Looking back on Dennis Anderson’s career

WDIO-TV news anchor Dennis Anderson, May 2011. (Clint Austin / News Tribune)

Longtime WDIO-TV news anchor Dennis Anderson retires today after a long and distinguished journalism career in the Northland.

Several times in the past we’ve featured video clips of Denny through the years; here is a roundup of those past posts:

Complete 1973 WDIO newscast

Clip of 1985 WDIO newscast, and 1970s WDIO holiday promos

Anderson’s retirement was discussed on Perfect Duluth Day last year, with several people sharing their memories.

And Dennis Anderson himself looked back on his career and the world of journalism in a column in the News Tribune earlier this month; you can read it here.

Share your stories and memories of Dennis Anderson by posting a comment.

Happy 70th birthday, Bob Dylan

Seventy years ago today, on Saturday, May 24, 1941, if you were walking the halls at St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth you might have run into members of the Zimmerman family. They would have been there for the birth of Abe and Beatty Zimmerman’s first child, a son whose arrival was noted in the News-Tribune five days later:

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Today is Duluth native Robert Zimmerman’s 70th birthday. You know him better as Bob Dylan.

Dylan was featured in an Attic post back in November 2008 – a post that included the full text of a 1963 News-Tribune article that – introduced local readers to this local kid who was making it big in New York at the time. It’s a good read, if you hadn’t already seen it.

For this post, I’ve typed in an equally interesting News-Tribune & Herald article from June 29, 1986, when Dylan – in the Twin Cities for a concert at the Metrodome – agreed to an interview with reporter Bob Ashenmacher and spoke about his ties to the Northland.

One bit of background info… right before this interview the Duluth City Council voted to rename Harbor Drive to be Bob Dylan Drive, then reversed itself a few days later after public outcry against the idea…

DYLAN TALKS

His images of the North are faint but fond

By Bob Ashenmacher, News-Tribune & Herald

MINNEAPOLIS – Yes, Bob Dylan returns to his native northern Minnesota for visits.

No, he didn’t feel like an outcast in the days when he rode a motorcycle and had the plug pulled on his rock ‘n’ roll band at a Hibbing High School talent show.

And about last week’s short-lived Duluth City Council proposal to name a Duluth street after him, he’s puzzled and amused.

Dylan spoke freely about his youth on the Iron Range in a backstage conversation before his concert Thursday night in the Metrodome in Minneapolis. He was born Robert Zimmerman 45 years ago in Duluth, and raised in Hibbing from age 6. He left after high school graduation in 1959.

Through more than 20 years in the forefront of American music, Dylan has granted interviews infrequently. More than once he has given brooding, elliptical responses rather than straightforward answers.

A different Dylan talked plainly Thursday night. He spoke to the News-Tribune & Herald primarily because of the efforts of a close friend of his who lives in Duluth. The friend said he wanted Dylan’s fondness for Duluth and the Range to become known.

Bob Dylan in concert at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, June 26, 1986. (John Rott / News-Tribune & Herald)

The backstage area was quiet. Dylan appeared from a room sectioned off by sheets hanging from the ceiling.

He wore the same outfit he would wear onstage, minus a leather vest: a blue sleeveless shirt, black leather pants with silver studs up the sides and Beatle boots. Close up, his eyes are very blue. His build is thin, almost slight. His handshake is dry, the grasp gentle.

The conversation was conducted sitting atop a musical instrument trunk in the room behind the sheet. Dylan eschewed small talk. He avoided direct eye contact at first and appeared uncomfortable, even irritable. When he began hearing some old names, remembering some old impressions, he seemed to begin enjoying himself.

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It’s surprising you wanted to talk to the Duluth newspaper. You’re not talking to any others now that this tour is under way.

“Don’t you want me to? I can go, I really can. I mean, I got things to do. I thought you wanted to speak to me.”

But is there something you wanted to say specifically to Duluth and the Iron Range?

“No, nothin’. Nothin’.” He paused, seemed to soften a bit. “It’s just really hard going, here, with all these one-night stands.”

Have you heard about this Bob Dylan Drive idea in Duluth?

“Yeah, I’ve heard about it.”

What do you think?

Pause. “I really don’t know what to think. I would think there’d be a lot of other people in Duluth they could name streets for.” He laughed a little. “I think everybody who was born there should have a street named for them.”

“I don’t remember much about Duluth, really, except, uh, the foghorns.” He plucked at one of the hanging sheets, glanced into an empty adjacent room. “That’s about it.”

Did you come down to Duluth from the Range much as a kid?

“I saw Buddy Holly there, actually. I saw a few bands in Duluth, but there weren’t that many clubs happening. People who played back then usually just did it in their house.”

