Pat Smith went in there once. I was 10, like 1972, I didn't go in there, my mom said, "Don't you go in there", and I don't know if he was in a nursing home or what. It was empty but there was still furniture in there.
Eventually the Fetterly House was set on fire for practice with the Fire Department around 1972. And at the end of a small road along the bottom of the ridge was a red barn owned by Fetterly. We went and played in the abandoned barn. It had a wooden ladder up to the rafters and the roof was collapsing. It had been abandoned probably for 40 years when I was a little 10 year old in the late sixties.
Bill: I'm sitting here with my mouth dropping. I've been living here for 28 years, and my boys and I often climbed down the steep hill to an abandoned stone rectangular foundation at the bottom. With a stone fireplace and long wall there too. We have to go down there in the spring and explore it again next spring. And they were going to connect that old road to the end of Sherwood Hills Road at one time in the 1960s but they abandoned the idea thank god. Or we wouldn't have had a cul de sac, but a busy throughway to Ridgedale.
Ethan: So that overgrown road now was his driveway to Fetterly's barn. And in that barn he kept a Model T Ford. I'm talkin wooden spoke Model T Ford.
Bill: Clem Moore had one too, maybe he knew him at the time I wonder.
Ethan: And in there were his two wheels hanging on the wall. The tires were rotted away, but the car was not in there any more.And the house was burned but we played in his collapsing barn, and there was a beautiful road with down to it which may have had gardens along it at one time. But the barn is just a big stone foundation now without any wood.
More to come in this interview soon as I finish transposing it. Bill Jepson
Recording 180.m4a - Ethan Adam Laub - Oral history of Sherwood Forest