Experience history and nostalgia – read newspaper archives

April 6, 2018
by Mark Ollig

I subscribe to a newspaper archive service, where one can search and browse through optically scanned, digitally-saved American newspapers.

While reading The Minneapolis Star newspaper dated Sept. 9, 1967, my eyes immediately caught the headline on page 15A: “Catholic Shocker: Mini-team Ties Cretin.”

“This headline is familiar. I remember someone talking about it years ago,” I thought.

The article featured a high school football team written as “Little Winsted Holy Trinity,” which surprisingly held the Minnesota Central Catholic Conference and state gridiron powerhouse, Cretin High School, to a 6-6 tie.

Cretin’s football team was expected to defeat the physically smaller Holy Trinity Trojans.

Winsted shocked everyone and held a 6-0 lead over Cretin going into the fourth quarter.

However, Cretin staved off defeat by scoring a touchdown.

Larry Anderson, who coached the 1967 Trojans (and was my football coach in the mid-1970s), said of the tie, “We should have won. We were in their territory several times, but just couldn’t punch it across. Then, we lost our big fullback, Steve Millerbernd with a shoulder separation. But we’re happy.”

This football game, albeit played nearly 51 years ago, is undoubtedly remembered by those who participated in it.

I know of one Holy Trinity Trojan football alumnus who did play during this impressive game – and he happens to be my older brother, Tom.

After sending him the newspaper article, I asked how the game ended up being a 6-6 tie.

He told me both teams missed kicking the extra point after their respective touchdowns, and when the game ended, the score was tied 6-6.

“That was a long time ago,” Tom added.

Reading through newspapers from the past, and finding a meaningful story like this was surprisingly unexpected.

Besides the memorable Winsted football game of 1967, I read archived newspaper articles about historical events, like the Apollo 11 moon landing mission in 1969.

How did people feel about astronauts landing on the moon back then?

The day humans landed on the moon, the Palladium-Item newspaper, published in Richmond, IN, quoted 87-year-old Ross J. Winchell, who said, “I believe going to the moon as the spacemen now are doing is all right.”

The newspaper also printed an opposing view by Teresa Herald, who said, “I do not believe that man is supposed to go to the moon. There are too many people here on Earth that are poor, and I feel the money we are spending on this one flight to the moon could be used to better advantage.”

The Apollo 11 lunar module, Eagle, carrying US astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, landed on the moon, Sunday, July 20, 1969 at 3:18 p.m. Minnesota time.

Both were walking on the moon’s surface later that evening.

While Armstrong and Aldrin were on the moon, astronaut Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit inside the command module, Columbia.

The following morning’s Minneapolis Tribune front-page headline read, “Two US Astronauts Walk on the Moon After Piloting Craft to a Smooth Landing.”

Photos at the top of the front page showed Armstrong and Aldrin on the surface of the moon, reading a memorial plaque and planting the US flag. Another showed President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office of the White House, speaking with the astronauts on his telephone.

After reminiscing about the moon landing, I searched through early-published Minnesota newspapers mentioning the word “computers.”

Combing through the archives, “computers” appears on page 3, Volume VII, Number 16 of the Mower County Transcript, dated July 23, 1874, and published in Lansing, MN.

The article describes the expenses associated with an almanac, reading, “For pay of computers and clerk for compiling and preparing for publication the American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac, eighteen thousand dollars.” This sentence, written nearly 144 years ago, could be read aloud today without it sounding strange.

“Electronic Brain May Solve Major Civilization Problems” read the newspaper headline on page 10 of the Rocky Mount Telegram dated Sept. 18, 1949, and published in North Carolina.

The “electronic brain” the headline referred to was the Harvard Mark III computer, located at the University of Cambridge, in Cambridge, MA.

The Harvard Mark III electronic computer consisted of some 5,000 vacuum tubes, 1,500 crystal diodes, magnetic tape, and four magnetic memory drums. It cost $600,000 to construct; or nearly $6.2 million in today’s dollars.

The 1949 Rocky Mount Telegram article ends by declaring, “the United States is leading in the building of giant brains.”

If you are researching history, or want to experience some nostalgia, browsing through newspaper archives is a good place to start.

Be sure to visit the Bits & Bytes online weblog at www.bitscolumn.blogspot.com.

Happy 88th birthday, Dad. We all miss you.

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