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The George Peterson family is pictured here on Easter Sunday 1961 during a trip to Cannon Falls to visit relatives. They were driving a 1949 Chyrsler - the same car they were driving in 1956 when Lois got a traffic ticket in St. Paul.

A look back at a kinder, more gentle time

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Patricia Peterson of Alexandria recently came across something that made her realize just how much things have changed in the past 60 years.

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While going through some old papers that belonged to her parents, she found a letter from the St. Paul mayor and St. Paul chief of police, written in 1956, pardoning her mother from a traffic ticket.

Along with the letter was an uncashed check her mother had made out on November 5, 1956 to the Traffic Violations Bureau.

Apparently, her mother had violated a traffic law and was fined $2, which she paid. According to the letter, the city of Saint Paul at that time excused visitors from one parking violation per year.

She received her check back, along with a welcoming invitation to again visit the city of Saint Paul, complete with some suggestions of things to do while there.

As Patricia notes, the letter brings to mind "a kinder, more gentle time."

It was obviously a simpler time as well. The letter was address to "Mrs. George Pe-terson, Mounted Route, Alexandria, Minnesota." At that time, that was all that was needed to get the letter to Mrs. Peterson - no zip code or house number.

Patricia Peterson now lives in the house once owned by her parents on Mounted Route, which is today known as George Street.

Peterson said she may donate the letter and check to the St. Paul mayor's office for display.

November 7, 1956

Mrs. George Peterson

Mounted Route

Alexandria, Minnesota

Dear Sir:

We are informed by the Municipal Court that you have recently received a parking summons while visiting in Saint Paul. However, in view of the fact that you are not a resident of the city, and have no record of traffic violations here, the judges advise us that this parking violation has been excused. The Courts have a policy whereby they will excuse one such violation a year for out-of-town visitors.

Traffic regulations are designed to be helpful to motorists so that more of them can properly use our streets and parking facilities. We are certain you fully appreciate the need for such regulations, and do not willfully ignore or violate them.

Saint Paul has a nationwide reputation as a friendly city. We want visitors to feel at home here. In the capital city of Minnesota, you no doubt have found much of interest to you. May we suggest that on your next trip here you visit Como Park and our beautiful and famous City Hall-Court House building, as well as other of our fine institutions. At the same time, we would like to invite you to enjoy the excellent shopping facilities and hotel accommodations, which Saint Paul has to offer.

You will be welcome in Saint Paul at any time, and we hope you will find it convenient to come often.

P.S. Your $2.00 check returned.

Very truly yours,

Joseph E. Dillon, Mayor

William F. Proetz, Chief of Police

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Tara Bitzan
Tara Bitzan is editor of the Echo Press. She joined the company in 1991 as a news reporter. A lifelong resident of Douglas County, Tara graduated from Brandon High School and earned a bachelor of arts degree in mass communications and English with a minor in Scandinavian Studies from Moorhead State University. She and her husband, Dennis, and their children live near Alexandria.
(320) 763-1211
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