Grand Forks high-schoolers attempted to set a teeter-totter world record in 1966
They endured long hours in the snow and cold. Whatever happened to the high school boys who tried to make seesaw history?
GRAND FORKS — I went in looking for information about the Fargo Central High School fire of April 19, 1966, and left with a photo of a teenager sleeping on a seesaw.
Welcome to my life writing "Back Then with Tracy Briggs."
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I’ve mentioned before how I love that my job at The Forum allows me to spend countless hours deep in the archives of the newsroom. Most of the time, I’m scrolling through the microfilm and digging for specific news stories, but occasionally I'm surprised by unexpected news nuggets that make me smile.
This photo is one example of that. It's from the April 20, 1966, edition of The Forum and shows two young men on a teeter-totter.
Most notably, one of them can be seen with his boots sticking out of some kind of sleeping bag lying prone on the board, like he’s taking a nap. The caption read:
“Up-and-Down Marathoners: Past the 72-hour mark on an attempt to set a new 369-hour record for continuous teeter-tottering, Grand Forks Central High School boys bundled in sleeping bags and blankets as snow fell there Tuesday. The feet belong to Tim Hoff and Meryl Lunde, who says ‘anybody that tries to break this record is nuts,’ is holding down the other end. They’re among 14 boys taking four-hour turns on the see-saw.”
Two things resonated with me. First, I was kind of glad to see that people in the past also had to suffer through late April snow and cold, like we’ve been experiencing in 2022. And I related to their experience because back in the '70s, I, along with my siblings and cousins, tried to break a teeter-totter record after watching Bobby and Cindy’s attempt on an episode of “The Brady Bunch.”
I know how it ended for us. We came inside after a couple of hours to eat fried bologna sandwiches and watch TV, only to find a bunch of grumpy, sweaty old men preempting “Green Acres.” (It was the summer of the Watergate hearings.)
That was our story, but how did it end for the Grand Forks Central boys?
I was able to get some help tracking down the teeter-totterers from a friend in Grand Forks. Unfortunately, Meryl Lunde died in 2000. But Tim Hoff, the one with his feet peeking out from the sleeping bag, was willing to spill the dirt.
Tracy: Was this a specific club or group trying for the record? Or just a group of friends?
Tim: Just a group of friends from Central High School.
Tracy: How did you get the idea to do this?
Tim: We wanted to set a record and someone came up with the idea of teeter-tottering.
Tracy: Why do it?
Tim: Crazy high school kids.
Tracy: It looks super cold out there.
Tim: It was cold.
Tracy: How long were your shifts?
Tim: I believe four hours.
Tracy: Did you have to sleep on the teeter-totter?
Tim: Yes, if you could keep it going up and down.
Tracy: Did you get bathroom breaks?
Tim: Can't remember, I guess no.
Tracy: How long did you last? Did you break any records?
Tim: We did make it to 369 hours. (It should be noted, I couldn't find any mention of a group teeter-totter record anywhere on the Guinness Book of World Records website. That's not to say it wasn't once there.)
Tracy: What did you do after graduation in 1966?
Tim: Army, traveled the world selling construction equipment, married, now living in Houston.
Tracy: All these years later, what do you remember most about teeter-tottering?
Tim: It was cold and the night shift was terrible.
Perhaps a fried bologna sandwich might have helped.