In the depths of the Great Depression, the Minneapolis Star sought to reassure readers that happy days were just around the corner with a dry, statistics-heavy series on the “convalescing” economy of northern Minnesota. Editors used the photo below to illustrate a page one story headlined “Duluth Centers Trade Drive on Good Roads.” Bad call: The story made no mention of commercial fishing or fish packing.
With little to work with, the poor caption writer had to go fish, writing: “PACKING SUPERIOR TROUT / Duluth plants also pack fish shipped from the Pacific coast.” The poor reader was left to wonder (then as now): Who were these three men, and which plant employed them? The photo offers a few tantalizing clues. But the answers, so far, have proved to be frustratingly elusive. Perhaps a reader can help me out here.
|Examine the photo closely and you'll see clues in the printing on the men's caps ("American" and "Beav-") and the objects on the wall ("Duluth" and "Elliott" and "-Parker Co").|
UPDATE: An e-mail from Peggy Johnson arrived on Nov. 24, 2010:
Your article entitled "Who were these fish-packing men? was sent to me by a relative who thought the man in the picture on the left side was my father. She was right. This is my father Henry Saaski who worked at Rust Parker in Duluth in the 30's. I was one year old in 1936 when the picture was taken. He also worked at Kemp Fisheries and at a Cooperative in Hancock, Michigan in the fish department. He was employed at the Bell Telephone Company in Duluth before he passed away in l968. For a title....Our Family did not starve during the depression...we had plenty of fish and my father had a job. And, it is nice to have this picture of my father from those days.
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Most of our readers in whose memory is still fresh the fact of the destruction by fire of the Merchants' Hotel, on the corner of State and Washington streets, on the morning of the 4th of the present month, will readily recall the particulars concerning the sad fate of the late Mr. R.A. Cook, of Joliet, who perished in the flames during that memorable conflagration.
Twenty irate office women appeared before the St. Paul city council today and demanded action. They said their nylons have been damaged by soot in the city's loop. William Parranto, commissioner of public safety, explained that such soot falls from the chimney at Saint Paul hotel. The hotel, he said, burns a Wyoming oil which contains a liberal percentage of sulphur.
It's no wonder that metro newspapers of the 1950s were extremely profitable: They had a virtual monopoly on classified ads, employed kids to deliver their product and had few if any skilled graphic artists on the payroll. Just try to make sense of this 1955 picture-graph from the Minneapolis Tribune. Appearing with a story headlined "Simple Guide to State School Finances," it's most likely a legislative handout hauled back to the newsroom by the beat writer and slapped directly into print.
Another in our series of Minneapolis Tribune stories that include the word "newspaporial."