The Superior Express -

Editor's Notebook


October 20, 2022

This newspaper’s Esbon community correspondent, Kate Gurka, regularly contrasts life in the rural Midwestern town of Esbon and the much larger out-of-state city she previously lived in. I enjoy reading Kate’s column and getting to see the community of Esbon through the eyes of a transplant.

Though I am far from a transplant, being the third generation of Blauvelts to have been born and lived within 15 miles of Superior, this week I personally experienced both the joy of living here and sadness that accompanies changes in our communities.

I have accepted the fact that many residents of my home community classify me as one of the town characters because I regularly ride a bicycle on my jaunts about town.

Once they are old enough to obtain a driver’s license, most residents of this community drive everywhere they go. It isn’t uncommon for folks to elect to drive when they are only going a block or so.

For short jaunts about town, I prefer my bicycle. It is quick, quiet and provides needed exercise. I’m selective where I go and try to avoid long hills for I remember the challenge posed by the hill between my childhood home and Superior. It was fun going down the hill and into town but the last half mile of the return trip home was a struggle.

As a child I dreamed of growing up and adapting a ski slope lift to pull bicycles up Blauvelt’s Hill.

After riding a bicycle about Superior regularly for more than 50 years, this old editor and his bicycle are recognized all over town.

Most years I have ridden an older, single speed bicycle for I like the way the rider sits up straight on the bike and I can carry things in my hands and use the coaster brake when it is necessary to stop or slow down.

In recent years, I had a quality multi-gear bicycle given to me. It was fast and handled the in-town hills with ease. When first given to me, I kept it locked in the garage. I didn’t ride it frequently and when I did want to ride it, the tires were most always flat. I decided there was no need to keep the bike if I wasn’t going to use it. I got it out and made it my daily rider. I learned to like riding the bike but I disliked the hassle of locking it when parked. I left it unlocked one night on the back step of my home. Someone apparently needed it more than I did and it disappeared without a trace. When a friend learned my bike was missing, I was given another multi-speed bike. Though not of the same quality as the stolen Trek bicycle, after tuning and adjusting, it was a suitable replacement. I have been reluctant to make it my everyday rider for fear it would also be appropriated like the blue Trek. This week, it is locked in the garage with flat tires.

While I keep hoping the Trek will be recovered, I know there is little chance of that happening.

Many Superior residents recognize my daily rider. I’ve been known to ride it, get distracted, forget I had the bicycle and walk back to work only to have someone call later in the day and ask why I had left my bicycle sitting in front of their business.

Saturday evening, I rode the familiar bike home from work and left it by the back door. Sunday afternoon, with freezing temperatures on the way, Rita and I decided we should put the garden hoses away and move a few plants and other things inside. I stepped out of the house, planning to hop on the bike for a four-block trip after a pickup truck. It was then I noticed the bike was missing. I looked around the neighborhood, expecting someone was playing a joke and I would find the bike. Didn’t see it.

After completing the afternoon moving tasks, I posted a lost bike report on a social media site.

Friends immediately began commenting and sharing my post. Within 12 hours, 21 friends had shared my post and one friend had reported the location of the bike.

Before getting down to seriously working on Monday morning, Rita and I went to the reported location to check. It was indeed my old blue and white, single speed, girls’ bike with chrome fenders, rusted handle bars, cracked seat and an expired bicycle license issued in another town to another owner.

It is good to have the old bike back because it makes travelling about Superior much easier than walking and depending upon the distance it can be faster than driving.

While I am sad to think there are people in Superior who will stoop so low as to steal a bicycle, it is reassuring to know there are people living in Superior who care and are willing to help. The bike was ditched in plain sight but without their help, I probably would never have found it.

Not only did I get a call and message telling me where to find the bicycle, I also received another interesting call.

I had just gotten back with the bike when a fella who lives in the east part of town called the office to inquire about my bicycle. After seeing my stolen bike post, he had driven the town. He expected to find the bicycle abandoned in an alley or dumped in a creek. Not until he drove by the newspaper office did he see a bike which fit my description. He observed there were three bikes parked outside the newspaper and asked if people were donating bicycles to the editor and said one looked like the stolen bike.

I was happy to report the lost bike had been found and was back in service.

And if I find out who stole the bike, another friend reported he knew how to break legs and offered his services should they be needed.

Breaking legs may be a bit extreme but I would encourage the thief’s parents to give their child a good paddling of the kind I would have gotten from my dad had I stolen a bicycle.


Had an emergency at the newspaper office Tuesday morning. One of the workers came in talking about a picture she had taken on the way to work. She reached for her phone to show her coworkers the picture but the phone was missing. She retraced her steps, searched her vehicle and another worker began dialing her number thinking the ringing phone would reveal its location. That didn’t work for the ringer had been turned off for work. The phone wasn’t in the vehicle or laying in a obvious place in the newspaper plant.

Later in the morning, the lost was found. Guess where? On the worker’s chair.

The workers who produced the first copy of The Superior Express in January of 1900 didn’t have that problem for The Express didn’t have either a cell phone or a landline for the first issues. All reporting was done face-to face. Travel reports were a mainstay for the paper and a reporter generally met each train and took note of who got off and on.

And unlike a few years later when the letters used for printing were formed of molten lead, they didn’t have to wait for a lead pot to warm up before starting to work. On picture day I often came in two hours early to begin printing the pictures for that week’s issue. Frequently, I was asked to light the casting box fire so it would be ready when the rest of the backshop crew arrived. The casting metal, a combination of lead, antimony and tin, melted at 627 degrees. We had four gas fired pots that were kept hot 24/7 and two others that were heated as needed.

In the first years of the this newspaper, handset type was used exclusively. That meant each letter was hand picked from a type case and placed in the page form. Once that issue was printed, all of the type had to be redistributed back into the type case before work began on the next issue.


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