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Part 3: 150 Minnesota moments we’d just as soon forget

PART 3 The state sets a record for below-zero temperatures and politicians continue to misbehave in the final installment of MinnPost’s “150 Minnesota moments we’d just as soon forget.” (Part 1 | Part 2)

Part 3

Paul Bunyan's "Sweetheart"
Minnesota Historical Society
Paul Bunyan’s “Sweetheart,” 1962

The state sets a record for below-zero temperatures and politicians continue to misbehave in the final installment of MinnPost’s “150 Minnesota moments we’d just as soon forget.” Part one. Part two.


Oct. 28 — Two weeks before the gubernatorial election, popular candidate Jon Grunseth quits the race after accusations surface that he swam nude with teenage girls.

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Oct. 31 — Mother Nature plays a mean Halloween trick: the beginning of a three-day storm that dumps 2 to 3 feet of snow from the Twin Cities to Duluth. By the third day, 36.9 inches of snow cover the ground, making this the largest single storm in state history.

A wind whips across frozen Birch Lake, decapitating the wooden head of Paul Bunyan’s purported wife “like a guillotine,” according to “Weird Minnesota.” Residents of Hackensack, Minn., find a new head for Mr. Minnesota’s bride.
Feb. 20 — Hal Greenwood Jr., chairman of the failed Midwest Federal Savings and Loan Association, is sentenced to 46 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $3.6 million for racketeering involving the institution’s collapse.

The Timberwolves finish with the worst record in the National Basketball Association; they fall to third place in the draft lottery and get Christian Laettner instead of Shaq.       

June 16 — Minnesota experiences its busiest tornado day ever with 27 recorded twisters. The largest tornado in this family is an F5 that struck Chandler, Minn., killing one.               

Aug. 11 — Born to shop? If not, the Fall of America — oops, the Mall of America, the nation’s largest retail and entertainment center — opens on the former site of the beloved Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington.    

April 13 — The Minnesota North Stars hockey team plays its final game, losing to Chicago 3-2, before moving to Dallas.

The Minnesota North Stars versus the L.A. Kings, Nov. 4, 1967.
Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society/Photo by St. Paul Dispatch & Pioneer Press
The Minnesota North Stars versus the L.A. Kings, Nov. 4, 1967.

Prince, the diminutive musician, changes his name to a symbol. Publications unable to duplicate the symbol simply refer to him as “the artist formerly known as Prince” or TAFKAP.

Kristen Pfaff
Photo by Daniel Corrigan
Kristen Pfaff, 1992

Minneapolis bassist Kristen Pfaff, of Hole and Janitor Joe, dies of an apparent heroin overdose in Seattle.

Casey, a 400-pound gorilla, scales a 15-foot concrete wall and wanders around the Como Zoo in St. Paul for 45 minutes while kindergarteners, their chaperones and other visitors are ushered to safety. The visitors are freed after Casey is shot with a tranquilizer gun and returned to his indoor enclosure.

Bob Stinson
Photo by Daniel Corrigan
Bob Stinson, circa 1993

Bob Stinson, founding member and lead guitarist for The Replacements, dies after years of drug and alcohol abuse.   

Feb. 2 — Coldest temperature recorded in the state’s history: minus 60 in Tower.

Though University of Minnesota transplant surgeon John Najarian is acquitted of all charges involving a program that developed and manufactured a transplant drug called ALG, the U’s medical school suffers a severe blow in standing after receiving sanctions from the National Institutes of Health.
June 30 — The New York Times writes about Murderapolis, er, Minneapolis, in an article headlined “Nice City’s Nasty Distinction: Murder Soars in Minneapolis.”

Tiny Tim
Tiny Tim

The day after Thanksgiving, Roseville dentist Gerald Dick, his wife, Judy, and two of their grown children are arrested after a cross-dressing shoplifter helps police set up a sting in which the family allegedly purchases stolen designer duds and goods from Dayton’s in their home, a short jaunt from the Rosedale store. Only Judy Dick is later convicted of the charges, but the case receives international publicity and provides plenty of late-night fodder for the likes of Jay Leno.       

Nov. 30 — While playing “Tiptoe through the Tulips” at a gala benefit at The Woman’s Club of Minneapolis, singer Tiny Tim suffers a heart attack on stage and dies later at Hennepin County Medical Center.

