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COLUMNIST MARILYN HAGERTY: Air base sparked growth in 1959

Grand Forks was enjoying rapid growth 50 years ago when the Air Force base west of the city was being established. Walter Loomer, coordinator for elementary education in Grand Forks, estimated a population here of more than 38,000. And city manag...

Grand Forks was enjoying rapid growth 50 years ago when the Air Force base west of the city was being established. Walter Loomer, coordinator for elementary education in Grand Forks, estimated a population here of more than 38,000. And city manager Alan Webster predicted continued growth because only a third of the expected 3,900 Air Force personnel had arrived.

The Grand Forks State Fair was running in July with record crowds on the opening day July 20, 1959. Ralph Lynch was long-time fair secretary. Out on the UND campus, more than 250 people were on hand for the first World Institute of Teaching of Shorthand. Experts from all over the nation were in attendance.

In those days, the Grand Forks Chiefs provided summer entertainment. Early in July, the Chiefs out-hit Winnipeg but lost 14 to 10. The Winnipeg team swept the twin bill.

Later, the Chiefs scored a double win in Grand Forks over Eau Claire, Wis. By the end of July, the Chiefs were sitting in fourth place in the Northern League.

Forty signed up for the annual camp for diabetic children at Turtle River State Park. The camp was sponsored by the Kiwanis Club with supervision from the North Dakota Diabetes Association.

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The Elks Club of Grand Forks was in a quandary in 1959. They had purchased land near Lincoln Park but did not have permission to build a clubhouse where they could sell liquor.

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Long forgotten:

** Grand Forks could lay claim to the title of Wool Capitol of North Dakota 50 years ago. Some 650,000 pounds of wool was shipped from this area, according to Louis Gershman of Grand Forks Hide and Fur. It was a 69-year-old firm.

** Some people of the past are long forgotten, but four "local giants" were described by J. Lloyd Stone when he spoke at the summer graduation for Central High School here in 1959. They were:

Elroy Schroeder, the late superintendent of Grand Forks schools; John West, former UND president; M. Beatrice Johnstone, oldest living graduate of UND at the time; and Dr. Robert Campbell, prominent retired physician here.

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Other names in the news 50 years ago in Grand Forks:

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** Bob May resigned as UND hockey coach, and the search was on for a new coach. May accepted a job as coach of a Denver team in the International Hockey League.

** The main winners of the North Dakota Peony Show were Franklyn Page, Hamilton, N.D.; and Harold Thomforde, Crookston.

** Pete Fritzell captured the title in a golf tournament in Mahnomen, Minn., winning over Vint McDonald, Pembina, N.D.

** Richard Barnhart stepped into the post of Grand Forks school superintendent after the death of Elroy Schroeder. Erich Selke had been acting superintendent.

Related Topics: HISTORY
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