Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gypsies Visit Humboldt

Gypsy Musicians
From Pat Miller Herzog via Mike Rustad:
Dad was at Letillier for something or other regarding Customs and heard this strange language that he had not heard before and it was a bunch of Romanian gypsies that had just moved there. Dad spoke 5 languages and this was not one of them so he was really intrigued. Thru various interpreters they had a interesting dialogue and Dad was invited back to their home for lunch. He went. He spent the rest of the day with them. They are a colorful people and I mean that in the nicest of ways. Their home was bright and cheerful and their mode of dress was the same. All of them were polite and he enjoyed the lunch and almost all of them came for lunch which were about 35 people.

So, Dad, being Dad invited them to Humboldt and issued a written invitation as they would need that to cross the border. Then he asked them if they would go to the school to talk to the children and explain where they came from, what they did for a living and their culture. They were delighted and thus we got the benefits of that conversation that began it all. That was a day trip but they came back several times. A couple of the men brought their huge guitars and none of us had ever seen that before and oh-how they could play them and sing and we were enthralled. I have had tremendous respect for Gypsies ever since.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

R.I.P.: The Spot

Rescued:  Iconic sign finds home, in retirement...
I don't know when it closed, but some time in the not-so-distant past it did.

The Spot, a well-known local watering hole, has closed its doors.  Luckily, the iconic sign that literally pointed to the front doors, was saved (minus the neon that made it quite eye-catching at night during the bar's heyday...)  Rick Clow was the person who salvaged it, a native son who has moved on, but still counts the hometown area near and dear to his heart...Well done, Rick!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Analysis of 6th & Atlantic

Downtown Hallock nearly a century ago...
[Click to see large version and see details]

Right/South side of street: Taft's Cafe, Bank, Dentist, The Womans Shop

Ad in back of 1943 Uof M
Crookston 'Aggie' yearbook
Left/North side of street: Billiard Parlor, Harness/Auto Dealer, Hallock Land Co. (land office turned real estate office?), Hotel Hallock, garage, church

At crossing, mid-street: "Keep to the Right" sign

On left, a men climbs a ladder to do some work, perhaps remove a window

Below him a pedestrian is about to step up onto the modern sidewalks (although streets still appear to be dirt, no gravel or paving)

Further back, another pedestrian hurries across to avoid the approaching automobile, caught in a blur by the photographer.

Electrical cables overhead, and street lights.  Haphazard parking indicates early automobile age was somewhat casual on the rules - looks like somewhere between parallel and diagonal!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ernie Comes to Town

I was recently contacted by reader Cleo Bee Jones, who shared that back in 1936, a piece about her uncles from St. Vincent was featured in a column by the well-known reporter, Ernie Pyle. She asked if I'd like to see it, and I said boy, would I!

Tales of Two Towns in the Northwest: Brothers by Wholesale in Minnesota, and Nocturnal Disturbances in Dakota
by Ernie Pyle of the Washington Daily News
August 25, 1936

Pembina, N.D. - I am crazy about the towns of Pembina and St. Vincent.  Because of a couple of events that happened last night.  They are virtually the same town, except that St. Vincent is in Minnesota and Pembina is in North Dakota.  They're both just a stroll from the Canadian border.

Each town is about as big as a pinhead; the Red River (of the North) runs between them.  That's one trouble with this country - there are too many Red Rivers.  I have crossed a dozen, and I don't know yet which one the song was written about. But let's get on with what happened last night...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ephemera: 1955 Calendar

Local advertising giveaway...

I was contacted by Beth Hoover from the Douglas County Historical Society recently...
In going through "stuff", I came on a 1955 calendar from F.F. Morris who sold insurance, bonds, rentals, loans, real estate and was a notary in Pembina...

I told her I'd love to see it. If anyone reading this knows more about the person advertising on this calendar, let me know.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Tall Tale

The story featured in the article at left, found in a newspaper archive from the early 20th century, sounds like a tall tale if I ever heard one. I think some bored journalist from the east coast picked the most obscure town out west he could locate on a map and decided to spin a story to tickle his readers' fancies.

At any rate, it provides a good chuckle.1 Like the math text book that used St. Vincent in a word problem, it's fun to see my hometown mentioned in such ways.

Now if anyone reading this can provide proof otherwise, that I would love to hear about!

1 - I think that humor was the point of the article - a pull of the leg, a poke in the ribs, a twinkle of any eye...

Monday, June 06, 2011

Customs Stories IV: F.T. Bradley

One of the clearest copies of this photo that I've ever seen!
F.T. Bradley

In 1871, a customs house was opened on the west side of the Red River, and the first Collector of Customs, F. T. Bradley, (seen in above photo) was appointed. Bradley became an important figure in Emerson’s early years, becoming also a director of the Emerson and Northwestern Railroad and organizing the first Masonic Lodge of which he was Grand Master. By 1872, the customs building also served as a telegraph, express, and post office for what was known then as North Pembina and came later to be known as West Lynne. It was later discovered that this “Canadian” customs building was actually sitting on the American side of the boundary—and was hastily dragged north! The customs house, the first in Western Canada, is now located on the north side of Highway 75 on the west side of the river, along with Emerson’s first jail, also a well-preserved log building.

Source: Manitoba Historical Society, Tour of Emerson

This burial site on a small piece of property owned by the Town of Emerson (now part of the Municipality of Emerson-Franklin) is a considerable distance from the road, in the middle of a farm field. It contains the 1885 grave of Emerson customs official F. T. Bradley along with the ones of his wife Caroline, who died in 1879, and four of their sons. The wife and children had originally been buried in the Old Anglican Cemetery but were moved here in 1900. A single white monument for Caroline Bradley and their four sons is located in the centre of a 16-foot by 22-foot rectangular area delimited by a low concrete wall. A small concrete marker with Bradley’s name and the Masonic symbol is also located inside the rectangle, as is a small white stone marker bearing the initials C B.
In February 1884, Bradley was arrested on a charge of fraud and embezzlement of over $4,000, relating to a shipment of coal by the Canadian Pacific Railway, and was transported to Winnipeg for trial. He soon became too ill to appear in court, and died on 27 February 1884 without regaining consciousness at the Winnipeg home of his brother-in-law and physician Alfred Codd. His body was returned to Emerson for burial, but not in the local cemetery, instead in a 20- by 20-foot plot northeast of town.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Port-of-Entry: Emerson 1947

An image I found online for sale, of the Emerson port-of-entry, circa 1947
Locals would be waved through without stopping back then.  Even when I was growing up, they still did.

It's a different world now.  Technology has given and it hath taken away.  It has provided ways for very bad people to potentially do even worse things to innocent others.  In return it has given us countermeasures to fight against those ways.  In the meantime, we become prisoners of supposed safety...and there is less open and easy opportunities for neighborliness - at least of the frequent, in-person variety that deep and lasting bonds are made of.