Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Farm as History

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Many years later, I became curious about whether or not the city had any interest in the history of the land where the farm was located. I paid a visit to the Edina Historical Society. A woman greeted me warmly, listened with interest to my description of having lived on the property, and disappeared to see if she had any related records on the subject. She returned, wearing white cotton gloves and holding a single manila folder. In it was one simple sheet of paper. I don’t even remember what it was regarding, other than it wasn’t the least bit interesting. Entirely underwhelming experience.

However, she held out hope for me, suggesting I visit the Parks and Recreation Department at the city offices. Since the majority of our property went on to become a substantial city park and golf course, her suggestion made sense. Upon my arrival there, a clerk produced a box that was over-stuffed with documents relating to the old Hays farm property! She even invited me to take it home to review and return at my convenience. It was a Jackpot!

One of the documents I most appreciated was the handwritten original copy of a letter the city manager had written to the Mayor and city council detailing his meeting with my grandfather in negotiation over the sale of the land. He referred to Mr. Hays as being a shrewd businessman.

Back during that time period, the local newspaper published a brief article detailing the city’s proposed “Hays Park”. I know the city was trying to appeal to him to donate the land at one point. In the city manager’s letter is a detail of the offer indicating how much the land would likely be worth to developers and the price my grandfather was willing to accept from the city. The manager recommended the city meet the price.

There were vivid descriptions of the property’s rolling forested hills, meandering creek, and abundant wildlife. Initially it was made available to Girl Scout troops for camping excursions. Eventually there were some primitive facilities added. In the long run it was developed primarily as a golf course but it also included an indoor sheet of ice for hockey and figure skating (later, expanded to multiple rinks) and beside that a soccer field and a circle of three full size baseball fields with a building in the center hub. Dad used to point out that the fields were down near where the pigpens and chicken coop were at one time located. That was so far before my arrival, I marvel at the significance of the change.

In front of the fireplace and mantel

In front of the fireplace and mantel

Fireplace of that Italian stone

Fireplace of that Italian stone

Our grandparents, Forrest and Helen Hays in the dining room

Our grandparents, Forrest and Helen Hays in the dining room

Christmas in the living room. You can see a hand-hewn beam in the ceiling

Christmas in the living room. You can see a hand-hewn beam in the ceiling

Written by johnwhays

July 31, 2009 at 7:00 am

Posted in Intervale

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