Friday, June 2, 2023

When it’s time to bid farewell to ladders...

Written by By Jim Heffernan for the Duluth NewsTribune/6-3-23                            A newspaper ad for those gizmos that promise to keep the falling autumn leaves out of your roof gutters proclaims, “Say goodbye to your ladder.” The ad features a portly man with very little hair hugging his ladder, apparently trying to say goodbye and feeling mighty bad about it.

Is this really the message the gutter cover people want to convey? I would feel terrible saying goodbye to my current ladder (a seven-foot folding step jobby) but, of course, at my age I have parted with several ladders. I had a big aluminum extension ladder back when I had a two-story house but I think I failed to actually say goodbye when we parted.


Goodbyes are always hard. I said goodbye to my youth several years ago, I’m afraid. Can’t recall exactly what the words were or if there were words at all. You wake up one morning and it’s gone, along with more hair than you’d care to part with. (No pun there.)


I have said goodbye to a couple of revered cars, especially my first little pre-war (that’d be World War II) coupe, but the memory of it will always be in my heart.


If you are thinking about getting a Gutter Helmet (that’s the actual brand name of the product in the farewell to my ladder ad, but there are others too), you should be prepared to properly say goodbye to your ladder.


You can come up with your own words, of course, as you stand in the yard hugging your ladder goodbye, but there are many heartfelt goodbyes in the world of literature and pop culture, even in the Good Book, that might come in handy and make both you and the ladder feel better about parting.


Perhaps the most famous parting comes from Shakespeare that I think would make your ladder feel better about being shunned. It’s from “Romeo and Juliet” when Juliet says in parting from her lover, “Goodbye, goodbye, parting is such sweet sorrow.” How could a ladder resist such an endearing farewell?


There are others too, just as poignant. Like in “A Tale of Two Cities” when Sydney Carton is about to say goodbye to his head on the guillotine: “It is a far better thing that I do than I have ever done.” That might be a little heavy for your ladder but it’s sincere.


Then there’s the famous film “Casablanca” when Rick talks to Ilsa at the end as they are parting and she resists. He says she won’t regret leaving, “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life.” I wonder if my old extension ladder got over our parting. I have and will for the rest of my life.


But enough of this nonsense. Well, not quite. What if you are glad to get rid of your old ladder, rungs and all? When it comes time to say goodbye, there’s the penultimate scene in “Gone With the Wind” when Scarlett pleads with Rhett not to leave, and he says, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”


Be careful, though. There’s that most famous ladder in the Holy Bible, called Jacob’s Ladder, that shows up in a dream Jacob of Genesis had. That ladder goes all the way up to heaven. Pretty tough to say goodbye to that one.


Still, there’s a goodbye in an old song that sums this all up quite well, I think, with the correct sentiment in saying goodbye to your ladder because you won’t need it to climb up and scoop the leaves out of your gutter. Just tell the ladder, “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again, some rainy day.”


And finally, the classic song “Autumn Leaves” has a line that couldn’t fail to capture the moment of saying goodbye to your ladder: “…I’ll miss you most of all, my darling, when autumn leaves start to fall.”


Jim Heffernan is a former Duluth News Tribune news and opinion writer and continues as a columnist. He can be reached at and maintains a blog at

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Republicans, Democrats differ on everything...

Written By Jim Heffernan for the Duluth NewsTribune on 5-6-23

Dire warning: This column is about politics. (Yikes!)

I spent my last 25 years of active journalism working on the opinion pages of this newspaper. In that role, I met and interviewed just about every politician and political aspirant from this region as well as statewide office seekers and incumbents — including a couple of vice presidents of the United States. You know the names of those two Minnesotans.


This is not to boast about all the important people I’ve met — governors, U.S. senators, congress members, legislative leaders, city leaders, dog catchers — but rather to illustrate that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time around politicians from both major parties (and a few from minor parties, including one who shares a given name with Jesse James).


You pick up on certain traits in people who seek public office, some of whom succeed. After the successful ones have been in office for awhile, they all, regardless of party, seem to have read the same playbook about how to be a politician.


For example, when speaking publicly, they never refer to this country simply as the United States; they always thunder “United States of America” in case there is any confusion about which United States they mean. And they say the people they serve are always “hard working” Americans who “roll up their sleeves” a lot. I have known many Americans I wouldn’t consider hard working, not excluding myself. I roll up my sleeves for a COVID-19 shot. They are also very quick with “thoughts and prayers” when the occasion suggests it.


