Neighbors: Long walk through stores of Fargo's past

Pull up a chair, you neighbors with Fargo connections, and let's reminisce about Fargo stores from the past, as this column has done several times over the years.
Bob Lind, Neighbors columnist.

Pull up a chair, you neighbors with Fargo connections, and let's reminisce about Fargo stores from the past, as this column has done several times over the years.

Carol Seim, who says she has been a northside Fargoan all her life, remembers a couple of places between St. Mary's and Roosevelt schools that were important in her childhood.

"There was a beer store called Ted's Corner on Seventh Avenue and Ninth Street," she writes. "My father Clint Lageson liked to smoke cigars while he mowed the lawn. If he ran out of his Dutch Masters Belvederes, he would ask me to ride my bike over to Ted's or the Empire Tavern on Broadway and buy him a pack. Nobody ever asked me for I.D. - just a note from my dad.

"There also was a bakery on Eighth Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues North that filled our neighborhood with the delicious aroma of baking bread. That meant another ride for me on my blue Schwinn."

Lorraine Nelson, Hitterdal, Minn., asks if anyone remembers Meltings Food Market on 10th Street South in Fargo.

"I worked there in 1950-51 right out of high school," she writes. "I graduated in 1950 from Ulen (Minn.) High School, then went to work in Fargo.

"My sister, who worked at St. John's Hospital, Fargo, and I rented a bedroom upstairs at 517 10th St. S. We had no car, so she walked back and forth. I didn't have as far to go.

"The store was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Melting. I was the cashier (the only one). There was a butcher and a delivery man; his name was Lou Willprecht. Another man named Baker was employed there, too.

"We had many charge accounts," Lorraine writes; "imagine that nowadays!"

So, neighbors, do you remember Melting's store?

Next up

Switching to sporting goods stores, here's Brad Wimmer, of Wimmer's Diamonds, Fargo, who writes about three of them in downtown Fargo: Al's Sports Shop on north Broadway, which mainly sold hunting items; Bob Fritz Sporting Goods, which moved from a "very tiny" store on NP Avenue to a much bigger store where OB Sports Zone now is; and Emery Johnson, which turned into Stan Kostka Sporting Goods, behind Wimmer's, and which is now a parking lot.

"Stan Kostka then moved to Main Avenue, where Rhombus Guys now sits," Brad says.

"The advent of a larger Scheels and the big-box stores kind of put the smaller sporting goods stores out of business," Brad says, "but it's fun to reminisce."

Mary Nicholas, Fargo, wirtes that she, too, recalls Bob Fritz Sporting Goods.

"I also remember J.C. Penney, when it was downtown," Mary writes, "and deLendrecie's department store, Woolworth's, Powers restaurant and the Herbst department store.

"My maternal grandfather was a salesman for S&H Green Stamps for many years, and my grandmother worked both at the Powers and in the S&H area at Herbst's."

Mary asks if any of this column's readers have photos of Fargo's Broadway and Main Avenue from the '60s "(when you could find a place to park - ha ha!)," she quips, adding "I really miss those days (and my grandparents)."

Scott Funfar, Fargo, writes that he and his parents moved to Fargo in 1957. "We would go to a small grocery store named Luke's Shop in the late '50s," Scott writes. "It was kind of in the alley south of Kings Food Host, where Tailgators is now.

"Also on University Drive and First Avenue North was the Bluebird Grocery, and on about Fifth or Sixth Avenue South, west of University, was Haeffner's, another mom and pop store. Anybody else remember these?" Scott asks.

More grocers

Donnie Olson, Fargo, writes about a grocery store on 11th Avenue and 11th Street called The Francis. "The owner," he says, "was Francis Fehrenbach, who lived across the alley from us on Eighth Avenue and 11th Street. He also worked at the Fargo Post Office. He had three daughters and two boys, Wayne and Dean, who are still in Fargo.

"Then there was Maxie's, called the 10th Avenue Market," Donnie says. "I spent many pennies there."

Going back to The Francis, Sara Reff, Pelican Rapids, Minn., writes that Francis' wife was Florence.

"My mother, Rachel Dutt, worked there," Sara says. "We lived directly behind the store on 11th Street. We were close to both school and groceries."

Kellie Ertelt, West Fargo, writes, "My sister Vicki Hoover and I were remembering old grocery stores on Fargo's south side. There was Haeffner's and Sticklemeyer's. Vicki still lives in that neighborhood. And on Main Avenue there was a store call Bud & Rabbits, but I can't remember if it was a full store or just a produce store."

Cathy Scott, Fargo, also recalls Haeffner's and Sticklemeyer's stores.

"We also remember Earl and his grocery store on Second Avenue," Cathy writes. "Earl always had Jet, a German shepherd, with him.

"My sons, Paul and John, would always help Earl hand out popcorn balls on Halloween.

"Earl's son Fred was a general in the Air Force and his son Charlie was a pharmacist in Montana. And guess what! Earl would deliver your groceries!"

Tracey Braeger, who has been a Fargo northsider since 1967, writes, "I grew up on Second Street and Ninth Avenue and have lived on Second Street and 11th Avenue since 1990. My dad lived on North Terrace and attended Horace Mann school, as did I and my three boys."

Tracy mentions the Slush Hut on 10th Avenue between 5th Street and Broadway. "I spent many $$$ there growing up, as well as at Big John's Market on the southeast corner of 10th Avenue and Fourth Street."

She also says, "I have many fond memories of Mickelson and Jack Williams fields as my dad played and coached fast-pitch and slow-pitch ball; and of the huge ice rink each winter on diamond one, as well as the toboggan slide."

Other stories

Virginia "Gigi" Wood, Fargo, sends the obituary for Ruth Geller, who died in Minneapolis in 2001.

The obituary says she and her husband Max Geller once owned and operated the 10th Avenue Market in Fargo.

Craig Maas, Fargo, writes that his father, Ray Maas, delivered groceries for the Fargo grocery owned by Napoleon Masse, while he (Ray) was attending the North Dakota Agricultural College in the late 1950s.

"As a small boy," Craig writes, "I would ride along with my father delivering groceries in the evening or the weekend. This was after my father graduated with an engineering degree and gotten a job in his field. Dad just liked helping out Mr. Masse.

"Mr. Masse would make sure I got a treat for helping my dad.

"Napoleon and his wife Simone would occasionally invite us to dinner. They lived upstairs from the store.

"When the Masse store went out of business and they retired (mid-1970s?), we bought a couple of the Masse shelving units. I stripped layers and layers of paint and stained it. I still have this bookshelf and my memories of Mr. Masse."

Finally, here's a note from Paul Madsen, Columbia Heights, Minn.

"It was in the early-mid 1950s (pre-tornado)," Paul writes, "and my grandparents lived at 1302 Eighth St. N., across from Shanley High School in Fargo. During the summer months, when I and my two sisters and brother would visit, we were permitted to walk the one block to Masse's Grocery Store (which we pronounced 'Mossy') to purchase a candy bar or ice cream treat with the nickel or dime we each had been given. The store was on the southwest corner of Eighth Street and 12th Avenue North.

"We were told to always use the sidewalk on the west side of Eighth Street and never to venture any farther south than the store itself.

"I remember Mr. Masse as a short, stout man with a bushy mustache. He and his wife were always standing at the front counter and congenially handled our every transaction.

"It was only after I had aged a little and the travel restriction eased somewhat did I realize there was a lot of Fargo south of Masse's Grocery Store."

If Paul hasn't been back to his hometown for a while, he'd be stunned to see how much the area south of where Masse's was located has grown.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email