Al Bossard of St. Paul began making cigars by hand in about 1903. At his peak, he rolled 400 to 500 cigars a day, and his clientele included "fine people … doctors, lawyers, businessmen." He had reached his 88th year when he was featured in this Minneapolis Star photo. "I’ve had to slow up some now," he said, "because there are days when I can’t feel the tenderness of the cigars right." He didn’t spend his entire life hunched over tobacco leaves. At 15, he ran away from home and joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show as a performer, playing "800 or 900 state fairs around this part of the country."
Al Bossard's photo accompanied a story previewing a Victorian craft festival in St. Paul that featured "calligraphy, crewel work, hair work, lacemaking, macrame, needlework and other Victorian crafts."
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The Minnesota State Fair has featured many unusual attractions in its 150-year history: death-defying aerial acts, colliding locomotives, freak shows, live animal births, the Minnesota Iceman and premature babies in incubators. Wait … what? The Minneapolis Morning Tribune was there:
This Minneapolis Tribune story is a mess. But the headline is sublime.
"We're more popular than Jesus now," John Lennon told an British journalist in 1966. A year later, the Monkees' Mike Nesmith, in the Twin Cities for a show at the St. Paul Auditorium, humbly explained his band's place in the cosmic pecking order.
Read it in the voice of Garrison Keillor for the full effect.
A musically inclined vagrant known as Banjo Ben walked the streets of Minneapolis in the city's early days. His weakness for alcohol and penchant for strong language landed him in court with some frequency. In February 1876, for example, he was sentenced to 20 days in jail for spewing obscenities at the St. Paul and Pacific depot. Later that year, he walked into the Tribune newsroom and issued an invitation to witness a spectacular feat at the new suspension bridge under construction nearby.
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