It's 6 a.m., and I am watching the very golden morning light hit the roof of the house next door, and the branches of the eight tall pines just beyond. Crows are chattering with their raspy caawww, and gulls are screaming. A very faint eau de skunk is wafting on the cool breeze coming in my window. Such a Duluth morning.
I had a busy day yesterday, with more than three hours at the library. That was, frankly, as much as my eyes could take. Microfilm? Wonderful. Also? Not efficient. And? Seasickening. Dizzying.
I whirled through most of 1976, the year I started at the News-Tribune. It was a pretty fascinating year; you could see, in retrospect, the beginnings of all kinds of issues that were going to dominate our lives and the news for a long, long time.
Indian rights, with small stories on people challenging the Indians' treaty rights to hunt and fish on protected lands. Indian students walking out of class in northern Wisconsin, to protest their treatment in school.
Women's issues, with the paper changing its policy on courtesy titles (no more Mrs. John Smith; women finally got first names) and one reporter (who I need to track down) going undercover at a massage parlor to see what it was all about. (She didn't get much. But she tried, and it was a fun read.) The first story I read, on Jan. 1, 1976, was about how Duluth had named its first-ever woman president of the city council. The lede of the story focused on how her first unofficial act was to apply lipstick.
The emerging environmental movement, with front-page stories every day about Reserve Mining dumping taconite waste into Lake Superior, and about asbestos in the drinking water. And stories about the clash between northern Minnesotans and Twin Citians on creating a protected wilderness area along the Canadian border. (Now the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.)
The paper covered all of this, with a tiny staff and a paper that was, most days, just two sections: news, and sports.
I had forgotten what a newsy town this was.
What am I going to do with all this? File it away in my brain, and tomorrow I will whirl through 1977.
Today I am meeting my former editor for coffee in the morning, and then another former colleague for lunch. I have a lot of questions. I have to keep reminding myself, though, that what I am writing is memoir, not history. I need the foundation of verifiable fact that I am getting on this trip, but it is all just background for nothing more than Hack stories. Just Hack stories. That's all.
I tell myself this, but my head is swimming.
A note on the photo: A google image of the Aerial Bridge, until I have time to substitute photos of my own.
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