This history article comes from one of our newsletters. Newsletters are a benefit of membership with the Hopkins Historical Society. Learn more here:
See You at Jeg's!
by Mary Raabe
first published in 2020
For anyone lucky enough to grow up in Hopkins, Jeg’s was just about the most perfect spot on earth.
From 1919 to 1954, Jorgensen’s Confectionery - affectionately known as Jeg’s - was the local hangout on the northwest corner of 9th Avenue and Mainstreet, in the heart of downtown Hopkins.
Jeg’s was the place to be, the place to meet after school, to take a date, share a banana split, read a comic book, play the jukebox - and more often than not, to celebrate the latest Hopkins High School team victory.
In 2017, Society Member Ruth Jorgensen Doyle visited with this writer about the store owned by her father, Einer Jorgensen and her uncle, Pete Jorgensen. Ruth recalled how her father returned from WWI in 1919 to team up with his brother to start a business in Hopkins. They paid $25 down
and purchased the old N. H. Nelson Confectionery store, giving birth to Jorgensen Bros. Confectionery – better known as “Jeg’s”. The store had a soda fountain, a full menu, newspapers, comic books, magazines, school supplies, streetcar tokens and bus tickets. They opened at 6am to
accommodate early morning streetcar and bus riders. They closed at about 11 pm.
The Minneapolis Star sold for 3 cents and the Minneapolis Morning Tribune sold for 2 cents. Cigars were 10 cents, a huge sundae, 10 cents, and a hamburger, 25 cents. Noon lunches were 35 cents, but went up to 50 cents sometime in the ‘40s.
Ruth remembered how her dad and uncle gave candy to all the Gethsemane Sunday school children after their Christmas program. They also kept the store open for many hours on Christmas day – just in case someone “didn’t have a place to go.”
Jorgensen’s had delicious ice cream sundaes. They always served Ives ice cream from a family-owned Minneapolis supplier. During the Raspberry Festival, parade watchers looked forward to sundaes with Ives raspberry ice cream. When the Great Depression hit, Einer and Pete were not
able to pay their Ives bill, but Ives kept delivering ice cream nonetheless. After the Depression, Einer and Pete paid their Ives bill in full.
The store became the local hangout for teenagers. Einer and Pete Jorgensen wanted the kids in the store and the kids wanted to be there. Hopkins teens would actually leave football and basketball games early to get one of the 11 booths at Jeg’s. In one of the back booths it was okay to carve your name or doodle. It was perfectly acceptable, but only at that one specific booth.
Jeg’s and Hopkins High School sports went hand in hand. Brothers Pete and Einer made sure everyone in town knew of the latest victory. In fact, all sport trophies were displayed at Jeg’s before taking them to the high school! At the end of every basketball and football season, Einer and Pete honored Hopkins coach Butsie Maetzold and his team with a white-table-cloth, candle-lit dinner.
Pictured above is the 1948 Hopkins High School basketball team – Minnesota State Regional Champions. (Notice the trophy centerpiece). Clockwise left to right are,
Gene Schneider, Larry Skogland, Don Kral, Earl Anderson, “Salty” Slyce, unidentified but probably Mary Maetzold, Virg Miller, Charles Jurisch, Manager Jerry Cunning, Gayle Wolf, Bob Mason, and Coach Maetzold (back to camera).
And what might be considered the biggest prize of all was a free hamburger and malt served by Jeg’s to all the players when the Hopkins High School team won a game – even during the depths of the Great Depression. One cannot help but wonder if the thought of that hamburger and a malt
motivated the team to victory!
During WWII, under the sponsorship of Jorgensen’s, a monthly newsletter called the Bulldozer was written and sent to all Hopkins area service people. These newsletters contained everything from the latest news along the street to jokes and original poetry. It was a hometown effort. Dr. James Blake was the editor. Mary Casey, the typist. Mr. Zipoy’s high school business class printed the pages and various Hopkins merchants footed the bill for stamps and paper. The boys would write back telling Pete and Einer not to change a thing in the store. They wanted it just the way it was when they returned. Quite often when a serviceman retuned home – his first stop was Jeg’s. Einer and Pete would tell them to “Go home and see your mom. Then you can come back!”
We have over 150 pages of these Bulldozer newsletters in our museum viewable to researchers and guests. They were donated by long time member Margaret Lapic whose husband served in the War and kept almost every copy. Over 500 Hopkins men and women served in WWII, 19 of whom lost their lives.
Ruth recalled the many employees who worked at Jeg’s over the years. Below is her list from memory:
Harry Haskins, Margaret Haskins, Harold Elmquist, Matt Weldon, Eddie Hawkins, Art Hawkins, Ruth Hawkins, Clay Shonka, Mary Casey, Charlotte Rasmussen, Margaret Peterson
Klouda, Jinx Leech Severson, Marlys Crosby Eidam Krautkremer, Betty Feltl, Margie Nelson, Dorothy Nelson, Jimmy Anderson, Laurel Fox, Leona Specken, and Lorraine Sundquist Beversdorf.
As with most good things, in 1954 the era of Jorgensen’s Confectionery came to an end. Pete and Einer sold the store to Meyer’s Department store and the corner is now home to Blake Antiques.
We currently have the Depot Coffee House on the east end of town as the spot for teens and adults to gather. While it does not boast of nickel cherry Cokes and a “carving booth”, it still represents the best of Hopkins – a safe, friendly place to congregate and have a treat. Many decades have passed since Jeg’s closed, and 10-cent malts are a thing of the past, but if you are looking for a Hopkins treat, stop by the Depot Coffee House. They feature raspberry flavored coffees, a Raspberry Italian soda and the “Harley Hopkins”, a raspberry flavored hot mocha drink flavored with white chocolate – and it doesn’t get much better than that!
For more information on Jeg’s, stop by the Hopkins Historical Society. We have an actual menu from the 1930s, copies of the Bulldozer, and a tape from Ruth Jorgensen Doyle’s presentation to the Society in March of 1990 – all bringing fond memories of a most extraordinary time at a most extraordinary place.