Bob Dylan – then Bobby Zimmerman – as a sophomore in the Hibbing High School yearbook. (News-Tribune file photo)

Do you remember any musicians from the Range or Duluth?

“There was a guy who used to live in our duplex in Hibbing named Chuckie Solberg, who a few years ago was playing piano with (a national act). And some other people from Minnesota I remember. I run into people from Minnesota in the strangest places, actually.”

What was the Range music scene like when you were growing up?

“Back then it was mainly polka bands. If you went to a club it was more like a tavern scene, with a polka band. There was country music, too, that I remember. My girlfriend, Echo was her name – Echo Helstrom – her father played guitar.”

She lives in Los Angeles now. Do you ever hear from her?

He smiled. “I see her occasionally.”

Was she the “Girl from the North Country”?

He smiled wider and said: “Well, she’s a North Country girl through and through.” He laughed. It was a nice laugh. It sounded kind.

They say she was free-spirited.

“Mm hm, she was just like me. We’re both the same.”

Do you remember Bill Marinac (a childhood friend of Dylan’s)?

“He’s a string bass player. We played together. Charles Nara, he was our drummer. We had a good guitar player in that band, Monty Edwardson.”

People always wonder – do you ever come back?

“I do sometimes. In, you know, odd moments. When I’m passin’ through.”

Once a year, maybe?

“Up to the Range, there? No, I don’t get up there as often as that. Duluth, a little bit more often, but, you know, I haven’t spent any great amount of time there.”

Do you like that you can visit and have it be low-key, not a bunch of fans pestering you?

“Yeah. It’s nice when that happens.”

Robert Zimmerman – aka Bob Dylan – as he looked when he graduated from Hibbing High School in 1959. (News-Tribune file photo)

Local legend says that at the Hibbing High Jacket Jamboree someone cut the electricity on your band because you were so loud.

“Yeah, I wasn’t very popular when I was there.” He laughed. “I don’t remember that, but it could have happened.”

Did people sometimes not understand what you were doing?

“Nah, we were just the loudest band around, it was mostly that. What we were doing, there wasn’t anybody else around doing. (The music scene) was mostly horn kind of stuff, jazz – there was one other band in town with trumpet, bass, guitar and drums. Mostly that type of stuff. And you had to play polkas.”

Did you actually play polkas?

“Yeah. Oh, yeah.”

It seems in recent years you’re less guarded about discussing things like this.

“Well, nobody really asked me about it. Nobody much asks people where they came from or what they’re doing while they’re growing up, so…”

Bob Dylan performing in November 1963. (News-Tribune file photo)

When you started to get successful in New York, did the national press romanticize your past in Minnesota?

“I don’t really know. I don’t know what they did.”

You didn’t read it?

“Um, I didn’t really keep up with it at all.”

Could you ever see having a summer home in northern Minnesota, out in the woods somewhere?

“Yeah.” He chuckled. “Who couldn’t imagine that?”

That’d be neat.

“It would be.”

Well, Kevin McHale does it.

“Yeah, I saw Kevin out there (at the concert) just now.”

There’s a great story about him seeing you at a Celtics game.

“He did, he came right out into the crowd and shook my hand. That was an amazing thing to do.”

Bob Dylan performing, circa 1963. (News-Tribune file photo)

Do you ever listen to Garrison Keillor?

“A few years ago I used to listen to him. I like his show, I’ve always liked it.”

Does it ever make you homesick for Minnesota?

“Well, ah… yeah, it does. Well, I don’t get homesick for those kind of things he talkin’ about because, ah, I don’t know if my upbringing was like that. But I get homesick for where it all happened.”

Everyone says it was a very warm home you and your brother, David, were brought up in.

“Well, we had a big family, like a big extended family. My grandmother had about 17 kids on the one side, and on the other side about 13 kids. So there was always a lot of family-type people around.

Were you kind of an outcast when you were growing up? That’s part of the myth.

“I couldn’t really say.” He laughed. “To me, I was perfectly right.”

- END -

Bob Dylan in concert at the Metrodome, June 27, 1986. (John Rott / News-Tribune & Herald)

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Share your memories of Bob Dylan – or Bobby Zimmerman – by posting a comment.

For questions and comments on this post or about the blog, send an e-mail to akrueger@duluthnews.com.

Also in Duluth on May 24, 1941…

Seventy years ago today, on Saturday, May 24, 1941, Bob Dylan was born in Duluth. What else was going on in town that day?

