Every so often, someone writes to “Neighbors” about the late singer Peggy Lee.
Now here’s a note from Eric Rogne, West Fargo, who writes that “Peggy Lee, the very accomplished artist from North Dakota, was born over 100 years ago.”
“After all these years, we are still hearing her music each time the Ariens snowblower commercial is played.
“‘It’s a Good Day’ makes me smile each time i hear it. Peggy wrote this song in 1947, and the lyrics are so fun: ‘It’s a great day to sing a new song,’ etc.
“I hope you smile when you hear it.”
Well, did you smile when you heard it, neighbors? After getting Eric’s note, “Neighbors” sure did.
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50 years ago
Now we turn to memories of downtown Fargo in the 1970s, thanks to Craig Olson, Frazee, Minn., who writes that “several of your columns have mentioned the neighborhood store operated by Simone and Napoleon Masse.
“I was store manager in the ‘70s of the iconic Leeby’s of 420 Broadway,” Craig writes. “I keep many scrapbooks of the excitement of my years there. It took me many days to go through my collection while reliving a most cherished part of my employment years.”
Craig sent some clippings about Leeby’s to “Neighbors.” He notes that one story came out shortly after the Masses had retired. “One obit says 1972 and one says 1974; I think 1974 is more accurate,” he says.
After they retired, he goes on. “They moved to an apartment near St. Mary’s Cathedral where they would go to daily Mass. From there, it was a short walk to Leeby’s to visit customers and employees (they did not have a car). After visiting for a while, it was time to walk home.
“In the winter, the store owner, Morris Callahan (son-in-law of founder Ray Leeby) would drive them home, frequently not returning for a couple of hours. I know they would invite Morris in for lunch and more visiting.
“I too had many meals at Masse’s, but never on company time!” Craig emphasizes. “Simone would frequently bring me some homemade cream of broccoli soup, usually in a quart Mason jar. Mmmm.”
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Napoleon died in 1984, Simone in 1997 in Hudson, N.H.
Craig also found a Forum article about Popcorn Mike. “He would buy his popcorn from Leeby’s in 50-pound bags, which we would deliver, usually by just pushing a shopping cart down the sidewalk,” Craig says. “Mike had a 180-degree disposition from Napoleon!
“Being part of Broadway’s history of the l970s, I especially enjoy your writings about downtown,” he adds.
Well, “Neighbors” hopes to bring you more stories about old-time Broadway as well as stories from all over the region in the coming year.
Let’s hear from you, neighbors.
And Happy New Year to all of you!
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.