Vintage view of Gary-New Duluth fire and police hall

This undated view shows the fire hall and police station on Commonwealth Avenue in the Gary-New Duluth neighborhood. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable about cars can date the photo based on the police squad parked in front:

—–

And, when this photo was taken the building didn’t just house a fire station and police station – it had a branch of the library in the basement:

The fire hall still stands, and still serves as a fire hall. The police station portion of the building now houses the Gary-New Duluth Community Center.

Share your memories by posting a comment.

Remembering KDAL overnight DJ ‘Little Joe’ Laznick

April 10, 1966

Former taxi, truck and ambulance driver turned disc jockey Joseph “Little Joe” Laznick keeps watch over his nighttime family in this photo from April 1966. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

Pre-Dawn Jockey

Little Joe Spins Night Away

By Wayne Wangstad, News-Tribune staff writer

A world of grooved plastic spins away the time for a nightworker who entertains the restless during the early hours of a new day.

Between those midnight to 6 a.m. hours, KDAL radio’s “Little Joe” plies his trade as a disc jockey, keeping watch over what he calls his nighttime “family.”

Little Joe – the moniker follows the parallel of Robin Hood’s Little John, only with reference to girth – has never used his own name, Joseph M. Laznick, on the air. He prefers to be known by the self-selected name that leaves little else to be said.

Most radio listeners tune their ear to an announcer’s voice, then come up with an image of what he looks like. A woman, for instance, may hear a deep, resounding voice and, in her mind, view the man as a handsome fugitive from Muscle Beach. Oh, the disappointment when she sees he’s a scrawny, crow-like 98-pound weakling.

An image had been formed before the interview with Little Joe. But the graying, skinny, guitar-carrying man was not to be found. Looking younger than his 32 years, the DJ was surprising only because the “Little Joe” analogy had not registered. The most important thing, that friendly, smiling voice that see other nightworkers home, was there, however.

A former taxi, truck and ambulance driver turned radio announcer, Liitle Joe concurs with other nocturnal working types. He likes night work – and has more than 10 years of it under his Jackie Gleason-like belt. “Jackie Gleason,” Little Joe jokes, “and I would have something in common except that I’m fatter and he makes a million dollars a year.”

Armed with a folksy resonant voice touched with a slight nasal twang, which sometimes sounds as though he were rhythmically rolling marbles from one side of his jowls to another, Little Joe works alone yet has the company of hundreds of other nightworkers.

“Night is a lonely time,” he said with his sincere, homespun inflection. “Any person who works nights must (he emphasized that word) be a night person himself. And he must understand the motives of this type of person,” he insisted.

Little Joe’s musical format, as he describes it, is “everything.” That means he plays everything from country western to the long-hair stuff, including listener requests.

KDAL nighttime DJ “Little Joe” Laznick in the studio on Oct. 15, 1978. (Joey McLeister / News-Tribune)

Explaining that his show is best described as “public service radio” – news, weather, sports and music – Little Joe says he keeps in touch with an after-sundown family composed of doctors, lawyers, steelworkers, police and firemen and insomniacs. Unable to get desired information from the morning newspaper, which has not yet arrived, or from television, then no longer on the air, they call the night disc jockey.

Two particular occasions brought a flood of phone calls, the radio announcer revealed. Steelworkers concerned over a threatened strike phoned for information, as did parents of men stationed in Alaska when an earthquake spread trembling havoc there.

The phone calls, Little Joe asserts, make up his “family.”

“Night people are a funny family,” he offered. “Women may call me up and tell me about their husband’s job promotion, or that he got fired. Or they may want advice on a job transfer.”

No all of the “family” calls are congenial, however. “Some of the family cal me up and bawl me out when I do something wrong,” he revealed.

“These people are not kooks,” Joe said as a bit of the friendly homespun air in his voice was replaced with fiery conviction. “These people are lonely. … If they have a problem of if they’re crying, I usually try to find time to talk to them and try to help them.”

A night nurse at a Duluth hospital, Little Joe explained, is typical of the callers. “She phoned and said ‘I won’t be calling the next three nights because I’m off (work)’ ” the DJ said.

Anything unusual about the night work? “The oddity of this type of work,” the announcer insisted, “is the closeness of strangers. You have a bond that’s probably best explained by a mutual dependency.