Incumbents above a certain level never appear on TV or before a gathering of constituents without American flags (a.k.a. Old Glory) behind them, preferably several, in case there was any doubt about their patriotism.


Some things have changed, though, in recent years since I left active journalism — mainly the widening gap between the two major parties. Once opponents were referred to as “worthy” when referenced, and their party “the loyal opposition.” No more.



Thus, I have compiled a list of ways I see how Democrats and Republicans differ these days on major, and some minor, issues. I am not favoring one side over another here, although I obviously have a political ideology. These are just things I notice as I observe the political divisions play themselves out today, especially in Washington. Here goes:


— Republicans think Democrats are socialists or communists. Democrats think Republicans are autocrats or fascists.


— Democrats are for abortion and against guns. Republicans are against abortion and for guns.


— Sticking with guns, Republicans like AK-47 assault weapons with high capacity magazines. Democrats like squirt guns and read high capacity magazines such as Time, Newsweek and Mad. (What, ME worry?)


— Democrats are concerned about climate change. Republicans are concerned about diaper change.


— Republicans like Fox News. Democrats like Wolf…Blitzer. (Never allow either one in the hen house.)


— Republicans say Democrats are soft on crime. Democrats say Republicans are hard on the poor.


— Democrats like electric cars. Republicans like electric chairs.


— Republicans oppose all forms of taxation and are against government spending. Democrats are quick to support taxation and expand government spending.


— Traditional Republicans like creme brûlée. Democrats like peanut butter. (Serious caveat: There are indications that this has been reversed in recent elections.)


— Democrats embrace critical race theory. Republicans defend the Indianapolis 500.


— Republicans are wary of the federal bureaucracy, calling it the “deep state.” Democrats are less concerned about the deep state than the deep throat.


—Democrats want to raise the debt ceiling. Republicans want to raise the roof.


— Republicans embrace “replacement theory” promulgated by Fox News. Democrats don’t care if they go bald.


— Errant Republicans get in trouble over sex. Misbehaving Democrats get in trouble over money.


— Republicans claim the Jan. 6 march on Washington was as innocent as a Sunday school picnic. Democrats say the attack on the Capitol was an insurrection threatening our democracy.


— (Here’s one that won’t surprise you.) Republicans hate President Biden and want to see him impeached. Democrats despise ex-President Trump and want to see him jailed.


So here we are.— a country divided against itself. How long can it stand?


Finally, I suppose there are committed politicians who will resent some of these observations of the differences between the two parties. That’s fine. I believe more politicians should be committed. Pick your asylum. 


Jim Heffernan is a former Duluth News Tribune news and opinion writer and continues as a columnist. He can be reached at and maintains a blog at 

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Bird flu under the cuckoo’s nest...


Written by By Jim Heffernan for the Duluth News Tribune/4-1-23

In honor of April Fools’ Day, here’s all the fake news that’s unfit to print.

DATELINE: EAST EGG, N.Y — The government announcement last week that American chickens should be vaccinated against bird flu has ruffled the feathers of the avian world, with many chickens and other of their feathered friends vowing to resist.


While some chickens have welcomed the news, a vocal minority is vociferously resisting the mandate, claiming the order infringes on their freedom and liberty to range freely. Others claim these resisters have gone “cuckoo…not to disparage a fellow bird,” sang songbird Jenny Wren.


Powerful Sen. Foghorn Leghorn, I-Moon, who has aligned himself with foul resisting vaccination, clucked: “I say, we will never submit to this, I say,

unconstitutional order by, I say, deranged leaders in the capitol, I say again.” Leghorn is known for peppering his orations with “I say.”


Speaking in favor of vaccinations, activist Desmond “Daffy” Duck noted, “I’m no chicken but this is a bird flu epidemic. We ducks and other feathered friends like loons and coots are threatened by bird flu as well, not to mention geese.” Among those others, grouse are said to be ruffled. Another duck leader, Donald, declined to comment.


Meanwhile, the leading foul expert in the National Institute of Bird, 

Fish, Insect and Reptile Safety (NIBFIRS), Dr Anthony Swan, has been berated and attacked by Sen. Leghorn’s followers, trumpeting expletives at him for advocating chicken vaccination.


One prominent opponent, Emmet “Chicken” Little, said, “The sky is falling,” when informed of the vaccination plans. “No chicks of mine will ever submit to it,” Chicken Little asserted, referring to his 200-plus offspring. “We lay a lot of eggs,” he noted, “not all of which become chickens per se,” adding that many become “breakfast.”


