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Yesterday's News

Sample Minnesota's rich history, courtesy of a microfilm archive

June 10, 1871: How mosquitoes bite

If I understand this Minneapolis Tribune piece correctly, if you were as big as a kitten, a mosquito bite would kill you. Which can't have been good news for underweight infants of the 1870s. But it does hint at why the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District began dousing the Twin Cities with fuel oil and DDT nearly a century later.


The mosquito has a proboscis like an elephant, only not so large. It will, however, look nearly as large under a good microscope. He cannot do so many handy things with it as the elephant can, with his, but he can cause a good deal of annoyance with it in a small way.
It is hardly the thing to say that the mosquito bites us, for he has not teeth. The microscope reveals the fact that he carries a pair of scissors inside of his proboscis; the neatest and sharpest little cutting tools you ever saw. He gets his living by these. They are two delicate little blades, and are placed alongside each other. When he is ready to make a meal off of us, he first buzzes around with those beautiful wings and sings a pleasant little song. If we let him quietly settle down, he picks out a place on our skin which is just to his liking. He is very delicate about it. When he gets ready, he puts his proboscis down, and pushes the little scissors out, and makes a neat cut, so that he can suck the blood out.
Then he drinks as much blood as he wants, and he is done with his dinner, but he does not leave yet. He is going to pay his bill. He has taken our blood, and he will leave us something in exchange for it. With all his faults, he is an honest little fellow – after his fashion. He has the pay in his pocket, ready to squeeze out before he goes. It is poison, but that makes no difference to him. It is the best he has to give us. His poison pocket is at the head of his proboscis, and at the lower end of his proboscis he has another little pocket, into which he puts poison enough for one dose.
This poison is very powerful. A very little makes the place where the mosquito puts it very sore. After he has sucked our blood he puts the drop of poison into the place he took the blood from. It is not the bite or cut that the mosquito makes that hurts us, but the dropping of this powerful poison into our flesh. If this mosquito were large enough to give a powerful dose of this poison, it would be bad for us. If we were as big as a kitten, and his poison as strong in proportion, a “bite” from him would kill us.

The Metropolitan Mosquito Control District has been taking it to our unofficial state bird since 1958. It’s not clear what Kenneth Shoberg, above, was spraying on a swampy patch of land near Hwy. 7 and W. Lake Street in St. Louis Park in April 1965. But until 1968, the agency applied hundreds of thousands of pounds of DDT each year to breeding sites around the metro area. The United States banned the pesticide four years later. The agency now relies on such insecticides as permethrin and on bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, a naturally occurring bacterium that destroys the mosquitoes’ digestive tracts. Take that, you little buggers. (Minneapolis Tribune photo by Russell Bull)


After serving in the military during World War II, "two fighting Irishmen" from St. Paul, Ed and Bert Cochran, engaged in a war on mosquitoes in the Twin Cities. In 1949, homeowners paid $40 for a DDT treatment every six or seven days from May 1 to Oct. 1. Here Ed Cochran gave the Cedar Shores community a thorough taste of the insecticide. (Minneapolis Star photo)

May 3, 1959: Let's go car camping!

A Tribune photographer followed the Donald F. Anderson family of Minneapolis into the wilds of northern Minnesota and captured the images below for Picture magazine. Did your parents take you camping? Did you rough it in the Boundary Waters or Glacier National Park? Or did you head for a nearby state park in a Country Squire station wagon packed with a canvas tent, camp stove, sleeping bags, air mattresses, fishing gear, board games and coolers full of food and drink?

Station Wagon Camping

THE STATION WAGON has revolutionized car camping. “Station wagon camping” is a new term in our language. You begin to understand it when you see a family (in this case, the Donald F. Anderson family, 4641 S. Washburn Av.) vacationing beside some Minnesota lake with all the comforts of home in camping gear. These photos were taken near Ely, at Birch lake campground, one of several camping areas in the Superior national forest.
The current surge of interest in car camping is a major social phenomenon. More persons camped out last year than ever before and the trend is continuing. The manufacturers of camping equipment are fully aware of this new interest in outdoor living.
IF YOU’RE new to camping, you’re wondering what to buy to camp in comfort. You need: tent, tarpaulin, cooler, stove, camp cooking kit, lamp, air mattresses, sleeping bags and blankets. The tent is your major item. Consider seriously the tent with sewn-in groundcloth, mosquito-netting door, and a fly that shelters the doorway.

ORIGINAL CAPTION: Family camping is no longer primitive business. The Anderson family had home conveniences in a forest setting. (Tribune photos by Earl Seubert, with original captions)


On a trip, the floor space behind the front seat becomes a safe play area for Kristin, 11, and Rolf, 13.


You don't have to stay put at the camp site. You can use the campground as base of operations, go sight-seeing in the area.


Air mattresses, basic for sleeping comfort, can also be used for sun-bathing and water fun.


Station wagons are spare bedrooms for the younger members of the party. Besides flashlights your camp will need some kind of lantern.

Update: Kristin Anderson Moore sent me this in August 2011, a few months after this entry was originally posted. At that time she was a program director and senior scholar at a nonprofit in Washington, D.C.

"I remember this trip very clearly, as it was our family’s first camping trip. Our neighbor worked for the Sunday magazine, and they needed a typical family to try out and demonstrate the equipment. We were happy to do it, and it was fun! Both Rolf and I and our children have done a lot of camping in the ensuing 52 years. In fact, Rolf and I and our spouses are going canoeing in the Boundary Waters next week ….without the station wagon!"