The following was written by Beverley M. Johnson, who has lived in St. Louis Park all her life until 2007. She is the daughter of Roy and Leah Johnson. Her house, at 6010 Goodrich, is still standing. Her grandfather, Alfred Johnson, had it built for he and his two sons when they were young men. Eventually her grandfather gave it to her father, so she grew up in it. She says the only thing that has been changed is the kitchen, which needed it. “The thing that has disappointed me greatly is the narrowing of the road in front of the house. It was like an avenue and we, the neighbor kids, played ball there.” Here’s her story.

John Oscar (born in Red Wing, Minn.) and Augusta Bentson (born in Malmo, Sweden) Hembre moved to St. Louis Park from Red Wing in 1895, living in what was called Oak Hill. He worked for the Monitor Drill Company, located near Louisiana Ave. and Highway 7. Their rented house in Oak Hill burned down and they lost most of their household items. They rented a couple of other homes until they bought a home at 5713 Goodrich Ave. in 1909. Their property consisted of three lots; their home was on one lot and the other two were for their two cows. They also raised chickens, and had a vegetable garden. John Oscar started his own business, the J.O. Hembre Automobile and Coach Painting Co. at 19th and Lyndale Ave. in Minneapolis.
The house on Goodrich Ave. was a two story frame house with seven rooms: kitchen, pantry, dining room, living room, a smaller room off the kitchen, three bedrooms on the second floor but no bathroom. There was a porch on the front of the house, and an unfinished room on the back of the house, called a summer kitchen. There was a cellar under a portion of the house, under the kitchen and part of the dining room. The house was heated by a coal stove or coal heater in the dining room. There were grills in the dining room and kitchen ceilings to allow heat to the bedrooms. (It was fun for the grandchildren to listen in through the grates to the adult conversations.) A furnace was not installed until around 1922. Electricity was installed shortly before that time. Prior to that, kerosene lamps were used. There was no inside plumbing, but later running water was installed so there was a sink in the kitchen and a toilet in the basement. It had a cistern with a pump in the kitchen which brought water to the kitchen, and a pail under the sink caught the discharged water. This water was used for washing dishes and clothes. A well in the back yard provided water for drinking and cooking. In the summer time, before they had an iceman, butter and milk were put in a pail and lowered into the cistern to keep them cool.
John Oscar and Augusta (usually called “Mommie” by family and neighbors) had eight children:

  • One child, a son, died within 18 months of his birth.
  • Anna Florine (married to Roy Sewall, one-time mayor of St. Louis Park)
  • Etta Irene (Herbert Tate)
  • Gertrude Genevieve (Jack Webster)
  • Olea (Leah) Frances (Roy R. Johnson, who filled an unexpired term as treasurer of SLP – Beverley’s parents)
  • Sara Dorothea (Howard J. Williams, son of Joe Williams, first fire chief of SLP)
  • Grace Myrtle (Albert Downing {divorced})
  • Harry Everett (Myrtle Strandberg), fondly known around St. Louis Park as “Huck Hembre”
  • Alberta Marguerite (Russell {Jim} Heller, who worked for the SLP street department).


Three of the daughters, Anna, Etta, and Leah, attended Normal School and became teachers. They, the Hembre siblings, and most of their children grew up in St. Louis Park, being good citizens and making a mark on their community.
Ben Brown notes that Huck Hembre, a coremaker for Moline, lived at 5713 Goodrich and was an early pilot. Huck was a big promoter of the yearly events at Jimmy Lentz’s Driving Range (Excelsior and Dakota), and gave many a brave Parkite a thrill in the cockpit of his “Flying Jennie.”  In 1946 Huck operated a “grey iron foundry” at the Hedberg-Friedheim property at 5115 W. 36th Street.

[Interesting note:  In 1910, even with all of those children, the family had five boarders living with them, all workers at Monitor Drill.  This was very common in a time where housing was at a premium.]