History Posts

Do you remember Fox Night?

In Great Britain, November 4th is Fawkes Night, but in Duluth in the 1970s and 80s, the night before Halloween was “Fox Night.” It was a warm-up for Halloween, with no costumes and no candy — instead it focused entirely on vandalism and mischief.

I’ve talked to plenty of people about this, and for the most part, people don’t know what I’m talking about. But people who grew up in a certain time in a certain place know it all too well. And it’s interesting to think about how this happened. How did Guy Fawkes Night make its way to the midwest, change its date, and alter its name for this brief period of time?

Duluth was not alone in the celebration, if you can call it that. Wikipedia calls it Mischief Night, and pins it down as a primarily East Coast phenomenon with roots reaching back to the 18th century. It lists many alternative names, but does not mention Fox Night.

  • Hackers Night
  • Goosey Night
  • Cabbage Night
  • Gate Night
  • Mat Night
  • Devil’s Night
  • Mischievous Night
  • Miggy Night
  • Tick-Tack Night
  • Corn Night
  • Trick Night
  • Micky Night
  • Cabbage Stalk Night
  • Mizzy Night

In 2003, a bunch of PDDers brought back an adult version of Fox Night, which was basically barhopping while acting like a jerk. If memory serves, it involved a lot of duct tape and firecrackers.

So what are your memories of Fox Night? Did you participate? Were you ever toilet papered, egged, or soaped? When did it originate here? When did it end?

Help searching Duluth addresses for old businesses

I’m a bit of a armchair history buff, especially when it comes to Duluth and the surrounding area. I love absorbing historic information, but one thing has eluded me: finding out information about old businesses and such. I just want to be able to type in an address and see old directories, find out the history, but I’ve had zero luck.

I tried Ancestry.com, which is close, but you can only search the old city directories by a person’s name, which does not help at all if I don’t know who to look for. I know there must be something out there. I know people on PDD seemingly have this very ability as they’ve contributed information on past posts, like “(insert business)” was listed at such address in 1985,” etc. So how is it done? Is there any online resource that can feed my history needs? Your suggestions and assistance would be greatly appreciated by this curious minded fellow.

New calendar editor and a 2004 flashback

Tony Bennett wore cardigansWe threw all the résumés up in the air and one of them landed on top. Tony Bennett is the new editor of the PDD Calendar. His credentials include writing for nearly every publication in town, fronting the band Cars & Trucks, working a camera for TV shows such as Almanac North and The PlayList and for dissecting the work of “positive bros” as the Duluth News Tribune‘s music critic.

Tony can be reached via e-mail at tony @ perfectduluthday.com or calendar @ perfectduluthday.com.

Duluth Target Discount Store opens in 1962

Duluth Target Store 1962

Built in 1962, the Duluth Target store was one of four Targets built in the company’s inaugural year. Roseville was the first store; the other two opened in St. Louis Park and Crystal. Target President Doug Dayton said the new stores would, “combine the best of the fashion world with the best of the discount world, a quality store with quality merchandise at discount prices, and a discount supermarket.”

Five-minute excerpt of Minnesota Woolen film from 1959

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnuoC-QtB9Y&feature=youtu.be

It’s been over a year since a post was published on PDD inquiring about the history of Duluth-based clothing manufacturer Minnesota Woolen. The first thing that came out of that post was the discovery that the Northeast Minnesota Historical Center Collection has a 16mm film about the company, but does not have a projector. Well, a projector was found this week and loaned for a little screening.

Photo Tour of Nopeming

Nopeming photo by Andrew Perfetti

Photographer Andrew Perfetti has posted an interesting series of photos of his time “discovering the abandoned hospital on the hill.”

For background, there’s a history of Nopeming on Zenith City Online. Also, check out Substreet’s “The Nopeming Stories: Recollecting a Century of Use and a Decade of Abandonment.”

Nopeming Chateau Roof

Duluth Mystery Photo #20: Who was F. W. Miller?

F. W. Miller Residence on Park Point

He had a house on Park Point. That’s all we know.

Last One Leaving Duluth Billboard – Myth Confirmed!

leavingduluth

This (in)famous billboard has been discussed many times, but it seemed there was never any conclusive evidence of it’s existence, until now.

Mayor Fedo was able to dig up a copy from his records, thus solving the mystery of the billboard that kicked Duluth while it was already down.

Pride of the Twin Ports Area Game

Pride of the Twin Ports Area Game Board

From the heyday of Monopoly comes … Pride of the Twin Ports Area Game! It doesn’t appear to be something local marketing geniuses came up with, but rather a product of a company called Citipride of America, which probably made different versions of the game for different cities across the country. Perhaps the local Chamber of Commerce sold sponsorships on the game board to various businesses to raise money to have the game made, and then sales of the game raised money for the chamber … or something. That’s all conjecture; there doesn’t seem to be any info online about the game or the company.

So, does anyone else have this game? Can anyone put a year on it? It’s no older than 1978, because the instructions contain historical info about the sponsoring local businesses and mention that Northwest Office Supply expanded in 1978. It’s no more recent than 1982, because the Normandy Hotel was taken over by Holiday Inn & Suites that year.

The best fishing and hunting and general outing in America

The Duluth District - 1903

Ten Years Ago: The End of Salsafication in Duluth

ChiChi

On this date in history — Sept. 19, 2004 — Chi-Chi’s Mexican Restaurante in Duluth closed following corporate bankruptcy. It had been located in the Fitger’s Brewery Complex for 20 years. Baja Billy’s Cantina and Grill replaced it in 2005, but closed four years later. Mexico Lindo opened in April 2010 and remains there today.

Found Atlantean Artifact

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3JjX69IA-w

R.I.P. Irving Recreation Center

Irving Recreation Center 2014

Demolition of the Irving Recreation Center has been taking place this week. Above is a photo of the rubble. Below is a shot from February 2013.

Irving-Rec-Center-February-2013

Found Anthropological Artifacts from a Summer Beach Culture of Leisure

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-4izE9azZw

What strange, rock-skipping culture of leisure inhabits these Duluthian shorelines in the Lake Superior summers? This is a brief survey of structures and artifacts discovered in my anthropological investigations of 2013-2014.

Diving the Breakwater Wall Ruins, 9/6/14

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gF8CNHx3Eo

Duluth’s outer harbor, between the Vietnam Memorial and the red buoy, hides the submerged ruins of a hundred-plus-year-old wall (essentially stacked wooden cribbing filled with rocks) that predates the lift bridge and the canal. This is what they used to park ships behind for safe harbor — before its destruction in a gale. Been waiting to return here since last summer, finally got my window. Tried early in the day but the water was too cold. So I spent the day on Park Point beach, then hit it on my way back — water had warmed several degrees. Sun was going down so I had to act quickly. Similar imagery may be seen in my video of last year, “Freediving the Ruins of Duluth’s Outer Harbor.”

This current video represents going farther from shore (maybe halfway to the buoy?), and deeper than before (up to 15 feet or so as opposed to ~10). Next year maybe I will dive the buoy chain to the bottom (30 feet). It would have been nice to do this series of dives when I was fresher earlier in the day with more direct overhead sunlight (the water was clearer too), but it was simply too cold. By the time I got to it, I had walked several miles, was hungry, and had been given a beer and a couple slugs of wine (don’t ask). So I wasn’t as hardcore as I wanted to be — had to swim out far, then deep too, without benefit of a raft or anything, so I was pooped and not willing to risk any further depth. Next time!