The Duluth News-Tribune reported that peonies in town were blooming earlier than last year:

The paper had an alarming report about U-boats off the Atlantic coast:

There was a review of Walt Disney’s new movie, Fantasia, playing at the Granada Theater; News Tribune reviewer Nathan Cohen said it was “a remarkable piece of movie making (that) you can’t afford to miss):

In the car ads, a 1937 De Soto was selling for $395 at Chief Motors on West First Street:

If you already had a car, there was an ad for a sale on gas at M&H, with a location at 1230 W. Michigan Street (where it remains to this day):

The Duluth Herald offered this odd item:

Back in the News Tribune, on the opinion page, you could ponder this editorial cartoon on the threat of war:

And on the same page, chuckle at this observation on home life:

Lincoln Park School’s ‘Grandma Margaret,’ 1997

September 22, 1997

Margaret Conway, otherwise known as Grandma Margaret, is all smiles during kindergarten class at Lincoln Park School. She worked as a teacher and as a principal for a total of 43 years, and  has been a school volunteer for 17 years. Her belief in children has influenced others to volunteer their time at school. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

17 YEARS OF DEVOTION

‘GRANDMA MARGARET,’ 81, IS LINCOLN PARK SCHOOL’S MOST RELIABLE VOLUNTEER

By Mary Thompson, News-Tribune staff writer

Every weekday at precisely 7 a.m., Grandma Margaret Conway picks up her cane, bids farewell to her toy poodle, Tuffy, and heads toward Duluth’s Lincoln Park School.

She moves gingerly down the sidewalk, standing barely 5 feet tall, careful of her arthritic knee. Lincoln Park Principal Ed Marsman swears a strong wind could blow her away.

If that’s true, then Grandma Margaret’s daily arrival is something of a miracle.

A miracle would be fitting for this white-haired, 81-year-old kindergarten volunteer. In 17 years at Lincoln Park, she’s missed exactly three-quarters of a day.

“I see a need. It’s nice I can still do something,” she says. Somehow, Conway believes that explains why she does what few people will do. She has given more than 3,000 days of her life, without any thought of material reward, just because it’s best to love children.

Hundreds of people take time to volunteer in local public schools. Each one is special, but none more so than Grandma Margaret.

She was born Patricia Margaret Conway. Family and close friends call her Pat, but in the world of Lincoln Park elementary school she is simply Grandma Margaret.

Most teachers don’t even know her last name.

Grandma Margaret reads to Kellie Alaspa in the kindergarten class at Lincoln Park School. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

‘Now you try’

This year, Grandma Margaret will spend the school year helping kindergarten teacher Donna Busick prepare 23 5-year-olds for first grade.

Donna Busick is teaching 5-year-olds to write their names. Most children trace nice, short names like “Ann” or “Robbie” with fat crayons. But one boy struggles against the immensity of his eight-letter name. He is the smallest child in Busick’s class.

The beautiful dark-eyed boy traces and then retraces the first letter.

Grandma Margaret, moving quietly past knee-high tables of children, stops behind the boy, leans over, and covers his small hand with hers. Together, they trace the letters of his name in fat green crayon.

“Now you try.”

Her voice is almost a whisper, but the child hears.

The long-named little boy wobbles his crayon across the page. He tires just before the end, and Grandma Margaret’s hand falls lightly over his to trace the last two letters.

“Very nice,” she says, leaning a little closer so he can hear. Then, as quietly, she moves on.

Children call from each knee-high table.

“Look, Grandma.”

She turns and lays her hand on the girl’s shoulder, admiring her newly penned name.

“Look, Grandma. My drawing.”

Grandma Margaret turns again, this time to a family portrait scrawled on white paper. She moves this way all morning, smiling, moving her delicate hands from one child’s shoulder to another child’s head.

“Very nice. That’s very good,” she says over and over. She means it every time.

She comes back to the littlest boy, once again lost in his long name, who is scribbling fat lines instead of tracing his name. Grandma Margaret doesn’t chastise. She simply leans over, again, and takes his hand. They finish together.

“Good job,” she says.

Grandma Margaret fusses over the kindergarten children during lunch break at Lincoln Park School. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

‘Kindness and gentleness’

Donna Busick is grateful for Grandma Margaret. “She teaches kindness and gentleness. She teaches them manners. She’s a blessing to have here,” Busick said.

Grandma Margaret knows teachers can use an extra set of hands. She was in education for 43 years — first as a teacher, later as a principal at St. Anthony Parochial School in St. Paul. She never married, devoting her life to children in parochial schools. She spent many years teaching choir to young students. Music, like teaching, was a passion.

“I was told I had a true voice,” Grandma Margaret said.

