High Quiz Bowl, 1980

May 25, 1980

Marsh Nelson hosts the High Quiz Bowl final between Duluth East and Duluth Cathedral in May 1980. (bob King / News-Tribune)


Competition in academics enjoys a local resurgence

By Cynthia Hill of the News-Tribune staff

A little youthful mischievousness added to the drama of Thursday’s finals of the high Quiz Bowl, which pitted Duluth’s East High School against Cathedral High.

The Quiz Bowl, a revival of the contests popular in the 1960s, was sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Superior, whose communications arts students produced the program under the direction of senior James Junker Jr.

East and Cathedral had survived four previous matches to become finalists among the 27 high school sin northern Wisconsin and Minnesota which participated in the Quiz Bowl, started last fall.

Under the bright lights and gaze of the television cameras in the Kathryn Ohman Theatre Thursday, where the finals were taped to be televised Saturday, the two teams of four boys each took their seats as fans in the audience applauded.

To the side stood East coach (and principal) Nick Srdar and Cathedral coach Sharon Hyrkas, a math teacher.

TV sportscaster Marsh Nelson, master of ceremonies, attired in a buff-colored suit, got the show rolling – reading the cue cards flawlessly.

The finals of the High Quiz Bowl were taped to be shown on TV. (Bob King / News-Tribune)


After the Cathedral team members – seniors Joe Semrad, David Somppi, Tom Burke and junior Peter Houle – introduced themselves, it was East’s turn.

Senior Todd Armstrong looked straight into the camera and introduced himself as Todd Srdar and informed the audience that "I don’t have any pants on."

Similarly, senior Andy Olson changed his name to Srdar and also said he was pantless.

Seniors John Livingston and Jeff Freeman introduced themselves also as Srdar offspring to the cheers and laughter of East High School students in the audience.

Coach Srdar remained composed but pale throughout.

The joke was over, though, when the competition began.

The contestants were asked questions from the fields of literature, history and science and the first team to answer correctly had the chance for other questions and bonus points.

For example:

Question: What is a tetragram?

Both teams took a try, but neither got the right answer: it’s a four-letter word.

Question: To what organization did H. Rapp Brown and Stokely Carmichael belong?

East guessed the Black Panthers, then Cathedral correctly said the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.

Though East got off to a fast start, Cathedral quickly caught up and at the half, the teams were tied.

But Cathedral dominated the second half and won by a substantial margin.

The University of Wisconsin-Superior Foundation awarded each team scholarship money for their participation.


The winners of the city spell-down are, from left, Cathy Lasky, Jodi Trotta, Damien Lindquist and Paul Loraas. (Jack Rendulich / News-Tribune)

Tacked on the end of the article above were the results of the city-wide spelling bee for students in grades three through six. Winners at each grade level – and their winning words – were:

Third grade – Jodi Trotta, Kenwood School, "quarrel"

Fourth grade – Damien Lindquist, St. Jean’s School, "detective"

Fifth grade – Paul Loraas, Holy Rosary School, "interrupt"

Sixth grade – Cathy Lasky, Homecroft School, "outweigh"

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A new photo of Slab Town and Below the Tracks

October 28, 1960

A few weeks ago I posted an article on the vanished Duluth neighborhoods of Slab Town and Below the Tracks, which were wiped out by construction of Interstate 35 and urban renewal projects in the 1960s and 1970s. One thing I lacked at the time was a photo giving a good overview of that area before all the changes. Well….

… a couple days ago I stumbled across this photo by the News-Tribune’s Earl Johnson from 1960. I’m not sure what it was used to illustrate – the labels are pasted on, so maybe it was for an article about the Scott-Graff Co. "International – Duluth" is written on the back of the photo.

By zooming in on the upper left corner, we get a good view of those lost neighborhoods:

The bridge at left is 27th Avenue West. Going from the descriptions in the previously posted article, Slab Town is the group of homes along the shore, at the south end of the bridge. Below the Tracks is the larger neighborhood at the north end of the bridge, where the main post office, Salvation Army, gas station and other buildings now stand. Zooming in a bit more….

You can see a Red Owl grocery at the corner of 27th and Superior….

… and get a closer look at the area immediately around the bridge.

