The first sex-reassignment surgery performed in Minnesota took place more than 40 years ago at the University of Minnesota. Twenty-nine male-to-female operations were completed at the Minneapolis hospital between 1966 and 1969. Among the patients was Liz Lyons, a veteran female impersonator who had worked at the Gay 90s bar on Hennepin Avenue for many years before making the transition. Lyons was born in Chicago in 1919. The name on the birth certificate: Reuben Elkins. The gender: male. She took the name Lee Leonard when she launched her "songs and comedy" act at nightclubs in California, Arizona, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska in the early 1950s. Will Jones, longtime entertainment columnist for the Minneapolis Tribune, let Lyons fill in the rest of her unusual story.
Fifty years ago today, the Minneapolis Tribune provided potential evildoers with a trove of information about an innocent young woman: her name, age, date of birth, weight, place of work and home address. The practice was common back then. Except for weight and birthdate, such details were frequently disclosed in newspaper stories of the 1950s and 1960s. The young woman, Sheila Keating, married Odell Hegna later that year. She went on to make a name for herself as an advocate for fair housing, economic development and battered women. She died in March 2017.
Here a nameless Tribune reporter spins a ghost story worthy of any campfire. The scene is set near an abandoned graveyard in northeast Minneapolis, most likely Maple Hill Cemetery, the city's first, established in 1857.
More than 60 Minneapolis firefighters and at least one firehouse cat have died in the line of duty since the department was founded in 1879. Just a kitten when he was left at Station No. 10 in 1935, Mickey learned how to slide down the fire pole when the fire alarm sounded. That trick earned him the admiration of fellow firefighters and a feature role in a Pathe New Reel. He answered the bell for the last time one August night in 1937. Minneapolis Star editors put his death on the front page, above the fold.
Art Instruction Inc., once located just around the corner from the old Star and Tribune building on the edge of downtown Minneapolis, offered drawing courses by mail for more than a century. Here the Minneapolis Tribune profiles the commercial art school that trained the likes of Charles M. Schulz ("Peanuts") and Carlos de la Vega (who?).
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."
Angered because of excessive whispering during a "spelling bee," H.E. Sherman, teacher in the Somers village school was about to administer corporal punishment to a number of his pupils when he was forestalled by an energetic colony of honey bees.
Most of our readers in whose memory is still fresh the fact of the destruction by fire of the Merchants' Hotel, on the corner of State and Washington streets, on the morning of the 4th of the present month, will readily recall the particulars concerning the sad fate of the late Mr. R.A. Cook, of Joliet, who perished in the flames during that memorable conflagration.
Twenty irate office women appeared before the St. Paul city council today and demanded action. They said their nylons have been damaged by soot in the city's loop. William Parranto, commissioner of public safety, explained that such soot falls from the chimney at Saint Paul hotel. The hotel, he said, burns a Wyoming oil which contains a liberal percentage of sulphur.
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.
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.
Just a year out of high school, 19-year-old Willie Mays took the field for the Minneapolis Millers on May 1, 1951, opening day at Nicollet Park. More than 6,000 fans watched the rookie notch three hits and make a "sparkling catch" against the flagpole. Another future Hall of Famer, Hoyt Wilhelm, was the winning pitcher.
A link between brain damage and anti-social behavior has been well-documented. It's unclear how well-documented the link was in 1920, when a court sent a robbery suspect to a St. Paul hospital for a bit of cranial surgery to cure his "criminal tendencies." Did it work? There's no mention of the suspect in subsequent issues of the Minneapolis Tribune, and no record of a Nobel prize for the surgeon.
Through protests and shareholder engagement, the Honeywell Project (1968-1990) sought to persuade Honeywell Inc. to start beating cluster bombs into plowshares. Molly Ivins, then a reporter for the Minneapolis Tribune, was on the scene when Jerry Rubin, one of the Chicago Seven, joined peace activist Marv Davidov and poet Robert Bly to lead the charge in Minnesota in April 1970.
Michael Welters, an old and highly respected resident of Chanhassen, was struck and instantly killed by a work train on the C M & St. P. road, west of the village of Chanhassen, about five o'clock Saturday afternoon, November 2, 1912. The old gentleman was on his way home from the village, and was walking along the tracks, and as he has been partly deaf for some time, it is supposed he did not hear the oncoming train in time to escape being hit.
The syndicated Mary Haworth advice column added color and spark to the dull society pages of the Minneapolis Morning Tribune during the war years. Haworth (pronounced hay-worth) was the "slender, well-tailored, attractive" Elizabeth Young of the Washington Post. Hundreds of letters a week poured into her burlap-screened nook in the Post newsroom.
The Minnesota Kicks destroyed the defending champion Cosmos 9-2 Monday night at Metropolitan Stadium, riding the five-goal gunnery of Alan Willey to triumph in the first of a two-game NASL play-off series.
The problem with the future is that it so rarely meets our sunny forecasts. Below is the fourth in a series of 1957 Minneapolis Star articles on what the city would look like 10 years into the future. There's no mention of St. Paul, of course. Apparently that far-off city had its own newspapers.
Minnesota issued its first driver's license in 1934. A single 25-cent fee covered licenses for every member of a household. You didn't have to prove you were a good — or apparently even sighted — driver: No test was required. A Mr. Inky Campbell of Minneapolis called attention to the situation in this persuasive letter to the editor of the Star. Within two years, Minnesota began testing prospective drivers. But vision was not part of the renewal process until 1972.