Bob Lind column: Neighbors: Mailbag: A mayor, a Boy Scout and a bottle

A Neighbors column last month told of Orville Goplen, a native of Walum, N.D., who now lives in Las Vegas, and his experiences in the Army and as a diplomat.

A Neighbors column last month told of Orville Goplen, a native of Walum, N.D., who now lives in Las Vegas, and his experiences in the Army and as a diplomat.

Orville writes about what happened later:

"I received a brown envelope with the return address: City of Las Vegas.

"Strange. What does the city of Las Vegas want with me?

"Out drops the article (about Orville) with the note: 'Dear Mr. Goplen. I am a North Dakota boy from Fargo -- Norwegian heritage (as is Orville).


"My sister sent this article on you from The Forum. I enjoy reading about interesting people from home. When I brought it to my office, the staff remembered you.'

"It was signed, 'Robert E. Nelson-Korland, staff attorney, senior citizens law project.' I had visited his office a couple times to do some legal things."

Orville also writes that he once worked on the night sports desk of The Forum under long-time sports editor Eugene "Fitz" Fitzgerald and a Fargo Central High School senior named Art Naftalin.

Historical note: Art's father Sandel Naftalin had come to the U.S. from Lithuania about 1894 and lived in several area communities including Abercrombie, N.D., where he and his brother ran a general store.

Sandel moved to Fargo in 1906, started both the Fargo Hide and Fur Co. and the Naftalin Fruit Co. and became a charter member of the Fargo Hebrew Congregation. He died in 1965.

Art did all right for himself, too. He graduated from Central in 1934, attended North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota, and was elected mayor of Minneapolis in 1961.

Ned Black and the Scouts

Here's more feedback from recent Neighbors columns.


The story: Ned Black, son of a prominent Fargo couple, wrote a letter home from London just before World War II began; that letter was published in a book recently. Ned was killed in the war.

Feedback: Mark Hagen, Detroit Lakes, Minn., writes he once supervised his sons' Boy Scout Troop at Camp Wilderness, the Scouts' camp north of Park Rapids, Minn.

"The camp headquarters," Mark writes, "is called the Black Building. It was interesting to find a plaque in the building indicating the building was built in memory of Ned Black; I believe he was a former Eagle Scout."

Bottled history

The story: A Fargo woman found an old bottle labeled "Western Bottling Works, Mat. Simonitsch, Moorhead, Minn." She wondered if anyone knew something about this company.

Feedback: Gretchen McDonald, Moorhead, writes that "Mat Simonitsch was my grandfather and he owned a brewery in Moorhead."

She's been looking for a bottle from her grandfather's business for many years.

Now she's found one, thanks to this Fargo woman.


If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, N.D. 58107; fax it to 241-5487; or e-mail

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