This photo by Jack Gillis of the Minneapolis Star sat in a steel cabinet in the Star Tribune library for more than 50 years, along with thousands of other images rarely used a second time. I ran across it in a search of our new digital photo archive. The photo appeared on the Teen Topper page, accompanied by the caption below. As was typical of the era, the caption provided readers with the name, age and home address of each of the young women. You’d think that would make it easy to track down Gail Wittels, the Rockette with the broken leg. But all I can find is a document suggesting that she went to college and earned a graduate degree in economics at the University of California. After that the thin trail evaporates. If you know her, or any of these fine-looking young ladies, post a comment or drop me a line. I’d also love to hear more about the Roosevelt Rockettes. The group was established in 1951 and led “a lively existence through succeeding student generations,” according to a 1967 photo caption. They made their own costumes and did most of their own choreography. Impressive!
Rockette Puts Her Game Leg Forward
|When Gail Wittels, 16, 5537 Woodlawn Blvd., shows up for rehearsal of Roosevelt High School Rockettes, she doesn't put her best foot forward -- she puts her game leg forward (right). Out skiing on the season's multistratous snow, Gail suffered a spiral fracture of her right leg. Consequently, she will be on the sidelines when the dance troupe appears at the school's talent show next Friday in the school auditorium. She also will miss the spring fashion show April 5, also at the school. The fashion show will be a salute to spring, with students, parents and members of the school staff serving as models. A quartet, the "Teddy Tones," will present song fashions. Rockettes (above, from left) are Dawn Peterson, 15, 4213 18th Av. S.; Pam Filmore, 16, 3940 17th Av. S.; Kathy Nelson, 17, 3120 Wenonah Place; Mary Keohane, 17, 5156 30th Av. S.; Lynn Scheele, 16, 4252 Nokomis Av.; Joan Johnson, 17, 5429 31st Av. S.; Kay Kwakenat, 16, 5337 Nokomis Av.; Nora Monahan, 17, 4916 Aldrich Av. S.; Diane Franzen, 17, 4104 20th Av. S.; Lani Greenfield, 17, 3916 29th Av. S.; Jacquie Spence, 15, 4933 Nokomis Av.; Mary Jo Kunz, 16, 5256 45th Av. S., and Gail cheerfully resting her weight on her good leg. [Pictured separately were Pam Anderson, 18, 3900 18th Av. S.; Karin Wakefield, 17, 4151 24th Av. S.; Frances Malmsten, 17, 4740 17th Av. S., and Jerilyn Johnson, 18, 3504 43rd Av. S.]|
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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."
In a convoy of six jeeps accompanied by a police escort, RCA Victor's Television Caravan rolled into Minneapolis in October 1947. Several hundred spectators packed the Donaldson's department store on Nicollet Avenue to see demonstrations of the new technology. The next year, KSTP became the first TV station in Minnesota to broadcast regularly, beaming 12 to 14 hours of programming a week to about 2,500 television sets in the metro area.