Just to the right of the north end of the bridge are houses visible in this 1962 photo that was included with the earlier post on the neighborhoods:


Finally, if you go the upper right corner of the original 1960 photo, you can get a look at another neighborhood that was forever changed by the arrival of the freeway and other major projects – the area around 21st Avenue West and lower Piedmont. You can see Piedmont Avenue weaving its way down the hill at upper right:

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Bus crashes into Fourth Street Market, 1984

May 21, 1984


A school bus rests half inside the 4th Street Market on Monday after rolling backward a half-block down First Avenue East. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)


By Jack D. Shipley, News-Tribune staff writer

A school bus carrying 44 elementary school children apparently lost its brakes after stalling on a steep hill near downtown Duluth and crashed backwards into a neighborhood grocery store Monday morning.

No one was seriously hurt. A clerk, the only person on the 4th Street Market sales floor, saw the bus coming and ran out of the way.

The bus driver, Kristi L. Mitchell, 29, of 116 W. Fourth St., told police she aimed for the store to keep the bus from accelerating down steep First Avenue East.

"I thought I was going to die," sixth-grader Shanti Lakhan, 11, said. She was in the back seat of the bus when it crashed through the store window and stopped.

One girl in the bus bruised her knee and another bumped her head, school nurse Joanne Nelson said.

The accident happened at 8:30 a.m. when the Voyageur Bus Co. vehicle stalled on the First Avenue East hill between Fourth and Fifth streets en route to Nettleton School on Sixth Street. The bus crashed into the market at 102 E. Fourth St.

When the bus stalled, Mitchell stopped and set the brake and restarted the engine, but it stalled again, according to the police accident report.

"The brakes didn’t hold," Mitchell told police. She declined to be interviewed.

The bus came to a stop half in and half out of the corner store. It had crashed backward through a plate glass window and door between concrete block walls.

Store clerk Kaye Miller narrowly escaped into a corner as the bus smashed through the checkout area where she had been standing.

"I just stood there like this and watched," Miller said, clasping her hands as if in prayer. "It all happened so quickly I didn’t think."

4th Street Market co-owner Annette Nygard surveys damage Monday morning after a bus crashed through the front window and door and smashed into two checkout counters. no one was hurt in the accident. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)


Miller said she was alone at one of two checkout counters when she looked up the avenue and saw the bus stop near the alley above Fourth Street and then begin to roll backward. The counters were shoved across the floor and against the back wall, missing Miller by a foot and blocking her in the corner.

"As the bus started backward she (Mitchell) said ‘Brace yourself,’ so we all did," said Trevis Goods, 11, a fifth-grader whose twin brother and two sisters also were on the bus. The Goods live at 605 N. Eighth Ave. W.

"She looked back and steered for the store so the bus wouldn’t go all the way down the hill," Goods said.

Children screamed when the bus hit the store and then were quiet, Lakhan, of 531 W. Skyline Parkway, said. Some cried, she said.

"I saw people getting out of the way" of the swerving bus, Lakhan said. "I looked behind just when we hit and thought, ‘I’m ready to die.’"

Lakhan said she won’t ride the bus today, but will have her parents take her to school.

Store co-owner Annette Nygard was the only other person in the store with Miller. Nygard was in a back office.

"I thought it was an explosion," Nygard said of the crash.

The accident happened about … 30 minutes after a crowd of junior high school students left the store for classes at nearby Washington Junior High School.

"If it had been … earlier it would have been a disaster," store co-owner John Nygard said. He was at home at the time of the accident.

After the crash, the kindergarten through sixth-grade children were taken in another bus to the school. Nelson examined each at the school. The children’s parents were called.

Parent took two children to doctors for examination, Nettleton Principal James Marinac said. Other children complained of bumps and bruises that weren’t apparent on examination, Nelson said.

An estimate of damages to the building wasn’t available Monday, John Nygard said. …

Voyageur Manager Michael Krois said a mechanic found a wheel cylinder for the brakes leaking, but no one knows whether the leak was because of the crash or had started earlier. The police report noted brake fluid was found at the store crash site, but not on the avenue or street. …

Krois said he’s not sure how the accident happened. The bus was in second gear – normal starting gear for a bus – and the emergency brake was engaged when it began rolling backward, he said.

Krois said Mitchell deserves credit for avoiding pedestrians and cars along Fourth Street. Children were walking along the sidewalk on the west side of the avenue where a retaining wall could have been used to stop the bus, he said.

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Neptune’s Kitchen, 1962

July 22, 1962


By Garth Germond, News-Tribune

Fishin’s fine most anytime at one spot in Duluth.

That’s in the new trout pond John H. (Red) Johnson has built behind his Neptune’s Kitchen seafood restaurant at 439 Lake Ave. South that he opened about a year ago.

