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.
Russell James, described as a “health lecturer” in stories in the Minneapolis Star Journal, was arrested during one of his presentations in 1941. He was accused of claiming that Riddo, a health food product he sold, would cure a variety of ailments. Riddo, a concoction of powdered bananas and whey, was marketed by California bodybuilder and health food advocate Paul Bragg in the early 1940s. Judging by these photos from the Star Tribune archives, James was probably a bodybuilder himself. His secretary, Ruth Cook, was no couch potato either. Hubba. Hubba.
|Ruth Cook and her boss, Russell James, dressed appropriately for court. But photos like this don't sell papers -- or build Web traffic. It went unpublished. (Star Journal photo by Russell Bull)|
|This photo, also by Russell Bull, ran with the story below, with the caption: "RUSSELL JAMES AND BLOND SECRETARY, RUTH COOK: Will this 'picture of health' convince jury?"|
One of the women in the jury of six women and six men to hear charges of practicing healing without a license against Russell James, 50, health lecturer and “Riddo” salesman, hobbled into the jury box on crutches.
According to Reginald M. Johnson, attorney for the state board of medical examiners, James claims his patients are able to throw away their crutches after using “Riddo” and practicing the form of exercises he prescribes in his health lectures.
Johnson will be the first witness called by the state when testimony in James’ trial starts before Judge Mathias Baldwin Monday.
Ernest Malmberg, attorney for James, said the health lecturer will take the stand in his own defense in an attempt to “sell” the jury on “Riddo.” He and his blond secretary, Ruth Cook, above, are shown as they appeared before their audiences in the Wesley Temple basement.
THEY BOUGHT IT: After three hours of deliberations, the Hennepin County District Court jury found James not guilty of practicing healing without a license.
|Although it is somewhat less disturbing than the photo above, this one didn't make the paper. Say, what was going on between these two?|
Elizabeth Gilfillan, a native of northern Minnesota, made a delightful appearance on “What’s My Line?” in 1952. Bennett Cerf, Dorothy Kilgallen and the rest of the panel were charmed by the wit and energy of the 72-year-old contestant. She fooled the lot and earned $15. Her unique line of work: She taught facial exercises to men and women interested in keeping their skin supple and radiant. Fourteen years later, still radiant herself, the New York entertainer was invited to bring her act to Minneapolis. The Star published this profile on 6B, the “Women’s News” page.
|Gilfillan, 86, demonstrated one exercise, an exaggerated pout guaranteed to keep lips full and youthful. (Minneapolis Star photo by Russell Bull)|
By SUZANNE HOVIK
Minneapolis Star Staff Writer
“The rocking chair goes to and fro.
“And makes you think you're on the go.
“But keep off that ole rocking chair,
“It won't get you anywhere.”
With a toss of her head at the idea of such props for the senior citizen set, an 86-year-old New Yorker sings and dances her way through a new life she created for herself about 20 years ago.
“There's something strange about me,” Elizabeth Gilfillan will tell her audiences, mostly New York women's clubs.
“I'm a woman who doesn't mind telling her age. The older I get, the more valuable I'll be. I can hardly wait until I reach 90. I will do what I do now even better then.”
What Miss Gilfillan does now is an informal act in which she plays the guitar, sings and dances, usually all at once.
And she gives delightful interpretations of humorous verse she has written – “My Eightieth Easter Outfit,” “Who Wants an Old Age Pension,” “No Old Age for Me” and “On Your Rocker.”
These and others were recently published in a book, “Sensible Nonsense.”
In addition to these activities, she also teaches facial exercises, which she developed herself.
She recently completed a visit in Minneapolis with her sister, Mrs. Ernest Meilman, 130 Orlin Av. SE. And she was the guest of honor and entertainer at a luncheon by Mrs. Owen L. Johnson, 3203 E. Calhoun Blvd., who first saw Miss Gilfillan on the television program “What's My Line?” (facial expressions) 14 years ago.
Mrs. Johnson decided this spring to look up Miss Gilfillan and called New York. When the New Yorker said she would be in the Twin Cities in September, Mrs. Johnson made arrangements to meet her.
Miss Gilfillan was born in Minnesota. Her father was a missionary among the Indians in the northern part of the state. She left the state to attend Cornell Medical School, Ithaca, N.Y., and then graduated from the Sergeant School of Physical Education.
