History Posts

9/11, on the 20th Anniversary of ten days after the events

It’s a week or so since 9/11, and the special issues of magazines unsold in the checkout lane are being reported unsold, stripped of their covers and reported destroyed. The television guide on my Roku is no longer choked with 9/11 documentaries and “looks back.” In fact, I can barely tell it happened.

I remember how difficult it was to return to normal after 9/11 — how many days it took before the late night shows could broadcast, for example. It feels like we snapped back awful fast this time.

Well, I didn’t. Here’s my last post on 9/11 for Perfect Duluth Day, looking at some writings, some poetry, after 9/11, talking about what life is like after.

Postcard from the Central Motel in West Duluth

This postcard of the Central Motel was mailed Sept. 20, 1956 — 65 years ago today. The address, 24 N. Central Ave., is now greenspace across Main Street from Irving Park. The land is controlled by the idled Duluth paper mill, which was sold by Verso Corporation in May to ST Paper.

Postcard from the Coal Docks in 1911

This postcard was mailed Sept. 18, 1911 — 110 years ago today. For some reason it took more than a month to reach it’s destination. It bears a second postmark of Oct. 26; indicating it took 38 days to travel about 250 miles from Duluth to Miss Martha Moe in Wood Lake.

Postcard from the College of St. Scholastica, 1931

This postcard of the College of St. Scholastica was mailed Sept. 13, 1931 — 90 years ago today. Robert Strauss of Snyder, N.Y. was the recipient. The message on the back is from his parents, who write: “Hello Boy. On our way to Seattle.”

Attack on America

It’s Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, 10:30 a.m. I’m standing in my kitchen munching on an apple. Suddenly, a huge man who looks like the professional wrestler Razor Ramon comes thundering through the front door announcing that he is an employee of the Water and Gas Department and needs to read the meter.

Without asking for identification or taking any security precautions whatsoever, I show him to the basement stairway and resume chomping on my apple. Soon, my basement housemates greet Razor Ramon and he starts talking to them about how the country is at war.

“We’re at war, dude,” I hear him say. “Haven’t you turned on the TV or the radio yet?”

I turn on the television in the living room and see a huge cloud of smoke and debris where the World Trade Center once stood. The news anchor explains that two hijacked passenger jets smashed into the towers, causing them to collapse.

9/10

I’m still talking around 9/11 as I write this series of posts. I am worried that any effort I put into converting my experience into words will diminish that experience.

Perhaps that’s what I see most of all in the Congressional records one year after 9/11. Below are bits and pieces from a joint session of Congress, held in New York, on the one-year anniversary of 9/11, where most everyone, except maybe Paul Wellstone, talks around 9/11.

Postcard from First Methodist Episcopal Church

The written message on the back of this century-old postcard is dated Sept. 9 by “Aunt Martha,” but has no postmark or other indication of the year. The card shows First Methodist Episcopal Church on the corner of Third Avenue West and Third Street in Duluth. The building stood there from 1893 to 1969.

Reflecting on the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks

Denfeld High School: Tower of Opportunity

Although this brochure for Denfeld High School has a 1991 copyright, the photos appear to be circa 1987-88. Alert eyeballs will spot current Denfeld principal Tom Tusken and Duluth School Board member Alanna Oswald as students in the photos.

9/6

After 9/11, I taught a class in the World Trade Center collapse, looking at it as a trauma but also as a failure of engineering. Mostly, this reflects my mental state in the years after the event:

How did this happen?

If it seemed a miracle to me that there could be two towers, reaching 110 stories into the sky, it seemed even more unthinkable that they fell down.

9/4

In retrospect, the weeks before 9/11 are almost better defined by the things I didn’t know. I didn’t know, really, how much people in the Middle East disliked, hated America and Americans, sure. And then there are smaller knowledges that I didn’t know — details of events and of governmental decisions that would become clear after the fact.

9/2

Port Authority Bus Terminal

Photo by Hudconja

I started visiting New York City while I was still a kid in Milwaukee. I used to hop the Greyhound at 10 p.m., catching the connecting bus in Chicago, to a layover, bus cleaning, and reboarding in Cleveland, where large numbers of Amish would board, too. From Cleveland to Pittsburgh to, I think, “King of Prussia” (avoiding Philly, I think).  From there into New York City, landing at the Port Authority.

First stretch of Miller Trunk Road concrete laid in 1921

On Sept. 2, 1921 — 100 years ago today — crews began laying concrete paving on Miller Trunk Road near Twig. The photo above, by Louis P. Gallagher, was shot when a quarter mile of the 21-mile stretch had been completed, according to the Sept. 5 issue of the Duluth Herald.

Mystery Photos: Slideshow Edition

This video displays a “fine set of portraits” that were shot “probably in Duluth, Minn.,” and some others taken “probably in Santa Barbara, Calif.,” circa the 1940s. As a bonus at the end there’s a little advice on clearing snow from the porch.

The Slice: Duluth’s Shipping Canal turns 150

In 1871 the steam dredge Ishpeming finished cutting a canal through Minnesota Point, opening Duluth’s inner harbor to ship traffic. One hundred and fifty years later, the canal remains a focal point for industry and tourism in the Twin Ports.

In its series The Slice, WDSE-TV presents short “slices of life” that capture the events and experiences that bring people together and speak to what it means to live up north.

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