Mystery Photo #51: Lakeside Reunion


Usually with the “Mystery Photos” series we know very little about the featured image at the start and learn a variety of details after publishing it. In this case we know a lot going in, but one detail is missing.

We know the exact date of this photo, the photography studio that captured the image, and even have a list of names of the ladies in the photo. The title of the image is “Lakeside Reunion,” but what we don’t know is what it’s a reunion of.

Duluth’s Lakeside neighborhood has never had an all-girl school … at least that we are aware of. And the women in the photo seem to vary in age enough that they must have been either part of a club or employed in a female-dominated vocation, rather than being classmates.

Our best guess is this is a reunion of telephone operators, but at this point that is just a guess.

Lakeside Reunion
March 24, 1961
Photo by Gallagher’s Studio

Emma Ekholm
Florence Turnbloom
Dorothy Hannon
Mayne Beck
Leona Deetz
Lucille Beck
Blanche Peterson
Effie Dravland
Lois Bijold
Janine Everett
Esther Josephson
Marget Hood
Evelyn Wilson
Dorothy Johnson
Audrey Hultstrom
Edna Shimmin
Marion Frieland
Grace Miller
Elizabeth Rheaume
Mable Emanuelson
Marion Deck
Mable Johnson
Stella Scharnott
Fern Kolojeski
Hilda Gilbert
Florence Dwyer
Shirley Novack
Frances Green
Mary Bullyan
Patricia McClellan
Ilie Pihlaja
Jo Ann Ferizzi
Mary Latshaw
Evelyn Ling
Leone O’Connor
Dagney Corbett
Mildred Harris
Doris Kennedy
Eleanor Johnson
Shirley Williams
Violet Geving
Lois Carlson
Ruth Bonham
Betty Harney
Jane Forsyth
Evelyn Larson
Evelyn Cameron
Blanche Thomas
Dorothy Karwoski
Marie Elmgren
Gloria Dezell
Bede McMillan
Eleanor Palo
Marion Husinger
Doris Nygren
Joyce Hagen
Alice Lamo
Elma Verelius
Mary Fife
Mildred Forsberg
Mable Nummi
Barbara Sawyer
Betty Hendrickson
Ruby Levin
Pat Dahl
Aleda Johnson
Syliva Melbastad
Grace Eckholm
Alice Martinson
Jeanette Wick
Marion Precord
Doris Randell



about 7 years ago

With all of those names, this seemed too easy to resist trying figuring out, but in the end, I think all that I learned is that people live long and varied lives, of which the internet captures some pretty arbitrary elements.  These two obituaries at least suggest that your guess is correct and the photo is a reunion of employees of the Duluth branch of the Northwestern Bell Telephone Company:

Duluth News Tribune: Mable Nummi Obituary Paul Kubica Obituary
(He worked at Northwestern Bell and his daughter is listed as being in the photo.)


about 7 years ago

I search for Fern Kolojeski since it seems to be a distinctive name. No obvious phone operator connection.


about 7 years ago

Blanche Peterson, no obvious phone connection.

Chad S

about 7 years ago

Also found Beatrice "Bede" McMillan's obituary indicating she  was a Northwestern Bell telephone operator from Duluth.


about 7 years ago


There was a Lakeside Exchange building, built in 1920. Florence Turnbloom's daughter worked for NW Bell (I suspect that many of these women worked there for a year or two before marriage so it doesn't rate in their obituaries, usually. 

Paul Lundgren

about 7 years ago

Nice discovery on the Lakeside Exchange. I wondered if there was one, did a quick Google search of "Northwestern Bell Lakeside Duluth" that didn't seem to help, and then started assuming the ladies worked at the Hemlock Exchange and the location of the reunion was a building in Lakeside. Fortunately your sleuthing skills proved more up to the task, GTR.

I can't say we've proven anything definitively here, but the evidence does lead to the conclusion that the photo is of women who worked at Northwestern Bell Telephone Company's Lakeside Exchange.

And maybe I've added another mystery by now wondering where exactly this reunion was held.


about 7 years ago

I live a block from this exchange site, so I looked it up a little further. I think the photo is from 1920, but the building appears in this 1902 city plat. I can't recognize it from the photo right now, but I'll walk up there tomorrow and see if it still exists as a residence now.


about 7 years ago

How's this for definitive proof? From Mable Nummi's obituary: "Mable worked many years for Northwestern Bell Telephone Company and maintained a lifelong special friendship with her fellow telephone operators from Duluth." 

The way I found these (quite quickly, really) is that locally I think people often called it Bell Telephone Company, the Northwestern must have been added later. One of my favorite 100-year-old interview subjects had worked for the company as an engineer for years.

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