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In a column given prominent play on the front page of the Minneapolis Tribune, Joe Soucheray captured the hooliganism that took hold after the Vikings' final game at Met Stadium on Dec. 20, 1981. What inspired the madness that afternoon? A few days before the game, Minneapolis Star columnist Jim Klobuchar interviewed the team's ticket manager, Harry Randolph, about crowd control for Sunday’s game. This quote attributed to Randolph suggested the Vikings were taking a hands-off approach to souvenir hunters:
“All we want to do is to hold down the self-inflicted injuries to minor concussions and treatable fractures. If they are going to carry off their seats, we prefer handsaws to the standard Black & Decker ripsaws in the commercials. If they are going after the goal posts, we suggest they come wearing helmets and hard-toe boots.”
Klobuchar’s column drew complaints from the team, which disputed the quote and said it had to hire extra security for the game. By Tuesday, the Star acknowledged the humorous quote was a fabrication and Klobuchar was suspended for two weeks without pay. But the damage, whatever the proximate cause, was done. Here was Soucheray’s take on Met Stadium's messy final act:
|The trouble begins: Fans in the center-field bleachers hauled down the American flag in the fourth quarter. (Star Tribune photo)|
|Minnesota nice: One Vikings fan brought a sign to show his displeasure with the stadium's demise. (Star Tribune photo)|
|The oh-so-frozen tundra: The sun set on Metropolitan Stadium and its snow-covered parking lot in 1981. (Star Tribune photo)|
Remember Otis Campbell, the town drunk on "The Andy Griffith Show"? He frequently let himself into Sheriff Andy Taylor's jail to sleep off a bender. Meet George Kelley, a Minneapolis resident whose struggle with alcohol landed him in the workhouse more than 100 times. A Minneapolis Tribune reporter was in court when a judge invited Kelley to set his own sentence.
Man Who Has Been to Workhouse 102 Times Chooses Own Time.
Associates on Bridge Square Call Him “Workhouse” Kelley.
Judge Smith Gives Him Option of Time in City's Institution.
George Kelley, known to hundreds of bridge square men as “Workhouse Kelley,” went to the workhouse 102 times because judges of the municipal courts sentenced him there. Yesterday he made his record 103, but he sentenced himself after Judge C.L. Smith told him he could go up for as long as he liked.
“Well, give me about 30 days, judge,” said Kelley.
“Don't you think 90 days would be better for you,” said the judge. Kelley was stern as he faced the judge. “No, sir, I only want 30 days.”
“Thirty days it is,” said the judge. “You've been up there enough times so that you perhaps might think you have a right to say how long you'll go up for.”
18 Years in Workhouse.
Kelley gives his age as 82 years. He looks about 70 years old. He has lived in Minneapolis for the past 40 years. Of the 40 years, he has spent about 18 years in the workhouse. He has served more time than any other prisoner who has ever been in the workhouse.
Saturday was the first time Kelley has been in the workhouse in 1913. Last December he went to Oshkosh, Wis., to visit a brother, W.J. Kelley, who has given “Workhouse” Kelley an allowance of $20 a month for years. Before he got to his brother's house he was arrested and sent to jail. He got out of jail a week ago and returned to Minneapolis without having seen his brother. Friday night two police found him in lock-up alley, drunk.
He lives at the Grand Central hotel, 110 Second street south, when not in the workhouse.
|"Lockup Alley" is in Block 38 of this section of a 1903 Minneapolis map. The narrow passage behind the Central Police Station was familiar to many of the city's unsavory characters in the late 1800s and early 1900s. (Image courtesy of Hennepin County Library's Minneapolis Collection)|
|The Minneapolis workhouse at 50th and Lyndale Avenues N. in about 1902. (Image courtesy mnhs.org)|
One day a year, copy editors still working at newspapers in 2013 should be allowed to write headlines like this. And reporters should be allowed to write sentences like the last one in this Minneapolis Tribune report.
|Robert Street on St. Paul's West Side in about 1900. The details are hard to make out at this resolution, but I can see three beer signs, a team of horses, a two-car trolley and some kind of parade or march on the right side of the street. Can anyone guess what might have been going on here? (Image courtesy of mnhs.org)|
The Minneapolis Tribune reports on a duck thief done in by, of all things, “careless plucking”:
A century later, a bizarre story like this would generate tens of thousands of page views on a newspaper website. Maybe more, with a little help from Fark. For that, we’ll need a far better headline than the one that topped the original. Whaddya got, people?
|The Crystal Bay rail station near Lake Minnetonka in about 1910. (Photo courtesy of mnhs.org)