Not all in the avian community are resisting, however. A bird named Tweety (who declined to give her last name) said she doesn’t fear the vaccine but there are many other dangers threatening birds. “I tot I taw a puddy cat just this morning,” she chirped. Pigeons reportedly don’t care, nor do gulls.


Sources also said turkeys are becoming increasingly concerned. One, Thomas “Drumstick” Turkey, said if his fellow turkeys submit to vaccination, there won’t be much to be thankful for come Thanksgiving. “Of course, there never is much for us turkeys to be thankful for on Thanksgiving,” he lamented.


Rhode Island Red, anti-vaxer and spokeschicken for eastern bird breeds regardless of provenance, like the Baltimore Oriole, vowed to lead a chicken coup against the government if officials persist with bird flu vaccination efforts. “We’ll organize every coop in the country for this coup,” Rhode Island Red declared.


Seasonal bird migration is considered chiefly responsible for the spread of avian flu in the United States. Senator Leghorn called for erection of a huge net the length of the southern border to thwart further migration. “And I say we’ll get Nicaragua to pay for it,” Leghorn vowed.


Local ornithologists expressed concern that such a net could prevent arrival in the spring of welcome birds, citing the robin red breast, finches, thrushes, gulls, wrens, the scarlet tanager and the scarlet pimpernel. Roman Catholic leaders decried preventing cardinals from their annual visits. Pope Francis, who hails from South America, is said to have added this to his multifarious concerns.


“This chicken vaccination business is like inviting a wolf into the hen house,” said Ronald Raven, a spokesbird for many species of migrating birds. In response to a question from CNN asking if he believed he could be infected with bird flu, quoth Ron Raven, “nevermore.”


Film at 10.


Editor’s note: This exclusive report will be submitted for a Pullet Surprise.


Jim Heffernan is a former Duluth News Tribune news and opinion writer and continues as a columnist. He can be reached at and maintains a blog at

Saturday, March 4, 2023

It’s in to be thin, out to be stout–or not...

Oliver Hardy, 1938–Wikipedia
Written by By Jim Heffernan for the Duluth News Tribune/03-04-23

Talk about politically incorrect: Sportscaster Terry Bradshaw summoned Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid on the victory stand after the Super Bowl by telling Reid to “waddle over” to the mic.


Whew. Bradshaw has been excoriated on social media for this insult to the winning coach, who, if you take a good look at him, is pretty husky. Husky is a long-standing euphemism for “fat.” Few use “fat” anymore, not even when describing aging former football great Bradshaw himself, whose corpulence (another useful euphemism for “fat”) is quite obvious in his multifarious TV appearances analyzing pro football.


Got all that? It’s a pretty fat paragraph.


Why all this now, after the 2023 Super Bowl way back in February is largely forgotten, even if Fat Tuesday kicking off Lent isn't? It got me thinking about my days as a chubby — call me fat if you must — kid, a long, long time ago when peanut butter reigned supreme in my life.


Yup. I could wolf down three or four slices of folded toast slathered with peanut butter and dunked in milk for breakfast — every day. Then came a hearty lunch, followed by a meat-and-potatoes supper, gravy galore. Can’t ignore dessert — banana cream pie anyone? How about those after-school and before-bedtime snacks? Never missed them, chased with whole milk.


You pay a price for that, and my price was getting too weighty as I approached puberty. It showed up in my athletic abilities. When we had to run the 50-yard dash in seventh grade I clocked the second worst time in the whole class.


Also, in junior high gym class I couldn’t make it to the top of the climbing rope. I struggled to pull myself about half way up and had to slide back down, eliciting a disgusted look from the whistle-packing gym teacher.


I was humiliated. It lasted a couple of years, and then it pretty much ended by the time I got to high school when I shot up to just over six feet tall. But if you have ever been what the world sees as fat, you always feel kind of fat, no matter how you might slim down over the years.


So, I am sensitive about fatness, even if Terry Bradshaw apparently is not.


Fatness has a proud history in the United States, though. There was a time when it was openly acknowledged, and might be coming back. (To wit: Popular singer Lizzo, who put on a lot of her weight in the Twin Cities.)


