Eddie Ballard: Transitions: University Ave

Ed Ballard, singer, boxer and philanthropist explores his youth and high school years

Interviewed by: Princess
Editing and Production by: The students of Tom Davies' Human Geography course


What’s your name?

My name is Eddie Ballard.

How long have you lived in the Twin Cities?

Since 1938.

What was it like growing up in the Twin Cities?

It was wonderful, we had lots of place to go to and done a lot of things, and we were all very close in St. Paul, very close, most of us were.

What kind of transportation was available when you were young?

Well, I was too young; all we had was street cars on University. They ran all over St. Paul and Minneapolis and suburbs. I was too young to drive, so I had to go with my dad when he took me places. Otherwise it was street cars, no busses yet.

Ok, so what were your hobbies when you were going up?

I had good hobbies, I was a boxer and I was a singer.

What kind of music?

R&B -- Rhythm and Blues

What was the name of your band or your group?

The Velquins -- Which I have several pictures of us and I’m thankful for that, good memories.

Could you compare what University Avenue looked like in the 1940s and 1950s to how it is today?

It’s a lot different you know. Most of the buildings have been torn down. More modern buildings have been put up but it was always a very busy street. University is a monster, it’s busy at times.

Where did you go to high school?

Mechanics Arts High School, which is now gone down by the capitol.

What was that like?

It was a good trading school very, very well mixed, white, black, Mexicans, Asians, Russians, and Germans. It was just a good trading school and we were very, very close at that school too.

Are there any other things about your neighborhood or the light rail that you would like to tell us?

I just think it’s going to work well. It’s going to be a big difference. A lot of people are against it, but like I say, time is changing.

What positive effects do you think the train will have on the city?

It’s showing the growth of the city, because a lot of big cities have them already. St. Paul is one of the last almost to get it. I think it will be effective, but like I say it is going to take time to get used to.

Made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on November 4, 2008. Administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.