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MARILYN HAGERTY: Stories flow when Shirleys gather

Throughout life, they have been plagued with nicknames such as “Squirrely Shirley.”

Many of them were named after Shirley Temple, the movie star darling of in the 1930s and 1940s.

And just for the fun of it, 32 women named Shirley gathered for lunch Thursday at Whitey’s in East Grand Forks. They sipped non-alcoholic Shirley Temple drinks and laughed about growing up as Shirleys.

Along with the Shirleys, there was an assortment of 15 Marilyns who gathered for no reason at all. They came in response to invitations from this column. After all, more than 50 Shirleys and Marilyns showed up a year ago when we promoted a gathering at the Green Mill.

This week, Shirley Cordts of Grand Forks looked across the table and recognized Shirley Topka of Alvarado, Minn.

And the two burst into laughter. They remembered going to high school together 50 years ago in Alvarado and the day they skipped school. They hitch hiked to Warren, Minn.

Their punishment was swift and severe: They were required to study and memorize passages from the encyclopedias.

Shirley Booth Anderson, formerly of Sacramento, Calif., said after moving to Grand Forks she met two other Shirley Andersons. Shirleys rolled in from area towns. They were delighted to be together and laugh.

This was the second Shirley luncheon where Marilyns also are invited. Next year, there may be an invitation to women named Donna. Whatever it is, the idea is to have a little fun during the dog days of August.

Art & Wine Walk

The weekend arrives with Heritage Days in East Grand Forks and Ox Cart Days in Crookston.... There’s an Art & Wine Walk downtown on Saturday afternoon... And the downtown Farmer’s Market is lively on Saturday mornings... With everything last week from corn on the cob to homemade Juneberry pies... Along with jewelry, sweaters and mittens... As well as cabbage, dill, cauliflower and honey.... Even the dogs were remembered with puppy treats from Dakota Harvest....

Ask Marilyn

Q. Who are some of the other Shirleys you met Thursday?

A. Shirley McCarron was originally from Pittsburgh. She was named after Shirley Temple, but she didn’t want anyone to know that. Then there was Shirley Lunde of Badger, Minn., who tells people they will remember her because she is an adverb and “surely” they will remember. Shirley Kowalski who moved to Grand Forks from Drayton, N.D., thought she was the only Shirley in the whole world except for Shirley Temple. Shirley Ehrenstrom of Thief River Falls brought a Shirley Temple postcard with her own picture as a child melded on to it.... And Shirley Kieffer who came from Edmonton, Alta., was born with natural curls like Shirley Temple. Shirley Kovar of East Grand Forks says the name Shirley means “cheerful heart.” And every Shirley she has known certainly does have one.

Marilyn and Byrdia

Cheerful persons of the week: Marilyn Worner of Mayville, N.D., and Byrdia Spidahl of Devils Lake.


Reach Hagerty at or (701) 772-1055.