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Blackduck Minnesota History

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DURING THE YEARS 1940 - 1960
Contributed by Ernie and Dora Crippen

The New Year message in the Blackduck American for 1941 is a poignant reminder of the uncertainty and often cloudy conditions of peace in the world: "How can we bear to say "Happy New Year" when there is so much misery in the world? Look at Europe, the Far East, at South America, at our own Country..... hunger, death, war, unemployment, politics..... it seems that the world is mad. These are the homely things that are stuff of which life is made. Birth and life; kindness, courage, and faith..... these things by far outweigh death, hate, and cynicism, and they always will triumph."

The Armistice Day Storm in 1940 and the roaring blizzard on March 15, 1941 paralyzed much of Minnesota resulting in a number of deaths from exposure after being stranded on roadways. The death toll of livestock, cattle and sheep, was staggering. Those blizzards had no parallel previously or since in this area. Recovery was slow due to lack of appropriate equipment or technology.

This Gold Star Mother's Flag was owned by Mrs. Axel Clausen. Her son, Leland, was killed in WWII. Three other sons (the blue stars) also served: Carl, Lester, and Walter
This Gold Star Mother's Flag was owned by Mrs. Axel Clausen. Her son, Leland, was killed in WWII. Three other sons (the blue stars) also served: Carl, Lester, and Walter

The Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, created a tense and troubling atmosphere and coupled with Hitler's invasion of other European Nations, caused an immediate call to arms to defend our country. President Franklin Roosevelt declared war on the European and Pacific fronts. The Selective Service Act required registration for military duty for many young men. Many men and women in the Blackduck area answered the call and were dispatched to defend our nation on all fronts. Their patriotic zeal was commendable.

Gradually, many homes in the area displayed the service flag, with a star for each serviceman or woman from this household. These were blue stars on a white background, unless the service person died in the service; then the blue star was replaced with a "gold star". The ones from our community that made the ultimate sacrifice were: Bertil Backman, Robert J. Hayes, Louis W. Beck, Alvin E. Haffner, Leland B. Clausen, Carl Horton, Albert Falk, Edward Herman, Kenneth Gregg, Richard Jackson, David Goudge, Bryan Leet, Alton H. Moen, Christopher Nelson, Bruce E. Wagner, Henry Soeby, Harold

8 cent airmail stamp - June 1945
8 cent airmail stamp - June 1945

Mr. and Mrs. Feriancek, who were Naturalized Americans, originally came to this country from Czechoslovakia. Seven of their sons served in the Armed Forces during World War II. Two of the brothers were wounded. The family allegiance to the cause of peace is truly exemplary.

The community rallied to the cause by buying War Bonds -planted Victory Gardens and made bandages - some went to the coastal areas where they were employed in defense work, building aircraft and ships. To boost morale, letters were written to the Servicemen and Women faithfully. Notable is the postage for mail prices. A preprinted "Penny Postcard" was created in 1871 but used into the war years. A first class postage stamp cost 3 cents between 1940 and 1958, but increased to 4 cents after 1958.

1 cent preprinted postcard used in 1940
1 cent preprinted postcard used in 1940

Postage for our Armed Forces overseas was suspended with the word "Free" placed in the upper right corner of the envelope. Most of the overseas mail was censored and placed in a reduction process known as V-mail" prior to being transported to addresses in the United States. That process reduced volume and assisted in faster delivery.

Materials rationed and limited during the war included meat, fats, sugar, processed foods, fuel oil, gasoline, shoes, coffee, cigarettes, tires, and others. Ration stamps were issued and were required to purchase those restricted items.

Harry Truman became our Commander-in-Chief after the death of President Roosevelt. The atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan during August 1945, and brought an end to the war in the Pacific Theater. Germany had capitulated earlier.

George Baalson; Blackduck Superintendent of Schools - 1940
George Baalson; Blackduck Superintendent of Schools - 1940

The Korean Conflict began during June, 1950. Again, this community was well represented in the forces sent to defend the South Koreans from the aggressors from the North. Eddie Ray Berg was a casualty in this conflict.

