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Vicki and Dick Gunness now live in the house at 923 7th St. in Fargo. Special to The Forum

They probably expected their mail that day would be the usual bills and advertisements.

While sorting through it, Vicki and Dick Gunness found a real honest-to-goodness letter, but they didn’t recognize the return address name.

The letter began with, “I am Jim Hendrickson. 91 years old. The last of the Hendrickson family. I was born in the house 923 in 1920.”

923. That would be the Gunness’ house at 923 7th St. S. in the Hawthorne neighborhood of Fargo, built in 1919.

Jim, who lives in an assisted-living facility in Onamia, Minn., enclosed pictures of the house taken when he was a child. “And thus began a new friendship and letter exchange with this fine gentleman,” Vicki writes Neighbors.

“I responded to that first letter,” she says, “and enclosed pictures that I took of the rooms of this blessed old house so he could view it as it is now. Our home has been well-preserved and restored without any compromise from the original historic value.”

Jim came back with a map of the Hawthorne area, marked with squares and numbers showing the location of, he said, “some well-known Fargo people who lived in your neighborhood when I grew up.”

Their names, as he listed them, were “Oscar Kjorlie/fuel company; B.C. Tighe, who was principal of Fargo Central High School; Jocelyn Birch, who married Quentin Burdick; Frank Scott, who played piano for the Lawrence Welk band; Fred Green, who was owner of R&G Bootery shoe stores; the Hector family, who donated land for the Hector Airport; and Herschel Lashkowitz, who was mayor of Fargo.”

Jim’s parents, his wife, Grace, and his sister are buried at Sunset Memorial Gardens, Fargo.

He wrote the Gunnesses that whenever he gets to Fargo, he places flowers on those graves, “and I always stop and look at 923 7th St. S. You have taken good care of the house.”

Vicki says she and Dick have invited Jim to visit them sometime, to his childhood home.

And, she says, “Isn’t it amazing, years after others move out of this beautiful, historic Hawthorne neighborhood, the neighborhood never moves out of their hearts?”

It certainly is, Vicki.