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The Budgeter becomes the Budgeteer

Budgeteer founder Herb Palmer, left, and his son, Dick, in 1985. (Photo by Bob King, News-Tribune & Herald)1 / 3
The Budgeter in 1957.2 / 3
The first issue to carry the name "Budgeteer" instead of "Budgeter," May 1, 1952.3 / 3

Prior to founding the Budgeteer, Herb Palmer worked as a musician in the pit orchestras of movie theaters. One evening he was drumming at the Grenada Theatre and rolled the drums, frightening a young female usher who jumped into his lap. She would become his wife, Annie.

In 1927 along came “The Jazz Singer” and sound films provided their own music, throwing thousands of musicians out of work. On top of that the Great Depression came along in 1929.

In 1931 Palmer saw a flyer put out by the J.J. Thorp grocery story. Having once published his own newspaper in school, he got the idea of starting another paper. He convinced the Thorp family to advertise along with Cal Kaake, owner of the Doric Theater in West Duluth, and the West Duluth J.C. Penney.

As Palmer recalled to the News Tribune & Herald in 1985, he bought 10,000 sheets of paper for $10 and asked the salesman what he thought a good name for the paper would be. “He said, ‘Well, everyone is talking about budgets. Why don’t you call it the Family Budgeter?’” I thought, ‘Now, that’s the silliest name I ever heard.’”

But the name stuck. Later he changed it to West Duluth-West End Budgeteer, then the Duluth Budgeter.

In October 1951 the newspaper moved into its new offices at 5807 Grand Ave. Around then Palmer was looking through the Encyclopedia Britannica and saw the word “budgeteer,” meaning a traveling minstrel who goes from house to house and bringing messages of good cheer. “I thought, ‘That’s us,’” he said.

The Budgeter officially changed to the Budgeteer in the May 1, 1952 issue. “You’ve been calling the Budgeter, the BUDGETEER for the past 20 years, so we thought it about time to put in that extra ‘e’ to make the spelling and phonetics agree,” read the front-page article explaining the name change.

Yet even to the present day in the 21st century, Budgeteer staff encounter faithful readers who have pronounced it “Budgeter” all their lives and are surprised to learn it’s actually “Budgeteer.”

The Budgeteer will cease to run articles at the end of this month and return to its roots as an all-advertising shopper. Beginning in June two weeklies, the Eastern Observer and the Western Weekly, will provide news and features.

Related article: Eighty-six years of the Budgeteer