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Andrea Hunter Halgrimson column: As I Recall: Swimming pools flood mind with memories

Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us. -- Oscar Wilde Earlier this month, The Forum published a story about a new swimming pool to be built in Oakes, N.D. The town's old pool, built in 1939, was worn out and state officials shut it ...

Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us.

-- Oscar Wilde

Earlier this month, The Forum published a story about a new swimming pool to be built in Oakes, N.D. The town's old pool, built in 1939, was worn out and state officials shut it down this spring for safety reasons.

And my mind went back to another small-town pool I'd known.

From 1963 to 1968, I was married to Harold "Hal" Halgrimson. Hal was raised in Leeds, N.D., up in Benson County, and long before I visited there, I heard that his hometown had the biggest swimming pool in North Dakota. I didn't believe it.

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Then one summer when we drove up to Leeds to see Hal's dad, Edwin, who spent his winters in California, I got to see the famous swimming pool. It was huge.

I have lots of good memories of visits to Leeds and Hal's dad. We called him Ed or Grandpa. I remember having to go to the edge of town with a big covered pail to get drinking water.

And I remember shopping at Francis Fogelson's grocery store, especially for the wonderful pork chops and steaks.

On Saturday night when Leeds' main street was always busy, Grandpa would take us to Orris Johnson's café for coffee and then go to see Oscar Tufte at the hardware store. I adored Oscar's store and always thought perhaps in another lifetime I could have one just like it. We'd see Hank Violett at the gas station and Mike Miller at the drug store.

Ed's house was just across from the old -- and then the new -- high school on the east edge of town. The Millers lived just down the street and I got to know their family.

And sometimes we'd drive over to Brinsmade, N.D., to see our good friend Oscar Erie.

But the first person I always heard from after our arrival in Leeds was Ella MacNeil. We'd arrange to meet for a visit, and over the years, I grew to love her. Hal's brother was married to MacNeil's daughter.

I haven't been to Leeds for many years and I may be a little rusty on some of the names. But the happy memories linger.

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Bob Hope's visits

When Bob Hope died recently, we checked to see if he'd ever been in Fargo and we found he'd been here twice.

The first was in February 1955 when his plane stopped at Hector Airport on the way from Winnipeg to Minneapolis. He was photographed bundling himself against a temperature of 26 degrees and his comment was, "Brrrr." I wonder what he would have said if the temperature had been 26 below.

His next visit was in April 1978. I imagine it was a little warmer then. But maybe not.

On the way from a show in Grand Forks, N.D., he was interviewed by a Forum reporter at West Acres prior to a performance in Fargo. His appearance here, called "Music 'N Fun," was backed up by the Eidem-Condell Orchestra of local fame.

When asked about the role of show business people in politics, he said, "I think (Ronald) Reagan has his track shoes on. He's about ready to toss his hat into the ring for president -- he's ready and looks good."

I know Bob Hope was about much more than comedy, but I never thought he was very funny. I didn't see his show. Mort Sahl was more my cup of tea.

Letters from readers

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E After my last column, Marilyn Brant wrote to ask about the Magic Aquarium Bar located at 23 4th St. N. in Moorhead.

In the 1948 Fargo-Moorhead City Directory it is listed as being owned by Walter F. Seign. She said she has a postcard showing the fish in the aquariums.

During our exchange of information, I found out that Marilyn's father-in-law, Emil Brant, built the first home my parents owned at 1301 Broadway in Fargo.

She also said that Emil had looked at the Martin Hector house at 1103 Broadway to make it into apartments. It wasn't feasible but Marilyn says an electric car went with the property and wondered if, when my folks later bought the Hector house, they got the car. No, they didn't.

And Marilyn told me that my father had delivered her youngest child in 1958. She says, "Fargo is really a very small town -- everyone knows everyone!"

Marilyn's father started Gene's Lounge in downtown Fargo, which became Fargo's Famous Five Spot.

Among her many memories, she mentioned the Hendricksons, friends of hers from Leeds, who knew Hal. So it's not just in Fargo that everyone knows everyone. Perhaps that's the case throughout the state.

E Erlys J. Moore writes of her memories of Dilworth's Willy's and her family dinners there. She also mentions the meals at Moorhead's Silver Moon Café and the Comstock Hotel.

Sharon Ross Roberts also remembers Willy's and adds memories of Harvey Gillund's driver education class at Fargo Central High School and Kathryn Posin's can-cans under her skirts at Ben Franklin Junior High.

Writer Susan Sontag says, "It's a pleasure to share one's memories. Everything remembered is dear, endearing, touching, precious. At least the past is safe, though we didn't know it at the time. We know it now. Because it's in the past; because we have survived."

I agree.

Forum librarian Andrea Hunter Halgrimson writes a monthly history column. Readers can contact her by e-mail at ahalgrimson@forumcomm.com with questions and memories

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