Bob Lind column: Neighbors: Missing Coffey house sign reappears on patio

Good news is percolating out of 17th Avenue South in Fargo. The Coffey house sign has been returned. Recently Neighbors told of the sign reading "The Coffey House," which Mike and Lorraine Coffey had on their condo patio until someone stole it th...

Good news is percolating out of 17th Avenue South in Fargo.

The Coffey house sign has been returned.

Recently Neighbors told of the sign reading "The Coffey House," which Mike and Lorraine Coffey had on their condo patio until someone stole it the night of Oct. 17.

It meant a lot to them; Lorraine had given it as a gift to her husband years ago. So they felt terrible when someone took it.

Shortly after Neighbors ran the story, the Coffeys took off for Arizona for the winter.


A few days later the Coffey's niece drove by the condo and saw something lying on the patio ledge. She called the Coffeys who in turn called their neighbor, Edna Overland, and asked her to check it out.

Sure enough, the sign was there. Edna put it in protective custody, where it will stay until the Coffeys return.

So the Coffeys are overjoyed, Edna is happy and we trust whoever took it is somewhat happier, now that he/she/they have done the right thing and returned the sign.

But now, sad to say, there's some bad news out of that same part of town. Someone also stole some yard statues from a nearby house.

The sign is light and easy to carry. But the statues aren't. They are solid concrete and each weighs 125 pounds or more.

They belong to Roger and Ida Bader, who figure the thefts were related since they occurred the same night the Coffeys' sign was stolen and because their home is near the home of the Coffeys.

"We have had them for a number of years and would very much like to have them back," the Baders write.

If you have any idea where these statues are, you can call them at (701) 232-4231.


Chimes gone, too

Going back to the Coffeys and their sign, here's a note about them from Jessica Kruse of Dickinson, N.D.

"I was in Carrington (N.D.) and happened to see a copy of The Forum at a friend's house," Jessica writes. "As soon as I saw the title to the article, I did a double-take. Mike and Lorraine Coffey are my great-aunt and uncle."

Lorraine is the little sister of Jessica's late grandmother.

"What is really ironic," Jessica says, "is that someone stole my wind chimes, which belonged to my grandmother, before I moved from Carrington to Dickinson.

"The sentimental value of things such as these is far greater than their monetary value.

"I, too, remember that sign (The Coffey House) since I was a little kid. The sign isn't quite an antique, but it is a neat tidbit of history in my family."

Well, hallelujah, the sign is back, Jessica.


Ceramic centerpieces

Another recent Neighbors item told of the reunion of 15 cousins at Averill, Minn., last summer.

Kathy Wetterlin of Glyndon poured untold hours into making the arrangements.

Anybody who has organized a reunion knows what's involved: the phone calls and e-mails, the arrangements for transportation and housing and meals and much more.

What Neighbors didn't know at the time was this extra touch dreamed up by Kathy.

She went to Sorteberg's Ceramics, Glyndon, and made centerpieces: patriotic hats with red, white and blue M&Ms, which was appropriate, since the reunion was held July 4-6. She also crocheted red doilies for everyone.

Her efforts paid off. This woman who knows about clocking many miles -- she's a mail carrier out of Glyndon -- went the extra mile with all the nice touches, and the reunion was a rousing success.

A red-white-and-blue cheer for Kathy and for everyone who pulls family reunions together.


Two Centrals

Now, here's a note from John Bennett of Middleton, Wis., who was the star of a Neighbors column because he was a track star for Grand Forks (N.D.) Central High School and then for Marquette University in Milwaukee. He was the first native North Dakotan to win an Olympic medal.

John will be inducted into the North Dakota Sports of Hall of Fame in Jamestown in June.

He credits Bob Gilmour of Fargo, who contributed the information about John to Neighbors, and Bob's wife, Margy, for helping him attain the Hall of Fame honor. "Bob and Margy," John says, "have supported the Jamestown induction effort for several years and I am indebted to them as well as the 'Foundation for Education' at Grand Forks."

Incidentally, it's nice to know John doesn't hold any ill will toward The Forum even though it is published in the home city of the old Fargo Central High School, one of his school's rivals.

"Chuck Johnson (formerly of The Forum sports staff) stands out in my memory as an outstanding sports writer," John says. "At (Grand Forks) Central's homecoming game in 1950, Central could do no wrong and upset Fargo badly, and Chuck wrote many tributes to Central; no left-handed compliments. I have always thought highly of Chuck and The Forum."

Even though John now lives in Wisconsin, he says he'll "always think of North Dakota as home (because) my family homesteaded in Dakota Territory some years before statehood. ... The land remained in the family until 1946."

Cars and memories


It turns out that people mentioned in two columns eight months apart are distantly related.

Last March, Neighbors told of Rica Christ of Dickey, N.D., who became the sole owner of a rare car, a 1913 Westcott 440 sport roadster, which her husband bought when it first came out.

When her husband died that same year, Rica, not knowing how to drive, just left the car in the garage.

Eventually, the Westcott wound up in a car museum in Tupelo, Miss.

Earlier this month, Neighbors ran an item about Wes Anderson of Valley City, N.D., who with his family is restoring another old car.

Now Wes writes that Rica was his great-great-aunt.

"My dad (Allan Anderson of Valley City) well remembers that car (the Westcott)," Wes says, "and nearly got it from her, but for the fact that Rica's brother came and got it and took it out of state, which I guess he wasn't supposed to do; but Rica wasn't in any position to stop him.

"Instead of the car, my dad got her old mantle clock."


Wes says Rica took good care of the car. "Each month she would go out and step on the crank to keep the engine free," he says.

She wasn't cranky about it, either.

Readers can reach Bob Lind by e-mail at

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