Fawcett’s True Confessions


On February 15, 1922, a new paper appeared: The Robbinsdale Northern Headlights, George Archard, Editor It was a four-page paper, published twice a week, Wednesday and Saturday. It continued until 1933 . Later the Hennepin County Enterprise, and still later the Robbinsdale Post gave us the news- In the Northern Headiights, Robbinsdale was proclaimed to be ‘Minneapolis’ finest and best residential suburb” with a population of 3000. The Northern Headiights bragged about Robbinsdale’s “Progressive Community Spirit, Wide Awake Commercial Club, thriving religious institutions, finest school in the State . . . best water (by analysis) in the State, thirty-minute car service, broad level streets, two miles of paving, four splendid lakes within or adjacent to its borders, no palaces, no hovels.”

There was an influenza epidemic in February and March. Bandits held up Bob Jaeger’s Chicken Tavern on Crystal Lake Avenue and took $70.

An editorial in the March 18 issue of The Northern Headlights urged the stopping of cutting of ice for commercial purposes, “as it lowers the water level of the lakes and will eventually cause the lakes to be nothing but mud holes.” Most families had ice boxes and would order ice by putting in the window a card stipulating “25” or “50” pounds. Ice cutting operations on the lakes were not without hazards—like falling in. Ice blocks were stored in barns with sawdust and hay which kept it frozen even through the summer months.

The February 15th issue said “the races on Crystal Lake attract larger crowds every week. Streetcars from both directions are crowded.” Horse racing was a very popular sport for both racers and spectators.

The Fawcett Publications Company was founded in 1920 to put out Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang. In the beginning Fawcett and his wife handled the business from their home. It was very successful from a financial point of view and financed later magazines until their circulation became profitable. By 1922, 400,000 copies a month of the various magazines, mostly Whiz-Bangs, were circulated to all parts of the world. Better accommodations were needed and Captain Billy approached the bank about a new building for the use of both the bank and the publications. In March, 1922, it was announced that the “Security State Bank will erect a new two-story building on the site of the present structure. The bank will occupy the ground floor and the Fawcett Publication on the second floor.”

So the bank fixtures were moved into the Mengelkoch-Bofferding Garage
(later the site of the Red Owl Store, now McDonald’s parking lot) during the change. The building was erected quickly and in August the bank was installed in its new quarters. On July 19, Vol. 1 No. 1 of a new magazine True Confessions was issued, “a highly colored publication both as to cover and contents,” said the newspaper notice. The expansion of the Fawcett business was so rapid that within six months it was necessary to increase the floor space three times, by adding another building at the rear and another story on the top. Mr. L. I. Nasett recalled one of the heavy days after the company started in business, when 13,000 post cards were purchased, and several hundred dollars in stamps. Mr. Nasett was Postmaster then of the Fourth Class Post Office, which soon was raised to third class and on July 1, 1922, to second class. In 1930, the publication’s offices were moved to Minneapolis but the Fawcetts were loyal to the village and continued to bring their magazines to be mailed from Robbinsdale until the firm was moved to the East. ‘Robbinsdale’s July celebration “Whiz Bang Days” was named after Fawcett’s publications.

In 1928. Cedric Adams, noted columnist and radio commentator, joined Fawcett Publication as an associate editor. Actually, he had been “turning out jokes” for Whiz Bang during his years at the University. Cedric and Virginia Safford, who also worked for Fawcett at that time, were good friends and both remembered their happy days working in Robbinsdale. Mary Clasen, whose husband (Robert) was in charge of the water department, worked as a waitress at Ivan Wagner’s Cafe next to the Fawcett buildiiig. She remembers Cedric Adams and remembers “the hole in the wall between the buïldings and helping push 35 dinners a day through the hole to the Fawcett employees.

Because of the building boom, the County Commissioners to pave 8.7 miles of the Rockford Road (42nd Avenue) at a cost of over $100,000. This came after about thirty years of disagreement.


This post is part of a series loosely based on the book Robbinsdale Then and Now by Helen Blodget.