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Reward offered for Blackduck's song's story

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Bemidji,Minnesota 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
Reward offered for Blackduck's song's story
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

When Bruce Clubb came back to Blackduck for his high school class reunion, he looked up at the wall of the gym where the words of the school song were proudly displayed.


Only, he thought, they didn't look quite the way he remembered them. Marge Bement Stillwell from Duluth, another graduate of the class of 1949, was also at the August reunion last summer and brought along a copy of the sheet music

The retired attorney went back to his home in Florida and decided he'd like to find out if his memory was correct. Specifically, was "We raise our colors overhead" or was it "We'll ..." as it appears on the wall of the gym.

That led to another question. Who wrote those words? The music itself was composed by Herman Monson, one-time music director at Concordia College in Moorhead. He wrote other school songs, including ones for Thief River Falls, Crookston, Ada, Baudette, Warroad -- a total of at least 37 in all. Maroon and Gold Forever was copyrighted in 1934.

Clubb turned to volunteers at the Blackduck Area History and Arts Center. Joan Gunderson reviewed old school board minutes. Files of The American for 1934 and 1935 provided no answers, either.

Meantime, Clubb had visited with Monson's son, the Rev. Luther Monson in Minneapolis, and had scoured the archives at Concordia.

Glennis Moon had been Clubb's contact with the History Center, and with her help, he decided to look for more information and on an incentive to provide it.

Accordingly, he sent a check to the center which has agreed to provide the background of Clubb's efforts to date, and his offer of $500 to be allocated as the History Center board deems appropriate.

One possibility already being investigated is that a Blackduck man who studied music at Concordia and was a member of the band there prior to hiks own graduation in 1933, was Osborne Kolden. Kolden was the son of Leonard Kolden, for many years the funeral director in Blackduck.

O. Kolden returned to Blackduck after finishing school at Concordia and became the musical director of the federally-funded Leisure Time Program here. During World War II, when the Blackduck school's band director went into military service. Kolden took over the high school band duties.

Meantime, other information indicates the band director Kolden replaced was Robert Watson. Marilyn Page and others think Watson may have been the writer of the words to Monson's music.

Monson left Concordia in 1937 in a dispute with school and church officials. At some time, he had prepared a brochure offering to compose school or town songs, and in a sample, one of the pages contains the hand-written notes for such a composition.

Moon, who played in the high school band while attending BHS, says a note-by-note comparison shows that Maroon and Gold Forever was the musical score shown. She's also convinced there are other changes in the wording from those she can remember singing as a BHS cheerleader.

Meanwhile, Clubb brings his questions down to two basic ones. Who made the arrangements for the purchase of the school song, and when was it first performed.

Somewhere, he hopes, there'll be an issue of the school Booster newspaper or some correspondence in an old trunk, that will answer the questions.

The History and Arts Center has Clubb's information showing what he's done to date.

It also has the $500 he's provided for anyone who can document the answers.

Pioneer staff reports