More tales of Minnesota native and oil man Clifford Enger
In today's "Neighbors" column, Bob Lind shares stories from Everett Bjerke about his uncle, Clifford Enger.
Last January, “Neighbors” told of Concordia College’s fundraiser John Pierce and how he got author Louis L’Amour to speak at a meeting. It included the story of how Louis introduced John to Clifford Enger, who grew up in Hendrum and Ada, Minn., was a Concordia graduate and became a co-producer of the TV shows “Gunsmoke,” “Death Valley Days” and “Have Gun, Will Travel.”
That led Everett Bjerke, Moorhead, to write “Neighbors” that Cliff was his uncle and was an oil man in California.
“I visited him in 1978,” Everett writes. “At that time he had over 60 oil wells on the grounds of Beverly Hills High School.
“One of our astronauts, Buzz Aldrin, was his pilot at that time.
“Buzz once flew Cliff and his family to Fargo-Moorhead for Cliff to accept the Alumni Achievement Award he received from Concordia.
“Cliff was an attorney in Austin, Minn., in the 1940s and did legal work for oil companies in the Mideast; that’s how he got into the oil business in California.”
After Concordia, Cliff graduated from the University of North Dakota law school. “I think his first job was working at a border station in northern Minnesota,” Everett says.
“I know he and some associates hunted fox by airplane.
“He was married to my mother’s sister Angeline. They had four boys and a girl.
“They moved to Los Angeles. At one time he owned three homes at Thousand Oaks, Big Bear and on a golf course where the Bob Hope Desert Classic was played.
“He obviously had some money. Because of his wells on the Beverly Hills High School property, he was paying the city of Beverly Hills and the school a million dollars a year.
“Banks became interested and wanted a part of the action, but Cliff refused. So they foreclosed and he lost the wells.”
More Cliff stories
“Cliff was quite a character,” Everett goes on.
“I remember that time he came to Moorhead to get his Concordia award, he stayed with my mom in a small apartment.
“He did not care about neat clothes, and Mom would iron his shirt and suit so he was more neat.
“He borrowed Mom’s car. But after a banquet at Concordia, he could not remember where he had parked. Mom called me and I went to Concordia, but I couldn’t find Cliff. He had gotten a ride to Mom’s. I went there, got Mom and we went to retrieve the car.
“I was staying at the Hilton, where Cliff came to get me. He parked in front of the hotel with his very old convertible. But he was in a no-parking zone.
“The doorman got very upset. So Cliff told him to hush up or he would buy the hotel and fire him.
“That,” Everett concludes, “was my Uncle Cliff.”
Cliff died several years ago.
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