Taking a break

Fall is here, and with it comes a busy stretch for me with family weddings, get-it-done-before-winter home repairs and other commitments. So, I’ll be taking a break from posting new items until mid-October.

As I step aside for now, a request to all of you who read and enjoy this site: If you don’t already, buy a paper every now and then. If you patronize a business because you saw their ad in the newspaper or on the newspaper’s Web site, tell that to the business owner so they know their ads are working. If you see an interesting article in the paper or on the Web, tell your friends and neighbors.

These are tough times for newspapers, and as I go through the News Tribune’s archives I worry about what will happen in the future. If newspapers go away, who will document, in photos and words, the extremely wide range of community events that are featured in the entries on this blog? Newspapers – in print or online – are a vital record of the communities they serve, and there are small steps – things that don’t cost a dime – that everyone can do to help ensure their future.

Thanks for your continued interest in the News Tribune Attic, and I’ll see you back here in a few weeks.

Posted in Uncategorized

Duluth Day at Glass Block, 1950s


The limited caption info on the back of this photo indicates that it shows Duluth Day at the Glass Block on Oct. 24 (year unknown, but it looks like it might be the 1950s).

Does anyone know if Duluth Day was an annual event at Glass Block?

Here is a close-up view of part of the photo:

At the time, Glass Block was advertising its Christmas layaway program:

Posted in Uncategorized

Jim’s Bait, 1984

February 9, 1984

Jack Phillips, Hal Lamb, Dick Kupczynski and Bob Carlson gather to talk and drink coffee at Jim’s Bait in Duluth. Phillips’ dog, Bonnie, keeps watch. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

When I looked in the envelope that held the story that went with this photo, it was empty. So, I’m not exactly sure what this photo illustrated. But I liked the photo, especially the dog, so I thought I’d post it.

Here is a story from years later – Sept. 21, 1996 – when the store was set to close:




For almost 50 years, Duluth anglers have known they could count on Jim’s Bait Service for fresh night crawlers, frisky leeches and lively minnows.

On Friday, Elsie Keuten announced that she’ll close the bait shop named for her late husband, Jim. The couple had sold bait and fishing tackle in Duluth since October 1946, and their modest shop at the top of the hill had become a legend among anglers.

Jim, 73, died of a heart attack in March.

Elsie operated the business this summer but finally decided it was too much for her to carry on. She has sold the inventory of the shop at 319 E. 14th St. but will remain open to sell bait through freeze-up.

Elsie has sold the shop and about one city block of land to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which operates a large district office on adjacent land.

"I tried to run it, but it’s just too much," Elsie said Friday. "There were too many memories, and my heart wasn’t in it anymore."

Jim and Elsie Keuten, owners of Jim’s Bait in Duluth, March 30, 1995. (Dawn Villella / News-Tribune)


The Keutens had operated the shop at that location since 1957. It was long a gathering place for anglers, particularly those who fished steelhead, Lake Superior’s rainbow trout.

"For steelhead fishermen, my God, a lot of ’em learned from scratch up there," said Butch Furtman, an angler and host of a television outdoors program. "It’s kind of like an institution. It sure will be sad to see it go by."

Elsie has bought a home in Esko and after taking some time off expects to get involved in fishing again. For years, she made and sold her own line of tackle, called Top Shelf Tackle, at the shop. She also builds fishing rods.

"When I get settled down — well, you get into rod building, it’s like a disease. You have to get your fingers into something," she said.

A kind and gentle woman whose exterior sometimes sounded gruff, Elsie is loved by hundreds of anglers.

Mike Stensberg, district right-of-way engineer for the Department of Transportation, said the state will remove the buildings from the Keuten property and probably build a small dam on Brewery Creek, which flows through the land.

"It would help our highway (Minnesota Highway 194, or Central Entrance, nearby) and help some of the storm sewer systems in the city of Duluth," Stensberg said.

The Keutens had been negotiating with the state for purchase of the land for a few years.

