Mr. Magoo the mongoose, Part 2

Picking up where we left off on an earlier post (if you didn’t see it, go there for much, much more information), Mr. Magoo, a mongoose given as a gift to the Duluth Zoo in November 1962, was condemned to death or deportation under a federal law barring mongooses from the country – but then won a temporary reprieve from  the Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall.

Initially, Mr. Magoo was permitted to stay through March 1. Then, in the Feb. 19, 1963, News-Tribune, it was reported that Udall extended the reprieve until May 1 – though there had been some anti-Magoo mailings.

“There is a large volume of mail coming into this department and others,” Udall told the News-Tribune, “from people who fear the consequences if Magoo escapes and starts a mongoose infestation in the Midwestern farm belt.”

But a few weeks later, the good news that many Duluthians had been waiting for finally arrived, as reported in the April 19, 1963 News-Tribune:


U.S. Asylum granted


Mr. Magoo, Duluth’s nationally famous mongoose, was granted asylum by Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall Thursday.

In a letter to Daniel H. Janzen, director of the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, Udall said:

“Acting on the authority that permits importation or proscribed mammals, including mongooses, for zoological, educational, medical and scientific purposes, I recommend that Mr. Magoo be granted nonpolitical asylum in the United States.”

Lloyd Hackl, Duluth Zoo director, said, “I feel wonderful,” when informed that the zoo will be able to keep Mr. Magoo permanently.

“I’m happy and the whole area will be happy,” Hackl declared. “Not only has Magoo been a continuously big attraction, but I have had letters from all over the Midwest from people who plan to come see him this summer.”

Hackl said life in the zoo would be a little brighter for Magoo now that attendants can plan for his future. “We’ll probably have to build him a new house. He’s getting a little too fat for the door in the house he has now.

“Also, when the weather warms up a little more, we’ll start putting him outside in the sun for an hour or so each day — in his cage, of course.

“For exercise, we let him run free in the zoo office. He’s just as friendly as he ever was, even more.”

Hackl said Magoo was still eating an egg a day and like a little vegetable plus his milk or tea and water bottle. …

“I’m just as much a permanent resident of this zoo as you are, Jack, and a heck of a lot more alive,” Mr. Magoo, the Duluth Zoo’s mongoose, seems to be telling a stuffed monkey, in April 1963. Magoo was granted a permanent reprieve to live out his days at the zoo. (George Starkey / News-Tribune)

President Kennedy reportedly said, “Let the story of the saving of Magoo stand as a classic example of government by the people.”  Kennedy – and Udall – were in Duluth a few months later, in September 1963. At that time, Udall asked local officials how Mr. Magoo was doing.

A book about Mr. Magoo, “The Duluth Mongoose” by Jack Denton Scott, was published in 1965.

Three years later, on Jan. 8, 1968, Mr. Magoo died at the zoo. Here’s his obituary from the Jan. 9, 1968, Duluth Herald:


By Harold Hollis, Duluth Herald

Mr. Magoo, Duluth’s famed mongoose, is dead.

He died Monday night, apparently of old age, after an illness that was first noted Sunday, Basil Norton, zoo director, reported.

Most popular of the animals in the Duluth Zoo, Mr. Magoo attracted nationwide attention when his execution was ordered in 1962. He was saved only by the intervention of Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall. …

There are no plans to replace Mr. Magoo, Norton said.

“He had that certain spark that give some animals a special appeal,” the zoo director added. “Another mongoose could never take his place in the hearts and affections of Duluth people.”

Mr. Magoo showed indications of not feeling well Sunday and was taken to Dr. Donald E. Simes, veterinarian who looks after Duluth Zoo animals. Dr. Simes treated Mr. Magoo and he was returned to his cage.

The veterinarian noticed signs of deterioration resulting from old age in the animal, Norton said.

Mr. Magoo apparently lived the full life span of a mongoose, which is about eight years, Norton said. It is thought he was two or three years old when he was presented to the Duluth Zoo in September 1962 by a seaman on a foreign vessel berthed in the Duluth Harbor.

Norton said Mr. Magoo will be mounted by a taxidermist and kept on display at the zoo.

Although mongooses are known as vicious animals, Mr. Magoo was friendly and gentle. John Mealey and other keepers could pet and handle him in his cage. Even when indisposed Sunday, Mr. Magoo showed no signs of anger.

“He had a pleasant disposition right up to the time of his death,” Norton said.