Many show business luminaries of the past didn’t seem to mind being fat. There were the musicians Fats Waller, Fats Domino and Chubby Checker. Going way, way back a hundred years, one of the biggest male movie stars was a guy named Fatty Arbuckle. The villain in “From Here to Eternity” was Fatso Judson.


William Howard Taft is acknowledged to be our fattest U.S. president. Jiggle the letters in his last name around, and it even spells FATT. Then there was that popular radio and TV detective “The Fat Man,” who “tipped the scales” at 200 and some lbs. while solving crimes. 


Gee, I wonder how many of the rotund folks I’ve cited here are even recognized by most readers today.  Do many of our fellow Gopher State denizens remember Minnesota Fats? He was played by stout Jackie Gleason in a movie. Then there was lovable Oliver Hardy who won laurels as a fat movie comedian.


I also wonder if polka dancing fans still hop to the “Too Fat Polka” that was popular in the ‘50s. Those were harsh times. How about, “Fatty-fatty two-by-four, can’t get through the kitchen door.” Dreaded words by anyone carrying extra pounds, and so insensitive.


I think things are better now for the overweight. The words “morbidly obese” seem to have replaced “fat” in describing the greatly overweight. Morbidly? Cripes, I’m glad they didn’t put it that way when I was in junior high, though. It would have scared the living daylights out of my parents.



Jim Heffernan is a former Duluth News Tribune news and opinion writer and continues as a columnist. He can be reached at and maintains a blog at 


Saturday, February 4, 2023

Top secret documents revealed in Duluth...

PLEASE NOTE... My DNT (Duluth News Tribune) columns will now be published monthly, with my next in print column set for March 4, 2023. Please check my blog from time to time as I enjoy writing more often and might write a column on a whim here on this blog. So... stay tuned here. Jim

Written by Jim Heffernan for the DuluthNewsTribune 2/4/23

Holy smokes! This classified document business in Washington, D.C., has me shaking in my boots.

You’ve heard about it, haven’t you? It’s on the news constantly. Trump and Biden kept certain classified documents that were supposed to go to the national archives after they left office. Biden hasn’t left office, of course, but these documents are from after he left office as vice president. And now former V.P. Mike Pence is involved back home in Indiana.


It seems like that’s one of the biggest things going on the news — even bigger than the debt ceiling and climate change, not to mention the price of eggs and Taylor Swift concert tickets. Oh, and “Fibber” George Santos of course. (Did you know he is a direct descendent of Santo Claus?)


Now every time I hear another “breaking news” report about how the FBI has uncovered more documents, I wonder when they’ll be coming for me. Yup, you read that right. Little old me right here in Duluth.


Here’s why: When I was on U.S. Army active duty a long time ago (how long is an eon?) I and the other inductees were given manuals on how to do everything. I mean everything. You’ve heard of “the Army way,” right? There’s the Army way and then there is the way any normal person would do anything. They usually are not the same.


So, in training they handed out manuals telling troops how to do everything, like how to dress (put pants on one leg at a time), how to hang your uniforms in your locker, where to place your toothbrush in your foot locker, and so on and so forth. Oh, there were also manuals outlining how to sling a rifle over your shoulder like a continental soldier (even if your ears hang low and wobble to and fro) and how to pitch a pup tent even if you don’t have a dog. When I say everything, I mean everything.


The thing that has me spooked is that these manuals were always stamped “SECRET” or “TOP SECRET” in big blue letters on their covers. I guess they didn’t want the Russkis to find out things like how to tuck your fatigue pants into your boots without using blousing garters. The war was very cold during those years but not as cold as sleeping in a pup tent on bivouac in February.


After a short stint on active duty, I returned home to serve in the National 

Guard and Army Reserve for six years. This was a way of fulfilling what was called the “military obligation” of all non-bone-spurred American males (only males) once they turned 18 years old.


But enough history. The reason I’m concerned about the current classified documents imbroglio is that I might have a few of those “TOP SECRET” manuals left over from my military days stored in my garage. I can’t be sure, but I did end up with a few remnants of Army stuff after I got out.


What if the manual outlining how you must make your bed…er…your cot is out there? You know, how to fold the sheets and tuck the blankets so tight you could bounce a quarter off of them, and where to place the pillow. What if the Chinese got hold of that top secret information?


So lately I keep a wary eye out the window every time an “official” looking car passes by, in fear that they might be coming after my “top secret” manuals — if, indeed, there are any in my garage.


These are nervous times.