Elsie said operating the bait shop after her husband’s death was never easy, even with the help of her children — Jim Jr., Craig and Carol Zimm.

"It’s too tough," she said. "You lose a partner, it’s not the same. But I’m going to miss the people.

"It would have been 50 years Oct. 5. We got married Oct. 5, 1946. The next day, we were on the St. Louis River trapping minnows."

The wholesale part of the Jim’s Bait operation, which sells live bait to retailers in the region, will continue, said Craig Keuten.

Posted in Uncategorized

Seven Corners, 1996

December 5, 1996

Traffic runs smoothly through the infamous Seven Corners intersection where new traffic lights were turned on Thursday. (Kathy Strauss / News-Tribune)

Note the old-style "76" gas station globe. This intersection was reconfigured / eliminated during the Piedmont Avenue reconstruction several years ago.

Posted in Uncategorized

Canal Park Inn, 1982

June 27, 1982

Expansion under way at the Canal Park Inn, June 1982 (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)


By early 1986, the Canal Park Inn had been sold to the Patronas family, who reopened it as a Burger King. The Burger King remained open until just a few years ago; there is more information in a previous News Tribune Attic post.

As mentioned in the article above, there was a second Canal Park Inn location, on Central Entrance. The address, 244 E. Central Entrance, is a Blockbuster Video location today, so I assume the Canal Park Inn II / Canal Park Inn Central was torn down to make way for the video store. Here are a photo and article from when that location first opened, in September 1978:

Canal Park Inn Central Entrance, Sept. 21, 1978. (Duluth Herald photo)

Posted in Uncategorized

Johnny Cash, 1987

Today – September 12 – is the fifth anniversary of the death of music legend Johnny Cash, who was a frequent visitor to Duluth over the course of his career. Here is a selection of News Tribune Attic items about Johnny Cash, starting with his concert at the DECC in March 1987:

Johnny Cash performs in the Duluth Arena on March 13, 1987. (Steve Stearns / News-Tribune)


Johnny Cash first performed in Duluth in April 1957; below are newspaper clippings promoting that concert and two later ones, in February 1959 and April 1963 (bottom):

According to the News Tribune’s files, Johnny Cash also was scheduled to perform in Duluth in August 1959, March 1964, September 1964, October 1965, April 1966, October 1968 and May 1972 (I’ll assume those concerts went on as scheduled). He performed in Hinckley in July 1990 – and on his way to that concert he stopped in Duluth and surprised DFL gubernatorial candidate Mike Hatch at his campaign headquarters at the Holiday Center. "Cash said he was passing through Duluth on his way to a Hinckley concert when somebody asked whether he wanted to meet a candidate for governor," the News-Tribune reported.

Cash also was set to perform at Grand Casino Hinckley in June 1996, and at Big Top Chautauqua near Bayfield in summer 1997, according to News Tribune preview articles. There may have been other concert dates that didn’t get saved in the archives.

Here are a few more photos from the News Tribune Attic’s Johnny Cash files:

Johnny Cash, 1964 (Columbia Records promotional photo)


Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, June 1973 (location and photo credit unavailable)


June Carter at the Grand Ole Opry, 1963 (Liberty Records promotional photo)

Posted in Uncategorized

Dukes win!, 1997

September 12, 1997

Duluth-Superior Dukes first baseman Jeff Jensen lifts up second baseman Al Barsoom after the Dukes beat Winnipeg to win the Northern League title at Wade Stadium. (Josh Meltzer / News-Tribune)




Rallyman, Rosie, a near-record crowd and a three-run fourth inning were all the Duluth-Superior Dukes needed Friday night to win the Northern League baseball championship.

Pitchers Allen Halley and Emiliano Giron played important roles, combining on a five-hitter as the Dukes defeated Winnipeg 3-1 before 4,269 at Wade Stadium, taking the final series three games to two.

