R.I.P. Posts

So long, Country Lanes North

WDIO-TV reports that Country Lanes North, the bowling alley with outdoor volleyball courts at 2327 Mountain Shadow Drive near Miller Hill Mall, is closing and will be torn down. It was built in 1976.

Planet Fitness plans to open an exercise center there in 2023.

R.I.P. Esmond Building

The Duluth News Tribune reports the former Seaway Hotel, also known as the Esmond Building, was demolished on Wednesday. The building had been gutted by a fire on Jan. 10.

R.I.P. Herb Bergson

Herb Bergson, mayor of Duluth from 2004 to 2008, and mayor of Superior from 1987 to 1995, died Feb. 10 of sepsis, a complication from a cancer surgery. He was 65.

R.I.P. Louie Anderson, sitcom Duluthian

Comedian Louie Anderson died today at age 68. Part of his credentials in the entertainment industry is a CBS sitcom set in Duluth. Six episodes were produced; five were aired in 1996.

Two Superior warehouses destroyed by fire

Warehouses at 1507 and 1515 N. First St. in the North End of Superior were destroyed by fire this morning. The Blatnik Bridge was temporarily closed due to smoke from the blaze.

Among 2021 restaurant closures were two of Guy Fieri’s favorites

Television personality Guy Fieri poses outside Shorty’s Pizza and Smoked Meats with members of the restaurant’s staff. Fieri visited four restaurants in the Twin Ports area in 2014 — Shorty’s, Gannucci’s Italian Market, Pak’s Green Corner and the Kounty Quarthouse. All four have since closed.

The effect of COVID-19 on the restaurant industry is tricky to quantify, but in the Duluth area there is one noticeably positive trend. More new eateries are opening than existing ones are closing.

While the ongoing pandemic played a role in pushing some eateries that were in trouble over the edge, in most cases other factors were at play. At the top of the list of closings in 2021 were three family-owned ethnic restaurants.

R.I.P. Ben Boo

Former Duluth mayor and Minnesota representative Ben Boo died on Dec. 1 at age 96.

Boo was Duluth’s 35th mayor, holding office for two terms from 1967 to 1975. He served in the Minnesota House of Representative from 1984 to 1992. He also directed the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District and the Upper Great Lakes Regional Commission in between his political terms.

Bits of Bly: The Sibling Society

Poet and social critic Robert Bly, who penned many of his works from a cabin on Moosehead Lake about 30 miles southwest of Duluth, died on Nov. 21 at the age of 94. He was interviewed in the fall of 1997 on KUMD radio in Duluth, and a cassette of the interview survives in the Perfect Duluth Day archive. Consider the clip above to be part one of a short series.

The interview took place the year after Bly’s book The Sibling Society: An Impassioned Call for the Rediscovery of Adulthood was published.

R.I.P. Gannucci’s Italian Market

The Duluth News Tribune reports Gannucci’s Italian Market in West Duluth is closed and a liquidation auction will be held Aug. 25.

R.I.P. Shorty’s Pizza & Smoked Meats

Shorty’s Pizza shortly after it opened in 2013. (Photo by Cindy Vu)

Shorty’s Pizza & Smoked Meats in Superior announced today via Facebook it has ceased operations due to a labor shortage in the hospitality industry.

R.I.P. Duluth Electric Fetus

View through the glass door to the Duluth Electric Fetus store on April 13, 2021. (Photo by Paul Lundgren)

Duluth’s Electric Fetus store, 12 E. Superior St., announced today it will not reopen. The store was best known for selling compact discs and other music products, though items like jewelry, clothing and gifts made up a larger chunk of the sales. The company’s Minneapolis location will remain open.

A Brief Remembrance of George Hovland

I’ve only been in Duluth for 20 years, so in relation to George Hovland’s life, I’m just a newcomer. Even so, as a cross-country skier, my tracks crossed his over and over.

George always ran Snowflake Nordic Ski Center like a charity. The cashbox on the counter just sat there on the honor system. Each year, I signed up my kids for the KidSki program. This was during the window of time each fall where he gave a discount for signing up early. I paid full price because I could afford it. I also did it because, unlike a lot of things, I knew exactly where my money was going. I mean, outside of my family, cross-country skiing is my favorite thing. And each year when he got my check, George called me on the phone and said, “You shouldn’t pay full price. You can pay the discounted price.” And I said, “I know George. It’s me. I told you the exact same thing last year.”

One time, I was skiing classic style in the snow-blessed microclimate at Snowflake and George came up on me the opposite direction and said, “Great technique!” I was a little too pleased, but a comment like that from George, a 1952 Olympian, was like a benediction.

R.I.P. Robert’s Home Furnishings building

The former Robert’s Home Furnishings building at 2102 W. Superior St. in Lincoln Park was torn down last week. Robert Rothenberger launched furniture retail business in 1987 and closed its doors in October 2018 upon retirement. Roberts was part of  the “big three” furniture stores that anchored the West End for decades. The building was constructed 1890 as a lumber warehouse. Rachel Development, based in St. Michael, Minn., plans to build a four-story, 74-unit housing project on the site. Rothenberger died in November. Photo by Mark Nicklawske.

Leif Brush – “Terraplane Chorography I”

Artist Leif Brush, who taught at the University of Minnesota Duluth from 1976 to 2002, died on March 15 at the age of 88. His obituary can be found on cremationsocietyofmn.com.

The video “Terraplane Chorography I,” embedded above, is a performance with audio tape and live piano, shot at the Tweed Museum of Art in 1979 and digitized from videocassette in 2011.

“Big Friendly Mike” was friend to many

Obits are not common on Perfect Duluth Day, but Mike Hruza wasn’t a common person. He was known to hundreds, thousands of Duluthians as “Big Friendly Mike” because he worked for decades selling games and comics, or because he played games and talked comics with anyone who would listen (including the times I sat next to him on the bus).

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