Several Twin Ports mothers, for instance, have a certain dependency on Little Joe when their children refuse to go to bed. “They’ll ask that I tell the kids to go to bed. Surprisingly, most of the mothers call back and explain that the kids have done what they were told after I’ve talked with them,” he said.

The rotund disc jockey, who races stock cars as a hobby, stands aside from most other nightworkers’ waking-sleeping hours. Off at 6 a.m., he usually goes home then has breakfast and stays up until 3 p.m., when he goes to bed. Then it’s up at 10:30 p.m. to meet his on-air deadline when the hands of the clock are straight up. Unlike most after-sundown workers on the slumber angle, he is like others in that he can participate in most social activities because of his late working hours.

What’s his retort to the sunshine workers? “At 2 p.m., when the sun is highest, you can’t go out for a ride, but I can. And when it’s midnight and you’re just going to bed, I’m just starting to have my fun,” was his prompt reply.

In radio for nearly 2 1/2 years now, about a year of it at KDAL, Little Joe fill several slots in his solo night trick. Shagging records for requests, checking sources and preparing stories for upcoming newscasts consumes a good share of his time. Occasionally, he will interview a recording artist or entertainer on his show.

The DJ’s longest stint, 7 p.m. Saturday to 3 a.m. Sunday, is followed by his only night off.

Any conclusions about working when most people are sleeping? Little Joe used that friendly, folksy voice to paraphrase something he’d mentioned earlier. “You have to be genuinely and seriously interested in – and understand – night people.” Just what he meant by that was not clear, but it was evident that he was talking about that undefinable thing which he likes so much, his radio “family.”

—–

Joseph “Little Joe” Laznick, February 1974 (News-Tribune photo)

In February 1980, the Duluth Herald reported that Little Joe Laznick, then hosting the all-night “Vacationland Calling” show on KDAL, had “received a substantial bequest from an anonymous listener.”

Under conditions of the 71-year-old woman’s will, Laznick was not allowed to give her name or reveal the size of the bequest. But he said he was told the woman left him the money “because I comforted her by playing music on the radio and chatting with her on the phone” during his all-night broadcasts.

He continued on the all-night show until about 1984, and also played bass and sang with the local band the Du-Als. In June 1987, the News-Tribune reported that Laznick was suffering from kidney disease and needed a transplant; friends organized several benefits for him. He died on Dec. 14, 1987, at age 54.

Morgan Park High School memories

This year marks the end of the line for classes at what is now Morgan Park Middle School; students from Morgan Park will attend classes at the new Lincoln Park Middle School starting in the fall.

It’s also the 30th anniversary of the closing of Morgan Park High School in that building; the high school combined with Denfeld in 1982, and the building then housed a junior high and, later, a middle school.

This week’s News Tribune Sunday Opinion section features memories of Morgan Park, and I thought it was a good time to dig up some more photos of the school from the News Tribune Attic. These photos are from the last years of Morgan Park High School; click on the photos for larger versions, and enjoy (and look for a surprise in one of these pictures)…

At a noisy pep rally on March 7, 1979, at Morgan Park High School, faculty members staged a parody of the Lake City cheerleaders and basketball team, which Morgan Park will meet in the state Class A tournament later in the week at the Met Sports Center in Bloomington. (Charles Curtis / Duluth Herald)

—–

Morgan Park High School Principal Milan Karich asks students not to walk out of classes on March 25, 1981, to protest plans to close the school. (Karl Jaros / Duluth Herald)

—–

Morgan Park students march down 88th Avenue West on April 1, 1981, during a protest against plans to close the senior high school. (Charles Curtis / Duluth Herald)

—–

Morgan Park students march down 88th Avenue West on April 1, 1981, during a protest against plans to close the senior high school. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

—–

Morgan Park junior and senior high school students listen to Duluth Schools Superintendent Richard Pearson on April 13, 1981, in the school auditorium as he discusses plans to close the senior high school. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

—–

Morgan Park students watch a Dec. 3, 1981, hearing on plans to close the senior high portion of their school. (Bob King / News-Tribune)

—–

Morgan Park High School senior Chris Black and junior Bob Delancey work on May 11, 1982, on an 8-foot-by-8-foot sports mural titled “Winners,” to be included in the school’s Festival of Arts exhibit in the school library. (Jack Rendulich / News-Tribune)

—–

Although they may be among the last seniors to graduate from Morgan Park High School, Terri Smith (front left) and Mary Spehar (front right) appear ebullient on June 8, 1982, as they rehearse for the graduation ceremony. (Jack Rendulich / Duluth Herald)

