Sample Minnesota newspaper articles, photos and ads dating back more than 140 years. Fresh items are posted weekly. Go here for tips on how to track down old newspaper articles on your own. Follow the blog on Twitter. Or check out "Minnesota Mysteries," a new book based on the blog.

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Nov. 19, 1958: Salt in Verne Gagne's eye

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History, Sports Updated: April 28, 2015 - 11:57 AM
In the 1950s, before pro football and major league baseball arrived in the Twin Cities, pro wrestling had a place on the sports pages of the local newspapers. The story below is from the Minneapolis Morning Tribune.

There’s a lot to admire about old-time pro wrestling. As far as I know, grapplers did not use steroids or demand new arenas at public expense. But I can’t get the rules straight. It was legal to give your opponent a ferocious eye gouge, sleeper hold or pile driver. But rub a little salt in the eye? That was cheating.

RIP, Verne Gagne. The pro wrestling legend died this week at age 89, surrounded by his family in Minnesota. 

Wins on

Vern[e] Gagne was declared the winner over Mitsu Arakawa on a reversed decision Tuesday night before 2,988 fans at the Auditorium. The time was 22:15 in the one-hour time limit match.
  Verne Gagne in about 1953.
The Japanese wrestler had felled the former University of Minnesota football star with his stomach claw hold, but referee Joe Valento reversed the call after Arakawa was said to have rubbed salt in Gagne’s eyes.
Gagne pinned Arakawa initially with the drop kick but the referee was incapacitated at the time, having collided with the wrestlers.
It was when the referee was out of action that Mitsu employed his salt trick. Several fans along with the boxing promoters jumped into the ring to call attention to the violation.
In the semi-windup, Stan and Reggie Lisowski of Milwaukee defeated Tex McKenzie and Chet Wallich.
Verne Gagne, 225, Excelsior, won by reversed decision over Mitsu Arakawa, 238, Japan, 22:15.
Stan Lisowski, 254, Milwaukee, pinned Tex McKenzie, 275, Houston, 8:15; McKenzie pinned Stan, 10:40; Reggie Lisowski, 257, pinned Chet Wallich, 237, Hollywood, 6:10.
Bearcat Wright, 270, Omaha, pinned El Toro, 300, 13:50.
Joe Pazandak, 245, Medicine Lake, pinned Johnny Nellis, 212, Belgium, 12:20.

Verne Gagne's championship belt was on display at the Minnesota History Center in 2014.

Dec. 6, 1937: Singing in the bathroom? Leave it to men

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History Updated: March 30, 2015 - 10:57 AM
  Marjorie Burns
Marjorie Burns, a young reporter for the Minneapolis Star in the late 1930s, excelled at an offbeat beat. She tried out scores of occupations – clown, lion tamer, stewardess, farmer, ballerina — and wrote about them. Her first-person accounts were engaging, funny and often insightful. She also covered society news, interviewed movie stars and occasionally wrote about fishing.
Burns left the paper in 1940 to marry John Shanard, later a Cargill executive, and moved to Washington, D.C. She went on to play leadership roles in state Republican politics, helped plan a Republican state convention and headed former Laker George Mikan’s congressional campaign. She died in May 2006 at age 92. 

Women Singing in Bathtub

Staff Writer for The Star
If you are a woman and you sing in the bathtub you are making someone unhappy.
And if you don't sing in the bathtub, you yourself must be unhappy.
So starting with the premise that you can’t win either way, we’ll progress from there.
First, singing in the bathtub is supposedly not only the right but also the duty and desire of every cheery individual. So it is taken for granted that women, being equally as good-natured as men, would like to sing in the bathtub.
But do they sing in the bathtub?
That all depends on their regard for the comfort of others, it seems.
* * *
  This little bather from about 1935, identified in the archived caption as the “Nascher baby,” looks like she had plenty to sing about. (Photo courtesy of
In the words of Abe Pepinsky, professor of music at the University of Minnesota:
“Because of the high frequency of a woman’s voice in a bathroom it resounds with a sensation of pain.”
The whole controversy was started by Sir James Jeans, the astronomer, in his new book, “Science and Music.” He refers to singing in the bathroom as a “peculiarly male pleasure.”
In other words, the high reflecting walls in the bathroom make the oral harmony in a man’s voice pleasing, whereas the oral harmony in a woman’s voice would be beyond the audible range.
What you do hear is unpleasant.
* * *
In a confined space like a bathroom, notes below middle C will reflect several feet, go echoing round and resound in all their richness. This is not true of higher tones which have too short a wave length.
So women, if you feel a song coming on, get out in the wide open spaces and let it go. For there you have just as good a chance as the men.
But whether it sounds so well or not, women everywhere are standing on their rights and exercising the feminine prerogative to sing in the bath if they want to.
* * *
Now take the Kappa Alpha Thetas at the University of Minnesota. On an upper floor of their house, far from complaining masculine ears, they lustily whoop up “Feet Are Too Big” day after day as they scrub.
And the Alpha Gamma Deltas likewise sing in the tub. “You Can’t Stop Me from Dreaming” is the favorite.
The Gamma Phis cannot be budged from their claim that they don’t sing while bathing. All of which proves either they aren’t happy or they’re too considerate to force the “sensation of pain” upon others.

