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July 2006

Tuesday, July 7, 1936: How to keep cool

Posted Sunday, July 30th, 2006
July 1936 was among the hottest months of the 20th century in the Upper Midwest. The mercury topped 100 degrees on seven of 10 days in Minneapolis in early July, and a reading of 108 on July 14 is the record high for the Twin Cities. The heat wave was blamed for nearly 800 deaths in Minnesota. The news dominated the front page of the Minneapolis Star, which offered readers these hot-weather tips:

Short Cuts to
Keeping Cool

Do you want to keep cool and avoid illness during this hot weather? Then, says Dr. F.E. Harrington, city health commissioner, do this:

Wear clothing that permits free movement. The outside clothing should be white or light. Underclothing should be of cotton or linen rather than silk.

Drink plentifully of liquids to replace the moisture lost through perspiration. Lemonade – rather weak – is best.

Eat food easily digested. Four small meals are better than three big ones.

Make use of fresh fruits.

Don’t go around half naked and get sunstroke.

At the St. Paul Daily News, staffers beat the record heat with 400 pounds of ice and electric fans. Watch out for those fan blades, ladies! (Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, July 18, 1922: New sport for women

Posted Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

From the Minneapolis Daily Star:

Women Join
in Horseshoe
Pitching Club

Experts Engaged to Give
Instructions in Sport at

A woman showed off her horseshoe grip in about 1920. (Photo courtesy of

A new sport for women, that of horseshoe pitching, is now being developed and popularized in the Minneapolis playgrounds and parks. Miss Dorothea Nelson, women’s recreation director of the park board, has organized a corps of expert feminine pitchers to give instructions in the sport at the Minneapolis playgrounds. Miss Nelson claims that horseshoe pitching is about the only sport which all women, regardless of lack of training in athletics, can learn to play, and that the beginner and the skilled player all share the same benefits to be gained from this out-of-door sport.

Star players who will act as instructors in the Minneapolis Women’s Horseshoe Pitching association are: Mrs. John Dahl, 2539 Eighteenth avenue S., Mrs. Hazel A. Botts, 929 Fourteenth avenue S.E.; Mrs. Allen Hay, 4231 Washington N., and Mrs. Alex Cummings, 893 Twenty-second avenue S.E.

Friday, Aug. 8, 1975: Skinny-dipper lands in court

Posted Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

While scrolling through the August 1975 roll of Tribune microfilm, I found the news pages dotted with references to a severe shortage that sparked hoarding and theft across the land. The crisis prompted a Guindon cartoon and, in Canada, at least one heated confrontation in the halls of government.

Can you guess which product or commodity was in short supply that summer?

a. gasoline
b. Levi’s jeans
c. canning lids
d. toilet seats

The answer follows this completely unrelated but hilarious/disturbing Tribune story about a young skinny-dipper’s run-in with a stern judge in Hennepin County. Bonus quiz: What’s wrong with the headline?

Man who swims without suit faces one

By Linda Picone
Staff Writer

How do you explain to a stern-faced judge just why you felt like going skinny-dipping in a city lake one night?

“Why didn’t you have a bathing suit?” asked Hennepin County Municipal Judge C. William Sykora.

“I just forgot it,” answered Frederick S. Engen, 24.

Judge Sykora

It wasn’t the right answer.

“Do you want to get yourself 30 days in the workhouse? You just got it,” said Judge Sykora. “There’s nothing I like less than a smart aleck. Now, why didn’t you wear a bathing suit?”

“I just didn’t,” said Engen.

Again the wrong answer. Judge Sykora sentenced Engen to 30 days in the workhouse and the bailiff led him out of the courtroom. Other defendants in the courthouse squirmed. If Engen got 30 days for swimming in the nude, what kind of sentences did they face for breach of the peace or simple assault?

But when court recessed shortly after Engen was led out of the room, Judge Sykora told the bailiff, “When that kid on the swimming bit gets sufficiently excited about being here, don’t take him over there (to the jail), bring him back.”

A chastened Engen came back into the room and Judge Sykora asked him what he had learned. One thing he had learned, Engen said, was that he didn’t want to go to jail. Judge Sykora asked him once again why he didn’t have a suit, and Engen tried to explain that he had never swum in the nude before and he wanted to try it but he was sure sorry he had.

“The first responsibility every young person has to learn is responsibility for taking care of himself,” said Judge Sykora. “That means not being a smartass.”

Engen still has a 30-day workhouse sentence facing him, but Judge Sykora stayed it for a year, on the condition that Engen not get picked up for anything worse than a parking ticket during that time.

Another swimmer, pleading guilty to to swimming in an unauthorized area (his second offense), came off only slightly better. When he tried to explain that he thought the law was silly and that’s why he kept on breaking it, Judge Sykora said, “Why don’t you go over to Russia? Here the theory is that the majority of the people make the law and the rest obey the law.”

The swimmer got a $10 fine and a nod from Judge Sykora. “Sorry to give you a lecture,” said the judge. “I should have charged you more just for that.”

A man with rubbish on two lots was given two weeks to clean it up or face 60 days in the workhouse. “It’s 60 days if you don’t clean them up, 30 if you clean up one and not the other and nothing if you clean them both,” said Judge Sykora. “That’s what we call extortion.”

The answer to the shortage question is (c) canning lids. I’m sure you’ve figured out the problem with the headline. Please post your answer by clicking on “add a comment.”

Yesterday's news

Sample Minnesota's rich history, courtesy of a microfilm archive of newspaper articles, photos and ads dating back more than 130 years. Fresh items are posted two or three times a week.

Send your suggestions to Ben Welter.

For more on this project, including tips on how to track down old newspaper articles on your own, see Post No. 1.