The pond bears a marked resemblance to the kidney-shaped swimming pools now being built. Johnson designed it himself, using curved sectional plate pipe for its walls, lining it with plastic and assuring an ample flow of 45 to 48-degree water from a private well. The pool is about 33 feet long, 16 feet wide and about 4 feet deep.

It’s stocked with 300 to 400 brown trout furnished by a private hatchery. The owner has plans to introduce speckled and rainbow varieties occasionally.

The idea is to let the customer fish for his own dinner; the Neptune’s Kitchen staff will clean the fish and cook it to serve in the restaurant, or wrap it to take home cooked or raw; the charge is calculated by the inch. The fish range from nine to 14 inches in length.

"I’ve seen live-fish ponds at eating places around the country," Johnson says. "I thought something similar would do well in Duluth."

He’s found it to be an attraction to both tourists and area residents.

"Kids love it. They look so surprised when they pull a live fish out."

Fishing rods and poles and bait – worms, flies or spinners – are furnished at the pond. "The trout will take worms almost any time, but they really go after the spinners," the proprietor remarks.

Johnson thinks he can keep his pond open well into October. He plans to stock it with smelt when it’s reopened in the spring, switching back to trout as the season advances.

The fish pond is part of a plan Johnson has to develop a regular "Fisherman’s Wharf" on South Lake Avenue. "Maybe we’ll need another pond for bigger fish, and an outdoor patio serving area," he says.

Red’s a member of Duluth’s fishing Johnson family. His grandfather founded Sam Johnson & Sons Fisheries Inc. in 1897; Red has been associated with his father, John S., and his brother, Bob, in that wholesale commercial fishing enterprise, but Neptune’s Kitchen was his own idea.


Looking at the tourist-y Canal Park of today – and knowing how industrial it was in 1962 – makes Red Johnson and his "Fisherman’s Wharf" concept seem quite visionary.

Unfortunately, there are no photos of Neptune’s Kitchen in the Attic. Does anyone out there remember fishing for dinner at the restaurant? Does anyone know how long the restaurant stayed in business?

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First look at the tunnel, 1989

November 21, 1989

Several hundred people gather in the new Interstate 35 tunnel in Duluth to attend the opening ceremony and get an up-close look at the structure. (Bob King / News-Tribune)

Below are a few zoomed-in views of the people who gathered to see the then-new Interstate 35 tunnel in downtown Duluth; the tunnels were part of the extension of Interstate 35 from Mesaba Avenue to its new terminus at 26th Avenue East. It’s kind of odd how everyone seems to be milling about aimlessly, without any apparent speaker or presentation. Were you there? If so, feel free to post a comment with your memories.

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Winter Dance Party, 1959

If you didn’t catch the article online or in print, today’s News Tribune featured a look back at the Winter Dance Party concert at the Duluth Armory 50 years ago – Jan. 31, 1959.

The concert tour included headliners Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson.

Two days after playing in Duluth, the three died, along with the pilot, when their plane crashed in Iowa.

The story can be found here.

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Faces, 1985

May 17, 1985

Fred Piper, co-owner of the new teen nightspot, Faces. (Joey McLeister / News-Tribune & Herald)


By Bob Ashenmacher, News-Tribune & Herald

A large and lavishly appointed no-alcohol nightspot for young people opens tonight in Duluth’s Plaza Shopping Center.

Faces, at 21 S. 13th Ave. E, is huge by Twin Ports nightclub standards and done up in the latest nightclub fashion.

It’s an enterprise of veteran Superior bar owners Fred Piper, co-owner of the Cover Cabaret, and George Gothner, owner of the Mayor’s Brass Rail.

"George and I were part of a teen club in Superior a while back," Piper said. "It did well for a while but needed a bigger population to draw from. … (Faces) is a business venture. We hope we can supply a service and that there’s a reward in there."

Admission will be free on weeknights and $2 on weekends or when a special event is staged.

No-alcohol teen nightspots have been tried several times locally in the last decade and have failed. Piper and Gothner are undaunted.

"Nothing was this nice," Piper said. "Everybody went at it halfa—- (that’s not my editing). I think half the adult clubs aren’t this nice."

"This one is everything anybody would want," Gothner said. "It’s clean. It’s large. It’s a super location. We have a lot of games. We feel this is the right time. And drinking is probably on the decrease."

Faces is located below Wall-to-Wall Carpeting, in the site of the former J.C. Penney store. At about 10,500 square feet, it’s larger than many Twin Ports nightspots – more than twice as large as Piper’s Cove Cabaret bar.

It features a stage that converts into elevated seating, 10 pool tables, 25 video games, a large dance floor and an elaborate lighting system that features revolving and tumbling colred lights. There’s seating for 300 and space for many more. Music will be provided by live bands some weekend nights and by disc jockeys playing records and tapes all other nights.

