Friday, November 27, 2015

Another Tragic Family Saga Continues: Fire

Interior of Garner garage, still showing signs of accident to this day
[Photo Courtesy:  Kris Baldwin Ohmann]

This from a witness of the accident, Ron Cleem:
"I was nearby when it happened and rushed over when it started burning. 
"Frank was welding in the garage when the accident happened.  He tried to save the garage by running out of the building with a pan of oil or fuel that had caught fire.  He ended up being severely burned doing it, and died as a result of his burns. His wife Helen just died this last year I think, and she always hated seeing that building which bought up tragic memories. Frank lost a brother in 1954 when the drunk driver hit a group of kids in St. Vincent, and a sister who was in high school,  in a car accident in 1955. So much tragedy, like Lena Paul Fitzpatrick Nordstrom experienced, so much heartache for his mother..." 
Obituary:  Frank Willard Gardner, Noyes, Minn., passed away at the Emerson, Manitoba hospital Tuesday, March 5, 1957, following an accident when a gasoline tank he was working on exploded, showering him with burning gasoline. He was 30 years, 5 months and 4 days of age.

The accident occurred shortly after 4 P.M. Monday, March 4 to the rear of his father's home at St. Vincent in a garage. He died the following day at 2:15 P.M.

Deceased was born September 29,1926 at Neche, N.D. He attended Grade School at St. Vincent and also the Pembina, N.D. High School, Pembina being located just across the Red River from St. Vincent.

He was married April 26,1947 to Miss Helen Louise Graves, at Auburn, Washington. To this union two children were born, Frank Willard, Jr., age 4 years and Robyn Kathryn, age 3 years.

He is survived by his wife and children and parents. Six sisters, one brother: Mrs Lorraine Hosch of Noyes; Mrs. Leonard Jerome,Hallock; Mrs. Glen Davis, Greenville, SC; Mrs. Wayne Copeland, Harian, Iowa; Mrs. George Dennis, Humboldt; Jacquelyn at home; Arnold at Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Illinois.

He was preceded in death by a brother and sister, Gloria and Martin, both of whom figured in accidents which took their lives. One, in the McGovern accident a few years ago at St. Vincent, and the other in connection with the Slator hit-and-run driving accident at St. Vincent, also.
Mr. Gardner lived in Seattle, Wash., from 1947 to 1948, returning to St. Vincent in 1949, remained there until 1950. He traveled two years through Southern states with Anderson Bros. Pipe Line Company. He also spent six months in Montana and then moved to Noyes, this county where he purchased the Border Café1 and operated the same until his death. He also did some commercial trucking.

I walked past this burned garage daily as I grew up, a scar on a family...
[Photo Courtesy:  Kris Baldwin Ohmann]

1 - I can shed a bit of light on the topic of the Noyes Border Café. I recall it quite clearly although I didn't go into the establishment on too many occasions.

It was located just across the border near Carmen Curtis's (Post Office).  It was your regular Minnesota café and bar. It had on-sale and off-sale 3.2 beer and  it was also the bus stop.   On the inside there was the counter, I believe there were stools, and there were booths - red vinyl.  I suppose there were three or four of them.

It was popular with train crews that had to wait in Noyes for connecting trains.  There is the story of one trainman, not an engineer, that never made his train and had to spend the night in the Emerson (Dingy) station.

The café disappeared some time around 1960, I believe.  One of the last owners Frank Gardner, and the manager was Helen Gardner, his wife.

- Recollections by James McClelland of Emerson, Manitoba