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Marilyn Hagerty: Margo the Hammer turns 15

This column first was published in the Herald on July 1, 2012, when Margo the Hammer turned 15 years old.

There was a rustling sound coming up from the basement the other day.

It was Margo the Hammer. She was complaining because she has been sitting down there on a shelf ever since the summer of 1997.

"It's 15 years," she said.

Well, it isn't as though she is all alone. She has Ken the Screwdriver nearby. And then there are Seven Nails and Seven Tacks nearby.

Sometimes I forget about all the comfort Margo and the rest of them brought 15 years ago. Sure, the flood was in April 1997, but getting things back together was a summerlong event.

The summer of 1997 was the time when most of the homeowners around here went out and bought a new washer and a new dryer. Many of us bought new water heaters and a new furnace, too.

I said a fond farewell to Old Round Shoulders. She was the lovely Norge refrigerator we bought when we moved to Grand Forks in 1957. She had a pink interior. She was replaced after the flood by a new square-shouldered refrigerator. And that one is beginning to look old because it isn't a sleek silvery-looking creature.

Sweet memories

Occasionally readers ask about Old Round Shoulders. She is not forgotten. Nor is Margo the Hammer. And never forgotten are the memories of people who came to help out with all the work needed to be done around a house after the flood.

Margo was named after Margo Naismith Bergene, a Grand Forks native who came from the Minneapolis area to help people out after the flood. And when she told me I could have the hammer, I named it Margo.

Then I acquired the Seven Nails — Bob Boyd, Clarence Peterson, Darlyne Hariman, Winston Register, Cierra Roebuck, Lillian Elsinga and Casey Ryan.

Later, I rounded up seven tacks — Sue Kraft, Scott Kieffer, Bob Alderson, Bill Lee, Arlis Gibbs, Ken Polovitz and Judy Paukert. When Ken Schultz left town, he gave me his screwdriver. I named it Ken.

Much water has flowed north in the past 15 years. The city sits serenely now with protection of the dikes. And citizens enjoy the great Greenway created along the Red River.

Readers of the Herald still ask about Margo the Hammer. Fifteen years ago, every conversation around here started and ended up with the topic of the flood.

When I go walking along Belmont Road on these summer nights, I admire the new houses that have grown up near 15th Avenue South and Belmont Road.

The Red River of the North is unchanged. The records go back 100 or 120 years. And that's not very long for a river.

The U.S. Geological Survey gauge is located at River Mile 297.6 just south of the Sorlie Bridge on DeMers Avenue downtown. Flood stage in Grand Forks is at 28 feet, and the April 1997 flood reached 54.1 on the gauge, according to city records.