Mr. Magoo was popular with all visitors, particularly children. His popularity was attested by the number of letters and Christmas cards he received. Many of the letters bore short verses such as the one “Mr. Magoo, why not live at the Soo?” from Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

Mr. Magoo the mongoose seems right at home on the shoulders of Duluth Zoo Director Lloyd Hackl in November 1962. (George Starkey / News-Tribune)

The stuffed Mr. Magoo went on display at the zoo; here’s a photo from 2002, which ran with an anniversary story in the News Tribune:

Mike Janis (left), Sam Maida and Basil Norton surround the final resting place of Mr. Magoo the mongoose at the Lake Superior Zoo in 2002. Magoo grabbed national headlines 40 years ago, back when he was a living resident of the zoo. Janis is the current zoo director, Maida is executive director of the Lake Superior Zoological Society and Norton was director of the zoo during Magoo’s last years. (Derek Neas / News Tribune)

For the last word on the story, here’s a memorial editorial that ran in the News-Tribune on Jan. 10, 1968:


Death has taken an inhabitant of Duluth very widely known in recent years — in some circles, surely. The mongoose, Mr. Magoo, won international attention. He was the occasion of high-level federal executive-action. President Kennedy saw in the acts which saved the life of the mongoose a classic example of government by the people.

At least two books were written about the little animal. Attention was called to our protective laws and to the ease with which they had been violated.

No chronicle of Duluth will be complete without some mention of this little creature, the fight which saved his life, and the pride Duluth took in him for his five years at the Zoo.

2011 News Tribune archive photo calendar

As mentioned a couple days ago, the News Tribune has published a 2011 calendar featuring 14 photos from the newspaper’s archives, including the one you see above, showing downtown Duluth in 1970.

The calendars are printed on glossy paper, and the photos are sharp and full of detail. They date from the 1950s through the 1980s.

The calendar sells for $7 at the News Tribune office, or $10 shipping included. If you can’t stop by the News Tribune, you can order online here.

Proceeds from the calendar sales will go to the local Newspapers in Education program, which gets newspapers into local classrooms.

If you have any questions, send me an e-mail at

Socrates runs aground on Park Point, 1985

At this time 25 years ago, crowds were flocking to Park Point to see the freighter Socrates, which had been driven ashore on Park Point by a big November storm. Here is a look back in photos and stories from the News Tribune archives…

Chuck and Leeann Richards and their dog, Toby, glance back at the crowd on the dunes watching the beached freighter Socrates on Park Point on Nov. 19, 1985. (Joey McLeister / News-Tribune)

The Socrates was at anchor off Duluth on the night of Nov. 18, 1985, when strong winds and intense waves drove it ashore on the shallows of Park Point. Here’s the next-day account from the Nov. 19, 1985 News-Tribune:


By Susan Stanich, News-Tribune staff writer

Winds gusting to 40 mph blew the 584-foot freighter Socrates aground on Park Point in Duluth Monday night, stranding the vessel in shallow, sandy-bottomed waters.

A strong northeast wind hurled 10-foot waves over the Liberia-registered ship late Monday. However, Coast Guard officials said the ship was in no immediate danger and no attempts to free it were expected until today.

The saltwater vessel, with a Greek crew of 24 aboard, was coming into port for a load of wheat bound for Italy, said Dan Sydow, agent with Federal Marine Terminals Inc. in Duluth.

The ship, its decks lit up with floodlights late Monday, was lying almost parallel to the shore near 18th Street South on Park Point, said Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas Dennis, spokesman for Coast Guard Group Duluth. He said the waves were too high for tugs to try to pull the ship to deeper water.

About 7:45 p.m., “one of the people here at the station saw out the window what looked like a ship barreling into Park Point,” he said.

The ship had been anchored offshore when winds gusting to 40 mph began pushing it toward shore, Dennis said. The ship ended up in about 20 feet of water, about 50 feet off shore.

“It’s a sandy bottom, so there’s no hull damage,” Dennis said. “It’s in no danger of flooding, as far as we know.”


The Socrates is blown ashore on Park Point on Nov. 18, 1985. (Jack Rendulich / News-Tribune)

From the moment it started coming ashore, the Socrates drew a crowd of spectators. It remained stuck for days. Here’s an account of the scene from the News-Tribune of Nov. 20, 1985:


By Bob Ashenmacher, News-Tribune staff writer

At 8 p.m. Monday it was a maritime mishap.

Three hours later it was Duluth’s newest tourist attraction.

The grounding of the freighter Socrates on Park Point instantly turned a storm-lashed Canal Park and Park Point into a carnival.

