Sidney Buchman, 1902-1975, Film Producer, Writer

From the 1919 Zenith Central Yearbook

 

Sidney Robert Buchman (shown here in 1919) was born on March 27, 1902, in Duluth. His parents were Robert Buchman and Sarah (Zalk) Buchman. Robert was born in Russia in 1874, immigrated to the U.S., and settled in Duluth around 1895. He worked as a clothing merchant and for a while owned his own store, Buchman and Josephs, at 116 West Superior Street. On February 20, 1898, he married Sarah Zalk in a wedding ceremony in the large second-floor hall in the Kalamazoo Building at 18 West Superior Street in Duluth. As the Duluth News Tribune related the next day, “seldom if ever before in the history of Duluth has there been a larger attendance at a Jewish wedding.” Mayor Truelsen was one of the 200 guests and gave a speech congratulating the new couple. Sarah Zalk was the daughter of Max Zalk, who was born in Poland and moved to Duluth in 1884. He was president of the Duluth Iron & Metal Co.

Robert and Sarah lived at 502 East First Street, later moving for a while to Superior, Wisconsin, and then back to Duluth in homes at 421 First Avenue West, 120 East Fourth Street, and finally building their own brick home at 110 West Fifth Street. Robert continued to work in retail clothing sales but eventually took a job in his father-in-law’s metal business. They had four children: Moses, born on March 22, 1900; Sidney; Marian, born on February 13, 1910; and Harold, born on June 24, 1912. Sidney apparently had a typical childhood and earned money with a paper route in the Central Hillside. He later complimented the area, saying that he hadn’t realized that he had “grown up in one of the real melting pots of the world” that demonstrated “complete race harmony.” Sidney was a popular and successful student at Central High School. He was active as an athlete, participating on the football and track teams and serving as captain of the basketball team in his senior year. He also was sports editor of the school newspaper and business manager of the senior class play, and he won the Wallace Cup for oratory in his junior year. Sidney graduated from Central in 1919 and was chosen to be a commencement speaker. From high school, Sidney went on to the University of Minnesota, enrolling in the pre-med program. He left the Twin Cities after a year of studies, however. His parents and siblings moved to New York City in October of 1919, and Sidney moved there in 1920, enrolling at Columbia University where he later received his degree. After graduating, Sidney traveled to England in February of 1924 to study at Oxford. He left Oxford after a few weeks, later referring to the rigid caste system of the English university. He traveled for a while in France and Italy, worked at the Old Vic Theatre in London, and then returned to New York City. For the next eight years he worked as a playwright in New York and had two plays produced—This One Man and Storm Song. Continue reading

Enger Park Golf Course Opens, 1927.

Judge C.R. Magney hits the first ball at Enger Park, July 2, 1927. From Duluth News Tribune, July 3, 1927.

Judge C.R. Magney hits the first ball at Enger Park, July 2, 1927. From Duluth News Tribune, July 3, 1927.

Duluth’s Enger Municipal Golf Course opened on July 2, 1927. The course was named for Bert J. Enger, who donated $50,000 to the city for the development of park and recreational facilities. The original course was nine holes, but a second nine was added within a couple of years. In addition to speeches, the dedication ceremonies featured an 18-hole medal tournament and driving contests for both men and women. Judge Clarence R. Magney, the former mayor, drove the first ball from the No. 1 tee.

New Clubhouse at Enger Park, 1927. From Duluth News Tribune, July 1, 1927.

The Darling Observatory 1917 – 1972

Darling Observatory, ca. 1930. From the Duluth Public Library slide collection

 
John Henry Darling, a civil engineer from Michigan, came to Duluth in 1884 when he was appointed principal assistant engineer for harbor improvements on Lake Superior, Duluth district. He was heavily involved in the development of the Duluth harbor, the piers, and the breakwater. When he retired in 1913, he focused his energies on travel and his hobby of astronomy.
 
 In 1915, Mr. Darling asked the Duluth City Council for permission to construct, at his own expense, an observatory that would be open to the public to allow people to view celestial objects and to educate them in astronomy. The Council granted him the necessary permission on December 6, 1915, and construction began the following year on a site at Ninth Avenue West and Third Street, next to a city playground and near Mr. Darlings home at 532 West Third Street. Complications regarding the completion of the steel dome caused delays, but the observatory opened in May of 1917, with a long waiting list of people interested to use it. The total cost of the building and equipment was about $12,000, paid entirely by Mr. Darling.   
 
The Darling Observatory had a steel dome 19 feet in diameter and a nine-inch refracting telescope. The building was open six or seven evenings each month for public viewing and lectures on astronomy. Mr. Darling personally oversaw the operations for years and, when he grew too old, hired an assistant. When Mr. Darling died in 1942, at the age of 95, the building was turned over to the city of Duluth. It later became the property of UMD, which operated the observatory into the 1960s. The building was torn down in 1972.

Mr. Darling and nine-inch refracting telescope, ca. 1930. From Popular Astronomy, November 1930.

Enger Tower Dedication

With the impending visit to Duluth of Norway’s King Harald V this October, and the plans for a rededication of Enger Tower at the same time, we wanted to show the program from the original dedication of Enger Tower on June 15, 1939.

Norway’s Crown Prince Olav and Princess Martha (Harald’s parents) arrived in Duluth in the afternoon to dedicate the tower. After his address, in which he honored Bert J. Enger for his generous gifts to the city, the Prince unveiled a plaque to be affixed to the tower which read:

Enger Observation Tower
To the memory of Bert J. Enger
1864-1931
Native of Norway
Citizen of Duluth

It was estimated by the Duluth Herald that 5,000 people attended the ceremony. Afterwards, people were allowed to enter and inspect the tower.
Click on the images of the program below to enlarge.

Enger Tower dedication program

Enger Tower dedication program

Duluth Blizzard of 1892

The blizzard of Wednesday, March 9, 1892, began about 4:00 a.m. with snow and winds of around 30 miles per hour.  By 3:30 p.m. the winds were clocked at 60 miles per hour, and four feet of snow had fallen by dawn on Thursday.   Street car service was suspended after noon on Wednesday because of snow accumulating on the tracks—even with the new electric rotary snow plow trying to clear it.  The incline railway was not hindered by the storm.  One man was killed when the smokestack at the Merritt & Rings saw mill in West Duluth blew over and crashed through the mill roof.  Snow drifts of twenty feet formed on the north side of Superior Street, forcing business owners to tunnel through the snow to get to their doorways.  Hundreds of signs and billboards were demolished and roofs damaged by the wind.  On Rice’s Point, the wheat elevators sustained $15,000 worth of damage to their roofs.  An estimated $50,000 to $80,000 of damages were expected from the storm. 

Duluth Daily Tribune, March 10 and 11, 1892  

Superior Superior Street after blizzard–looking east.
Northeast Minnesota Historical Center

Superior Superior Street looking west after snowstorm–from Second Avenue East.
Northeast Minnesota Historical Center