The Twin Cities Reader is purchased by Stern Publishing and shuttered.

Andrew Cunanan
Andrew Cunanan

New entry: Above-freezing temperatures for 27 days on top of above-average snowfall lead to massive flooding in early April in East Grand Forks, Minn., and Grand Forks, N.D. One report finds all but eight houses in East Grand Forks are damaged by flood waters from the Red River.

In late April and early May, two men are killed in Minnesota; the suspect, Andrew Cunanan, is thought to have killed two more before shooting fashion designer Gianni Versace to death two months later in Miami. Cunanan later committed suicide after being cornered by police on a houseboat.

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Local ownership of the Star Tribune goes away with the Sacramento-based McClatchy chain’s purchase of the state’s largest newspaper for $1.4 billion. Nine years later, a private equity firm called Avista buys the paper for $530 million.               

A police van plows into a crowd of spectators, killing two and injuring several others during the Holidazzle parade in downtown Minneapolis.

Gary Anderson
Gary Anderson

Jan. 17 — Gary Anderson, who had connected on 44 successive field goals, misses a 38-yard field goal attempt that would have clinched victory for the record-setting Minnesota Vikings over the Atlanta Falcons. But following his miss, the Falcons tie the game in the last two minutes of regulation and win in overtime.               

March 3 — The Pioneer Press exposes an academic cheating scandal in the University of Minnesota’s men’s basketball program. Coach Clem Haskins later negotiates a contract buyout, the NCAA puts the team on probation for four years, and the Pioneer Press wins a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage.
June 7 — Honeywell is sold to Allied Signal Inc. in a $13.8 billion stock deal that costs Minneapolis one of its major corporate headquarters and 4,000 people their jobs.

Sara Jane Olson
Sara Jane Olson

June 16 — St. Paul homemaker and mother Sara Jane Olson is arrested for crimes committed in the 1970s when she was Symbionese Liberation Army member Kathleen Soliah. In 2002 she is sentenced to 14 years for attempted murder in connection with police car bombings in California, and in 2003 she is sentenced to six years after pleading guilty to second-degree murder for her role in the killing of Myrna Opsahl.

November — Playboy publishes an interview with new Gov. Jesse “The Body” Ventura, who says, among other things: “If I could be reincarnated as a fabric, I would come back as a 38 double-D bra.”

Malik Sealy
Malik Sealy

Minnesota Timberwolves player Malik Sealy, on his way home from teammate Kevin Garnett’s birthday party, is killed by a drunk driver traveling the wrong way down the highway in St. Louis Park.           
All Dayton’s department stores are rebranded Marshall Field’s. The worst is yet to come, though, when in 2005 new owner Federated not only changes all the stores to the Macy’s nameplate but changes much of the merchandising as well.

Zacarias Moussaoui
Zacarias Moussaoui

Aug. 15 — Almost a month before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, FBI agents based in Minneapolis are unable to get approval from higher echelons elsewhere to obtain a criminal search warrant for the laptop of Zacarias Moussaoui, who had aroused the suspicions of his instructors at a commercial flight training school in Minnesota.

Oct. 25 — A plane carrying U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, his wife, Sheila, and daughter Marcia, three staff members and two pilots crashes two miles from the Eveleth, Minn., airport, killing all on board. Pilot error is eventually ruled as the cause of the crash.

Sen. Paul Wellstone
Sen. Paul Wellstone

Oct. 29 — The memorial service for Sen. Paul Wellstone and others killed in the Oct. 25 plane crash turns into a political rally that offends many including Gov. Jesse Ventura, who leaves in the middle of the service. Many believe the tone of the event set the stage for Republican Norm Coleman to defeat former Vice President Walter Mondale, the Democrat who stepped in to run for Wellstone’s seat that fall.

Hockey Hall of Fame’s Herb Brooks, coach of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Miracle on Ice team at Lake Placid, N.Y., is killed in a one-car accident on Interstate 35 near Forest Lake, Minn.               

Feb. 17 — A pyrotechnics accident lights the Fine Line Music Cafe ceiling on fire. The Minneapolis club’s staff quickly guides all patrons to safety and no one is injured.           

Kirby Puckett denies dragging a woman into a restaurant bathroom and groping her, claiming later that he had only offered to escort her there.
Sept. 24 — Fifteen-year-old Jason McLaughlin shoots two of his schoolmates at Rocori High School in Cold Spring, Minn., both of whom later die of their injuries.               