I’m also quite concerned about some Army flatware I ended up with — don’t know how. I have two forks, two knives and one spoon, all engraved with the letters U.S. on their handles. We have them in a kitchen drawer and use them quite frequently. Nothing like an Army knife for spreading peanut butter on toast.


But what if the FBI searches my house and finds these unintentionally purloined utensils sitting right there in our kitchen drawer? And wouldn’t they wonder why I have two each of knives and forks, but only one spoon?


I’d have to tell the FBI agents that our little dog laughed to see such a sight — when a dish ran away with the spoon. That was shortly after the cow jumped over the…well, you know.


Nervous times indeed.


Jim Heffernan is a former Duluth News Tribune news and opinion writer and continues as a columnist. He can be reached at and maintains a blog at 

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Practical ways to fend off robocalls...

Written by Jim Heffernan for the Duluth News Tribune/1-21-23

I got a call from Amy again today. I hear from her quite often, maybe you do too.


Amy sounds very friendly. “Hello, this is Amy from medical services,” she starts out. “You have been recommended by a medical professional to receive a free…”


Guess what? One of those devices the elderly wear around their necks in case they fall down and can’t get up. There’s also a TV commercial acting out the horrific scene where a white-haired older woman is lying on the floor, helpless. “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” she hollers.


Of course, if she had the life-saving necklace she’d get help right away from caravans of rescue personnel in siren-blaring fire department rigs seen exiting their garages en route to her home.


All well and good. They probably work and could help some people in danger of falling. I don’t know. I haven’t got one.


When Amy calls, I try to talk to her, but, of course, she is a pleasant-voiced recording. Her last name undoubtedly is Robo. Amy Robo who is singled out by my medical professionals to make me this stupendous “free” offer.


I wish Amy could hear my responses. I wish I could print them in the newspaper. The paper has standards that prevent that. I would also like to hear who these “medical professionals” are who somehow think I need such a devise. It might be consoling to know various medical professionals are watching over me without my knowledge.


Do I sound like a jerk? I hope not, but robo calls do get a little tiring, and I think they target people in my age group, which can only be described as “old as the hills.” Can’t help that.


But my favorite robo calls come from my “grandsons” and they are actually on the line and not recorded voices. “Grandpa,” they start out, and if you don’t hang up immediately, they tell you they are in jail with no money to bail them out and if good old Grandpa could send them some money…” Well, you know.


If you get that far, and you shouldn’t bother, you are making a mistake. There actually are reports that some grandpas or grandmas have been taken in by this scam.


A couple of times, just for the heck of it, I’ve tried to lead the alleged grandson on before they discreetly hang up. You don’t hear a hang-up click, but if they sense that you’re on to them they disappear into thin air.


Once or twice, though, I’ve been able to lead them on a bit. The secret is to respond to their “grandpa” greeting by saying a name. I prefer Kevin — I don’t know why. The caller figures he’s got you hooked:


“Grandpa?” he says when you answer. “Kevin?” you respond. “Yeah,” he comes back, figuring he’s got a comer. At that point he launches into his alarming story about being unjustly jailed somewhere and needs bail money right away.


So here we are: Kevin believes he has grandpa believing he’s actually a grandson in jail.


Here’s a suggestion for how to respond: “Kevin, I’m so glad you called. They’ve let me keep my cell phone here where I am in jail too and I need your help in getting me lined up with an attorney to defend me on a charge of very aggravated assault of a robo caller…’


At that point you sense that Kevin is no longer with us, in a telephone call sense.


Here’s another scenario you can use, free:


“Grandpa?” he opens. “Kevin?” Same old routine. Then off you go: “Boy, am I glad to hear from you at this time. I’m locked in an old warehouse where kidnappers have placed me after abducting me from my home.


“They want a $50,000 ransom to be delivered at midnight to a trash barrel on the corner of Main Street and Seventh Avenue. Place the money in a wrapped package and put it in the…”


Oops. Suddenly there is no one on the other end of the line. No responses, no clicks. Just silence followed by the dial tone.


These are just my suggestions for dealing with some robo calls. I’m sure you can come up with other stories, if you ever have a live person on the other end of the call. Or just hang up.


As for Amy Robo. She’ll likely call again today. And I hate to be ungrateful — she says she’s offering free goods, after all — but I want to shout, “Help, I’m getting another robo call, and I can’t hang up.”


Jim Heffernan is a former Duluth News Tribune news and opinion writer and continues as a columnist. He can be reached at and maintains a blog at 

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Too many bowls can spoil the soup...