The festive atmosphere increased Tuesday, until Duluth police — imposing restrictions that will continue today — began stopping sightseers from driving out onto the Point. If you didn’t have a helicopter or Jet-Ski, as some people were employing, you were out of luck.

Duluth radio and television stations began broadcasting word about the ship’s distress shortly after the situation became apparent Monday night. And after the television stations had led late newscasts with the story, hundreds of residents made their way to the area.

Never mind the icy rain, flooded streets or steady 40 mph wind that drowned out most sounds except the roar of the surf.

On they came.

Tow trucks zoomed everywhere, liberating people who had calmly driven into water up to their headlights, stalled and then gotten indignant.

One of the Aerial Bridge’s two lanes was closed for construction, so access was regulated by traffic lights on each end. Drivers ignored the lights, causing several near-collisions on the bridge.

The Warehouse Bar at Canal Park did a brisk business, according to owner Butch Curran. And there was some unusual behavior.

“Yeah, I saw kids standing up there letting waves hit them. Kids were driving up saying ‘Where’s the boat? Where’s the boat?’ Their parents had heard the news on TV in the Cities and called them. Weird, huh?”

Business was slower at Grandma’s Saloon & Deli, probably because it was nearly surrounded by water full of driftwood and other flotsam.

Crowds of chilly boatwatchers keep an eye on efforts to free the freighter Socrates on Nov. 22, 1985. (Jack Rendulich / News-Tribune)

The best action, of course, was out on the beach itself.

When the larger waves hit the side of the Socrates, the resulting geysers of water looked as though the ship was under torpedo attack. Spray catapulted over the tallest rigging and was illuminated by powerful floodlights atop deck cranes.

Already aground, the ship was visibly working its way further toward shore, more securely into the sand. Its bow, feebly lit by two nose spotlights, yawed laterally. An anchor chain set to the lake side jerked and slacked as the vessel rolled.

Occasionally a sound of smashing metal was audible above the roar of the wind and surf; it may have been a raised anchor banging against the side of the vessel that faced the beach.

Viewers made their way to the tops of the closest dunes. they stood bracing themselves against the wind as long as they could stand it, then retreated. They tried to record the spectacle on film with everything from Instamatics to elaborate shoulder-held video units.

On Tuesday, the weather calmed and the hundreds of sightseers turned to thousands.

People tramped through Park Point residents’ lawns on their way to the beach. They took group photographs in front of the vessel. they peeled bark from trees and scavenged driftwood for a bonfire.

Grandma’s did very good business, according to manager Brian Daugherty.

“In fact, we’ve been wondering how much it would cost to sink a ship on a weekly basis if it could be done,” he said.

He wasn’t the only one half-joking Tuesday about the tourism potential of the Socrates.

“My tongue’s in cheek, here — wouldn’t it be terrible if they couldn’t get it off, if it was there all winter?” said a chuckling Dan Russell of the Duluth Convention and Visitors Bureau.

He said the bureau received about 20 calls Tuesday morning from people elsewhere in the state wondering if the ship would be grounded long enough for them to make it to Duluth.

“There’s a tremendous amount of interest in it,” he said.


The Socrates lies stuck in the shallows of Park Point as seen from Skyline Parkway on Nov. 19, 1985. (Bob King / News-Tribune)

The Socrates rests nearly parallel to Park Point on Nov. 19, 1985. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

The crew was evacuated from the ship, and after some delays a flotilla of tugs got to work on freeing the Socrates on Nov. 22, 1985. Eight tugs pulled on the Socrates; six were captured in this memorable image by the News-Tribune’s Charles Curtis:

As you can see in the photo, the tugs succeeded in getting the bow freed and swung around, but the stern stayed stuck in the shallows.

Crews dredged around the stern on Nov. 23, digging a 20-foot trench in the sand around the ship. And on Sunday, Nov. 24, the flotilla of tugs finally worked the Socrates free. Here’s an excerpt from the next day’s News-Tribune:

At 12:46 p.m., after having been coaxed about 120 feet forward, the Socrates started to pick up speed and slipped onto Lake Superior.

“She’s really moving!” said someone standing by a window in the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Office at Canal Park. Coast Guardsmen ran to the window from the next room, where some of them had been watching the Minnesota Vikings play the New Orleans Saints.

“That’s it!” “There you go!” “:46 on the hour!” the men exclaimed.

Cmdr. Stanley Spurgeon, commanding officer of the Marine Safety Office, put down his binoculars. “The first big moment was when we got everybody off the ship (last week) … This is the second.”

A radio squawked in the next room: “No oil leakage around the Socrates.”

