Sunday, September 05, 2010

YouTube Local History: Pembina Depot

The video above was brought to my attention by Bill Ash the other day. In the interim, Bill found out from Clarence Bingham the scoop on the last few seconds of the film showing a depot, which turned out to be the old Pembina Depot, in its glory days!

Clarence also had this to say about Olaf Hanson, whose family (including Olaf) are shown earlier in the film:
Olaf Hanson was a Customs Inspector at Pembina during the 1950s. The depot in the video is the old Great Northern depot in Pembina. Olaf had a penchant for getting in trouble with the passengers he inspected by trying to joke with them. Unfortunately, travelers were not in a joking mood when crossing the border. To make matters worse the Collector of Customs office was just a couple of miles down the road in Pembina, so they would stop and complain. My desk in the headquarters office was close to the Collector's , so I could not help but hear some of those tirades. One day Olaf inspected a young man and woman at the Pembina Border station. He ascertained they were not married while establishing their citizenship, then when he was inspecting their car/suitcase, he jokingly inquired if it was appropriate that their underwear was comingled in the suitcase. They did not appreciate his attempt at humor and stopped at the Headquarters to lodge a complaint. The Collector - John O'Keefe - subsequently had Olaf in and threatened to transfer him to Hannah, N.D., where he would not encounter so many travelers. I don't recall if the transfer was in fact ever carried out.

When we lived in Pembina the GN depot was repainted. The B&B crew came to town - about 1958/59 - and in a few days painted the depot and associated buildings that God awful brownish/mustard yellow color the GN used in those days. A year or two later the section crew chief in Pembina repainted his house and by some mysterious circumstance the color was the same as the depot.
Bill Ash has this to share about Clarence:
Clarence "Bing" Bingham is a first cousin of my mother...He grew up in Wisconsin but got a job at the Railway Express office in Noyes, MN in the early 50's and soon after took a position with US Customs at Pembina and Noyes. He is retired now and is living in the state of Oregon.