Maggie Lee dries a collection of campaign buttons after a fire at the Northfield News in 1964.

“What is Maggie doing?” I asked myself when I first saw this image a year or two ago in the back room of the Northfield News. Yesterday I finally got my answer.

I did know that it was taken just after a fire had badly damaged the Northfield News and Independent offices on November 19, 1964. At that time, they were located in the 300 block of Division Street, where Division Street Dance and Jenkins Jewelers are now.

As I was flipping through the News issues of that time to learn more about the fire for this blog post, I found this same photo in the paper alongside Maggie’s regular column, “For Women Only.”

What was Maggie doing at 12:30 a.m. after the Big Fire? Polishing buttons.

You may remember that during the final weeks of the election campaign, we had a colorful collection of buttons of campaigns past in one of The News windows. It started with a little boxful of buttons that Carl had saved through the years and was augmented by interesting ones from three or four other Northfielders …

Well, when our “holocaust” was over, the office furniture had been moved to 321 Division, I had returned from a special dinner that I “covered” and had spent three hours wringing water out of various and sundry items, I suddenly remembered those intriguing buttons.

“Oh, they’ll just be all rusty,” said Carl. “Not if I dry them,” I retorted. He found them frozen to placard and window floor, pulled them loose and I was busy polishing as Rollie Finner, Carleton College staff photographer dropped in!

All this is to say that the Northfield History Collaborative has now added 70 negatives from the Northfield News fire of 1964. Even if fire fighters, fire, smoke, or the Northfield News don’t interest you, there are some great shots of downtown and half the town watching the event!