“It’s Saturday! Morning chores and allowance, followed by countless phone calls to coordinate wardrobe, possible rides and the usual excitement of an upcoming day of freedom and possibilities.”
No, neighbors, today is Tuesday, not Saturday. But then, what follows was not written about 2019; it is about life in Fargo for a teenage girl in the 1960s.
It was written and sent to Neighbors by Nancy (Willson) Langness, now of Moorhead. It comes in the wake of several columns about old Fargo stores.
So let’s drift along with Nancy as she thinks back a few decades ago.
“Broadway was THE place to be in the early ‘60s,” she writes. “It was the social and commercial center of the city by day and favorite cruise strip for the older teens by night.
“We’d usually begin at the south end of downtown and work our way back to the north end, closer to home.
“deLendrecie’s had a great candy counter downstairs from the Seventh Street entrance, and lots of fashions to check out.
“Licorice buttons in hand, we’d head across Main Avenue to Woolworth’s. If Woolworth’s didn’t have it, it’s because it wasn’t invented yet, and best of all, it had an escalator!
“Anything from toys to turtles, cosmetics to hardware and everything in between. Browsers’ paradise!
“The lunch counter made super hot fudge sundaes, and we made faces as we posed in the photo booth!
“We’d buy dried peas in a bag, a plastic straw (pea shooter) and a package of Fizzies (soda-flavored Alka-Seltzer tablets), which we would take to the Herbst cafeteria. At Herbst, we’d take one of the large, round tables, go through the line and fill tall glasses with ice and water, buy one large order of french fries and proceed to insert Fizzies, and eat fries and be as silly (and probably as annoying) as only young teen girls can be.
“Then, upstairs, where the music department had a listening area so we could check out the latest hits.
“Many stores on both sides of the street had tons to look at and wish for, and we didn’t miss many of them as we made our merry way through them all!” Nancy says.
“A stop at Fanny Farmer for pistachios (red or white) and suckers or buttercrunch… then on to Nick’s for popcorn. He was a gruff old guy, and would complain when we would order nickel bags, but serve them up he did, complete with enough butter (??) to soak through the brown paper bag in seconds!
Movie and a pickle
“The Fargo Theatre was the next stop… usually we’d chip in for one child ticket (24 cents with tax) and when said ‘child’ was inside, the back door would mysteriously open, admitting the rest of the moviegoers. Dill pickles were a dime… cold, crispy and served in a bag, with a picture of a pickle, mildly reminiscent of the Planters peanut man.
“Sometimes we’d stay for two features, depending on the movie. Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello or Gidget movies were popular, as were the Elvis movies. Horror movies were a big draw for most of the boys in the age group, so we were sure to be checking them out while being terrorized by ‘The Tingler,’ ‘The Blob,’ ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon,’ etc.
“Leeby’s was another stop we hardly ever missed. So many exotic foods that we’d never heard of, packages printed in foreign languages and usually a cookie to taste.
“There were furniture stores with vignettes set up on several floors, where we would tour and select which pieces we would put in our someday dream house. Straus had a beautiful fountain, with copper cranes and lily pads, and, later, we would discover, a very interesting staff in the Squire Shop!
“But now we’ve had a full day of food, fun and entertainment,” Nancy concludes. “Time to get home for dinner, baths and Sunday school lessons for tomorrow, and to begin plans for next Saturday downtown!”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.