“And that was the third,” Spurgeon said.

An aerial view of the Socrates and the tugs that freed it on Nov. 24, 1985. (Bob King / News-Tribune)

The Socrates underwent repairs for some holes in a forward ballast tank, but otherwise was relatively unscathed from its unplanned sojourn on the shore.

The News-Tribune of Nov. 27, 1985, included some interesting details. A salvage official said crews needed “every trick in the book” to free the Socrates. Where it landed helped.

“It was on a sandbar. You couldn’t ask for a better thing to run aground on,” said Doug Oppliger, an engineer for Durocher Dock & Dredge. “If you look at the rest of the shore of Lake Superior, there aren’t a whole lot of better places to put a ship.”

Meanwhile, the News-Tribune also talked to the captain of the Socrates for that Nov. 27 story. Here’s an excerpt:

Up in the master’s quarters, Capt. Ioannis Kukunaris was finishing up paperwork and getting his ship ready to sail again.

“The high winds and waves pushed us ashore,” Kukunaris said, struggling to describe the grounding in English. “I saw the worst of the lakes,” he added.

Kukunaris, a seaman for 23 years, would say little about the accident. But Jack Frost, a representative of the ship’s owners, Heliotrope Shipping Corp. of Liberia, said the Socrates and its crew were overwhelmed by wind and waves that forced the ship to drag its anchors and drift into shallow water.

“They saw it was dragging,” he said. “The engines were ready. The crew did everything possible and couldn’t stop it.”

Frost said he doesn’t know the cost of the salvage operation. But Durocher officials have put the price tag at about $500,000 in salvage costs and lost time.

Socrates crew members descend a ladder to a waiting Coast Guard vessel on Nov. 19, 1985, the day after the grounding. (Joey McLeister / News-Tribune)


The ship left town on Dec. 6 with its load of grain for Italy.

On Jan. 18, 1986, the News-Tribune carried a story about the Coast Guard’s report on the grounding. The report cited the captain of the Socrates, Ioannis Kukunaris, for not reacting quickly enough to the worsening storm.

“He had shown concern about the weather and about the wind, but he took no positive action to meet his concerns,” Cmdr. Stanley Spurgeon, head of the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Office in Duluth, told the News-Tribune. “It wasn’t a major foul-up, but it had major consequences.”

The Coast Guard said Kukunaris should have moved his vessel farther out on the lake, as another freighter did that evening. They did commend Kukunaris for acting quickly and professionally to prevent damage to the ship once he discovered it was drifting ashore.

Two years later, the Socrates still was sailing the Great Lakes with Kukunaris as its master, although it had not been back to the Twin Ports, according to a News-Tribune article.

As far as where the ship is today… I tried to find out online, but didn’t have much luck. If anyone knows, or if you want to share your memories of the Socrates, post a comment.

And here are two last photos from the News Tribune files…

Tom Maki and Carol Holleman and their dog, Rupert, at their home at 1609 Lake Ave. S. on Nov. 21, 1985. They saw the ordeal of the Socrates from their front windows. (John Rott / News-Tribune)


Pete Williams watches dredging operations around the Socrates on Nov. 23, 1985. (Joey McLeister / News-Tribune)


And one note for anyone looking for Part 2 of the Mr. Magoo the Mongoose story… I haven’t forgotten, and I’ll post it soon.

Mr. Magoo the mongoose, 1962

Forty-eight years ago this month, Duluth, the state and to some extent the nation were captivated by the plight of a little mongoose named Mr. Magoo.

Long before Lily the bear, Windchill the horse and any number of other animals in the news in recent years, Mr. Magoo’s story spread like wildfire across the country and all the way to the White House.

The headlines and stories below are just as they ran in the paper. Not to get overly sentimental, but they certainly reflect a more innocent time – and in most cases are written with a light, humorous touch. The tragedy and tumult of the 1960s had not yet arrived.

Here is the story of the mongoose that put Duluth in the national spotlight…

The cobra-killing mongoose seems right at home on the shoulders of Duluth Zoo Director Lloyd Hackl in November 1962. (George Starkey / News-Tribune)

What appears to be the first story on the mongoose ran in the News-Tribune of Nov. 13, 1962:


Tea-drinking pet feared

By William F. Thompson, News-Tribune staff writer

There’s a tea-drinking mongoose at the Duluth Zoo. Tea with sugar, that is, which might make the little weasel-like animal sound pretty tame, but in India the deadly cobra fears only one animal: The mongoose.

And with good reason. In a fight, the mongoose, usually no more than 16 inches long, will kill the six-foot snake, breaking its neck after a furious struggle.