Feb. 4, 1912: Bless their hearts, women don't want the right to vote

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History, Government Updated: March 24, 2015 - 8:46 AM
An editorial in the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune:
  A 1912 wedding portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Chris Tormandsen gives little indication of how the bride or groom might vote. (Photo courtesy

Well, Why Shouldn't They?

An officer of the Anti-Women Suffrage society of Washington earns her salary by writing to a New York paper that the vote of every married woman would undoubtedly represent the interest of her husband and her family, whether he were a saloon keeper, a gambler, a banker or a protected manufacturer.
We have too much confidence in the faithfulness and good sense of American women to doubt this statement for a moment. We are inclined to go farther and believe that the so-called unattached or independent women, spinsters, widows and divorced women, would vote conscientiously in the interests of men or families to whom they are attached by sympathy, interest or affection.
No woman is unattached in her own mind and nearly all women unconsciously place the interests of somebody else above their own, whether from nature or education. We do not see why this should be considered an argument against suffrage for women, married or spinsters, widowed or divorced.
While the net result would be to duplicate the votes of men, we are inclined to think that women would bring to the joint consideration with husbands, lovers or friends of their individual interest in connection with the larger interest of the whole public, a higher conception of the latter and that the double votes would be more conscientious and patriotic than the single votes are now.
Once more, we know of only one argument against suffrage for women. Bless their hearts, they don’t want it.

Oct. 8, 1914: G.K. Chesterton assails American Prohibition

Posted by: Ben Welter under Corruption, Minnesota History, Crime Updated: March 13, 2015 - 8:00 AM
As efforts to ban the sale and consumption of alcohol gained steam in the early 1900s, liquor interests banded together to tell their side of the story. One group, the South Dakota Retail Liquor Dealers Association, published a newspaper supplement, Both Sides, which appeared in the Minneapolis Journal in October 1914. The eight-page insert consisted of essays, light feature stories ripped from the wires and lots and lots of liquor ads. This piece by G.K. Chesterton, the celebrated British writer and lay theologian, originally appeared in the Illustrated London News.


The Famous English Essayist Ridicules the American Form of Prohibiting the Use of Liquors.

I am glad to see that the protests are beginning to rise against those crazy exaggerations of the philanthropists, who are always wanting us to sacrifice the natural to the unnatural and the certain to the possible. Our social reformers have a wonderful way of manufacturing fifty fresh vices in the pretence of suppressing one.

G.K. Chesterton

G.K. Chesterton

For instance, there is the maze of immorality that spreads whenever a state attempts the ridiculous experiment called 'total prohibition." I was told by a friend who had traveled in what the Americans called a 'dry state," that his innocent request for a glass of whisky in a hotel had been answered by radiant and animated directions as to where he would find "the hat room." His first feeling was that the hat room was the headquarters of the Mad Hatter, who evidently ran the hotel. His second was a dim speculation as to how whisky tasted when drunk out of a hat. At last it occurred to him that "hat room" was American for what we commonly call "cloak room," but even then he could not imagine what it had to do with whisky.

He soon found out; for everything was quite ready, and the custom was clearly in full swing. In the cloak room were stored a number of strapped trunks and suit cases labeled in the name of various fictitious American citizens and crammed with bottles of beer, wine or spirits. From these he was handsomely regaled; and the trunk was then strapped up again, so that if the police entered that temple of abstinence, the management could profess ignorance of the contents of luggage left in its charge. Now, suppose my friend had drunk four times as much whisky as he wanted and rolled dead drunk down the front steps of the hotel, could he have fallen lower than the lowness of that exquisite legal fiction?

An ad for B. Kuhl & Co. Wines and Liquors appeared on the front page of the Oct. 8 insert.

See what a number of new sins the "dry state" succeeds in creating in the course of failing to cure that of drunkenness. The man going to the hat room has all the drunkenness he wants with the following agreeable additions:

1. He has become a liar; calling things by false names and doing one thing while pretending to do another.

2. He has become a rebel and bad citizen, intriguing against the law of his country and the efficiency of its public service.

3. He has become a coward, shrinking through personal fear of consequences from acts of which he is not morally ashamed.

4. He has become a seducer and a bad example, bribing other men to soil their own simplicity and dignity.

5. He has become a most frightful fool, playing a part in an ignominious antic from which his mere physical self respect would hardly recover. 

