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THAT REMINDS ME: When J.C. Penney visited GF

J.C. Penney, founder and chairman of the board of J.C. Penney Co., visited Grand Forks during the depression 75 years ago. The famous merchant was spending a month in the Dakotas, stressing his associates and employees should keep in step with ec...

J.C. Penney, founder and chairman of the board of J.C. Penney Co., visited Grand Forks during the depression 75 years ago. The famous merchant was spending a month in the Dakotas, stressing his associates and employees should keep in step with economic situations. Managers and assistants from area J.C. Penney stores attended the conference here.

Penney said his company would keep retail prices as low as possible until incomes made an upturn. In his talks here, he said there were definite indications that industrial conditions were on the upturn. He stressed the importance of courage in hard times. He was encouraged by crop prospects after viewing them in the Red River Valley.

At the Kiwanis Club, he said, "People are throwing off the nightmare of fear that has enveloped them during the past three and a half years of depressed business conditions. We are not yet out of the woods, but it appears the light is breaking."

Times were still tough 75 years ago, and there was a need for a Grand Forks County Poor Relief program. The county commissioners appointed George Larmour, mayor of Larimore, to be in charge of matters under the 1933 Poor Relief Law. He was working from an office in the basement of Grand Forks County Courthouse.

A summary prepared by the county Red Cross officials showed an estimated $50,000 worth of supplies had been distributed free to needy persons in the past year.

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There were some bright spots in the economy. Checks totaling between $30,000 and $40,000 were mailed to approximately 600 Red River Valley beet producers, the Herald reported. J.B. Bingham, manager of East Grand Forks plant of American Beet Sugar Co., said the checks represented the first additional payment on beets delivered the previous year. If market and sales conditions would warrant, another payment was to be made. The amount was 20 cents a ton, making the total payment to that date for the 1932 crop $4.45 a ton.

Businesses were showing concern for the economy in their ads in the Herald. Ireland's Lumber said, "Depression prices are still yours." And McDonald's Clothing, celebrating its 10th year, advertised "new prices to meet the incomes."

Some of the other stores running ads in the Herald were Arthur Tweet Co., Ontario Grocery, Werstlien Bros. Pure Food, Dudgeon's Market and

Zejdlik & Martin Inc. There were also frequent ads by Odells department store and Opshal's clothing, as well as Ruettell's Clothing.

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In hard times as well as good times, life goes on in Grand Forks. Life in May 1933, as reflected on pages of the Herald:

- Legal beer sales were expected in North Dakota by the Fourth of July. There was assurance that Gov. Bill Langer would call a special election on the initiated beer bill.

- There were dances at Point Pavilion, Eagles Ballroom and States Ballroom.

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- You could get a four-blade lawnmower for $3.29 at Montgomery Ward store. The ad said, "It costs less than fixing the old one." Montgomery Ward also featured a special on standard 98 pound flour sacks for 5 cents apiece. "Limit 12, please."

- Salaries of teachers in Grand Forks were $90 for first through sixth grade and $105 for teaching sixth through 12th grades. There was a stipulation that married men with wives gainfully employed would get less.

- Miles K. Lander was chairman of the parade committee for Memorial Day observance that would include a tribute to Grand Forks war dead.

n John C. West, superintendent of Grand Forks Schools, was elected president of UND by the State Board of Administration in Bismarck. He would succeed Thomas Kane who was resigning on July 1, 1933.

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In area news on May 17, 1933: Three bandits shot to death Leonard Hanson, cashier of the First Bank of Buxton, N.D., and escaped with $600 to $700 loot. The cashier was shot down when he heroically disobeyed the command of the bandits to "stick 'em up." He was hit as he raced to the bank's rear room. As he fell, he released the valve to a container of tear gas, filling the room with choking fumes. The bandits sped away.

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