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COLUMNIST MARILYN HAGERTY: When the valley ruled the turkey roost

A half-million pounds of dressed turkeys raised in the northern Red River Valley were shipped from Grand Forks 75 years ago in November. The birds would furnish Thanksgiving dinner for residents of New England states and large cities in the East....

A half-million pounds of dressed turkeys raised in the northern Red River Valley were shipped from Grand Forks 75 years ago in November. The birds would furnish Thanksgiving dinner for residents of New England states and large cities in the East. The birds went out of here on Nov. 16, 1934, in 25 refrigerated cars with about 20,000 pounds of turkey meat to a car, according to the Herald.

Many more thousand pounds were shipped by express and truck to the Twin Cities and places within a 200-mile radius of Grand Forks. Even at that, the valley's turkey crop was estimated one-third less than the previous year.

Raising poultry was widespread in the 1930s in this area. Cavalier, N.D., hosted its eighth annual Pembina County Poultry Show. Judges were George Hackett, prominent Northwest poultry judge and manager of the All-American Turkey Show of Grand Forks, and Frank Moore, head of the poultry department at North Dakota Agricultural College.

Turkeys were also at the center of the 10th annual Dakota Monarch Turkey Show in Michigan, N.D.

Grand Forks staged what it called the "World's Greatest Turkey Derby" in mid-November 1934. Fifty tom turkeys were given away after 50 local businessmen drove them over a 100-yard derby course on DeMers Avenue between North Third and North Fourth streets.

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People holding the winning numbers that had been printed by the Herald were bird winners.

Those were the good old days when children knew a gizzard from the liver of a bird.

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In those years, there still were constrictions of the Great Depression. But in November 1934, Grand Forks launched a Better Housing program. Twenty-four trained solicitors started a house-to-house canvass on behalf of the Federal Housing Administration. It was seen as an aid to economic recovery here.

Paul B. Griffith, chairman of the National Better Housing Commission here, said the purpose was modernization and home improvement to overcome five years of stagnation. The FHA was offering attractive loans.

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This area was reaping the benefits of the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC boys, 75 years ago. Eighteen feet of water was held back in November 1934 by the big rock dam on the CCC State Park project north of Arvilla, N.D., in the bed of the formerly dry Turtle River.

Water was backed up nearly a mile in the river channel and was flowing several feet deep in the ravine.

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The dam was a principle feature in the project that eventually became Turtle River State Park. It was initially sponsored by the Cavaliers, a group of young businessmen in Grand Forks.

Twelve dams had been constructed by CCCs in the headquarters camp at Park River, N.D. Early in November, the CCCs from that camp were transferred to Bina, Minn., for the winter.

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While HINI flu is the threat this November, there was another problem 75 years ago: tuberculosis.

The 80-bed infirmary at San Haven, N.D., State Tuberculosis Sanitarium, was seen as an urgent need by Dr. Charles McLachlan, the superintendent. He pointed out that 70 men and women were on the waiting list. That meant people in homes were being exposed to the insidiously infectious disease.

Between the ages of 15 and 30, the disease headed the mortality list in vital statistics of the United States.

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When times are tough, the politicians are lively. "Langerism" was the big issue in the North Dakota race for governor. A front-page editorial in the Herald called for North Dakotans to erase "the disgraceful blot of Langerism or face two years of autocratic government." When the voters spoke, they elected Tom Moodie as North Dakota governor.

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The headline said, "New Deal candidates crush GOP foes."

North Dakotans turned thumbs down on Langerism by selecting the Democratic candidate from Williston. However, Moodie was later ousted because Bill Langer brought forth evidence that he had voted in Minnesota and was not legally a North Dakota resident.

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The brightest spot in the news 75 years ago was the headline: "N.D. Sioux hand George Washington University 7-0 setback." The game was played on a football field in the nation's capital, which turned into a sea of mud.

The only score came when Louis Chumich, a great Sioux tackler, broke through the Colonial line to block a punt. He recovered the ball in the end zone for the touchdown. Then, the report says "Kupcinet tossed a pass to Falgren for the extra point."

The coach at that time was C.A. West.

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