Pruning Time in Duluth

Since this old comic was available for a quarter at the Wallace Hankins Estate Sale, I thought I’d scan and post it, in case anyone finds it interesting or knows specifically what it’s about.

I would guess it’s from the 1930s, when buses began replacing streetcars, which may have resulted in cutting trees to widen roads, or maybe the tree is simply a metaphor for how the streetcar business would be hacked to death by buses.

The headline leads me to believe this was a newspaper editorial comic that the Park Point Community Club had printed on card stock and distributed around town to raise a fuss. The signature on the comic is John Harrison.

11 Comments

DECk37

about 11 years ago

I instantly thought metaphor, each branch was an area the streetcars serviced, and the buses were putting an end to it. I think 1937 was the last year the streetcar service ran, if I'm not mistaken. It didn't seem to last long, here's a couple pictures from Minnesota Reflections that show East Ninth Street right before Ninth Avenue in the 1920s installing a streetcar line:

[img]http://www.perfectduluthday.com/wp-content/uploads/comments/duluth-street-railway-co-east-ninth-st.jpg[/img]

Duluth Street Railway Company construction

[img]http://www.perfectduluthday.com/wp-content/uploads/comments/duluth-street-railway-co-east-ninth-street.jpg[/img]

Duluth Street Railway Company construction

As for as I can tell, all the houses in the photos are still there. I used to live on the next block between Ninth and Tenth avenues, but sadly I can't see if my house was there or not.

Barrett Chase

about 11 years ago

I'd say the tree is almost certainly a metaphor, as that's the usual style with editorial cartoons -- they're rarely literal. According to Zenith City Online, the Duluth Street Railway Co. went bankrupt in 1930 (due to the depression as well as automobiles and buses) and lines began shutting down quickly after that. "First the Fourth Street Line shut down, then the Minnesota Point service," the article says. Notice in the cartoon that the Fourth Street and Fond du Lac branches have already been severed from the tree, which probably places this cartoon in the early 1930s.

Barrett Chase

about 11 years ago

Some other interesting notes:

- What does "give the small fellows a chance" mean? Maybe buses were more expensive to ride than streetcars?

- I get the railway and bus workers, but why a swashbuckler? What are those dudes living in the tree? Cavemen? Babies? If they're babies why does one have a club?

edgeways

about 11 years ago

The swashbuckler may be Sieur du Lhut, as a stand in for the city of Duluth.The dudes in the trees are the residents of each neighborhood with the club welding one trying (who has a sash saying 'park pointers')to stop the latest pruning via repealing the bus ordinance.

heysme

about 11 years ago

Love the post and insight. Reminds me that the time of year more important than fishing opener - rummage and estate sales!!!!!

Barrett Chase

about 11 years ago

edgeways: I get what those guys represent. I just want to know why they're drawn as cavemen. Maybe it's just because they're easy to draw.

TimK

about 11 years ago

I'm not convinced that it's a caveman. I'm thinking it's more of an average guy- a kind of Joe Palooka nod.

Paul Lundgren

about 11 years ago

I think the guy on the Park Point limb is a Duluth Rowing Club guy with a paddle, not a caveman with a club.

DECk37

about 11 years ago

Yeah, looks like an old timey swimsuit.

Zedhead

about 11 years ago

Paul is right. To add, the Park Pointer with the oar seams to be wearing swimming attire for the period.

Barrett Chase

about 11 years ago

Ah! I see. I guess after 80 years, some things become less obvious.

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