Much of life centered around the school - for adults as well as children. Many teachers came to teach, then married and stayed in the community. These included Lloyd Cox, Betty Dickinson Parker, Elaine Dearholt Larson, Elsie Treichel Gerner, Maxine Scheneker Beck, Donna Mattson Collison, Shirley Molacek Stern, Betty Ann Tangen Johnson, A. Morris Gorden and his wife Doris Morehouse Gorden. The superintendents of the school during this period were George Baalson until 1941, George Eddy to 1945, William Brosvick to 1954, and Ralph Norland to 1960.

Also of great importance in our lives were our churches. Here we were baptized, attended Sunday School, release time classes, and were married and buried.

A big part of the social life in the community was the Lyceum Theater on Main Street. The S.J. Ronnings owned it. Next to the theater was the popcorn stand owned by Lewie Parker. Other owners of the theater were the Fullers, the Cernias, Sy Dickey, and Jacob Musich. Adult admission tickets in 1941 were twenty cents.

Many hours were spent at the "Confectionery". This was where the young people congregated and visited their friends and sipped their cokes (5 cents), and sometimes splurged on an ice cream soda (15 cents). Rolfes owned it in the early 1940s. Other owners were Tom Jackson, Myron Ness, and Elmer Hamren.

Many good times involved events in the City Hall, especially the Firemen's Ball, and the teen dances with Neva Whitney providing the piano music. George Yates opened the new Bowling Alley in 1950. Also in 1950, a new Pontiac Chieftain Deluxe could be purchased for just $1,957.00!

The Mayors of Blackduck were: I.L. Anderson, 1940; S.J. Ronning, 1941-1945; L.M. Schippers, 1945-1948; Henry McNeil, 1948-1949; George Conda, 1950-1951; L.M. Schippers, 1952-1953; and Fred Magnusson, 1954-1964.

The Peace Officers during this period were: Ernie Clubb Sr., Dale Russell, Bert Wernberg, George Diebert, and Charles Jones.

Conservation Officers were Harry Cann, 1940-1946; Walter Trippe, Byron Tressler, and Norman Burandt served various tenures during 1946-1949. Leo Manthei, 1949-1978, the longest tenure to date. Leo still resides in Blackduck.

The mortician in 1940 was Leonard Kolden, until Arthur Snustad moved to Blackduck in 1955 to work with Leonard and later to buy out the business - Funeral Home and Furniture.

The community was well served by Dr. Harry Palmer who came to Blackduck in 1938 where he spent his entire medical career. Dr. Palmer was also educated as an Electrical Engineer. He designed and constructed the first remote controlled electrical scoreboard in the newly completed school gymnasium, the first gym for the Blackduck School. Many of the babies that he delivered were born in the Anna Viken Maternity Home. The mothers reveled in the ten days of T.L.C.
Dr. S.L. Conley D.D.S., came to Blackduck in 1928. He was honored in 1955 for serving 50 years in Dentistry.

With the development of antibiotic medicines, the treatment of tuberculosis patients at the Lake Julia Sanatorium under the direction of Dr. Mary Ghostly ceased and the facility was then used as a rest home, which later became obsolete and was closed in the early 1970s.

Mud vacation was still a very welcome break for students and teachers every spring when some roads became impassable for the buses.

During May, 1953, all residents of Funkley left for New York City where they were honored for their devotion to the making of Cancer dressings from old sheets. They also went to Washington D.C., where they were greeted by President Eisenhower. Pictures and a write-up of the trip appeared in Life Magazine.

Funkley Post Office & Hartz Store, early 1950s
Funkley Post Office & Hartz Store, early 1950s

On January 1, 1954, coffee at the eating places in Blackduck was raised to 10 cents per cup. Polio took the life of little Vickie Sue Musich in July of 1954. This was a very sad time, especially since the Salk Vaccine became available during May of 1955 - just 10 months after Vickie's death. But how great it was that this terrible illness was nearly wiped out through the use of the Salk Vaccine.

The Hartz Store ad in 1955, groceries were advertised as 50 pounds of Robin Hood flour at $2.98; chuck roast was 35 cents a pound; ground beef was priced at 4 pounds for 95 cents; and chickens were 79 cents each!

In September, 1957, the new Edsel Automobile was shown in Bemidji at Smith's Sales - a lovely car - wish we had one today!

Now, as we enter the next decade, the events in the past will become the treasures in our memories!

1946-1947 - Car load of groceries donated by Clarence Gulseth and Orin Wolden
1946-1947 - Car load of groceries donated by Clarence Gulseth and Orin Wolden

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