Four generations living in Hamel
The Dykhoff family has been rooted in Hamel since the early 1900s. Four generations currently reside. They have a tradition of getting together every Wednesday night for dinner.
Gerald, born in 1928, remembers the good ‘ol days of the Hamel Athletic Club- flooding the rink behind the ‘uptown tavern’ and supervising the ice-shed warming house while the locals enjoyed ice skating. He recalls memories of highway 55 as a single-lane highway; winters were rough, but he would ski behind the family’s Model 8, flying from the north bank to the south bank. During the summer months, he was the master of soap-box racing, “We’d go down the steep hill with no brakes and hit the train tracks and not know how the wheels were going to handle it. We’d find steel (cast iron) wheels from the dump.” I asked him what daily life was like. “Hamel was so small back then; there were 3-4 grocery stores and Fortin’s hardware store. My dad mixed all the mortar to build the St. Anne’s Church.” Gerald continued to think back to the days when the train transported passengers. “The pole barn that is next to Aldi used to be the train station. It was a primary mode of transportation. It also picked up the mail. Our postmaster would put all of the mail into a sack, hang it on a pole, and as the train flew by it would grab the bag and off it went.” Did you know, Gerald was instrumental in getting the sledding hill built? He worked closely with the city to expand the park to buy additional acreage.
Gerald’s son, Tom, born in 1951, shared the vivid memory of the Medina Ballroom fire of 1978, drive-in fun at the movie theatre (located in the same location as Target), and the very first Hamel Rodeo in 1981 which started in the parking lot of the Medina Inn. Tom is now a chairman for the Hamel Rodeo. “I graduated from Wayzata High School in 1970, but I remember the stories my dad tells me of the education he received in the one-room schoolhouse, which was located across from the uptown cemetery, adjacent from the little library. I went to Wayzata High School when it was at Central- and I can remember our high school football games –there would be a bonfire at a gravel pit where the Luce Line crosses in Wayzata.” He also remembered “…in the mid 1960s Hamel had a dairy carnival, right near the baseball fields. McDonald’s used to be a gas station/repair shop and there was a motel where Adam’s Pest Control is located. Next to that was Medina Sales – they sold televisions, travel trailers, cars, etc. I don’t remember the year, but there was a train derailment at the train station – all of the cars crashed into the hillside. Thankfully it was a cargo train.”
Jason, born in 1970. Jason recalled “I’d go bow hunting around age 16 in Foxberry Farms. Wild meadows was a turkey farm…it actually started on fire one year. We still talk about it at the fire station. My favorite restaurant was the Pizza Factory, located where Highway 55 Rental currently resides. We’d swim in the ponds and shoot clay pigeons on the farm where the golf course is currently located. We’d ride our 3-wheelers to Dairy Queen and over the train bridge into Plymouth to visit friends. I also remember grandpa’s little orange tractor. He made it out of a rototiller, manufactured with a Model 8 front end, Model T transmission, painted it orange- in fact, he still has it in the shed!” Jason recently joined the Hamel Fire Department.
Taylor, age 16, remembers how great it was having grandma and grandpa so close – right down the driveway. “I’ve always been used to living by the Medina Ballroom. We’d go bowling every year for my birthday. I used to help my dad and grandpa out at the flea market every weekend, too. My grandpa earned the reputation for ‘being the guy on the corner who sold apples and lived in the yellow house. My favorite childhood memory is making videos- home cooking shows and dancing.” Taylor works part time as a host at Robert’s at the Medina Entertainment Center.