—–

Morgan Park seventh-grader Chris Skull leans back and puts his feet up on his teacher’s desk while talking to classmates Bill Gronseth (center) and Laura Sinclair on the last day of the school year at Morgan Park on June 10, 1982. At the time, it was unclear if high school students would be returning to the school in the fall. (Joey McLeister / News-Tribune)

—–

Morgan Park football coach Kyle Inforzato speaks with some of his team members and backers at a potluck dinner held in the school’s cafeteria on Aug. 28, 1982. The team’s fate was up in the air at the time after the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned a lower-court ruling that had barred the school district from closing the senior high school. (Joey McLeister / News-Tribune)

—–

The Duluth School Board voted in December 1981 to close Morgan Park Senior High School at the end of the 1981-82 school year. Eleven residents and 10 community groups challenged that decision in District Court, and in July 1982 a judge barred the school district from closing the senior high and transferring its 253 students to Denfeld.

But on Aug. 27, 1982, the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned the District Court ruling and allowed the school district to move ahead with closure plans.

Recognize anyone in these photos? Share your stories and memories by posting a comment.

Archive aerial views of the Twin Ports

I came across two (and was e-mailed a third) old aerial photos of the Twin Ports. Here they are (click on the photos for a larger view):

View over the West End and the Rice’s Point rail yards toward the Blatnik Bridge, 1970. (News Tribune file photo)

This photo shows construction of Interstate 35 (and I-535), including parts of the “Can of Worms” interchange, in 1970. The Blatnik Bridge, seen in the distance, had already been open for several years at the time of this photo; its traffic was directed onto Garfield Avenue (where you can see part of Goldfine’s-by-the-Bridge Department Store).

The photo also captures a sliver of the West End business district. Here’s a closer view of Superior Street:

From left to right, you can see a DX service station / car wash; Enger & Olson furniture (with J & J Phillips 66 service station across Superior Street); 19th Avenue West; and the West End Liquor Store, with a billboard on the side that reads “Scotch Scotch” (perhaps Ron Burgundy could have shopped there back in the day).

———————-

Here’s a view of the Burlington Northern ore docks in Superior from 1977. The Mesabi Miner is berthed at the ore dock on the right. On the left, the nearer boat has “Inland Steel” on its side; I can’t make out the ship name, but it looks like the distinctive Edward L. Ryerson, which currently is in long-term layup at Fraser Shipyards just a few miles from where this photo was taken. The name of the third boat can’t been read in this picture.

—————————

And courtesy of Gary Androsky over at the Superior Telegram, here’s an image from the Telegram’s files of Interstate 35 being extended through downtown Duluth in the 1980s – the tunnels are under construction in this view, which also provides a good look at much of downtown; click on the photo for a much larger image.

————

Share your stories and memories by posting a comment.

The end of Golden Guernsey 4-percent milk in Duluth

December 1990

Unused cartons of Barnum’s milk show the old Golden Guernsey labels, which were phased out in 1990, the same year production of the 4-percent variety (right) stopped. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)

Requiem for a heavyweight

Diet craze kills an institution built around Golden Guernsey 4% milk

By J.P. Furst, News-Tribune staff writer

This has been a lean year for “4-percent drinkers” in the Twin Ports, the hard-core consumers of a heavy, old-fashioned milk bottled in Duluth for nearly 40 years.

Barnum’s Golden Guernsey Milk – a creamy, high-fat milk produced only by Guernseys and packaged in Duluth’s West End – disappeared from local dairy cases last spring.

For longtime connoisseurs, it left an empty spot in the refrigerator and on the kitchen table.

It marked the passing of a Duluth institution, a local custom that harked back to the days when every neighborhood had its own dairy and the milkman brought glass-bottled milk to your door.

Like it said on the carton, “Guernsey cows are the only cows that give you milk like this.”

“There were a lot of true 4-percenters out there,” said Art Massie Jr., an ex-employee of the 49-year-old family business that distributes Barnum’s milk. “That milk had a real richness and ‘tastability’ to it. It was a unique product.”

In the heyday of high-fat milk, about 20 years ago, Massie said the Barnum’s line distributed about 5,000 half-gallons a week to corner groceries and the new supermarkets coming of age in Duluth.