Sixteen-year-old Jeff Weise goes on a bloody rampage on the Red Lake Indian reservation, killing his grandfather, his grandfather’s companion, a teacher, a school security guard and five students at Red Lake High School before turning the gun on himself. A dozen others are wounded.

Karl Mueller
Photo by Daniel Corrigan
Karl Mueller, 1992

Karl Mueller, bassist and founding member of Soul Asylum, dies after a battle with throat cancer.
Minnesota Vikings players Daunte Culpepper, Fred Smoot, Bryant McKinnie and Moe Williams are charged with indecent conduct, disorderly conduct and lewd or lascivious conduct stemming from an October chartered boat cruise (dubbed the booty cruise) on Lake Minnetonka.               

An original pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” is stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn., where they had been displayed on loan.

Kirby Puckett
REUTERS/Mike Segar
Kirby Puckett during his Hall of Fame induction ceremony

May 24 — The New York Times breaks the story that the death of a 21-year-old college student from Grand Rapids, Minn., might have been prevented if Arden Hills-based Guidant Corp. had disclosed to physicians that a flaw could cause some implantable cardiac defibrillators to short-circuit in patients. The case leads to massive recalls of the electronic heart devices and hundreds of lawsuits.

March 7 — Baseball Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett, who helped lead the Minnesota Twins to World Series titles in 1987 and 1991, dies after suffering a stroke. He was 45.
The Cavity Lake Fire burns 31,830 acres in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Gretchen Carlson
Fox News Channel
Gretchen Carlson

Jan. 10 — Fox News Channel’s Gretchen Carlson, born in Anoka and crowned Miss America in 1989, refers to U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., as a “hostile enemy … right here on the home front” while interviewing White House counselor Dan Bartlett.

Jan. 23 — First-year Congresswoman Rep. Michele Bachmann won’t let go of President George W. Bush until he lets her kiss him after his State of the Union address.

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March — Pioneer Press Publisher Par Ridder, scion of the Ridder family who owned the St. Paul paper for several decades, defects to the rival Minneapolis-based Star Tribune, taking with him a laptop loaded with proprietary financial information. A judge later orders Ridder to leave the Strib for a year, ruling that his “misconduct” caused the Pioneer Press “irreparable harm.” Ridder subsequently resigns.

Interstate 35W bridge
REUTERS/Scott Cohen
Remains of the Interstate 35W bridge

Aug. 1 — The Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River collapses in Minneapolis, killing 13 and injuring 145 people, and prompting an analysis of bridge maintenance nationwide.

Sen. Larry Craig
Sen. Larry Craig

Aug. 27 — Roll Call breaks the story that Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, was arrested in June for indecent exposure in a men’s restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Earl Root, host of KFAI’s “The Root of All Evil” for more than 20 years, the owner of Root Cellar Records and a pillar of the Twin Cities metal scene, dies at age 46 from non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Johan Santana
REUTERS/Eric Miller
Johan Santana

Twins pitching ace Johan Santana is traded to the New York Mets.

May 28 — A 2-year-old boy is killed after an F-3 tornado hits Hugo, destroying his family’s home and about 340 dwellings.

Kevin Garnett
REUTERS/Larry W. Smith
NBA champ Kevin Garnett, center

June 17 — Kevin Garnett finally wins the NBA championship after 12 frustrating years with the Timberwolves basketball team. Only he wins it in 12 short months — after being traded to the Boston Celtics.

Note to readers: Did MinnPost miss anything you’d just as soon forget? Please comment below and include sources of information. We’ll consider revising this list. Surely we could lose a weather event or two, maybe even a sports disaster. Or we could just give our list a new name: “150-plus Minnesota moments we’d just as soon forget.”

150 Minnesota moments we’d just as soon forget: Part 1 | Part 2

Credits: This concept can be blamed on News Editor Casey Selix, but she could not have compiled the list without the wit and wisdom of reporters Doug Grow, David Hawley, Joe Kimball and David Brauer. Nor could the list have been executed without the brilliant expertise and contributions of Web Editor Corey Anderson, News Editor Don Effenberger, Co-Managing Editor Susan Albright and Office Manager Virginia Kujawa.