It was the first playoff crown for a Duluth-Superior baseball team since manager Joe Hauser’s Twi-Sox defeated Aberdeen two-games-to-none for the 1956 Northern League title. That was the first season the old Duluth Dukes and Superior Blues merged. That Northern League folded in 1971 and was reformed in 1993.

Rallyman, a fan who cheered in vain for the woeful 1994 Dukes but who had been unseen since, came out of nowhere to charge up the crowd from the middle innings on. Rosie Stratioti, the silver-haired Dukes sweetheart, was properly restored to singing "Take Me Out to the Dukes Game" during the seventh-inning stretch.

Together they delighted the big crowd, which was shy of the Dukes modern record 4,528 that welcomed baseball back to the Twin Ports on June 15, 1993. But this standing-room-only crowd was more vociferous, more appreciative and more victory-starved.

The place went wild when Giron struck out Tony Mitchell to end the eighth inning. The crowd had been booing Mitchell all night after he incited a near-brouhaha on the field after the game Thursday night.

When Giron struck out the side in the ninth, the crowd was on its feet calling out every strike and chanting "Dukes! Dukes! Dukes!" when it was over. Then they chorused "USA! USA! USA!" after a misplaced soul jogged through the crowd waving a Canadian flag.

The Dukes bench erupts with joy after the final out. (Josh Meltzer / News-Tribune)


Winning pitcher Allen Halley pitched into the sixth inning before giving way to an elbow strain. Halley, who also defeated Winnipeg in the series first game, was named most valuable player of the championship round.

But Giron put on an unbelievable performance Friday, too. The right-hander from the Dominican Republic struck out the last four batters and eight of the 12 he faced in three-and-one-third innings work.

Jeff Zimmerman, the Winnipeg starter, was the loser, pitching into the seventh inning. He gave up nine of the Dukes’ 10 hits and had just one bad inning, the fourth, when the Dukes scored all their runs.

It was a rags-to-riches finish for the Dukes, who started the season 4-17 and ended up winning the second half championship, then defeated St. Paul and Winnipeg in the playoff series in five games each.

"We came a long way and a lot of people didn’t believe in us at the start," said Dukes manager George Mitterwald. "We had doubts ourselves at times, but this is tremendous. I’m so happy for the fans, the players, the owners. It was a huge crowd and we played so well. Hopefully we can start out next year better than we did this year and have some of this enthusiasm carry over."

After Halley received his award on the field in postgame ceremonies, Mitterwald accepted the championship trophy and said, for the first time publicly, he will return in 1998. League president Miles Wolff presented the Northern League red and blue championship pennant to the team’s majority owner Jim Wadley, who said the flag will fly next season at Wade.

The throng stayed as player after player took the field microphone and thanked the ballclub, Mitterwald and his coaches, and especially, the townspeople and fans. The players reveled in their joy.

By winning the Dukes earn 60 percent of a $20,000 player pool, or split $12,000 amongst themselves. Just as important to them will be the rings they’ll receive next summer bearing the words "1997 Northern League Champions."

It was an emotional time for the Dukes, especially for players Jeremy McGarity, Jeff Jensen and Al Barsoom, who played three years and suffered through some lean seasons.

"It’s a beautiful thing, I’ll tell you that," said Barsoom. "It’s really an indescribable feeling. You put your faith and hope into something you want so badly and then to have it come true."

He shook his head in disbelief.

"The hair just stands up on the back of your neck," he added. "Having faith in what you do, sticking with it and see it come true. It’s a great feeling."

"It was a great night for the Dukes and a great night for baseball," said Wolff, who launched the independent league idea in 1993. "The fans were as into it as I’ve ever seen any group of fans and it worked out perfectly. It has been a long time coming for this club and its fans. It was just good to see these fans react like they did. It was so positive."

The Duluth-Superior Dukes celebrate their 1997 Northern League championship on the field at Wade Stadium after beating Winnipeg to win the title. (Josh Meltzer / News-Tribune)


The Dukes got all the runs they needed off Zimmerman Friday in the fourth, stringing together five singles for three runs. Anthony Johnson opened the inning by surprising the Goldeyes with a bunt single and stole second. Jason Shanahan singled through the left side of the infield, but Johnson got a late jump off second and had to stop at third.

