“Laughter is an instant vacation,” said American comedian and actor Milton Berle. I think we all could use a little vacation from the sadness and stress of the world.
Today’s humor comes from Bert Ackerson’s “This ‘n’ That” columns, which appeared for many years in the Hibbing Daily Tribune in the 1960s and 1970s. Mr. Ackerson was a respected reporter and editor at the Tribune, and his columns include a treasure trove of information about people and events in Hibbing and the Iron Range in those years. Sometimes his columns included a little joke or a humorous story, and many of these involved real people hereabouts.
Here’s hoping you enjoy an “instant vacation!”
~ Mary Palcich Keyes
July 16, 1970
Robert C. Lind, manager of the El Motel, had an unusual experience last Sunday, but let’s allow him to tell about it: “It was a lazy Sunday, so I was relaxing in bed until 10 a.m., then breakfast. After breakfast I was in my office when the ‘little woman’ called downstairs and told me a lady was on the phone and she said she had my car. It took me a couple of seconds to reach in my pants pocket. I had my car keys I wondered what it was all about. I looked across the motel. Sure ‘nuff, my car was gone. But it wasn’t a few seconds more when this lady came to the door. And she had quite a story to tell.
“She’s Canadian and when they came here, she had need of an extra car to haul some things to the lake. A local friend said she could use his station wagon — a Ford, the same make as mine. He gave her the keys and told her he had parked the car in front of the motel, when actually he had parked it in back. The odds of having one pair of car keys fitting another car are 1 in 500,000 — and this was one of those times. She took my wagon, loaded it up, hauled the stuff to the lake, returned the wagon to her friend, only to be told that it wasn’t his wagon.
“The panic of our Canadian neighbor can be imagined — to be picked up for car theft and not to be aware of it until the final moment can cause some anxiety, not to mention returning the wagon and having to explain how she had come about taking it. I shook my head as I listened to her story, but I could see she was a little worried that I would be angry. I told her that as long as she had brought the wagon back in one piece, it was all right — the gas she had used was on the house. I’ve had quite a few adventures with my car, but what happened Sunday is one for the record.”
When I received Lind’s letter I recalled a similar experience for Joe Moore, retired Hibbing fireman, so I called Joe to freshen my memory on it. Joe related his experience thusly: “It was about 3 years ago. The wife and I had gone to Valentini’s (in Chisholm) for supper. I parked the car in front of the Chisholm First National Bank. It was pretty cold that night. It was about 9 p.m. when the wife and I got into the car to drive back to Hibbing. The car wasn’t running too good, seemed like there might be water in the gas, so we stopped at Ronson’s to get a can of heat poured into the tank.
“The station attendant asked me for the key to the gasoline tank. I told him there was no lock on the tank. He said, “There is on this one.”
A highway patrol officer was there and I told him I undoubtedly had the wrong car. We drove back to the First National Bank parking place. Coming up behind us was a Chisholm fellow driving my car. He identified himself as Bill Laine. The Buicks were identical. He had taken my car and didn’t notice the mistake until after he parked it in his garage and was looking for his grocery purchases in the back seat. Neither my wife nor I had noticed his groceries bags until then!”
July 16, 1964
“Grand Coulee!” shouted the bishop when he hit his thumb with a hammer.
“Grand Coulee?” asked a friend who was standing nearby.
“Yes,” said the bishop. “It’s the world’s biggest dam.”
“Say Dad, did you go to Sunday School when you were a little boy?”
“Yes, son, regularly.”
“Well, I’ll bet then it won’t do me any good either.”
More station wagons in ’59 line of autos
As the Baby Boomers were being born throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, and American families were growing, America’s car companies began producing many station wagons. Before the minivans or SUVs popular now with families and people hauling lots of stuff, the station wagons reigned supreme. Remember riding in the “way way back?” No seatbelts there, but then, there weren’t any seatbelts up front either. Sometimes change can be very much for the better.
Joe’s family had a station wagon with rear-facing third row. As the youngest, if he wasn’t in the middle of the front seat, then he was banished to the rear seat watching what had just gone by. (This may explain a lot about him.)
This article from the Hibbing Daily Tribune on June 5, 1958, reminds us that car sales were tracked carefully in our local newspaper because of the close tie between steel and cars.
~Mary Palcich Keyes
Passenger car production and sales are falling farther behind last year’s volume.
So far this year the auto industry has built about 1,867,000 cars. It has sold approximately 1,900,600. At the comparable point in 1957, factory output had reached 2,800,000 units, with sales about 2,500,000.
This year’s lowered output has cut into dealer inventories. Stocks are now well below 800,000 units.
Cautious predictions are heard of a sharp production increase in the final three months of the year. This will mark the start of the 1959 model year. The style considered to be most in demand is the station wagon. The build-out of those lines will likely be planned by the car manufacturers throughout the 1959 model year and into the 1960 model year as well.
The following items are taken from the Hibbing Daily Tribune or The Mesabi Ore which are on microfilm at the Hibbing Public Library and/or the Iron Range Research Center at the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm.
July 16, 1910
The land located south of McKinley Street is being cleared to permit the pitching of tents of the circus that will exhibit in Hibbing on Wednesday. The stumps are being blasted from the land with powder. The grounds are a distance from the business portion of the city and there is plenty of room there so on a warm day the breezes will have much more freedom which is an important consideration when sitting in a tent with several thousand people.
June 2, 1953
Greyhound Corp. first quarterly earnings of 1953 rose 30 percent over the preceding year.
June 2, 1958
A notice appeared in the newspaper announcing that the following shops will close at noon on Saturdays, beginning June 7: Carlson’s Shoe Repair, Rosati Shoe Repair, Modern Shoe Repair, and Hibbing Shoe & Repair.
August 31, 1975
Golden Crest Nursing Home residents attended the Thursday evening performance by the Tamburitzans at Hibbing High School auditorium. Five of the 14 residents attending were in their 90s. One of the men was assisted by his daughter, the others were transported and escorted by nursing home staff volunteering for the occasion. Admission for the residents was paid for courtesy of First Federal Savings and Loan and First National Bank.