“Those were the days when you had a grocery on every corner,” said Massie, 59. “You got to know the grocer and build a relationship, and you got to know your customers. The Barnum’s line was the only one that was in every Twin Ports store through those years.”

Art Massie Jr. is shown on Dec. 6, 1990, in front of the family business, which distributes Barnum’s milk. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)

“It was mainly older people who bought it, people who may have grown up on creamier milk,” said Harvey Winthrop, owner of the Ideal Market in downtown Duluth. “They were looking for a richer milk, and Golden Guernsey was the richest on the market.”

It certainly was. Pure Guernsey milk contains 4-percent milkfat or more, at least 1 percent more than Holstein milk. It has 10 percent more milk solids in it. It has the consistency of half-and-half – almost like a thin milk shake.

It tasted great.

“Fat tastes good,” said Wally Gronholm, president and general manager at Franklin Foods in Duluth, which bottled the milk for Barnum’s. “It’s a fact. Most of us who like good food like fat. That’s why we like hamburgers and fries. they’re full of fat and they taste good.”

But most Americans are trimming fat out of their diets and that’s becoming obvious in milk-drinking habits. “Skim, 1- and 2-percent milks are the ones people are buying now. The average fat content of all the milk we bottle is less than 2 percent now. That’s a big change from 10 years ago.”

The demand for Golden Guernsey milk was drying up, said Steve Massie, Art’s nephew, who now owns the family business. They were distributing only about 1,000 half-gallons a week earlier this year.

The number of Guernseys milked by Northland farmers was also dwindling, and it was getting more expensive to truck the milk to market.

“It became unprofitable after a certain point,” said Massie, 40. “But you miss having something so completely unique on the market.”

Half-gallon cartons of Barnum’s milk roll down the production line at Franklin Foods in Duluth on Dec. 6, 1990. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)

For some people, it was like when Fitger’s quit producing beer, or when Joe Huie’s cafe locked its doors for good. “We still get calls now and then, asking how come it’s not bottled anymore,” he said.

“They had their loyal customers, all right,” said Mark Miller, co-owner of Snow White Food Center on Wopdland Avenue. “That’s all some people would drink. They’d come in and buy the Guernsey milk religiously – until their doctors told them to drink lower-fat milk.”

The Barnum’s label itself is representative of the changes in the local milk business. It exists on paper only – or on wax cartons. The milk is actually packaged by Franklin Foods, as are Arrowhead and Kemps milk. The Massies’ company simply owns the right to the Barnum label and is a distributor.

Since dropping the Golden Guernsey line, Barnum’s milk is now similar to its competitors’ products, but people remain loyal, Steve Massie said.

“Barnum’s still exists because we have very loyal customers and we give good service,” said Massie, who remembers helping his grandfather, Art Massie Sr., package cottage cheese in his basement on St. Paul Avenue in the ’50s. “That’s been our family’s tradition since 1941. It’s the main ingredient in our success.”

Steve Massie of Massie Distributing, distributors of Barnum’s milk, loads a truck at the Franklin Foods Dairy in Duluth’s West End on Dec. 6, 1990. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)

The only place in the Northland where 4-percent milk is still in the stores is around Ashland, Wis., he said. “We thought about buying our Guernsey milk from a bottler over in Waukesha, Wis., but it didn’t seem feasible to bring it in here.”

There’s a certain amount of Guernsey milk in all of the milk packed at the Franklin plant in Duluth, but it’s nothing you can taste. “All milk tastes pretty much the same once you take the fat out,” said Gronholm. “A Guernsey drinker might give me an argument about that, but it’s true.”

Were the Massies “true 4-percenters”? Did they pour that heavyweight milk, as viscous as 10W-40 motor oil, on their corn flakes at home?

Steve said, “Nah. We were down to 2 percent milk at my house.”

Art, a wiry man with a long memory, chuckled. “That’s what I’m down to, too.”

Even the milkman has to go with the flow.

– end –

After typing in this archive article, I’m a little confused about the lamentations over the loss of 4-percent milk. You can still buy whole milk – is that not the same thing? Was the “Golden Guernsey” variety something unique, unlike other brands of whole milk? If you remember – and if you know any more about when the Barnum’s brand name disappeared from local shelves – please post a comment.

And while we’re at it, can you think of any other unique, Northland-favorite food products, past or present? Over at Perfect Duluth Day there have been occasional discussions about Connolly’s Tom and Jerry Batter. What other local favorites can you think of? Again, post a comment to contribute to the conversation.