A look back at 40 years of neighborhood news

The second issue of the Seward Profile

In this — the first of a week-long series, beginning Monday, of remembrances of The Bridge and its predecessor newspapers — Editor Jeremy Stratton tours the archives, speaks with former Southeast editor Ted Tucker and finds some constants in the changing landscape over the past 40 years. Monday: Publisher Becky Clawson

Even as we head into an uncertain yet exciting future, it is with heavy heart that we put to rest The Bridge newspaper, the final (for now, at least) descendant of a 40-year history of community print journalism in South and Southeast Minneapolis.

In April 1969, the Seward Neighborhood Group (SNG) published the first Seward neighborhood newsletter; the next month, the second issue announced that sisters and Seward School students Cheri and Karey Getz had won the naming contest. Their submission: the Seward Profile.

Six years later, on the other side of the river, a newspaper called Southeast published its first issue in the spring of 1975. The news, looking back, seems familiar to today’s local headlines: a proposal to create a new model for “citizen involvement at the community level;” the safety of a local bridge following the collapse of a railroad bridge due to a derailment.

In the first of the following reminiscences of publications gone by, Bridge Publisher Becky Clawson eloquently addresses this “the more things change…” aspect of community news on the most personal of levels. It’s a theme that kept coming up as we talked or collected written memories of the papers. Ted Tucker — who volunteered as “temporary editor” of Southeast for 15 years — joked that he quit “after I’d written the same story three times over.”

Tucker credited Bill Richardson and Gail Halling with the founding of the paper, and he recalled setting type on the “Just-O’-Writer” until the machine was beyond repair. During one issue, “things totally fell apart,” said Tucker, and a couple of issues were produced on IBM Selectric typewriters.

“We always did whatever we could to keep it going,” he said. “It always came out.”

While many of the issues, names and faces have remained the same, there are obvious signs of change in the papers that chronicled decades of history and development in the heart of the city. Leafing through the bound copies, Tucker came upon the once-regular October story about the River Ramble, a riverfront walk that “drew attention to the riverfront at a time when people didn’t know it was there or had any possibility,” he recalled.

The walk featured once-a-year access to the then-operational Stone Arch railroad bridge, the U of M riverfront area (near the east end of now-pedestrian Bridge #9) and Hennepin Island, where the public can now get a close-up, everyday, of St. Anthony Falls, thanks to Water Power Park.

A look back through the archives reveals changes in the paper itself (see images, right), as well as some constants. Southeast Publications Corporation, the volunteer board behind Southeast newspaper, still owns and governs The Bridge. Longtime editor Chris Steller’s personal recollections range from his boyhood days hand-delivering Southeast to his adult years captaining the papers as editor — a remarkable legacy.

Likewise, Dan Nordley has been breathing life into the papers for 20 years — from the early days as volunteer editor in his basement to his ascent to publisher, and beyond, at Triangle Park Creative. The July 1993 Profile features Nordley’s patented humor: a photo of G-men running with rifles (actually the local filming of a movie) beneath the real-story headline “Neighborhood Steps Up Efforts To Catch Elusive Graffiti Vandals.”

There are far too many people to credit and thank, but they are there in the past issues — the publishers, editors, writers, photographers, designers, proofreaders, contributors, sources and advertisers that collectively chronicled, page by page, month by month, year after year, an epic history of a community of neighborhoods.

As this last issue of The Bridge newspaper was being laid out and Seward prepared to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Matthews Park, I came across the Oct. 1969 issue of the Seward Profile, a four-page, single-sheet fold. Its headline read: “Dedication of Charles E. Matthews Park, Sunday Oct. 12.” It seemed to say to me that even the things that stay the same change (or vice versa), and that the stuff of our communities — people, places, even newspapers — may come and go, but they form the foundation of the one constant: the community itself.

last revised: June 5, 2009