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Pathways Through Our Past

Some things to remember from the past

Thinking back to some of the people, things, objects or traditions from the not-so-distant past brings fond memories to mind.

My first visit to Blackduck was for a speech contest in 1959. Little did I know, I would be living in and around this town for 50 plus years.

Arriving at the edge of town, the bus traveled down a beautiful tree lined road. Some of those trees must have been 100 years old, their branches crossing over the road forming a canopy. On the right was Clarence and Fanny Webb's greenhouse, then a small house that had been over at the farm for the hired man when Sam Juelson bought the farm in 1929. Three generations of the family lived in that little house at different times. There was an A&W and across the road was the Juelson farm, with cows pastured right where the Blackduck Family Foods building is located.

One thing I noticed right away there were no parking meters. Growing up in Bemidji you took them for granted as all the downtown streets had them. A police officer would issue a citation if your meter ran out of money and your car was still there. After my children got older I worked in Bemidji during the summer at a book store. Every two hours I had to run out and put more money in the meter.

I went to work for Claude and Phyllis Anderson at their café between Jack and Alma Huffman's Coast To Coast store and Darwin and Dorothy Anderson's jewelry store. When the roof was being put on the Zion Lutheran Church the roofers requested that Phyllis prepare lutefisk. Phyllis always tried to save one serving for me as I had not tried this dish.Well, besides the roofers, local business people want the fish also, so being a good employee I managed to sell all the orders and to this day I have not tried it. (That's ok some day I just might try it).

At the movie theater, you could watch the show over and over again. Kids would cheer the good guys on and to this day, I remember the Lone Ranger and his faithful friend, Tonto. Or the Tarzan yell. The boys seemed to like that one. As we got older, we could name all the famous actors. Some of the boys wanted to look and act like Marlon Brando, with the leather jacket and the cigarettes hanging from the corner of their mouth. All the kids wanted a dog like Rin Tin Tin or Lassie.

The first pizza place in Bemidji, had red checkered tablecloths and the wine bottle with a candle in the top and the wax running down the side and made you think you were in a big city or another country.

How about full service gas stations? Your gas was pumped, your windshield cleaned, oil was checked and fluid in the radiator was topped off along with the air in the tires checked. Information was given as to best place to stay or to get good food. Young men could find summer employment working at a gas station while girls could get jobs as a waitress or sales clerks. Remember when oleo and margarine was white and you had to break that color bead and work the color into the white before you could use it? And how about cake mixes in a box? I think most men prefer cakes made from scratch.

Remember the big dinners with all the relatives sitting at the big table and the kids in the kitchen or eating at a card table? Of course that was when kids were seen, not heard. Food was kept cold in an ice box or outside during the winter instead of a refrigerator.

Remember when the trains went through the town and you could tell time by when it blew it's whistle? Last week on Public TV, Al Gerner and Sonja Juelson did a great job about the early railroad here in Blackduck. If you missed it, the History and Art Center hope to get a copy for guests to see in the near future.

Do you remember fishing from a bridge or along the shore? Today kids need a boat. It's funny how kids today need things that their parents got along just fine without.

Kids went to visit their relatives in the country and were kept busy all day long and had lots of fun. But when the country kids came to town for a visit, they got bored because there was nothing to do.

Watch for upcoming events at the Blackduck History and Art Center and come see our new look.