Martha Turner Doughty: "Good Shopping"
The convenience of nearby shopping districts was part of the appeal of living in the suburbs in post-war America. Residents of Twin Cities suburbs saw strip malls cropping up where corn once grew. The Doughty family, who lived in St. Louis Park from 1952 to 1964, could walk to the Miracle Mile shopping center, and a short drive would take them to Knollwood Plaza or Southdale. Martha Doughty shared her memories of suburban shopping in a 2008 interview with Linda Cameron.
LC: So you were in one of the first ring suburbs, with St. Louis Park, to begin with in the 50s and that’s one of the focuses of our project: to talk to the people that lived in the suburbs during that time period. Were there good places to shop near your home in St. Louis Park?
MD: Oh, yes, we had Red Owl and National Tea and what is now Park Nicollet had their first clinic, which was great. It was just a clinic where you had every kind of doctor you needed – pediatrician to whatever. So Jeanie Schmitt, who was my neighbor as I told you, her father [knew] Arnie Anderson who was the top pediatrician and that was his office up there in Miracle Mile. Jeanie said, “Hey, I know a good young person that my dad had in Boy Scouts." At that time I think Arnie had eight kids of his own, so we figured he might be a good pediatrician. Which he was. So it all worked out. St. Louis Park was new, comparatively speaking. We had good shopping, you know. We had Snyder’s Drug store.
LC: Was it close enough to walk, or did you drive?
MD: Oh, you could walk up from where we lived on Brook Avenue to Miracle Mile, if you wanted to. In fact when the kids would get older like Tom and our son, we would let them walk up there and get whatever were going to get. At that point we had a five and dime store at Miracle Mile – W.T. Grant, I think it was. Yeah, we had all that. It was just a neat place to live. Now this area [in Hopkins] was started in 1942. This used to be nothing but one-acre lots and this lot was three acres. This is why we thought it was so good.
LC: Do you remember when Southdale opened?
MD: Oh, Lord, yes. Our son, Bayne, and Tom Schmitt had birthday parties riding ponies where Southdale was. That was where somebody had a pony or horse. I guess they were ponies because they were so young. So that was a big place to have…
LC: That wasn’t Kiddieland was it? Queen Ann Kiddieland? That was south of 494.Southdale
MD: I don’t know. No, it was just a field. Joe used to run his bird dog out there where Southdale is now.
LC: So what did you think when it opened? Did you go out and see it?
MD: Oh, I didn’t go out there frequently, but that’s where I shopped. We didn’t have Ridgedale.
LC: No, [Southdale, built in 1956] was the first enclosed indoor mall.
MD: Well, Knollwood was the first.
LC: Knollwood was a strip mall, though, wasn’t it?
MD: A what?
LC: A strip mall – shops with the entrances outside.
MD: Knollwood had Powers department store. That was a big department store. I don’t remember what else was there but Powers was a great place to shop so that’s where we shopped. See, I was right down the road from it so I shopped at Powers.
LC: So you didn’t need to go to Southdale. You had everything you needed right here.
MD: Oh, no, no, no; if you wanted to, you could, but why go there if you could get… Powers was very reputable. Then Donaldson's came in. Now it’s Kohl's. We didn’t have Target then, either.
Doughty, Martha Turner; Linda Cameron, Interviewer, Martha Turner Doughty Oral History Interview, 2008.