[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve once again pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who served as Duluth’s “booze connoisseur” from 1999 to 2009. After the Fox-Sutherland V.F.W. Post 6320 in West Duluth closed, it merged with the Lincoln Park neighborhood post. The town’s infamous drunken scribbler paid a visit in February 2009 to file this report for the weekly Transistor. Historical note: One year later, V.F.W. Post 137 was renamed the McConnell-Modeen Post. It remains open at 2023 W. Michigan St.]
It seems camaraderie among Veterans of Foreign Wars is on the decline. Duluth is down to its last V.F.W. club, the Duprey-Alexander Post 137 in the friendly West End neighborhood. There’s no sign on the front of the building, or any other visible indication the club exists, but the V.F.W. is indeed still there, open every day from 3 p.m. until the volunteer bartender decides to lock up.
Tonight, the clientele consists of a young couple at the bar playing cribbage and a small group meeting in the next room. My arrival does not excite the volunteer bartender at all, and I can’t blame her. Working on tips alone, she must be pulling in $4 an hour. It’s only 8 p.m., but she clearly wants to close up shop right now. I think I’ll try ordering a margarita just to watch her reaction.
The People’s Free Skate Rink on the ice sheet near Leif Erikson Park is still open and fabulous, but the weather’s turning the next couple days so take advantage today-tomorrow while you definitely still can. I think you’ll like what we’ve done with the place, an ice maze of islands and slollums. Don’t need skates, just come bask in the view of the city and the sky. After dark the snow turns pink in the city lights, a premier hangout for the adventurous. See you there!
Shelley Breitzmann is a landscape painter who like many artists in the area, draws inspiration from Lake Superior. From her website: “It’s hard to live near Lake Superior and not be fascinated with its weather and how it impacts the life around it. To try to get that feeling on canvas is pretty compelling.” Her paintings feel huge and vast, and while she works, she pushes and pulls things in and out of the misty, foggy atmosphere of the paintings.
SB: I’ve been working with acrylic on canvas for about 10 years, after working primarily with watercolor since high school. The change really resuscitated my connection with art and the painting process. Since acrylic dries fast, it’s probably not the best medium to achieve the soft, foggy landscapes I’m drawn to, but blending and manipulating it is a challenge I really enjoy. The change in humidity from summer to winter alters the painting process pretty drastically and is something to adjust to throughout the year.
Martin began his career at WEBC Radio in the 1930s and transitioned to television in the 1950s. The Telegram reports “his first television broadcast came from the two-car garage that served as a makeshift studio beneath a transmitter. He served as an anchor at WDSM Channel 6 — later KBJR — for 16 years.”
Martin was on the Douglas County Board off and on from 1968 to 2012.
This undated postcard, published by Gopher News Co. of Minneapolis, has the following text on the backside:
A novel attraction is the incline railway at 7th Ave. West and Superior Street. These cable cars connect the downtown section with Duluth Heights. In eight city blocks rise to an elevation 500 feet above lake level from where unusual views of Duluth, Lake Superior, Minnesota Point, and the Duluth Superior Harbor are obtainable.
Max Moen and I did this once before in 2014. This will be open as long as weather permits maintaining it. It is on Lake Superior directly off Leif Erickson Park from the stage, about a quarter mile. It is marked with orange cones which hopefully no one will eff with. Ice is around a foot thick, you could drive a train on it. This is the premier skate course in town, a hundred feet long with many twisty paths. Even if you don’t have skates, it is a great excuse for a party. Bring bikes, kites, beach chairs, flags, capes, etc.
One hundred years ago my maternal grandfather wrote a letter to his brother. His brother kept it, and eventually it became an item that was photocopied and dispersed to descendents. There’s nothing particularly thrilling in the letter, but it probably qualifies as having at least causal historical significance outside of family interest, so I’ll share it here.
I think I read To Kill A Mockingbird for the first time as a Rochester John Marshall 10th grader sometime during the 1986-87 school year. My most prominent memory of the academic experience is writing five-paragraph essays about the book for three buddies who got higher grades on the assignment (all A-minuses) than I got (solid, respectable B). I also remember watching our teacher, the white, perpetually flustered Ms. Green, have no idea what to do when Scott, the only black kid in that sophomore English section, reacted with outrage after the first time she shakily uttered the word “nigger” while reading an excerpt aloud to us.
The book is seldom far from my conscious thoughts. Partially because it’s culturally omnipresent. It’s tough to have a college degree, love reading, work in education, watch public television, or just be alive and engaged in certain aspects of dominant Baby Boomer and Generation-X zeitgeist without seeing, hearing about, or discussing the book (or the movie version of it) fairly frequently. I’m also sure I would think about it fairly often even if it weren’t ubiquitous. I don’t recall much about my actual experience of reading it that first time. I do know I immediately revered the story and many of its characters. I still do. And I’ve consciously thought about it more than usual for the past year or so, after Duluth Public Schools (Independent School District 709) administrators announced the book would be removed from ninth-graders’ English reading list. A lot of people in Duluth and a lot of other places have had a lot things to say about that decision.
Stephanie Anderson is an illustrator working as The Hillside Creative. She enjoys making detailed, textured drawings with simple tools. And if you’re looking for a pet portrait, she’s ready to help you out.
SA: Ink and watercolor is my medium. There is something that I love about the harsh, black lines of the ink pens in contrast with the free-flowing, vibrant watercolor brush strokes.