ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Old Timers Band had Fairmont Creamery ties

During this past year, Neighbors has run stories about both the Fairmont Creamery in Moorhead and the old days of local radio. This column combines both. Frank Cook, Moorhead, aka Slim, the poultry grader, was a broadcast engineer for WDAY for years.

Old Timers

During this past year, Neighbors has run stories about both the Fairmont Creamery in Moorhead and the old days of local radio.

This column combines both.

Frank Cook, Moorhead, aka Slim, the poultry grader, was a broadcast engineer for WDAY for years. But he got his start at the station as an accordion player for the Fairmont Old Timers. And where did he audition for it? In the Fairmont Creamery, which sponsored the group, of course.

Frank, who died in 2003 at age 88, wrote of his experiences for the late Bill Snyder's "Ye Olde WDAY Partyline," a collection of stories Bill gathered from veteran radio and TV people. Larry Gauper, of Fargo, sent it to Neighbors.

Frank was a cream tester for Fairmont in the 1930s when he auditioned for the Old Timers. "It was on the second floor between piles of dusty old egg crates," he wrote, because "there was a well-used, horribly out-of-tune upright piano stored in that area."

ADVERTISEMENT

So Frank lugged his accordion that he'd bought used for $50 at the Stone Piano Co. in Fargo up to the second floor, auditioned and landed the job.

The Old Timers' show was broadcast live before an audience in WDAY's studio in the Black Building in Fargo at 9:30 p.m. Mondays. The performers were paid $1 for each show. But remember, Frank wrote: "This was during the height of the Great Depression; a buck was worth something." Gas, he noted, was 18 cents a gallon.

Crowd gives 'bribe'

The Old Timers also played for dances, riding in a small car until its leader, Andy Anderson, traded for a seven-passenger Chrysler limousine that Minnesota Gov. Floyd B. Olson had used for state functions.

Not all the band members worked at the creamery, but all were given nicknames indicative of various creamery jobs, such as "Lars, the turkey buyer" and "Jake, the butter maker." The nickname of Frank, who did work at the creamery as a cream tester? "Slim, the poultry grader."

The road trips sometimes were adventurous. Once the band got snowed in when it was playing at the town hall in Solway, Minn., so it just kept playing until dawn.

But always, the band was popular. One night the band was winding up at a dance in New York Mills., Minn., when the hall's manager came up with a hat full of nickels, dimes and quarters. He said the crowd loved the music and took up a collection in hopes it would get them to keep playing.

"The bribe," Frank wrote, "was not much, but we played a few more tunes." Then the crowd took up another collection, and so the band played some more, all for around $3 to $4 in change.

ADVERTISEMENT

But it was getting late, and all had to be at work in the morning. So the guys quietly slipped out, one at a time. Then the last two made a dash for it through the adoring crowd.

There you have some stories from Slim, the poultry grader. And Neighbors looks forward to telling many more stories about area residents in 2009.

Happy New Year!

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

Opinion by Bob Lind
What To Read Next
Mikkel Pates set the standard for agricultural journalism during his 44-year career in the region, working for Agweek, The Forum and the Worthington Globe.
The administration at Theodore Roosevelt National Park is bent on getting rid of the horses, which means getting rid of vital living history and a major draw to the park.
Fargo city commission hand-wringing over northside Red River crossing is short-sighted
The Minnesota State system request for $350 million in additional funding would freeze tuition and train more desperately needed workers.