Memories of businesses and people you used to see around Fargo
In today's "Neighbors" column, readers recall some former sites around the city.
Columns about old Fargo stores brought a letter from Barbara Glasrud, Moorhead, who writes, “I came to Moorhead from Philadelphia as a bride in 1948.
“I remember hearing talk about a store in Fargo called The Store Without a Name.”
Barbara is referring to the store on Broadway which was so famous for its name it made Ripley’s “Believe It or Not!” in daily newspapers around the country.
“Also, a not-to-be-forgotten Broadway store was Shotwell’s,” Barbara writes. “It was on Main across from Moody’s.
“It was an elegant dress shop, a kind that hardly exists any more, where there were no racks of clothes to paw through, but where you sat in a comfortable chair and the saleslady brought out clothes you might be interested in. Sometimes, after she got to know your tastes, she would phone when something ‘came in’ that she thought you would like.”
No doubt others of you remember those two stores, also.
Neighbors also has carried stories about a man who roamed around downtown Fargo, cleaned windows, and was known by several names, including Injun Joe, Tornado Joe and the Weather Man, because he told people he could predict the weather.
In response to those columns, Gary Newton, Fargo, writes that he read those columns with interest because he remembers this man.
“I was born in 1945 in Fargo; my family moved to 702 2nd St. N. in September of that year,” he writes.
“We always called Joe ‘Old Joe.’ He used to cut lawns. He mowed the lawn of the neighbor across the street from us and did handyman work for her; she was an elderly widow.
“He always said he wore long underwear year around, because what keeps the heat in in the winter will keep the heat out in the summer.”
Gary said earlier columns that said Joe lived above a bar in Moorhead were wrong. Actually, he said, Joe lived on North Terrace. That house was torn down a few years ago and another house was moved in.
“As kids,” Gary says, “we were afraid of him. When we rode our bikes to Oak Grove Park, we would avoid North Terrace.
“There used to be a barbershop on the corner of Elm Street and 6th Avenue; another of our neighbors owned that. Old Joe used to stop in there all the time; he was a talker.
“There used to be a grocery store there and a small building that could have maybe been a gas station at one time. I remember it as an ice cream stand. It’s been torn down, also.”
Going back to Old Joe, Gary says he also shoveled walks in the winter.
“He also kept land owned by a Mrs. Ostby in beautiful shape. The hedge was always trimmed, etc.
“After she was killed by a train, a family with five kids moved in. Old Joe had a fit over the condition the house was in.
“That house was torn down in the 1980s and an apartment was built.”
By the way, Gary adds, “I’m sure our old house will be torn down soon, too. There was a fire there in 2018 and it is all boarded up. We sold it after my mother died in ‘87.”
And here’s a letter from John Birrenkott, West Fargo, who writes, “After reading about Tornado Joe, who I vaguely remember, two other people came to mind who I remember better.
“There was a man people referred to as Cappy. He had one arm, as the other one was missing from the shoulder. He walked around town (Fargo), and on Main Avenue playing a harmonica.
“I would see him on west Main walking and playing. He never stopped to talk to anyone.
“I think he was nicknamed Cappy because he always wore military-style clothes, and Cappy was short for ‘captain.’
“He was always in a bad mood. I think by today’s standards he suffered from PTSD.
“There also was a man,” John wrote, “who had a big tricycle with a seat on the back and a woman sitting on it facing to the rear. I would guess they were in the 60s or so.
“They, too, would come down Main Avenue to the west end of town and turn around and go back. I would see them at least once a week.”
John adds, “I am wondering if others remember these people, and maybe their names, etc.”
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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.