“I used to be very shy,” she explained. “I played the piano for a Russian dancing teacher for 46 years. I was beginning to think the job was permanent.
“Then I was asked to give a speech on the school's history. I tried to make it humorous, and I tasted success.”
Miss Gilfillan at the time was 65 years old. “I wanted to entertain so I started preparing myself by taking voice lessons. They say I can be heard two blocks away when I want to be.”
She said she also began exercising to “make myself more presentable.” And she developed facial exercises at this time.
“I had studied at a school of physical training and I felt that if exercises could change the body, it could also change the face.
“As the face ages, the muscles shrink and unsupported skin falls into wrinkles. Exercising the muscles makes them thick again and brings back the original design of the face.”
Miss Gilfillan said she doesn’t claim the exercises perform miracles but most persons can shed 10 to 15 years.
“And if they start in the early 30s, they will never look old.”
She added that another benefit from the exercises is improved circulation which gives the skin color and radiance.
“I teach men too, but they don’t need the exercises. When they get older they look distinguished. Women look extinguished.”
And, she added, “all my pupils are good looking. Otherwise, they wouldn’t bother with the exercises.”
Many thanks to the Rock County Star Herald for granting permission to post this D-Day column by Al McIntosh, the Luverne, Minn., newspaper editor whose work is featured in Ken Burns’ WWII documentary, “The War”. The column was published on June 8, 1944, two days after the Normandy invasion. [Originally posted here on Sept. 7, 2007; reposting to fix outdated links and coding.]
When we sleepily stumbled down the hall to answer the clamorously ringing telephone we made a mental note that it was shortly before 3 a.m. We picked up the receiver, thinking it was Sheriff Roberts calling to say that there had been an accident. Instead it was Mrs. Lloyd Long, playing the feminine counterpart role of Paul Revere, saying “Get up, Al, and listen to the radio, the invasion has started.”
Altho we had written in this column several weeks ago that the news would break between midnight and 5 a.m. we still couldn’t believe that the long awaited “D” Day had arrived. We sat by the radio for over an hour listening to the breathtaking announcements of eyewitness observers of the assault.
And then we went back to bed — to lie there for a long time, wide eyed in the darkness — thinking, “What Rock County boys are landing on French soil tonight?”
Please Lord, may this not be another Dieppe.
And so the invasion news came to Luverne, quietly. There were no whistles, no sirens. People got up and automatically turned on their radios to get the biggest news in all the world’s military history. There were no demonstrations — not much was said. The coffee shops were filled almost to standing room as the 10 o’clock news approached, Argus Leader “extras” were grabbed up like hotcakes and eagerly scanned. There were sober faces on the men as they listened to the news but there was a smile of exultation when they heard that the Allied forces had penetrated ten miles inland. One mother dropped in the coffee shop. She shook her head and pushed the cup of coffee, which had been placed in front of her, aside.
“I just want to listen to the radio,” she said. Her boy, by all the odds, was “there.” One didn’t have to be psychic to know what was in her mind – or her heart. The prayer that she was uttering right then as she listened to the announcer was multiplied a thousand times and more in Rock County countless times during the day.
This is no time for any premature rejoicing or cockiness because the coming weeks are going to bring grim news. This struggle is far from over — it has only started — and if anyone thinks that a gain of ten miles means that the next three hundred are going to go as fast or easy he is only an ostrich.
There’s a War Bond Drive starting next Tuesday. Rock County has a big job cut out for it. But Ned Brown, county chairman, is gambling on the patriotism of you Rock Countians. Ned is starting the campaign where the last one left off — without a single meeting of any of the workers.
“I don’t feel like calling a county meeting of the workers,” he said, “that’s asking an awful lot right now when most everybody is busy with their farm work, asking them to take off four hours to come to a meeting.”
Here is the way Ned looks at it — the workers have been thru four previous campaigns — they know their job and what has to be done. There is nothing new he can tell them that they don’t already know. Why should he impose further on these volunteer bond salesmen by taking their time for an organization meeting when they will have to give so much time during the drive?
