Old newspapers

Spent the afternoon in a reel of microfilm of the Norman County Index from 1951 and 1952 at the Ada Library.

Saw that my grandfather ran ads for the nursery all summer. "We are happy to have visitors at any time, but we do not care to work Sundays."

Also, I saw that Grandpa was on the board of an organization called the Norman County Temperance Association. They had a speaker whose thesis was that if your neighbor doesn't know how to use his freedom properly, freedom for him is a curse. You should stop him as a service to himself and the larger community.

A big concern was highway safety. People were dying in crashes right and left. John Pfund, editor of the Index, wrote that a person didn't want to even be out there on the highway, there were so many deaths. Several letters to the editor made the same point. One woman kindly included the license plate numbers of three cars she had seen speeding through town.

Most accidents, according to a study cited in one article, happened in broad daylight, on straightaways, in good weather. The real culprit: "Too many slow brains driving fast cars," according to the study. Ha.

I have no idea yet, but I suspect that the cars got bigger and more powerful after the war. They were driven, in many cases, by returning veterans. It is sort of a legend that veterans returning from hard combat drive fast and take more risks than usual. (More soldiers have died in accidents after returning from the present Afghanistan conflict than have actually died in Afghanistan, according to a buddy of mine who is at present in Afghanistan). The roads were still narrow and probably quite bad.

One nugget: The American Legion in Halstad had 99 members after the war. In 1949, they banded together to build a wood quonset, which still stands, for dances and roller skating. They had 52 Saturday night dances per year, and roller skating on other nights. It was a big success. Some of the acts which came to the town of 635: Louis Armstrong. Glenn Miller. Tommy Dorsey. At one of the dances, it was discovered that people from 31 different area towns attended.

The Legionaires found the materials to build the quonset "through a great deal of chiseling." Norman County donated gravel from their pit. Materials were scavenged from other work sites. A store in Fargo was getting new lighting, so they sold their old lights to the Halstad boys at a steep discount. One can imagine how difficult it was to turn down a recently returned vet for a donation to the cause!

Because electricity was still quite recent, the newspaper contained ads galore for appliances. And electric milking equipment. There were still ads in the fall for delivery of lignite.

There was a promise from WDAY in Fargo that by fall of 1952, they might be broadcasting a television signal to the Ada area.

A Hereford bull sold for $660 at the Norman County Fair in Ada in the summer of 1951.

Ada had a municipal band which gave concerts throughout the summer.

Not only was town-team baseball a huge attraction, but town team basketball, with teams often consisting of returning veterans, went on throughout the winter.

Many of the people in the obituaries were born in Norway.