Minnesota coach Murray Warmath with players L-R:  Dave Mulholland,
Bill Munsey, Sandy Stephens, & Roger Hagberg (1961)
www.the daily (2017)
Written By Jim Heffernan for the Duluth News Tribune/1-7-23

 So, the Minnesota Gophers football team won the Pinstripe Bowl. Wow. I forget the score; didn’t watch.


I always like to see the home team win, but, really, the Pinstripe Bowl? Whoever heard of that? (I’m not a sports fan so I haven’t heard of a lot of sports lore.)


So I looked it up. It’s called Pinstripe Bowl to pay homage to the New York Yankees’ famous pinstriped uniforms. And they play the game in Yankee Stadium, the house that Ruth didn’t build. His Yankee Stadium is long gone.


Never mind that the Yankees are a baseball team. Does this make sense? To honor them with a football bowl? Confusion reigns.


Let’s face it, college football “bowl” games have gotten out of control. I’m old enough (boy, am I ever) to recall a day when there were only about three bowl games that mattered, and the Rose Bowl was the king of bowls. The Orange bowl was lurking out there somewhere, and the Sugar Bowl’s been around for awhile, but none of them compared to the Rose Bowl.


I went to the Rose Bowl game in Pasadena, Calif., once, a long time ago. The Gophers played there after the1960 season and again the following year. I was there the first time when they lost to the Washington Huskies. I was going to the University of Minnesota Duluth “Branch” at the time. That’s what we were known as then.


And while we had the Bulldog football team here in Duluth, we were part of the U of M, meaning the Gophers going to the Rose Bowl was a pretty big deal. So two friends and I decided to drive to Pasadena to see the game.


It was quite an adventure. We almost got waylaid in Las Vegas on the way because it was so much fun there, and so cheap. But we pushed on to Pasadena in time to see the big Rose Bowl parade and game. (The entire Cartwright family from the old TV western “Bonanza” rode by on horseback. The ranks of people who remember “Bonanza” are thinning.)


The night before the big parade and game we decided to take a run into downtown Los Angeles from our Pasadena motel to see what was going on in the big city. It seemed kind of quiet on the streets, but for some reason we went to the big Biltmore Hotel looking for action.


Turns out It was the headquarters for the Washington Huskies, the team our Gophers would face the next day. The bar was filled with exuberant Washington fans (it doesn’t take long to get exuberant in a packed bar) and exuberance is kind of catchy, so we just joined right in toasting the Washington Huskies with their fans. Didn’t feel a bit of guilt but this is the first time I’ve publicly confessed it.


As we were exiting the Biltmore after celebrating our opposing team, in the lobby I ran into a Duluth kid I knew. He and a buddy were in navy uniforms and had hitchhiked up from their base San Diego for the game. What is the likelihood of meeting a Duluthian among the many millions surrounding us? The two sailors didn’t have a place to say so they wandered into the Biltmore hoping to catch a few winks of sleep on the lobby couches.


Didn’t happen. My acquaintance told me much later back in Duluth that the hotel’s night manager “caught” them, ordered them to follow him and gave them the presidential suite, at no charge. Now that’s patriotism.


On to the game the next day. We didn’t have tickets, but we went to the Rose Bowl stadium in hopes of securing some. Crowds were amassing outside the huge stadium (it could hold the entire population of Duluth) among kiosks decorated in the colors of the two teams — maroon and gold for Minnesota.


We walked up to a Minnesota window and asked if there were any tickets. Yes, there were, but you had to prove you were from Minnesota. We told them we were from Duluth so to prove that we had to answer a difficult question about the city. “What is the largest hotel in Duluth?” we were asked.


Well now, let’s see. Could it be the Spalding, Holland, Fifth Avenue, Lenox, or Hotel Duluth? We said Hotel Duluth, and they handed us tickets to the Rose Bowl for a few bucks. Pretty good seats, too. Ten yard line.


Of course Minnesota lost to our newfound friends from Washington. They did win over UCLA the next year, and that’s the last time the Gophers played in the Rose Bowl.


Now on to next season. Maybe they’ll get an invite to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl or the Guaranteed Rate Bowl or the Cheeze-It Bowl (I didn’t make those up). Is there a Toilet Bowl? I can hardly wait. If ya gotta go, ya gotta go.


Jim Heffernan is a former Duluth News Tribune news and opinion writer and continues as a columnist. He can be reached at and maintains a blog at