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Bob Lind column: Neighbors: Battery mate recalls Clearbrook catcher

Wes Westrum, the kid from Clearbrook, Minn., who rode his baseball skills to become a catcher in the major leagues, was featured here recently because of the museum in his honor in Clearbrook.

Wes Westrum, the kid from Clearbrook, Minn., who rode his baseball skills to become a catcher in the major leagues, was featured here recently because of the museum in his honor in Clearbrook.

That brought word from Mel Olson of Fergus Falls, Minn.

He knew Westrum well; he and Mel were battery mates when they played with the Crookston (Minn.) Pirates in the old Northern League.

Mel was a right-handed pitcher for the Pirates. "Wes was my catcher, and he was a good one," he says.

Westrum went on to play for the New York Giants. Mel wasn't as fortunate.

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He played for Crookston for 1½ years, "then Pearl Harbor came along," he says.

He served in the Navy during the war. After he got out, he played for the Fergus Falls Red Sox, a semi-pro team.

The Minneapolis Millers, then a Giants farm club, showed some interest in him, but instead of pursuing a baseball career, he got a job with Municipal Light in Fergus Falls. Otter Tail Power later bought it out, and he went on to become Otter Tail's regional manager. He retired 21 years ago.

But he has fond memories of his old baseball buddy, Wes Westrum.

The Vinjes

Another Neighbors column concerned the late Olaf "Doc" Vinje and his flying service in Fargo in the 1930s.

Doc's wife Joyce, Mesa, Ariz., writes the column was "a well-detailed account of his flying school. Olaf would be so pleased to know notice was made of his school.

"You mentioned a Dr. Vinje from Bismarck who had a cottage on Ottertail Lake. That would be Dr. Ralph Vinje, Olaf's brother. He died in 1981.

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"Dr. Syver Vinje, Olaf's father, also had a cottage on Ottertail for many years. The four Vinje boys spent their summers there while growing up."

More feedback

The story: The Shook family, most of whom attended Jamestown (N.D.) College.

Feedback: Ray Hubbard, Fargo, especially enjoyed the story because Jamestown College is the alma mater of both him and his wife, Bev.

Stand up and cheer for Jamestown College!

Newfolden ties

The story: Dr. Vincent Rokke, a Fargo chiropractor, has a sign from the office of his great-great-aunt, who also was a chiropractor.

Question: Carolee Mock, Breckenridge, Minn., who grew up in the Karlstad, Minn., area, wonders if the Rokkes in the Newfolden, Minn., are related to Vince.

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Answer: Yes, indeed. Vince says his grandfather, Norman Rokke, born in 1910, grew up in Newfolden, and several of his brothers and sisters raised families in that area.

"My great-uncle Melfred Rokke, the last of my grandfather's siblings to be alive, currently lives in Newfolden," Vince writes.

"If one is named Rokke and lives in that area," he says, "it is pretty much a lock that I am related to him."

Clair Myron

Question: A reader asked whatever happened to Clair Myron, a Fargo barber years ago.

Answer: Clair is 87 and is retired in Topeka, Kan.

The source of this information: Bob Myron, Clair's brother.

Bob and his wife Doris live on the family farm at Thompson, N.D.

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Bob says Clair was a barber at the Graver Hotel from 1948 until he retired in 1980 or thereabouts.

Clair and Bob were in the service during World War II. Claire was in the Army Signal Corps in the Philippines and Bob was in the Army Air Corps in India and Okinawa.

Bob, 85, worked for Fargo Glass and Paint before the war. He went on the farm after the war, retired in 1984, and now leans back and relaxes while his son and grandson do the farming.

Happily, one of the ways he relaxes is by reading The Forum.

Gotta like this guy a lot.

Tidy Fargo

And you gotta like Renee Sandy a lot, too.

Renee, of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., and earlier of Lakeville, Minn., lived in Fargo until the mid-1950s. Her maiden name was Renee Baker.

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She liked a Neighbors item about the Gunness family from Abercrombie, who were having a reunion, and wanted one of the cookbooks that family published. (Note: Carolyn Roesler, Moorhead, of the Gunness family, says they're out of cookbooks, but they have received several calls for them, so maybe, just maybe, they'll print some more.)

Renee, visiting Fargo, says she still likes this area "and the way we do things here."

She went to Hector Airport early in the morning to see someone off and was thrilled to see a street cleaner at work.

"I haven't seen a street cleaner in years," she says. "I love it the way we take pride in things in Fargo, like keeping the streets clean."

Something Fargoans just take for granted. But shouldn't.

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 e-mail rlind@forumcomm.com

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