The zoo had the rare good fortune to acquire the animal when a foreign ship docked here and a sailor donated his pet to Lloyd Hackl, zoo director.

It is the first mongoose ever on display in Duluth, and Hackl thought possibly it is the only mongoose in captivity in the United States.

Its life at the zoo thus far has been without the hazards of jungle survival. In fact, Hackl said, “this is really a house pet. It eats a little meat and vegetables and drinks a little milk. Its favorite is warm tea with sugar.”

“It has the coloring of a squirrel, but with yellowish-brown eyes and the reddish cheeks and a throat all mongooses have in common,” Hackl said.

But in its native habitat, it is anything but a house pet. On the Indian peninsula, where some 20,000 persons die annually from snake bites, the mongoose is highly esteemed as a serpent killer, for it will attack the most venomous of snakes without hesitation.

Hackl said the mongoose is not immune to the cobra’s poison, which can kill an elephant, but by its agility and quickness of eye it avoids the snake’s fangs.

When they meet, the cobra strikes out again and again, but despite the snake’s lightning speed, the mongoose is quicker. Its hair becomes full, forming a protective shield as effective as its already thick skin.

Soon the cobra becomes dazed and uncertain in its movements, and at just that moment the mongoose flashes in, grabs the cobra behind its great hood and breaks the snake’s neck.

The public can see the mongoose, at rest if not at war, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, the zoo’s winter hours.


Then things got interesting. Tipped off to the mongoose in Duluth, customs officials got involved. Here’s a story from the Nov. 15, 1962, Duluth Herald:


Duluth Herald

The Duluth zoo’s tea-drinking mongoose has been nabbed by the U.S. government as an undesirable alien.

Actually, he has been impounded on orders of customs officials as a violator of a 1909 regulation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service barring the importation into the country of Herpestes Auropunctatus — mongoose.

The speedy animal, a native of India and noted for its ability to outfight a cobra, was given to the zoo by a foreign seaman.

Customs officials acted after hearing that the zoo had a mongoose, the city is fighting their action.

Harry Nash, head of the city’s recreation department, which runs the zoo, has appealed to the Fish and Wildlife Service for permission to keep the animal.

He said in a letter to F.H. Davis, Minneapolis, regional director for the wildlife service, that the animal has been “very popular with adults and children and is clean, healthy and well-mannered.”

Nash said he understood the reason the mongoose isn’t allowed in the country is because “it is such a prolific animal.” He pointed out, however, that the animal, a male, is minus a mate. Further, he said, the city will have him de-sexed if permitted to keep him.

The mongoose, who has a fondness for tea, isn’t even aware of what’s going on. For want of a better place to keep him, customs officials have him impounded right where he’s always been — at the zoo.

Unless the government relents, the mongoose will be put to death. …


Mr. Magoo at the Duluth Zoo, 1963. (News-Tribune file photo)

On Nov. 16, 1962, the News-Tribune reported that Floyd H. Davis, the federal fish and wildlife official, “said he had no choice” but to issue a death sentence for the mongoose (who was not yet referred to as Mr. Magoo in print).

“The Wildlife Service agent in Grand Rapids was instructed to go to the Duluth Zoo, pick up the animal, kill it humanely and ship the body to the Minneapolis office,” the paper reported.


The next day, Nov. 17, 1962, the News-Tribune had this update:



Duluth mobilized Friday night to save its pet mongoose from the federal executioner.

Petitions were circulated. The mayor sought a court order and a stay of sentence. Citizens wired their congressmen.

Lloyd Hackl, zoo manager, padlocked the little snake-killer’s cage with his own lock to ensure — at least for the moment — the safety of his gift from a foreign seaman whose ship called at the Twin Ports last week.

The mongoose, known here as Mr. Magoo, is in the country illegally, the federal government claims. Floyd Davis, U.S. Fish and Wildlife supervisor in Minneapolis, has ordered Mr. Magoo’s execution under a 1909 statute which outlaws the animal, a native of India. …

Mayor George D. Johnson sent a telegram Friday night to Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, requesting a stay of execution. Johnson also requested City Attorney Harry E. Weinberg to obtain a restraining order to prevent the Fish and Wildlife Service from killing Mr. Magoo.

Davis said other appeals have been made by Robert B. Morris, executive secretary of the Duluth Chamber of Commerce and Rep. John A. Blatnik. He informed each that the “law is unequivocal.” …

(Weinberg) said an amendment adopted in 1960 makes it possible for the Department of the Interior to make an exception on the request of a mayor. …


Also on Nov. 17, 1962, the afternoon Duluth Herald offered this update:


Duluth Herald

Mr. Magoo, the alien mongoose, has turned out to be the greatest drawing card at the Duluth zoo since a baby hippopotamus arrived four years ago.