Jensen and Jose Texidor produced run-scoring singles, Texidor taking second as Shanahan beat left fielder Chris Kokinda’s throw to the plate. Johnny Cardenas singled to left, scoring Jensen, but when Mitterwald, coaching at third, ill-advisedly waved Texidor in, Kokinda easily cut him down at the plate with a throw to catcher Andrew Prater.

Winnipeg got a run back in the sixth when Brian Duva tapped a ball over Halley’s head for a single and went to second when shortstop Arnold threw the ball wide of first base. He took third on an infield out and scored on Terry Lee’s single. Tony Mitchell walked and with a 1-0 count on Mike Hickey, Halley left with a strained elbow.

"Johnny (Cardenas) motioned to us that he was losing it and I didn’t want him to hurt himself," said Mitterwald. "We ended up putting Giron in earlier than we wanted. We had a little miscommunication. We didn’t think Nuttle (set-up man Jamison Nuttle) could pitch after we’d used him Thursday.

"But then he came back and said he could pitch. But by that time we had Giron in the game. And Giron was exciting! To see someone strike out that many people in 3 1/3 innings is unbelievable.

"There’s an old saying, ‘He really wanted it.’ Guess what? Giron wanted it, man, because he gave it everything he had."

Giron got Hickey to bounce out, ending the inning. And from then on, with he in command. He was The Man and it was lights out for the Goldeyes.

Halley said his arm was hurting in the sixth inning. "Every pitch to Mitchell and then the first pitch to Hickey it hurt," he said. "Then Johnny came out and asked about it. Really, it had been bothering me since the fourth inning.

"He told Skip (Mitterwald) to come out and take me out of the game because he didn’t want anything bad to happen to my arm. I really wanted to stay in there. Nobody wants to come out of a championship game, but it (his arm) really hurt."

An examination showed a slight tendon pull, nothing more serious, Halley said.

Halley watched Giron mow down the Goldeyes from the dugout.

"He wanted it just as bad as I did," he said of his successor. "No doubt. He pitched really good in relief. Came in and shut them down."

Cardenas had high praise for the crowd.

"From the sixth inning on they were yelling and screaming," he said. "They were into the ballgame. You’ve got to love that, when your fans are really into it. I wish it was championship night every night.

"Of course, it’s not. But we really appreciate what they did for us tonight."

Posted in Uncategorized

Canal Park, before the tourists


A story in a recent issue of the Duluth News Tribune reported on the imminent relocation of the Duluth Spring Company – the last industrial tenant of Canal Park. A News Tribune Attic reader wanted to see some photos of the "old" Canal Park, so here they are:

These photos are part of a series in the News Tribune Attic taken by local photographer L.R. Alvar. They show Canal Park as it used to be – an industrial zone. The photos are undated, and it is hard to see any details on the cars, but I’m guessing they were taken sometime in the 1970s.

The photo above shows the old street configuration, with two streets traversing what were then the railyards (now Interstate 35) between Canal Park and downtown Duluth. A hotel has been built on the left, and the Duluth Spring Company is visible – it’s the white-roofed building just above the hotel.

A railroad spur threads through the middle of Canal Park – down what is now an alley – ending up at the Northwestern Iron & Metal scrapyard visible in the photo below. That scrapyard now is a large parking lot.

Also visible in the photo below, at center left, is the drive-in restaurant known at various times as King Leo’s, the Canal Park Inn and Burger King. Look for a future post on the Canal Park Inn.

At the time these photos were taken, the DeWitt Seitz Building was occupied by Happy Sleeper. Here is a close-up of the store’s sign:

Posted in Uncategorized

Mel, the wayward kangaroo, 1998

September 6, 1998

Mel, the Lake Superior Zoo’s wayward kangaroo. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)




Wanted: Escaped male. Five feet, five inches tall. Gray hair. Dark eyes. Answers to the name, "Mel."