6. He has, in all probability, come much nearer than he would in any other way to having a craving for alcohol. For anything sought with such horrible secrecy and pertinacity has a great tendency to become magnetic and irresistible in itself; a sort of fetish. And all that brought about in order to prevent a man getting a glass of whisky — which he gets after all. People who support such prohibitions can have no care for human morality at all.

Sept. 26, 1938: Patty Berg celebrates her first national golf title

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History, Sports Updated: March 10, 2015 - 4:35 PM
Minneapolis native Patty Berg, who took up golf at age 14 and went on to win 88 pro and amateur tournaments, was a founding member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association. In this story, the Minneapolis Star caught up with her for an interview at her parents’ home two days after she won her first national title, the U.S. Women’s Amateur. She was 20 years old.

Links Wars Over

Patty Berg Gets Some Rest

Champ Back Home

Liked the campaign, but likes to get home to her own bed.

FRIENDSHIPS While Playing More Fun Than CHAMPIONSHIPS, Says Patty After Her Biggest Year

She has fashioned the greatest win streak in the history of women’s golf in these United States.

She has started 13 times this year and come home a winner 10 times.

She performed a feat Saturday equaled by only two others.

She won the National Women's golf title by a 6 and 5 score just after turning the corner into the adventuresome twenties.

But all Patty wanted to talk about was the mechanics of registration at the University of Minnesota.

Patty Berg
At age 20, Patty Berg hoisted a trophy that looked more like a beer stein after winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur title at Westmoreland Country Club in Wilmette, Ill., in September 1938.

Tomorrow she will move to the university along with some 1,500 others and become a full-fledged freshman.

That’s her big moment right now and, relaxing at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Herman L. Berg, 5001 Colfax avenue S., for the first time in five weeks, she was far more excited about that than being the first Minneapolitan to win the women’s title.

She’s going to enroll in the College of Science, Literature and Arts. Her favorite study is history. She’s just a bit dubious about her university interests, however, because most of her pals are at private schools. But from now on it’s classwork, with golf only in interludes.

Wednesday night she’ll be honored by her home club, Interlachen, at a victory dinner. On Oct. 5 the junior Association of Commerce and other civic organizations will toast her at a citywide celebration.

Then she will settle back and forget pretty much about golf until she swings into the winter play. The extent of that depends upon her dad and “coach.” She knows she won’t play in as many tournaments as she has the pasy year.

“It’s too tough,” she explained.

Playing All Year

It has been just one endless round of tournaments for her since she started competitive play soon after the first of the year in Florida.

And no that she has established such a phenomenal record, has the whole business palled on her?

“Not at all,” she explained. “I wouldn’t care if I won another thing. I still would be as thrilled. The winning is only incidental.

“The real kick I get out of the tournaments now is the opportunity to get together with my golfing friends, meet new ones, and the sociability it all means. I like the thrill of competition and like to win as much as anybody, but friendship right now is more important.

“As a matter of fact, I like the practice rounds more than the actual tournaments. Then we get together, and really have a great time. Some might get the impression that there is a bitterness in this tournament business, but there isn’t. For instance, Mrs. Estelle Lawson Page, the defending champion whom I was lucky enough to beat Saturday, had her locker right next to mine, and we had a great time all week – yes, right through the championship match, too.

“You can emphasize that luck, too. I just happened to have more of it this year than the rest. Or maybe it was my faith in ‘13.’ I was born on Feb. 13, you know, was playing in my 13th tournament, won on the 13th hole Saturday.”

While winning 10 of 13 tournaments, including 45 match play rounds and three medal meets. Patty is 45 strokes under women’s par for the whole distance. In the National Women’s meet last week she was 11 under women’s par in the match play rounds and five under regulation figures for the entire week.

The young lady has taken on remarkable poise since she won the state women’s tournament at Rochester last June.

The personable Patty has lost 11 pounds, is down to a low for her of 124, which she intends to build up.

School Has Thrills
But now it’s school – and one more thrill, her biggest to come. She’s looking forward to seeing her “kid” brother – six feet one – play football at Washburn high school.

And she wouldn’t be surprised if she saw those Gophers, too. Because, you know, football was her first love, until her father called her off from the corner lot game with the boys, and she turned her mind to golf.

Patty Berg
Before her father steered her toward golf, Patty Berg quarterbacked her neighborhood football team in south Minneapolis. The caption on the back of this well-worn photo noted her age — “about 13″ — but failed to identify the boys in the pile. But according to Sid Hartman, that’s football legend Bud Wilkinson in the center of the photo, grinning at the camera. Sid had this to say about Berg: “She was an amazing lady. She made women's golf what it is today.” She also remembered to send Sid a Christmas card every year for the past 50 years.


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