She lost her voice a few years ago when a rare virus paralyzed her vocal cords. For one day, she could barely hear and couldn’t speak. She came to school anyway, but the teachers sent her home. It was the only day she missed in 17 years.

Now, this woman with a master’s degree in special education is content to shepherd children through crowded hallways and prepare lunch tables. She lays out 23 plastic spoons, 23 paper napkins and 23 cartons of milk each day.

These are things the children will pick up in the lunch line as they get older, then set out themselves, though never as carefully as when Grandma Margaret did it for them.

“It’s hard for them to pick up everything at first. It’s a lot to remember,” she said.

Some things have changed over the years. An arthritic knee forces Grandma Margaret to the elevator more often than the stairs. She worries about the two-block walk this winter.

Not that rough weather could stop her. Last winter, after an ice storm glazed her six front steps, Grandma Margaret broke down a cardboard box, placed it on top of the small hill on her front yard, and slid to the sidewalk along the street.

The children would notice if snow or illness kept Grandma Margaret from school. But she would notice it most — like this summer, when her arthritic knee kept her from summer school for the first time in 17 years.

“I missed the kids. I was lonely,” she said.

Grandma Margaret’s gifts are not just for children. She works her magic with adults, too.

Florence Taylor has grandmothered Lincoln Park kindergartners for nine years. It’s her reason for living, now that she’s widowed.

She got the position through Grandma Margaret, who didn’t want Taylor sitting alone in her Gary-New Duluth trailer home.

“If it wasn’t for Margaret, I wouldn’t be here. I’d give my life to her,” Taylor said.

It’s quiet time

Recess is over. Time for snacks. The children bounce in their little blue chairs. One blond-haired boy, wild from play, hoots out loud.

Margaret turns from the tray of peanut butter crackers she’s arranging and softly lays her small hand on his head.

He gazes up at Grandma Margaret and knows it’s quiet time.

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Margaret Conway, “Grandma Margaret,” died in Duluth in September 2003 at age 87.

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Monday’s News Tribune has an article and photos looking back at the long history of Duluth’s Lincoln Park School, which is closing at the end of this school year.

Looking back at Duluth Central High School

Sunday’s News Tribune features a story looking back at the history of Duluth Central High School, which will close this year after nearly 120 years of classes and memories at two locations.

The first Central opened in 1892 in the downtown building now known as Old Central High School, with its landmark clock tower. In 1971, Central students moved up the hill to the present location, with one of the best views in town.

Central High School has been featured a few times in the Attic; here are some of those posts:

Ceiling collapses at Central, 1963

Building new Central High, 1971

Driver’s ed at Central High, 1971

Longtime Central teacher and coach John Swain, 1969

Here is a gallery of more Central High School photos not previously featured in the Attic; click on the photos for a larger version….

Share your memories of Duluth Central High School by posting a comment.

A view down Fourth Avenue West, 1981

Thirty years ago this summer, workers installed the skywalk to Duluth City Hall across Fourth Avenue West. Here’s a look down the avenue as work was under way, on August 19, 1981:

Looking downhill from Second Street in the photo by the News-Tribune’s Charles Curtis, you can see the Chinese Lantern restaurant sign on First Street:

And farther downhill, the old rail yards are visible – to be replaced later in the decade by the extension of Interstate 35:

Share your memories by posting a comment…. and the update on that mystery crime-scene photo will be coming in a few days, as soon as I have time to type it up.

Extending I-35, 1989

April 21, 1989

The photo above, taken by the News-Tribune’s Charles Curtis, is a view of Interstate 35 construction looking west from 21st Avenue East.

Here’s another view of I-35 construction, closer to downtown; this photo from the News Tribune files shows Lake Place Park being built over what will become the freeway. The photo isn’t dated, but is from about 1989:

Here’s a slightly zoomed-in view:

Quite a change from these photos to the freeway and Lakewalk that exist today.

Share your memories by posting a comment.

Crime scene mystery photo

The News Tribune archives have produced another mystery photo — and I’m hoping one of you can fill in some of the details.

This photo is undated and has no caption information, except for the words “Find bullet” scribbled on the back. I’m not even sure if this is from Duluth, but given its placement in the files, I’m inclined to believe it is.

Obviously, it shows investigators at a crime scene, probably in the 1950s. The man in the middle, as the words on the back of the photo indicate, is examining a bullet.

The only way I can imagine solving the mystery is if someone recognizes any of the men in the picture. If you do, send me an e-mail at akrueger@duluthnews.com, or post a comment.