No, this is not some scary convict who just busted out of the joint. He’s a kangaroo — and he jumped out.

Keepers at the Lake Superior Zoo have been looking for the 4-year-old eastern gray kangaroo since he was seen leaping over an 8-foot exterior fence Saturday morning. Somebody either held or accidentally left open the door to a walk-through kangaroo exhibit.

Mel was spotted by some hikers heading toward West Duluth but hasn’t been seen since. Zoo officials are asking the public’s help in finding the wayward ‘roo, but they’re asking people not to go too far in trying to capture it.

"He is not dangerous by any stretch," said zoo director Mike Janis. "But anything that big, and with a set of claws, I wouldn’t want to mess with it."

Instead, Janis suggests people call the zoo if they spot Mel or, if the opportunity arises, lure him into a shed or garage with fruits or greens and close the door.

"I wouldn’t be surprised if he was grazing in somebody’s garden," Janis said.

Mel is described as a sociable and curious animal.

"Keepers he knows he’ll come right up to," Janis said.

Kangaroos are hardy creatures, so Duluth’s overnight temperatures shouldn’t be a problem. For now.

The bigger danger is traffic.

"As long as he doesn’t get hit by a car, I would say our chances of retrieving him are pretty good," Janis said.

The zoo received Mel three years ago for free from a zoo in Pittsburgh. Duluth’s zoo has had kangaroos on display for nearly seven years, and never has one escaped.

It’s rare an animal this size escapes a zoo, Janis said. A porcupine named Spike escaped three times, including once last winter when he wandered out of his pen via a snowdrift. A small owl had escaped sometime a few years ago.

Mel was sighted many times in West Duluth – from near the zoo at 70th Avenue West, to near Wade Stadium at 37th Avenue West. He remained loose for almost a week; among the searchers looking for Mel was retired zookeeper George Lindberg, who went out three times a day:

Retired zookeeper George Lindberg has been spending several hours a day searching for Mel, the Lake Superior Zoo’s missing kangaroo. (Renee Knoeber / News-Tribune)

Mel’s freedom came to an end about a week later; he was captured on Friday, September 11, 1998; this story appeared in the paper the next day:




Mel’s Northland adventure has come to a happy end.

After nearly a week of freedom, Mel the kangaroo was captured Friday and safely returned to his home at the Lake Superior Zoo.

The 3-year-old ‘roo, which hopped over a 8-foot fence last Saturday to escape from the zoo, was found grazing at the Oneota Cemetery in West Duluth — about two miles from the zoo.

Mel was subdued by a dart from a tranquilizer gun. He was then loaded into a truck and taken back to the zoo. He regained consciousness about 30 minutes after being darted.

By noon, he was back on his feet and hopping around an indoor enclosure where he was being watched by zookeeper Nancy Butler. He was a bit loopy from the tranquilizer, but seemed OK.

Butler said Mel was in excellent condition except for some bumps and bruises on his nose caused when he fell after being drugged.

Mel has been at the top of Duluth’s most wanted list all week. Every time there was a sighting, and there were many, zookeepers arrived too late to bring Mel home.

"We were always there quick, but he was quicker," Butler said.

Mel was spotted about 8 a.m. Friday at the cemetery. A call was made to 911 and then to the zoo. Five keepers, a retired keeper, and a police officer all responded.

And this time, Mel hung around long enough to be taken in without incident. "He was just eating grass by the tombstones," Butler said.

The keepers were going to try to capture Mel with nets, instead of the dart gun — but his history of elusiveness led them to go for the sure thing, Butler said. On her third shot, Butler hit Mel in the fleshy part of his leg with a dart.

"He runs faster than we do," Butler said. "I was talking to him the whole time. It was excellent. He continued to stay calm even after he was darted."

George Lindberg, a retired zookeeper who searched three times a day for Mel, said he was relieved the wayward kangaroo was in custody.

