This reader appreciated a poem about small-town living

In today's "Neighbors" column, Bob Lind hears from another reader who grew up in a small community in North Dakota.

Bob Lind
Bob Lind, Neighbors columnist. The Forum

Last year, "Neighbors" ran a poem by Kirby Brandhagen, Cavalier, N.D., about the joys of living in a small town .

That led to an email from Carrie Larson, Lompoc, Calif., who wrote that her pen pal in Fargo often sends her “Neighbors” columns. And this poem about small towns “really hit home,” she said.

“I grew up on a farm at the little town of Park River, N.D.,” Carrie writes. “I still love that town!”

“I am the youngest of 11 children, born of Catholic parents. Four of us are still surviving.”

Here’s more of the story about Carrie’s life.


“After graduating from high school,” she wrote, “ Harlan Larson and I married and went to Mayville (N.D.) State Teachers College, graduating in 1962.

“At the time, our little town of Lompoc here in California was going through a growth spurt. I am told it was primarily because of the upsurge of activity at Vandenberg Air Force Base. So a recruiter came to Grand Forks recruiting teachers. And I signed on.

“In 1962, there were about 10,000 people in Lompoc. Our agriculture feature was flowers, of all things. Our city nickname was ‘Valley of the Flowers.’ The flower fields were breathtaking. Oh my; now those fields are housing developments and vegetable fields, and we have 40,000-plus people.

“I am still here. Harlan splits his time between here and our second home in Park River.

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“My nephew, Lawrence Budish and his wife Nancy were teachers in Fargo. Lawrence died of pancreatic cancer, but Nancy still lives in Fargo. Their children Bradley and Stephanie live in Texas with their families and are involved in the field of education. Stephanie is principal of a school; her husband is a high-up-the-ladder trader with China, of all places!

“My nephew Bruce Penas and his wife Patti also live in Fargo.

“My high school classmate and weekly pen pal from Fargo (who sent Carrie the poem) is Barbara (Crosby) Artz.


“My brother, the late Philip Matthews, spent 40 years writing for The Forum.

“It was quite a large group of us who moved to California in the early ‘60s. Most of us, if alive, are turning 80.

“Counting three generations of nieces and nephews, I have 109 with whom I do my best to keep up with birthdays, etc.,” Carrie says; “Also that famous Christmas letter that some detest getting. I like to receive them so I can catch up on friends and family. It is sometimes the only time I hear from some.”

And she still has fond memories of life back at Park River.

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

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