One of the stories that has long been passed around West Duluth is that, many years ago, perhaps the 1920s, some guys from the ol’ Raleigh Street Gang handcuffed a cop to a pole or a post and pinned his badge to his ass.
Claire W. Schumacher’s 1990 book The Raleigh Street Saga: Shattering the Legend, includes interviews with numerous old coots from the neighborhood, including three people who mention the badge-pinning incident. Here are the quotes:
“One of the exciting things that happened, about Willie the cop – on the corner of 57th and Two Street as he walked his beat, the gang took his badge off and pinned it on his back end then tied him to the post. That was the last time he was on Raleigh Street or Two Street. They got him out of there because the guy wouldn’t have lived too long if he had stayed there, although he did get killed later, I think it was out in Gary-New Duluth.” — George Nyquist (b. 1914)
“They took Willie, the cop, one time and tied him to a pole with his own handcuffs. I was there! I saw it! You see, Willie was going to tame Raleigh Street-‘I’ll show those so and sos,’ he said. So they caught him and tied his wrist around a pole with his own cuffs and pinned his badge to his back end. There are stories about taking his gun, but as far as I know no one touched his gun.” — Jim Bracklin (b.1910)
“They pinned his badge right to his hinder — it was Billy McCullough who did it.” — Rex Gannucci (b. 1913)
There’s probably no one reading this who is old enough to lend any more details, but I thought I’d put it out there.
The photo above is from present-day 57th Ave. W. & Raleigh St. Of the four corners there, this one has a utility pole, so I used it to illustrate the story, but it is not necessarily where the incident happened … if it happened at all. As a reference point for drunks, I’ll mention that this is about one block away from the North Pole Bar.
By the way, to clarify the George Nyquist quote, Raleigh Street used be be called Two Street. It was (and is) two blocks from Main Street. No one seems to know why it was named Raleigh Street, although most would hazard the guess that it comes from Sir Walter Raleigh, although he has no known connection to Duluth.
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