A Walk Down Memory Lane by Delores (Bloom) Kulkey

Before you’re taken on a walk down memory lane it might help to provide you with a little background about the author, Delores Bloom, my first cousin once removed.  Delores, born on February 13, 1913, was the second of three children born to Vina (Peltier) and Howard Bloom.  Delores married Earl Kulkey on March 25, 1942 in Oakland, California.  Delores died on May 11, 2012, just under one year shy of her 100th birthday.

The Bloom family home on 6th Street, between Division Avenue and Highway 61, was torn down when White Bear expanded the business area along the railroad tracks in the late 1990s. 

Without further ado, here is “A Walk Down Memory Lane” by Delores (Bloom) Kulkey.  (the story was written in the late 1990s):

I have lived in White Bear Lake all of my life except for three years when I was with my husband who was in the army stationed at Camp Haan, California.  He went into the army with the White Bear National Guard in l941.

I was born on February l3, 1913 in a house on the corner of Sixth Street and Division Avenue, a block and a half away from the railroad tracks.  The noise from the trains put me to sleep every night.  My grandparents built the house.  My brother, my sister and also my Dad were born in this house which is still standing.  My Dad was born in 1891.  When one of his brothers, Carl, was three months old, in 1880, my grandparents moved and built the house.  The city of White Bear Lake now owns it, though they were planning on destroying it and some of the other houses nearby.  We are hoping they change their minds.

My Dad worked for the city of White Bear Lake as Superintendent of the Water and Sewer Department for 45 years. He was also a volunteer fireman for about that long.  He and Mr. Wallin, who lived down the street from us, were the drivers of the fire truck.  When the fire siren went off, it was quite a race to see who could get there first, because the one who got there first got to drive the truck! As to the railroad, my Mother told me a story from when I was about four years old.  My Dad was working at his brother’s grocery store, The Mercantile, where Ciresi’s Liquor store is now.  Well, this one evening, I wanted to go outside and wait for my Daddy to come home from work.  I was supposed to stay in our yard, but I disobeyed.  I walked down to Fourth Street where there were quite a number of railroad tracks and many trains. The switchman for the railroad lived across the street from us.  When he saw me, he asked what I was doing there.  I said I was waiting for my Daddy.  He knew my Dad would be coming by soon, so he took me by the hand, and that evening I helped him switching trains until my Dad came along.  Dad almost passed out when he saw me.  I thought it was a lot of fun. As you can imagine I got quite a talking to and was told never to do that again.

Circa 1930 – looking north along the many rail tracks through White Bear
White Bear Mercantile Company  – southeast corner of 3rd Street and Clark Avenue in White Bear Lake

Another time, my uncle, my Dad’s oldest brother, was coming home from work one night and as he was crossing the railroad tracks, he heard a whining.  He looked and noticed one of the boxcars was slightly open. He peaked in and opened the door a little more and there was a St. Bernard puppy.  He took it home and gave it to my Dad.  They were never separated.  My Dad sure loved it. He used to hitch the dog up to a wagon or a sled and go down to the lake and haul water back for his mother’s wash, as there wasn’t any water softener at that time.

It was simply wonderful when doctors made house calls.  I don’t think we thought much about it.  It was just expected.  It was so nice to call up the doctor and in a very short while he was at our house.  No waiting in line!  I can’t remember what they charged for a house call, but I do know it was very inexpensive.

When we were children and teenagers, we always found something to do.  We played a lot of games – hide and seek; pump, pump pullaway; and some I can’t remember by name.  In the summer we played a lot of softball and we went swimming every day, no matter what the weather.  We had quite long walks but we didn’t mind it at all.   Sometimes we went to the movie theater [in the Auditorium Association Building], which used to be next to the White Bear Armory.  There were no colored films and no talking or sound but some lady would play the piano during the whole movie.  There was a bowling alley down below the theater.  On Friday nights during the summer, there was always a band concert in the park.  There used to be a bandstand in the middle of the park and a sidewalk all around it.  So all of the girls would walk around the park and all the boys would stand around and watch.

1908 – Y.M.C.A. and Auditorium Association Building – located just to the west of the Armory building on 4th Street
1927 White Bear Press Ad for the Auditorium Theatre
Washington Park Bandstand – circa 1936

In the winter, we would go ice skating at an outdoor rink at the Webster School.  When the Hippodrome was built, we went skating there. Open skating was Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights, as well as Sunday afternoon.  I think it was $1.50 for a season ticket.  I never missed it; I loved to skate.  We also went tobogganing at the Dellwood Golf course. We used to walk all the way up and back, but we thought nothing of it.  No one had cars, so we walked everywhere.  Why, I even walked with my date to our senior prom, which was held at the White Bear High School, in the old gym, which we called the pit.

White Bear Hippodrome on Bloom Avenue in White Bear Lake

As I take my walks today these memories walk beside me.

Delores (Bloom) Kulkey

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