Piper said he and Gothner have invested $40,000 to $50,000.

The club opens at 6 p.m. today and will close at midnight. Its normal hours will be from 2 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday nights, 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday nights. It’s open to people ages 14 and older.

Employees will supervise crowds so no alcohol or unruly behavior is allowed, Piper said, and police officers will be on duty weekend nights.

Parents are welcome to visit Faces at any time, Gothner added.


Dance crowd at Faces (not sure if this is the Duluth or Superior location), July 1985

Two months after the first article, the News-Tribune & Herald ran a follow-up headlined, "Dry Faces clubs hits with teens," which reported that it was not unusual to have 300 teens a night in the club, with many more some weekends.

A second location opened up in July in Superior, at 1217 Tower Ave., the former Silver Bullet Saloon.

A few of the quotes from the article, about the Superior Faces:

"I’ve been here every night," said Jay Berg, 15, of Superior. "It’s a good place to hang out. They’ve got a good deejay. If you don’t come here, there’s nothing to do. You stay home or walk around."

"The first night in here you couldn’t even move," said Jeremy Gauthier, 15, of Superior. "It couldn’t really be any better except for being bigger."

"I like the Duluth one better, just ’cause it’s bigger," said Wayne Quinones, 18, of Superior. "But this is good for this town. There’s nothing else going on."

Here are some zoomed-in views of people in the photo above:


So what became of the two Faces? There’s nothing else in the files of story clippings.

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George Jones in Duluth, 1983

May 1, 1983


George Jones performs at the Duluth Arena on May 1, 1983. (Bob King / News-Tribune)


By Bob Ashenmacher, Duluth News-Tribune

A vacuous country-pop machine like Kenny Rogers effortlessly sells out the Duluth Arena to its 7,000-plus seating capacity. On a weeknight.

The real item – George Jones – draws only 1,895. On a weekend.

Why? The explanation has to do with the invisible cord called television that runs around so many people’s necks like a leash – but I’ll quit before I start ranting and sounding like I don’t like people.

It just stings to see the real thing, the beautiful thing, ignored because it hasn’t been packaged and perfumed like Kleenex. (Television dislikes things human. Things human are rough-edged, unpredictable, vulnerable to failure. Television extends its cool embrace to things that are soft, malleable, come in decorator colors and couldn’t possibly generate sparks – perspiration-free machines like Rogers, the Oak Ridge Boys, ad nauseum.)

At any rate, the man a lot of people call the world’s best country singer gave a good, if brief, performance at the Arena on Sunday afternoon. Jones sang 13 songs and a medley in just less than an hour onstage. Throw in a few more from his band, the Jones Boys, and a sparkling warmup from the soulful-throated Terry Gibbs, and the 2-hour concert was worth the ticket price.

Jones is infamous for his personal and professional troubles. The divorce from Tammy Wynette, the drying up of his career. Rejuvenation a couple of years ago, only to be hit with speeding, drunken driving and possession of cocaine raps. George has sold his diamond rings to pay bills. George has written bum checks for drunken driving fines. Missed court dates. Missed many, many concert dates.

He addressed his reputation right away, opening with the predictable "They Call Me No-Show Jones." He looked clear-eyed and healthy in a dark western-cut suit and open-necked shirt. His initial nervousness gave way to amiability as he got into some of his good up-tempo material. By "The Race Is On," the third tune, he was fine.

"Rush down and buy a few thousand copies of my new album," he said. "I don’t need the money but my creditors might."

Among the slower numbers, "Shine On" and "He Stopped Loving Her Today" were very strong. "I’m Not Ready Yet" was a beaut, complete with a fragile falsetto.

"She Still Thinks I Care" and "If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me" sounded rather perfunctory. Even so, the singer’s voice was pleasant. The phrasing was relaxed and he was always on note. Over the years the lower register has gotten warmer while he still retains most of the nasal twang when he goes for the high bits. Fans who like it when he reaches up were probably sorely disappointed that he didn’t do the bouncy "Why Baby Why." "White Lightnin’" was a good consolation.

The Jones Boys’ current lineup isn’t going to go down as the best. The fiddle, pedal steel, piano and guitar players failed as soloists to memorably embellish any of the songs. Fiddler Murrel Counce was visibly unwilling to play, cradling his instrument shyly to his chest through several numbers that could have used some spritely accompaniment. Jones finally had to toss his head at him to even get him up to the mike. The band shone best on "Fox On The Run," which Counce sang well.