Zookeeper Lloyd Hackl said thousands of persons — most of them adults — have some to see the little animal since its case came into the public eye during the past few days. …

Hackl said he was up until midnight Friday answering calls.

“Many people have been advising me to take the animal and hide it out until the thing blows over,” he said. “Others want me to disappear with the keys to the cage.” (He has the only keys to the animal’s cage.) …


Mr. Magoo the mongoose investigates as Duluth Zoo Manager Lloyd Hackl types in November 1962. (George Starkey / News-Tribune)

There was little new news in the Nov. 18, 1962, News-Tribune, although the St. Paul Automobile Club sent a telegram to Mayor Johnson, offering to pay to fly Mr. Magoo back to India if the animal was spared.

Here’s the news from the Nov. 19, 1962, Duluth Herald:



The executioner stayed home today. It looks like Mr. Magoo’s life may be spared.

Mr. Magoo, the Indian mongoose at the Duluth Zoo whose fate has reached the level of President Kennedy’s cabinet and won him thousands of friends throughout the country, was enjoying a temporary stay of execution.

Harry P. Pinkham, game management agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Mr. Magoo’s designated executioner, said “it would be foolish of me to act while the secretary of the interior is still studying the case.”

The interior secretary, Stewart Udall, has ordered his legal staff to “take a good, close look at the law to see if there isn’t some way of sparing” Magoo. A 1909 federal law bans the importation of mongooses to the U.S. for any reason, including exhibition at zoos. Mayor George D. Johnson appealed to Udall to try to save the mongoose.

In direct charge of the investigation is Udall’s top assistant, Orren Beatty, who said his department is hopeful that the execution can be stopped.

“From what we hear, Mr. Magoo seems to be a good, progressive, new Frontier-type mongoose,” Beatty joked. “After some preliminary checks with some of the experts here, we find it may not be necessary that the mongoose be executed.”

News of Magoo’s plight has spread from Duluth to all parts of the country. At the Minnesota-Purdue football game Saturday in Minneapolis, some of the many students who have taken up the fight unfurled a huge banner reading “Save the Mongoose” at halftime ceremonies in Memorial Stadium. …

Magoo was given to the Duluth zoo by a seaman from a foreign ship that had called at India.

A representative of the federal plant and animal quarantine service said Magoo was one of a pair of mongooses on the ship. The other died while the ship was at Montreal, but Canadian officials refused to allow it to be brought ashore for cremation. They did, however, seal it in a plastic bag.

When the ship arrived in Duluth, the federal inspector telegraphed his superiors in Washington asking permission to land the carcass for cremation. Permission was granted, but the captain of the ship specified that the sailor who had brought the mongoose aboard illegally be required to pay the cremation costs, according to the inspector.

The sailor was so incensed over being forced to pay for the cremation, that he gave the mongoose to the city presumably to “get even,” the inspector said.

Meanwhile, a Minneapolis department store wishing to cash in on the mongoose boom has offered the city “any amount” for the right to display Magoo in their store.

(Zoo manager Lloyd) Hackl pointed out, however, that Magoo is legally impounded at the zoo and cannot be moved, at least for the time being.


Duluth Zoo Director Lloyd Hackl holds Mr. Magoo the mongoose in November 1962. (George Starkey / News-Tribune)

Finally, a real breakthrough to report in the Nov. 20, 1962, issue of the News-Tribune (note the byline!):


By Walter T. Ridder, News-Tribune Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON – The mongoose has been saved!

Late Monday evening the Department of Interior announced that a temporary residence permit has been issued to the animal. In effect this commuted the death sentence under which the animal has been so uneasily living for the past week or so at the Duluth Zoo.

The matter of the mongoose was settled by the personal intervention of Secretary of Interior Stewart L. Udall who signed the reprieve upon the recommendation of the Fish and Wildlife Service under whose jurisdiction the mongoose falls.

No time limit has been placed upon the residency of the mongoose, but Udall’s order does suggest that when the children of Duluth have sated their appetites for gazing at the mongoose that he be deported to India.

