George Hartmann was known in the Brookside community as the proprietor of the Brookside Market Grocery Store, right next to Brookside Drug on Excelsior Blvd. He was born on June 5, 1902 and moved to St. Louis Park in 1937, first living at 4078 Brookside, a house owned by Father Thomas.
In 1937-45 he ran the grocery store, and in 1939 he built a house at 4052 Webster. In 1944 he was asked to run for Mayor, but he suspected the invitation came from mobster Kid Cann‘s people so he declined.
George’s father Charlie ran a Jack Sprat Food Market and also operated a slaughterhouse. He made a good living: he had the first car and airplane in Shakopee. George learned the trade there, and became a butcher for Swift and Cudahy in Wisconsin. George could always get meat from his father, and had people lined up around the block during the war when meat was rationed.
George and his wife Esther had three sons: Charles, born 1932, died 1969; Ray, born 1935; and Richard, born 1939, died 1967. George had been in the Merchant Marine in Japan in 1920, which made him into a “tough guy” when it came to his sons. He quit the store because of a heart murmur – attributed at the time to giving too much blood during the war.
In 1960, George, Dr. Casey (who lived at Upland View on Brookside Ave.), and two other men all saw the same doctor at the St. Louis Park Medical Center. The doctor told them that they had to have a pig valve placed in their hearts, which was a very popular operation (for a short time, as we will see). George asked the doctor why he should have the operation, and the doctor replied that there was a need for it. George said, “I see, you NEED to make a payment on your house, you NEED to make a payment on your boat, you NEED to make a payment on your car!” Whereby the doctor walked out and never spoke to him again, refusing to see him as a patient. George lived another 20 years, but Dr. Casey and the other two men died within months of their operations.
George went on to several jobs, including driving the hearse for Enga Mortuary, selling insurance with his brother, and working as a butcher at the Country Club Market at 44th and Sunnyside. At one point, after a serious car accident, he declined the ambulance to the hospital and took a cab to Jennings instead. George died in August 1980 at age 80, and Esther died in 1986, at age 86.