Forum stories about the building project at St. Paul’s Catholic Newman Center on North University Drive in Fargo caught Fred Quam’s eye.
That’s because, Fred, of Fargo, writes Neighbors, “I happened to know William Flynn, the person who owned that property and who willed it to the Catholic Diocese of Fargo in 1948. He also owned the next lot south and included that in his gift.
“Mr. Flynn also owned the lots west across the street, which are the southwest corner of 12th Avenue and University,” Fred writes. “There was a grocery store on that corner.
“The store was above street level. Mr. Flynn had it lowered and then had it moved south to lots he owned there. I remember them digging the basement with a team of horses and a scraper; there was no fancy equipment in the mid ’30s.”
Fred, who is going great guns at the age of 103, rolls out more memories of that area of Fargo from years past.
“After that grocery store was moved, he (William) built a gas station on the corner selling Sinclair Oil products.
“The station had hand-operated pumps which would pump the amount of gas you wanted into a glass container above the pump, and then a hose put the gas in your car.
“For a long period of time, gas was being sold there at 5 gallons for a dollar.
“Mr. Flynn had one employee who would assist you with your purchase, like checking your oil, tire pressure, washing your windows, etc.
“Also during this time, Mr. Flynn built a restaurant and a barbershop between the store and the filling station.
“The barber who had the barbershop was Oscar Olson. At busy times, he would have other barbers come in and help him. Oscar cut my hair for many years. He had a son, Acey, who played basketball at the North Dakota Agricultural College (now North Dakota State University) and was a stellar player for the Bison, being named to the All-Conference teams.
“The grocery store was run by Knudt Tideman and his wife,” Fred says. “I worked in this store in 1937-1939, doing shelf stocking, waiting on customers, making deliveries and doing some janitor work. My salary was $17 a week. However, I had to apply $5 a week on a grocery account that my parents owed the store. My hours were 7 to 9 six days a week. At the time, I was fortunate to have a job.
“The restaurant was operated by two sisters of Mr. Tideman. I think it was called the College Cafe. Many college students had their meals there. They had very good meals, as they were prepared by some very good Scandinavian cooks. I remember the prices were reasonable, also.
“There were apartments above the store and restaurant.
“Mr. Flynn would come through the store at least once a day to see how things were going.
“I was told that in later years, the Pure Oil Co. had the filling station.
“That corner is now a very nice parking lot.”
Thanks to Fred for these memories. Hopefully he’ll have more of them for Neighbors as he zeroes in on birthday No. 104.
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.