West Duluth kids rarely strayed from neighborhood in 1920s

An article in the Duluth Herald of April 28, 1921 — one hundred years ago today — calls attention to how western Duluth kids seldom ventured to the center of town, much less to the eastern side.

Many West Duluth children see lake first time on recent tour
Unusual condition among school pupils found by observing teacher; activities confined to home neighborhood

That West Duluth is indeed a city by itself, with little or no leaning of dependence upon the eastern and center portion of the city, seems to be pretty well established by the experience Mrs. S. W. Richardson, who lives on Park Point and teaches at the Irving school in West Duluth, has had with pupils.

“I was lecturing the class of children on the different beauties and advantages of Duluth, and made special mention of the course of the St. Louis river, explaining how it empties into the bay and from there into the lake itself,” Mrs. Richardson said. “A teacher can tell easily when her pupils are following her and it was easy to be seen that mine were not. Then I started asking questions and learned that most of them had never seen the lake and had no conception of what I was talking about.”

“See Duluth First” Excursions.

As the children evidently were in need of an extended tour in the “See Suluth First” movement, Mrs. Richardson, assisted by Miss Marion Marshall, started out with a class of fifty to see the sights of the city. These children were between 9 and 13 years of age. One or two were in their ninth year, she said, but the majority had passed their ninth birthday and some were in their teens.

The first thing that was brought to the attention of the two teachers was that between thirty-five and forty of the children had never been east of the Doric theater, and but six of eight had ever seen Lake Superior. Of the number who had seen the lake the majority had seen it only from a street car.

When the personally conducted tour reached the ship canal and aerial bridge by way of Lake avenue, it was found that not more than three children had ever been there before and walked on the piers of crossed the bridge.

Take in Many Sights.

Included in the trip was a ride up the inclined railway, which was new to all, and a visit to the United States weather bureau at the top of the incline. The courthouse and The Herald building, where the children watched the presses turn out the newspaper they had seen in their homes, were also visited.

The Bridgeman-Russell company played host during the afternoon when they served huge cones of ice cream to the innocents abroad.

“When we got back to the school,” Mrs. Richardson said, “I asked the children to write what impressed them most, and almost without exception they answered that the piers, bridge and the huge waves curling up onto the sand had been the main attraction. This is remarkable, especially when it is considered that the water show had ice cream to contend with.

“We have found that most of the mothers of these children do all their shopping, find all the entertainment for the family and buy all the children’s clothes in the western end of the city. It is not necessary for them to come downtown, and consequently the children have never been outside their own home district.”

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