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Paul Nelson: Writings on Warren

Probably the first byline Paul Nelson ever got was in his hometown newspaper, the weekly Warren Sheaf, in the summer of 1953. Working part time, Nelson covered the Marshall County Fair in Warren and wrote a column, "Fair Chatter," about it, with ...

Probably the first byline Paul Nelson ever got was in his hometown newspaper, the weekly Warren Sheaf, in the summer of 1953.

Working part time, Nelson covered the Marshall County Fair in Warren and wrote a column, "Fair Chatter," about it, with his byline.

"Seems like the Marshall County Fair gets a little bigger, a little better and a little different each year," Nelson wrote the July before his senior year. "Clifton Anderson, Bill Hennebry and the boys at the gate compiled some interesting statistics for me. It seems that cars from 20 different states and three provinces watched this year's fair. Bill adds that he 'just charged a guy from Time magazine 50 cents to get in here the other day.'"

Nelson reported a total of 14,000 in attendance over four days; it later was revised to 15,000 and called the largest in the fair's 47 years until 1953.

"Two unusual items: The man who worked in the bingo stand had a small dotted line below his neck with the words, 'Cut here.'

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"The big root beer barrel just south of the 4-H stand held 175 gallons of good ol' root beer.

"Noticed in passing: Television must really be the thing nowadays. Noticed eight TV sets under the grandstand. . . ."

"Closing shots: There's nothing left out at the fair now but pop bottles and paper . . . wait'll next year, even bigger and better . . . see you there."

Recalling his roots

A half-century later, Nelson got published in the Sheaf again.

In 2004, Nelson wrote to the Marshall County recorder, seeking a copy of his birth certificate, and added some thoughts about his hometown that later were published in the Warren Sheaf.

He summed up his life since leaving Warren in a sentence or two, and then reminisced about the early '50s back home.

". . . Phil Kotts had a Rexall drug store. There was another one - Kroll's, I think - right across from the movie theater. Later, there was a drive-in. The first movie I ever saw was "Commandos Strike at Dawn." My father took me.

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"Marvin Lundeen (it's actually Lundin) was a friend. Dennis Strand, the Schirber girls. Mari was in my class. I dated Roberta. My first girl friends. They were Catholics. My mother objected.

"I remember driving to the big towns. Grand Forks, Crookston and Thief River Falls. Fargo, 100 miles away, and Winnipeg, about the same. Much bigger, though. I was lucky - I could always borrow a car from the used car lot.

"What else do I remember? Kelly Peterson, my mother's brother. He was some kind of an inventor. He made some kind of a metal submarine and sat in it for about an hour under the Snake River. . . .

"All the best."

He gave his hometown readers the address of Evergreen video shop, where he worked, and then an inviting P.S.:

"I'm still a Minnesotan," he wrote before providing the video shop's phone number. "I'm there from 6 to 10 p.m. every night but Monday."

His old friend Marv Lundin saw the number and called Nelson one night at the video store to invite him to their 50th class reunion that summer. The conversation "was quite brief," Lundin recalled last week.

"He doesn't seem interested in talking to anyone back home," Lundin said. "He just said he wouldn't be able to come from that distance. . . . After a couple minutes, he said, 'I got to go close up.'"

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