"I feel good that he’s back home," Lindberg said, having feared for Mel’s safety. "You should congratulate the zookeepers. They’re the ones who got him."

Born in captivity at the Pittsburgh Zoo, this was Mel’s first taste of freedom. He came to Duluth in 1996.

The kangaroo who has been the talk of the town the past few days declined comment on his adventures.

"I’m sure he had a great time out there," Butler said. "I suspect he’s been raiding people’s gardens and eating lots of grass."

But the longer Mel was on the lam, the more worried zookeepers became. Keeper Scott Wisherd feared Mel would get wilder the longer he was away from the zoo, making him more difficult to capture.

"We were very concerned," Butler said. "He’s a valuable animal. We were worried he would end up road kill, or chased by dogs."

Butler said Mel is worth about $1,000.

Now, zookeepers must figure out a way to keep Mel at home. Butler said he will be confined to an indoor cage and porch area until the zoo can raise the fence around the Australian exhibit.

He will be back on display today, but can only be seen from the porch.

Lake Superior Zoo zookeeper Nancy Butler feeds a piece of banana to Mel the kangaroo after he was captured in Oneota Cemetery on Sept. 11, 1998. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)

Mel’s story has a sad end – he died the next April after being injured while sparring with another kangaroo at the zoo. Here is an excerpt of the story from Saturday, April 24, 1999:




Mel the kangaroo, known for his daring escape from the Lake Superior Zoo last September, died Thursday after receiving a blow to the head.

The 4-year-old kangaroo was euthanized by a zoo veterinarian. He suffered a debilitating blow to the head from another kangaroo when the two sparred in the Duluth zoo’s kangaroo enclosure.

Zoo director Mike Janis called it a "lucky blow to the jaw of Mel.

"It was a surprise to all of us," Janis said. "We noticed he was drooling quite a bit and there was mucus around his nose. That’s not normal for a kangaroo."

The kangaroo was examined by the vet who found damage to Mel’s upper jaw. "If he were to have been kept alive, we would have had to tube-feed him," Janis said. "His quality of life would have gone down considerably."

Mel will be buried somewhere near the zoo, Janis said.

Janis said it was not uncommon for Mel and the older, dominant male kangaroo to spar. Battles between Jack, who is 8-to-10 years old, and Mel usually resulted in no damage to either animal.

Two kangaroos remain at the zoo, Jack and an older
female named Silver. Janis said the zoo may add the wallaby to the
Australian exhibit, rather than find a kangaroo to replace Mel. …

In early September, Mel became the talk of the town when he escaped from the zoo, roaming around western Duluth eating grass and flowers for five days. He even gained national attention as the story of the wandering ‘roo was reported in newspapers, on radio and television.

Mel was captured at Oneota Cemetery, where he was found grazing. He was confined to his enclosure and an outdoor porch after his capture. Janis said Mel would have been reintroduced to the Australian exhibit when the zoo expanded its hours this week. The fences around the enclosure were even raised to prevent him from leaving again.

Officials are still uncertain whether Mel jumped out of the Australian exhibit or if he slipped out when a door was held open. Janis received reports of both. …

Before coming to Duluth, Mel had a history of stirring up trouble. In fact, the Lake Superior Zoo received Mel at no cost after he made several escape attempts from a Pittsburgh zoo.

"He was apparently a bit of a trouble maker," Janis said.

Mel was also a local celebrity, and now a part of Northland lore.

Posted in Uncategorized

Goodbye, Red Owl, 1989

Aug. 11, 1989

Mike Lorentzson, an employee of Todd Signs, attaches a sling to the frame holding the giant sign outside the former John’s Red Owl in the Kenwood Plaza shopping center Friday morning. The Red Owl franchise is defunct in Duluth, so the signs are coming down. (John Rott / News Tribune)

A note scrawled on the back of this photo says the Red Owl sign reportedly was bought by Grandma’s. Does anyone know if it’s in one of those restaurants?

Posted in Uncategorized