What’s behind a park’s name

Published 4:31 pm Saturday, August 4, 2012

A few months ago I was working on the names of places in Austin. A thoughtful reader sent me some information on the man after which Cullen Park is named. Cullen Park is on the east side of 12th Street SW, across from Sacred Heart Care Center.

From the May 31, 1969, Austin Daily Herald:

“Dr. Vern R. Cullen, 73, Austin dentist and former alderman, died Friday at St. Olaf Hospital.

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Surviving are his widow, Augusta; a son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Vern (Joanne) Torrens, Bloomington, Minn.; four grandsons, Scott, Steven, Jay and Jeff; nieces and nephews.

Dr. Cullen was born in Austin. He served with the Army in World War I and with the Navy Dental Corps in World War II, discharged as a commander after serving in the Pacific theater. He graduated from the University of Minnesota Dental School in 1923 and came directly to Austin to practice. After World War II he did post-graduate work in orthodontics at the University of Minnesota and returned to Austin to open his practice in 1946…

Dr. Cullen was a city alderman 1933 until 1941 and Cullen Park was named after him. He was a charter member of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church and a life member of the University of Minnesota Alumni Club; a member of Austin Post 91, American Legion, the 40 and 8, Olaf B. Damm Post 1216, VFW, Eagles, Southeastern Minnesota Dental Society, American Association of Orthodontists, Osmond Temple Shrine, Legion of Honor, Austin Shrine Club, Unity Chapter 29, OES, Fidelity Lodge 39, AF & AM, from which he received his 50-pin in 1967, St. Bernard Commandry, Royal Arch Masons Ch. 14, National League of Masonic Clubs, Square and Compass Club. He was the first commander of Chapter 27, Disabled American Veterans…”

Some new information on Klagge’s Ice Cream: In the 1980s, there were two Klagge’s locations. One at Oak Park Mall was managed then owned by Phil Buck. Phil’s brother Paul owned and operated the Fourth Ave NE location. In 1985, Paul took over ownership of the mall store again. During those years, the ice cream was made at the Fourth Ave NE location for both restaurants.

Another reader told me Elmer Klagge opened the store in 1939. He had Austin’s first frosted malt machine in the mid-1940s. No one had heard of a frosted malt, which was soft serve chocolate ice cream served in a cone. At five cents, it was an affordable treat and as a result, some believe that Elmer Klagge knew every kid in Austin.

 This Week at the HHH

Thursday: Spruce Up Austin at 7:30 a.m.

 Coming Soon

•4th Avenue Arts Triathlon: Offered by the Austin Public Library, Historic Paramount Theatre and the HHH on Aug. 22, this free event is a chance to exercise your arts at three locations and have fun will experiencing visual arts, poetry and performance. Call the library at 433-2391 for details.

•Battle of Birch Coulie: Lecture by author John Christgau on this Dakota War battle in 1862 in Renville Co, Minnesota. Offered by the Austin Public Library, Mower County Historical Society and the HHH on Aug. 29 at noon. Free and open to the public.