Warmup act Gibbs had a much sharper group. She walked them through an engaging 45 minutes of country laced with a touch of blues here, a bit of R&B and rockabilly there.

Her rich alto voice was most attractive on "Georgia On My Mind," "Ashes To Ashes" and her big hit, "Somebody’s Knockin’."


Here is another photo from the Attic’s files, of Tammy Wynette and George Jones in 1980 (this was not taken in Duluth):

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Shish Ka Bar closes, 1998

May 21, 1998

The Shish Ka Bar is no more. Miko Drozdek has decided to close his bar at the corner of Lake Avenue and First Street in Duluth. He’ll open a takeout food store instead that will specialize in shish kebab and ribs. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)




The owner of downtown Duluth’s Shish Ka Bar says he’s tired of trying to control the tavern’s unruly clientele and is closing his business.

"I had to close it for the community good," Miko Drozdek said. "I’ve been in it for 10 years and it’s been getting too hectic."

Instead, he’ll open a carryout ribs joint in the storefront at Lake Avenue and First Street.
As for the liquor license, he’s undecided. Duluth’s scarce liquor licenses often are sold for large profits.

For years, police have regarded the Shish Ka Bar as a gathering place for some tough customers. Search warrants and police records show the bar has been a focal point for drug dealers.

Duluth Police Chief Scott Lyons said his department had been working with Drozdek for months trying to contain the problems.
Those efforts were failing.

"It’s probably for the best that the place closed," Lyons said. "The crowd was becoming too dysfunctional."

Calls to the bar were for increasingly violent incidents and the clientele was getting further out of hand, officers said.

"The owner-manager was working with us," Lyons said. "But we were at our wits’ end, too."

Now, police such as downtown community officer Paul Stein must help other bars adjust to the fallout from the Shish’s closing — the good as well as the bad clientele.

"There is a change in the tone of downtown as the patrons decide where they are going to go — just the same as you or I would look for a new favorite grocery store if your favorite grocery store closed," Stein said.

The Shish Ka Bar, one of Duluth’s toughest taverns, on Dec. 26, 1997. (Josh Meltzer / News-Tribune)


On Wednesday, Drozdek was gutting the tavern. The bar itself was already gone, along with tables and many chairs.

The future Ribs to Go carryout restaurant will occupy the front half of the former bar and the kitchen will be upstairs, Drozdek said.

There won’t be tables or chairs, he said. It’ll just be a place to grab some ribs, shish kebabs or a salad and dash out for lunch, he said.

"I don’t want to do the dishes," Drozdek said.

Drozdek tried to clean up the corner by providing a rent-free lease to two men who opened the Christian-based Recovery Lounge, a place for homeless or chemically dependent people looking for somewhere to sit down and get straightened out if they want to.

"Miko was visionary in looking toward the future, to improve the quality of life for people on First Street," said the center’s co-founder, Bill Cahoon.

"The bar closing will upgrade this area considerably," Cahoon said. "There was a very lucrative business over there but Miko decided to bite the bullet and do something positive."

Since the bar closed, the center’s clientele has remained, Cahoon said. They just come at different times and sometimes a bit more sober.

Drozdek said Ribs to Go will open in the next several weeks. He’s also opening another business, The Corner Store Cafe, on Big Sandy Lake north of McGregor.


The ribs restaurant didn’t last long, and someone set a fire in the building that caused $100,000 damage in January 1999. But things started looking up – the building at 2 W. First St. was restored, and now houses, among other things, Paper Hog and the offices of New Moon magazine and DSGW architects.

Here is an excerpt from an article that ran Sept. 22, 1999:

The building is undergoing major renovations by its new owners, the Duluth architectural firm of Damberg, Scott, Gerzina and Wagner.

The building is being renovated and restored for professional offices, our architectural firm will be moving over there when it is completed," said partner John Scott.

Built in 1911 as the home of the Coffin Dance Studio and Boston Music Center, a storefront musical instrument business, the building is rich in historic architectural value, say its new owners.

Scott said his firm admired the detailing that went into the building and wanted to retain that. The firm also wanted to be near the new Technology Village being built across Lake Avenue from their new offices.

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Superior, 1963

September 15, 1963

The junction of Highways 2, 13 and 53 in Superior in September 1963, with an agate shop on the right side of this view. Today, the Richard I. Bong World War II Heritage Center and a Perkins restaurant are located on that site.

Below is a zoomed-in view of the agate shop and… is that a wishing well?


 In the distance, there is a gigantic sphere marked "GAS." That must have been a fuel depot:


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