Wayne Irick, Lakewood, Colo., sends a clipping from a 1956 edition of The Forum, which reads in part:
“Three connoisseurs of pizza have combined their talents to present to the public one of the finest morsels that ever enticed the palate. In an earnest effort to supplant lefse, these three pioneers in the pizza field of Fargo and Moorhead have enjoyed the compliments of the multitude who have dined at their Orpheum Pizza Shop on N.P. Avenue.
“Starting with nothing but an intense like for pizza, these three NDSC students: Sam ’Personality Man’ Kalanov, Roy ‘Elephant Belly’ Cedarstrom, and Wayne ‘German’ Irick have created a thriving business.
“Equipped with a well-guarded family recipe received from the lips of dying grandmother Irick, they set about to improve and perfect the recipe with every bit of their culinary art. After many hours of concentrated effort in the midst of pizza dough and pizza sauce, they finally came up with the masterpiece of delectability which they now serve.”
Wayne adds that he graduated from NDSC in 1958 with a degree in industrial engineering, married a Fargo girl, Carol Savageau, and had a career in mechanical contracting until he retired in Denver in 1999. He says both of his partners in the pizza shop, Sam and Roy, have died.
Orian Fjestad, West Fargo, a 1959 graduate of North Dakota State University, writes, “The first Pizza Shop was located at Broadway and 3rd. It opened in 1956.
“I was a student at the North Dakota Agricultural College (now NDSU) at the time. We would go there on Friday nights, as the cook at our fraternity was off on Friday. It was later called Sammy’s and still exists to this day.”
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From Randy Mcevers, Barnesville, Minn.: “I remember going to Mike’s Pizza. I believe it was in north Fargo. It was owned by Mike and Marge Zehren.”
In answer to a man who wondered about the name of a pizza place on South University Drive in Fargo, Marlene Hermanson, Casselton, N.D., writes, “I believe it was Pinky’s Pizza. I would get pizza there a few times. They were so good. And also, uptown off of Broadway to the east was Shakey’s Pizza. I would go there there on Saturdays for their buffet. So, so good. This was in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.”
Paul Kegel, Fargo, writes that in the “Neighbors”’ previous column, several people listed Pinky’s Pizza as being in the 700 block North University Drive in Fargo, but that is incorrect. “It was located in the 800 block, and was later called Mike’s Pizza,” he says. “The building is still in use as a day labor facility.
“I live in the 900 block of 12th Street, and have for 49 years. After the blizzard of 1972, my wife and I walked over to Mike’s Pizza, as we had snow drifts in our yard that were too big to shovel. After a friend came over with a tractor and bucket and cleared out my drive, I purchased a used snow blower from Moorhead Scheels Hardware that I continued to use until two years ago when everything but the engine was worn out.”
John P. Donahue, North Fort Myers, Fla., writes, “Another pizza place worth mentioning was Jiggs Chicken and Pizza in downtown Fargo. I worked there in 1966. Perkins Pancake and Jiggs were the same restaurant. In the kitchen, we cooked pizza and chicken on one side and all the Perkins menu items on the other.”
Dan Nelson, Pillager, Minn., writes that when he moved to Fargo in 1968, “Forum sportswriter Mike Olson introduced me to a pizza shop just east of University on the north side of what I think was 7th Avenue. I can still taste the pizza, but some of the other details have grown fuzzy over the years.
“As I recall, the place was owned by Mike Kinsella, who was the brother of Mike’s wife, Alice. Mike died last November.
“I’m not sure how long that place stayed in business and I can’t recall its name. The last commentator in your column about these places called it Mike’s Pizza, which would make sense. “
Ryan Corman, Fargo, writes, “I live in what the trenders and pushers now call ‘SOMA’ — south of Main. I love downtown, and I live in this aging place because I love to walk around downtown and Island Park.
“Pizza? For me, it’s Sammy’s. Then Spicy Pie. I don’t want or need fancy, but I do like thin crispy crust.”
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John Birrenkott, West Fargo, writes, “I worked at the Pizza Shop, as it was called, in late 1960 until July 1961.
“I’m guessing that it was in 1961 that a pizza place opened on South University or maybe 13th Street that made pizzas that had to be baked at home.
“At least half of our orders were for kosher salami. They were cut into small square unless they were ordered to be cut pie-style
“The place was owned by Gene Cortez and managed by his uncle Dominic Cortez. My pay was $300 a month, which was OK as I could pay my bills and put a few bucks into a savings account.
“We were located about three blocks from the 5 Spot Tavern, the Legion Club was one block away and the Knights of Columbus Hall was across the street. So on weekends, we were very busy. Our booths and the waiting area were full. I think our hours were 4 p.m. until 1 or 2 a.m.
“I remember there were times we had to throw unruly customers out. I was 19, so I was in charge of watching the ovens so they didn’t burn the pizzas, so the bigger guys did the heavy work, throwing them out.”
Well, many of you have mentioned Pinky’s Pizza. So it seems appropriate that this column concludes with a letter from Pauline Olson, because she is the daughter of Floyd Wangrud, who started the original Pinky’s.
Pauline, who lives in Hallock, Minn., is Floyd’s youngest daughter. She graduated from Fargo North High School in 1969.
“My dad started the North University pizza shop first, then eventually opened the southside shop,” she writes.
“In later years, when my dad retired, my brother Don managed the southside shop.
“A person was correct in stating that Geno was the delivery man.
“One comment I’ve heard and haven’t really liked was that the shop was called Pinky’s because my dad cut off his little finger. That is totally not true. The name Pinky came from when he was on the Fargo Police Force, before I was born.
“It’s nice to hear people remember my dad and his pizza shops. He would be honored and touched.
“I’ve been going through things and I found my dad’s Fargo Police Force badge. That was a fun find.”
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.