Duluth parkettes, 1960

June 13, 1960

This post is a “best-of” Attic entry, originally posted three years ago and brought back today for those who may have missed it…

Stepping out smartly in new uniforms and hats, six parkettes went on full-time duty in the downtown Duluth area today. From left are Donna Humphreys, Ann Gaul, Elizabeth Emanuelson, Adrienne Erickson, Mary Chiovitte and Brenda Furtman. All are UMD students. This is the fourth year the Duluth Police Department has employed parkettes. They are used to enforce parking regulations and will be on full-time duty until Oct. 1, and part-time the rest of the year. (Duluth Herald photo)

Parkettes patrolled the streets of downtown Duluth for a number of years… and still do, though it seems the term “parkette” has dropped out of use. The Attic has a number of photos and clippings on parkettes; here are a few:

June 4, 1958

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June 13, 1968

1968 Duluth parkettes (from left): Carol Monroe, Pam Johnson, Pat Gressman, Mary Sundeen and Ann Connolly. (Duluth Herald photo)

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Undated

Duluth parkettes (no other caption information)

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July 28, 1977

Duluth parkette Debbie Padora wears the parkettes’ new uniform. The major difference from the old blue military cut uniforms is that the new outfits are red, and have a cullotte or split skirt. (News-Tribune photo)

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Sept. 19, 1977

Parkette Patty (no last name given), a Farrah Fawcett-Majors lookalike (that’s what the paper ran back in 1977), tickets a car at Second Avenue West and First Street. (George Starkey / News-Tribune)

‘Angels’ are devil to some

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Share your memories of Duluth’s parkettes by posting a comment. To read comments that were made on the original post, click here.

Stepping out smartly in new uniforms and hats, six parkettes went on full-time duty in the downtown Duluth area today. From left are Donna Humphreys, Ann Gaul, Elizabeth Emanuelson, Adrienne Erickson, Mary Chiovitte and Brenda Furtman. All are UMD students. This is the fourth year the Duluth Police Department has employed parkettes. They are used to enforce parking regulations and will be on full-time duty until Oct. 1, and part-time the rest of the year. (Duluth Herald photo)

Parkettes patrolled the streets of downtown Duluth for a number of years… and still do, though it seems the term “parkette” has dropped out of use. The Attic has a number of photos and clippings on parkettes; here are a few:

Wicklund Grocery closes, 2001

October 9, 2001

Wicklund Grocery in Superior’s Billings Park neighborhood closed its doors Monday after nearly a century of service to the community. (Derek Neas / News Tribune)

NEIGHBORHOOD GROCER CLOSES ITS DOORS

BILLINGS PARK INSTITUTION FORCED TO CLOSE BECAUSE OF STRUCTURAL WOES

By Shelley Nelson, News Tribune staff writer

For nearly a century, a small grocery store at 1804 Iowa Ave. in Superior has served the needs of people living in the Billings Park neighborhood.

But Monday, Wicklund Grocery closed its doors forever.

“We went there for everything,” said Scott Severin, who lives nearby and was surprised to learn the grocery was going out of business. “We always go there when we need milk and stuff. They were always just right there.”‘

Under order from the city building inspection division, the store closed because of the condition of the building, which is more than 100 years old.

On Sept. 28, the city issued a repair or raze order, along with orders to vacate the business by Oct. 8 and the building by Nov. 1. The orders were issued because of inadequate foundation and wall supports and the deteriorated condition of wall and roof supports.

The building is assessed at $36,700, and the land is worth $7,900. But, unable to afford the costly repairs — expected to exceed 50 percent of the building’s value, according to building inspection reports — owner John Wicklund decided to close up shop after more than a decade of running the neighborhood grocery.

“I’ve enjoyed the heck out of it,” Wicklund said. “I’m going to miss the people around here.”

Wicklund said he worked at the store as a stocker in the 1960s before he was drafted into the military during the Vietnam War. After 24 years away from the city, he moved back and bought the small grocery.

But Wicklund said he simply can’t afford to make the repairs needed to keep the store open. The building will likely be demolished, but it isn’t known when.

Many other small neighborhood grocery stores in the Twin Ports have come to a similar fate as Wicklund’s. In December, Taran’s Market closed in Chester Park, and the Ideal Market and Bakery in downtown Duluth shut down in November 1998.

For people living in the Billings Park neighborhood, the loss of the grocery marks the end to a century-long tradition.

And while not everyone living in the neighborhood shopped at the market, some said it was unfortunate that Billings Park residents won’t have that option anymore.

“A lot of people don’t have transportation to drive downtown,” said neighbor Bertha Witt, who admits she didn’t shop at the store in the Billings Park business district.

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It’s been a while since I was in that neighborhood, but based on Google Maps it appears that the building was razed after the grocery store closed.

Share your memories by posting a comment.