The mongoose’s difficulties, as it was explained here by Interior Department spokesmen, is that it has no natural enemies. Every other animal apparently likes the mongoose, so he propagates himself at a rate which rapidly puts him in the pestilent class. While other animals don’t attack him, he does not return the favor. Interior Department officials who are responsible for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico reported sadly that mongooses (mongeese) in those U.S. dependencies ate or otherwise did bodily harm to singing birds, ducks, and other of our fine-feathered friends. they therefore don’t want any more mongooses than necessary.

Under the prevailing circumstances, they don’t mind giving the Duluth mongoose a temporary home, but it was clear from their tones of voice that they hope he’ll soon go back to India.


And here’s a little more detail from the Nov. 20, 1962 Duluth Herald:


Duluth Herald

Mr. Magoo, the bachelor mongoose, can stay at the Duluth Zoo as long as he’s popular, but if and when he loses his popularity, it’s back to India for him.

Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, who personally interceded in the Magoo case, said a clause in the federal law barring mongooses from this country was stretched a bit for Magoo.

“The legal background for this commutation is quite lengthy, but it goes to the point that the law’s intent was to prevent a population explosion among mongooses,” Udall said.

“This threat is obviously not an issue in the Duluth case, as was pointed out in one informal staff opinion which read: ‘There can be no threat of an excess of the mongoose being loosed in Duluth as long as Magoo is not two.’ ”

Udall said Magoo may remain in Duluth as long as he’s a major attraction, but when his popularity wanes he must be deported.

Just who will be the judge of Magoo’s popularity wasn’t made clear. Presumably, whenever he is threatened with deportation, there will be a new surge of popularity to keep him here.

Udall, aware that there is the danger of setting a precedent by allowing Duluth to retain Magoo even temporarily, said his case is not to be interpreted that any future importation will be permitted. …


So Mr. Magoo won his reprieve from deportation (or worse), at least for a little while. I’ll pick up the story from there in my next post.

Do you remember Duluth’s mongoose craze? As always, share your stories by posting a comment.

You asked for it…

Keep an eye on the Duluth News Tribune and starting Sunday. That’s when you should start seeing news about the News Tribune’s 2011 historical photo calendar.

Lots of Attic readers have asked for copies of photos from the archives, and we’ve compiled 14 of the best ones into a glossy calendar. It’s going to sell for $7 at the DNT office, $10 by mail. And again, more details on ordering will be available starting Sunday.

The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, 1975

The freighter Edmund Fitzgerald is guided by the tug Vermont under the Blatnik Bridge and through the opening in the Interstate Bridge in this undated photo from the 1960s. There are people (construction workers?) up on the Blatnik Bridge, so I’m thinking this may be from before it opened in 1961. The Fitzgerald was launched in 1958. So that would put the photo about 1960. (News-Tribune file photo)

Today, Nov. 10, is the 35th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The ship left Superior on Nov. 9, 1975, with a load of taconite, bound for Detroit.

It ran into a massive storm out on Lake Superior. Its last radio contact was with the freighter Arthur M. Anderson on the evening of Nov. 10; soon after the Fitzgerald disappeared from radar near the entrance to Whitefish Bay at the eastern end of the lake. The crew of 29, including several from and with families in the Northland, were lost in the wreck.

I won’t get into further details, because the wreck has been exhaustively chronicled in countless books and websites. You can find more information here, here, here, and here. I also found this YouTube video posted by the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society which contains clips of radio transmissions between the Arthur M. Anderson and the Coast Guard after the Fitzgerald was reported missing:

The Arthur M. Anderson continues to sail the Great Lakes, and makes frequent stops in Duluth. Seeing it go through the Duluth Ship Canal, knowing it was the last ship to be in contact with the Edmund Fitzgerald – it’s a link to what has become a legend.

This evening, the Split Rock Lighthouse beacon will be lit in an annual commemoration of the loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald; a ship’s bell will be tolled 29 times as the names of the Fitzgerald’s crew are read, and once more for all shipwreck victims. I attended the ceremony in 2006; it’s well worth the trip if you’re able to go.

Here are more photos of the Fitzgerald, and relating to the wreck, from the News Tribune archives:

The Edmund Fitzgerald in the Twin Ports with the tug Arkansas, circa early 1960s. (News-Tribune file photo)


An undated file photo of the Edmund Fitzgerald. (AP / News-Tribune files)


The Edmund Fitzgerald on the St. Mary’s River near Sault Ste. Marie, May 1975. (Bob Campbell photo / News-Tribune files)


The Edmund Fitzgerald on the Detroit River, date unknown. (Burt Emanulle / AP / News-Tribune files)


The Edmund Fitzgerald heads out on to Lake Superior through the Duluth Ship Canal in an undated image. (UWS archives / News-Tribune files)


