Family Life at Eastcliff

Wonderful stories of the Brooks family abound in Eastcliff: History of a Home, nonetheless, there were more stories and many more photos than could fit into those pages.

Conley and Ted in the Eastcliff backyard, 1920s
Photo courtesy of the Brooks family
Markell’s note regarding the birth hours of her children in saved in the MARKELL CONLEY BROOKS file at the Minnesota Historical Society

Ted Brooks was a big fan of Gopher football. On Saturday afternoons, after watching a morning Gopher game, Ted would get a bag of flour from the kitchen and sprinkle flour for sidelines and yard lines in the front yard. Then he would gather “a gang of young fellows from the neighborhood.” Conley and Ted both played, of course. Even with Dwight too young to join in, and girls were not invited (as they said, “Binky was considered ineligible”), they always seemed to have enough for two eight-boy teams. The boys remember the games continuing every fall, right in Eastcliff’s big front yard.

Ted long remembered his excitement over meeting baseball catcher Bill Dickey. He recalled:

“It was especially thrilling for me, along in the earlier 30s, I was very interested in athletics. Bill Dickey, was a catcher for the New York Yankees back in the Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth days. He was brought to the house by a man named Claire Long, a close friend of my parents. It was some social occasion at the house and the Longs were invited. They said, “May we bring Bill Dickey along? He’s in town,” for whatever reason.

“Gee, to have Bill Dickey in our home and to be able to touch him was such a thrill for an eleven- or twelve-year old.

“Mr. Long was known as “Shorty,” (Shorty Long) and was a University of Minnesota alumnus, very active in alumni affairs, especially in football back in the Bernie Bierman days. He used to procure season tickets for our family to Gopher games.”

The New York Yankees were regular World Series champions during Ted’s youth, and Bill Dickey played for the team from 1928 to 1943. During his playing days, he was named to eleven all-star games, including in the year Ted Brooks was twelve.

Around the time Bill Dickey was visiting Eastcliff, his friend Shorty Long was apparently playing a lot of golf. In 1931, he was in the quarterfinals of the golf championship at the Minikahda Golf Club. Les Bolstad won the tournament. Bolstad won Big Ten golf titles playing golf for the Gophers in 1927 and 1929. After his playing career, he coached Gopher golf from 1947 to 1976. The University’s golf course is named in his honor.

Claire “Shorty” Long had been an All-American quarterback on the Gopher football team in 1916 while in law school. The 1916 Gophers beat Iowa 67-0 and beat Wisconsin 54-0. (Unfortunately, as Binky would say, “change is the name of the game.”) The next year, 1917, Shorty Long, like Edward Brooks, was serving for the United States in World War I in France.

Left to right: Ted, Binky, Conley, and Dwight Brooks, dressed for a masquerade party. Markell purchased clothing for the children when she and Edward traveled to Austria, Egypt, Greece, Holland, Italy, Japan, and Madeira.
Photo courtesy of the Brooks family
Markell sewed two needlepoint chair covers for each of the six members of the family. The chair in the photo on the right was for Binky (Anna Markell Brooks).
Photos courtesy of the Brooks family
The Brooks family, January 2, 1942
Photos courtesy of the Brooks family

Dwight wrote that he was at Gull Lake when his father gave him five dollars for transportation and told him to go the Minneapolis post office and see which branch of the service he preferred. When a marine master sergeant promised that he would be flying jets in two weeks, he signed up immediately. After three years of service, the first airplane the marines offered to show him was the one that would take him to Korea as a machine gunner. He was able to obtain a transfer by enlisting in the US Air Force cadet program, which meant trading his one year left in the marines for four years in the air force.

Eastcliff: History of a Home describes Dwight Brooks rebuilding a Lysander airplane. Dwight’s obituary stated that the Lysander was donated to the Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson Field in Dayton, Ohio. Dwight’s Westland Lysander IIIa is now in the Smithsonian collection at the Boeing Aviation Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA. This discrepancy is resolved on the Smithsonian website:

“Dwight Brooks of Los Angeles searched for two years before locating a Lysander in a farmer’s field in Edmonton, Alberta, during the early 1970s. Brooks spent another year restoring the airplane, a job that required finding several other Canadian Lysanders to obtain parts. He received help from the Bristol Engine Division of Rolls Royce when carburetor problems foiled his attempts to run the Bristol Mercury engine. The Royal Air Force Museum provided the paint scheme and markings data for 138 Squadron RAF. During World War II, this squadron was based at RAF Tempsford Airfield. It was controlled by the Special Operations Executive and flew clandestine missions supplying resistance forces and transporting agents to and from occupied Europe.

“Brooks flew the restored Lysander at airshows for several years, but in 1977 he decided to donate the aircraft to the National Air and Space Museum. The Museum acquired title to the aircraft but immediately lent it to the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. NASM recalled the artifact in the late 1980s and it is now on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.”


Photos of Dwight and his B-17 model are available at

Dwight Brooks with Rusty while home on leave in 1950
Photo courtesy of the Brooks family

The Brooks family including Conley’s wife, Marney Brown Brooks, and their first three children, 1951
Photo courtesy of the Brooks family

Please note: The above text was edited from Eastcliff: History of a Home due to lack of space. It is intended as a supplement to the book.

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