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June 29, 1932: Duluthian featured in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!”

On this day in 1932, newspapers across the country ran a “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” cartoon featuring Duluthian Clint Russel, a blind golfer. The cartoon shows Russel addressing the ball above the caption “C. F. Russel of Duluth, Minn. Although Totally Blind Shot an 84! Ridgeview Country Club, Duluth, Minn.” Clinton Francis Russell was born in Duluth on October 8, 1895. According to Duluth historian David Ouse, Russel’s father, Newell F. Russell, came to Duluth in 1888 and partnered with dairyman Henry Bridgeman to form the Bridgeman-Russel Co., Duluth’s first major production dairy. Clinton Russel went to work for his father. In 1924, on his way back to Duluth from a hunting trip, Russel’s car had a flat. As he was changing the tire, it blew up in his face, blinding him. After a few years he returned to work at Bridgeman-Russell, becoming treasurer of the company in 1929. Later, on a trip to California, he was walking a golf course with his father and brother and they urged him to take a swing. He did, and it renewed his interest in the game. For the next 20 years Russel played in a variety of matches set up against other blind golfers. The United States Blind Golf Association was formed in 1953 and Clinton Russell was given much credit for its formation as well as for being the first blind American to learn how to play golf and encouraging other sightless people to start the game. There is much more to Clinton Russel’s story, and you can read it here.

This Ripley’s Believe It or Not! cartoon appeared in the June 29, 1932 Duluth Herald. (Image: Duluth Public Library)