The front page of the Duluth News-Tribune (negative image) from the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 11, 1975, carrying early reports of the Fitzgerald sinking. (News-Tribune files)


The front page of the Duluth Herald (negative image) from the afternoon of Tuesday, Nov. 11, 1975, with more details on the sinking of the Fitzgerald the night before. (News-Tribune files)


Lettering from the stern of the sunken Edmund Fitzgerald; the stern portion of the ship, which broke into two sections when it sank, is upside-down on the floor of Lake Superior. This is one of a series of Coast Guard photos in the News Tribune files; I think it’s from the initial exploration of the wreck by an unmanned U.S. Navy submersible, controlled from the deck of the Duluth-based Coast Guard buoy tender Woodrush, in spring 1976. (News-Tribune files)


Bent metal around the pilot house of the sunken Edmund Fitzgerald shows the violence of the wreck event. The bow of the freighter landed upright on bed of Lake Superior. Like the photo above, the image apparently is from initial exploration of the wreck by the Coast Guard in spring 1976. (News-Tribune files)


The pilot house of the sunken Edmund Fitzgerald, in an image taken from later exploration of the wreck. (Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum photo / News-Tribune files)


The name of the Edmund Fitzgerald on the bow portion of the wreck becomes visible under the bright lights of the submarine Clelia during a dive on July 3, 1994. (Associated Press / News-Tribune files)


Split Rock Lighthouse guide Alec Bildeaux Jr. (left) rings a bell once for each of the Edmund Fitzgerald’s crew as site technician Matt Miller reads the names at a ceremony on Nov. 10, 2000, the 25th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. (Derek Neas / News-Tribune)


The Split Rock Lighthouse beacon is illuminated on Nov. 10, 1994,  to commemorate the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald 19 years before. (Josh Meltzer / News-Tribune)


Addition (Nov. 10, 7:30 a.m.): I realized after posting this that I had left out one important part of the Edmund Fitzgerald tale – singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot’s 1976 song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which played a significant role in establishing the wreck’s permanent place in Great Lakes lore. Here is a well-done YouTube video featuring the song as well as lots of archival photos and video clips of the ship, and a tribute to the crew:

Vintage video of WDIO’s Dennis Anderson

It was reported Wednesday that longtime WDIO-TV anchorman Dennis Anderson plans to retire in the next few months.

I remember watching Dennis Anderson on the news as a kid, visiting relatives in the Hayward area in the 1980s. He was an institution even back then – and, of course, he was still anchoring the news when I moved to Duluth a few years back.

Over the past few years I’ve posted a few links to YouTube videos of vintage Duluth newscasts that include Dennis Anderson. Here is one:

Complete 1973 WDIO newscast

And I thought I had posted a link to these clips in a previous post, but now I can’t find them. So, here they are again (in the second clip, Dennis Anderson appears briefly in the first commercial:

There was one more, of WDIO and KDLH newscasts following the 1988 fireworks explosion in Duluth, but apparently that video has been removed from YouTube.

As always, thanks to those who took the time to post those videos. And best wishes to Dennis Anderson, a Northland institution for decades, in his upcoming retirement.

Share your stories about Dennis Anderson by posting a comment.

Halloween blizzard of 1991

Traffic is sparse and pedestrians few on Superior Street in downtown Duluth as heavy snow falls on the morning of November 1, 1991. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

Today is the 19th anniversary of the biggest punch of the legendary “Halloween Blizzard” that dumped more than 3 feet of snow on Duluth.

The snow started on the afternoon of Oct. 31 – hence the “Halloween” moniker – but the brunt of the storm hit the region on Nov. 1. The National Weather Service in Duluth has a detailed summary of the storm here.

When the storm subsided on Nov. 2, 36.9 inches of snow had fallen at Duluth, with 36 inches reported at Two Harbors and 30 inches at Eveleth.

The News Tribune’s photo files are a bit sparse for the big storm; in some cases I had to shoot photos of microfilm, so the quality isn’t the best. Here are a couple more photos:

A group of current and former UMD students didn’t let the heavy snow deter them from enjoying an afternoon in a hot tub at a home on Second Street on Nov. 1, 1991. Clockwise from far right are Kris Simon, Mike Erickson, Brenda Berglund, Cal Matten, Dennis Karp, Jay Lyle, Becky Sunnarberg, Aaron Stoskopf and Eric Rajala.  (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)


At 11 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 4, 1991, Duluth residents continued to dig out from the storm on East Seventh Street. (Bob King / News-Tribune)