Duluth women got breakfast in bed after 1952 voting gimmick

Duluth Mayor George W. Johnson reads a newspaper while he samples some of his own cooking before bringing the breakfast tray up to his wife. This United Press Photo comes with a recommended headline: “The (breakfast) tables are turned.” (Photo via Historic Images Outlet)

The women of Duluth were feasting comfortably in their pajamas 70 years ago. Or, at least, that’s what they were entitled to. A competition between the men and women of the city to increase voter registration was won by the women — 27,204 to 27,123. Mayor George W. Johnson proclaimed that husbands must serve their wives breakfast in bed for seven days or take them out to dinner for the same length of time. In many cases, however, the men either reneged on the bet or supplied a subpar meal, according to news accounts at the time.

The gimmick landed Duluth in headlines across the country. A sampling appears below.

Indianapolis Star, Aug. 25:

Cincinnati Enquirer, Aug. 25:

Wisconsin State Journal, Aug. 25:

Ottawa Citizen, Aug. 26:

Detroit Free Press, Sept. 1:

Kossuth County Advance, Sept. 11, segment from a column titled “The Old Goat says”:

Minneapolis Star Tribune, Sept. 24:

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