With a man having so much faith in the people of Rock County we can’t afford to let them down. Just remember this — some of those boys who are battling ahead in France will never “get back” but you’ll get every dollar you invest
“back” and with interest too. It’s “better to buy bonds than to wear them.”
And another thing — the Red Cross has received a terrific quota for surgical dressings. These are needed — and will be needed. Let not any woman in Rock County think that she isn’t needed in this effort. Your help may save a
boy’s life. Need we say more.
|Luverne’s Main Street, 1947: “The War” premiered at the restored Palace Theater in September 2007. (mnhs.org photo)|
Nan Russell Dunnigan in 1914.
Nan Russell Dunnigan, whose work appeared under the byline “The Tribune Girl,” wrote hundreds of first-person feature stories for the Tribune between 1907 and 1914. She interviewed Sarah Bernhardt, Ethel Barrymore, John Philip Sousa, Booker T. Washington and Sir Robert Baden-Powell. She had a frosty encounter with Isadora Duncan. She attempted to interview Maude Adams, but found the popular “Peter Pan” actress to be “interview proof.”
Dunnigan took on a variety of other assignments. She made police and fire checks. She interviewed politicians and businessmen. She worked as a “Salvation Army lassie” for a day. She led Minneapolis orphans on an outing to Lake Minnetonka. In her final months with the Tribune, she traveled to Europe and filed reports from London (where she got lost), the Vatican (where she enjoyed an audience with Pope Pius X) and Belgium (which she didn’t enjoy one bit).
Her last piece appeared in September 1914. Three months later, on Christmas Day, she married George F. Authier, private secretary to Minnesota’s governor, Joseph Burnquist. Authier had just secured a new job as the Tribune’s Washington correspondent, and the newlyweds soon headed east. The Tribune Girl apparently hung up her notebook and pen. No further stories by Nan Russell Dunnigan or Nan Authier turn up in a Google search.
|The Tribune Girl chatted with the chief, left, and his first assistant, Michael Hanley.
|Fire Chief Canterbury in his courthouse office in about 1900. (Image courtesy of mnhs.org)
|A Minneapolis fire engine and crew paused for a photo at 3rd Street and 6th Avenue S. in about 1905. (Image courtesy of mnhs.org)
A century before Google and YouTube and Facebook, it was much easier for a person to erase the memory of a public humiliation and emerge years later as a respected professional in the city in which the humiliation was widely reported and discussed. The Minneapolis Tribune provides Exhibit A, recounting the fall and rise of one Lillian M. Knott without connecting the dots:
|The Tribune's sad account portrays Miss Knott as a singer of considerable talent who was once understudy to Camille D'Arville, above. D'Arville was a noted figure in American comic opera in the late 19th century. Her name turns up dozens of times in a Google search. Knott? Not so much.|
|The Minneapolis workhouse at 50th and Lyndale Avenues N. in about 1902. (Image courtesy mnhs.org)|
THE NEXT DAY, the Tribune reported that Knott had been released from prison and was on her way home to Terra Haute. A number of sympathetic Elks had raised $40 and paid her fine. Before her release, she met with the grand jury and repeated the story she had told the Tribune, describing with “graphic emphasis the details of the alleged theft” and denying “as firmly as ever” that she had stolen the garment.
Several supporters materialized and appealed to the judge to drop the charge, but he was unmoved: “If the accusation were a true one, as I believe it was, this young woman has received no more than her just deserts. The testimony of the police is that she has been leading a dissolute life and been consorting with disreputable characters for some time.”
Music educator Lillian M. Knott in 1915.
SIXTEEN YEARS LATER, on Sept. 19, 1915, the Minneapolis Tribune trumpeted the appointment of Lillian M. Knott as director of the public school music department of the Northwestern Conservatory. This Knott had spent the past five years at Tulane University in New Orleans, leading the school’s “public school music department,” and the past 10 years leading a summer program for Louisiana teachers.
It’s unclear if it’s the same Miss Knott. The story doesn’t mention a background in opera, let alone an arrest in Minneapolis so many years before. But it does note that she “received her musical education in the New England Conservatory,” which matches the claim of the penniless prima donna. Seems unlikely that two women named Lillian M. Knott earned a music degree in the same city about the same time and later found work in Minneapolis. What do you think? Perhaps someone with full access to Ancestry.com can settle this.