Getting The Special Edition Out


My grandfather’s newsroom at the Red Lake Falls MN Gazette, early 1900s.

What would he think of today’s instant journalism? A proof sheet with the headline "A Monster Massacre" hangs over the chair in the foreground.

If you can see the detail, coats and hats are thrown carelessly over the table on the right, which seems to be for setting up type, perhaps for advertisements as it’s at the front of the shop in front of a railing. The wooden tray with square boxes is for sorting type. My grandfather, C.R.C Baker, sits at the table at the left, writing (or staring into the distance thinking about what to put down next, same thing). You can see an inkwell near his left hand and his desk is about as disorganized as mine. Crumpled pieces of paper are discarded on the floor around his feet.

The sheet of newspaper in the foreground is blank on the back, which is what makes me think it was a proof sheet for setting up the front page. A hand press is toward the rear of the room on the right, and the two pressmen (who look like kids from the nearby Red Lake Indian Reservation) stand near more frames full of type. I don’t know who the young man at the center back of the room is; he seems to be fiddling with some small piece of machinery.

I went looking for the “massacre” mentioned in the headline, but kept getting the modern story of a school shooting from a few years ago. But I think I might know why this day was so significant that it had to be documented by a photographer with an old school flash. It’s summer, and it’s sometime around the early part of the 20th century, since the shop was electrified with old-timey parellel wiring. My cousin’s cabin had wiring that was only a little more advanced that dated from the 30’s – I’d say the newsroom was electrified in 1910 or so. It’s summer; the pressmen have their coats off, their shirts open, their sleeves rolled up. One stands holding something that looks like a bottle, and they both have satisfied “made deadline” looks on their faces. I think this may relate to when Prohibition came to Red Lake Falls over two summers in 1918-1919. In both cases, liquor was confiscated and at least once it was all “sent to wet territory” (dumped in the lake).

I’m going to guess this picture was probably taken July 1, 1919, the day Prohibition took effect. The previous night had been a wild one, with strange cars lining the streets as Red Lake County was one of the few “wet” counties in the state of Minnesota by then. At midnight, it was all over; all the liquor and beer had been drunk, or packed into cars and taken home for safekeeping; anything left was poured out and sent to “wet territory.”

I’m sorry about the poor quality of this photo. I couldn’t get the scanner working and didn’t want to jump through a few hoops taking a picture with my good camera and futz the image through the card reader, Photoshop or Picasa, and upload to Flickr. Maybe later. I needed to get this up.

I can has iPhone?
Via: Flickr Title: Getting The Special Edition Out By: GinnyRED57
Originally uploaded: 10 Dec ’08, 9.07am CST PST

Recent Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *