Reply from Ginger LaRocque Poitra (’65): Belcourt, ND
I certainly enjoy reading the blog, but I understand why you are unable to at times.
You do so much for all of us, so diligently getting this blog to us as often as you do. There is not to many people would have the stamina you have.
God bless you Gary for making so many people happy by sacrificing so much of your time, your one in a million! !
You have to be enjoying it! Right?
Thank you so much Ginger for the nice comments. Bernadette’s condition is demanding more of my time these days too. That combined with other groups that I coordinate, there are days that I am an not able to get the blog posted.
When I came out to the office about 30 minutes ago, Bernadette was sleeping in her recliner. At the moment none of our help is here, so it is me alone. Novie will be here later on. Anyway a few minutes ago Bernadette was calling me. When I went in the house she said “I just cannot take it anymore. I am saying my good byes to you and checking out. I don’t want to be around anymore”. After getting her calmed down some I went and got Edelyn to assist her taking a shower and getting dressed of which she is doing now.
Having just gotten out of the shower and dressed, Bernadette has calmed down and is OK now.
Dakota Drifters Performing at the Hostfest with Dick/Brenda Johnson & Carl Kannianen
Posting from Dick Johnson (’68): Dunseith, ND
Gary and Friends,
We’re heading to the Hostfest next week. Our new group “Dakota Drifters” will be playing at the Reykjavik Hall every day at 9 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. We always enjoy the Hostfest and meet so many nice folks.
The Hostfest website also has our bio and schedule at this link.
We will still perform as Highway 43 when Ron Hett is back in the summers, but most of the time we’ll now be performing as the Dakota Drifters. Our friend Carl Kannianen from Stanley, ND is a fantastic lead guitar player and loves old traditional country music like we do.
We also have another new member, Toby Nelson from Minot who will be joining us on the drums for the Hostfest. We hope to see some of our friends in the audience. Please feel free to stop by for a visit after any of our sets. We sure would enjoy that! Thanks Gary!
This trio is made up of Dick and Brenda Johnson from the Turtle Mountains in north central North Dakota and Carl Kannianen from the Stanley area. All three are home grown self-taught musicians who really enjoy country music.
Carl farms in the Stanley area and has played the guitar for many years. He found out early in life that he enjoyed music. He sings harmony on several songs and also does vocals. Carl has a unique style of picking and his instrumentals are fabulous.
Dick farms near the International Peace Garden. He has been involved with music from the time he was young. He plays guitar and handles most of the vocals. He is known to favor Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash songs and always includes a few Norwegian jokes to keep things lively.
Brenda works for the North Dakota Forest Service in Bottineau. She started playing the standup bass just a few years ago. She keeps the group organized and is always looking for new “old” material. She and Dick have played and entertained together for several years.
This group plays a variety of country, gospel, rock-a-billy, and even some rock and roll. So if you like Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Chet Atkins and other similar old time music you’ll enjoy hearing this group perform.
Reply from Kenny Nerpel (’65): Rugby, ND
The picture that Mel mentioned in the last post was actually taken in 2004. I probably didn’t share it until 2010. We just happened to be passing by it on a day when the wind was changing directions and thought that the reflection would make a nice picture. It’s not looking so good now, but time marches on.
Gary and Friends,
Mel Kuhn says he was overwhelmed with the intelligence Larry Hackman expounded at the birthday party. I’m still trying to understand why I don’t find that odd? Mel said Larry took a picture of him at the church but I bet he doesn’t know the real reason for that either? Larry will be showing his pals that picture back in Bismarck just to prove that it’s true that he really does know some hillbillies from the Turtle Mountains. I think what Mel might be referring to with my superior intelligence is just that when I have had a few beers, I am able to describe–in detail–things that I can’t fully even understand when I’m sober.
That’s a good reason to have another beer just to see how brilliant I can actually get. One of my old friends said he would have been a doctor right now if he hadn’t been quite so smart when he got out of high school. I don’t know, a couple beers and it comes right back.
Larry/Henry Hackman & Dick Johnson
Reply from Mel Kuhn (’70):
Low and behold and much to my surprise at about 7:30 this evening Larry and Henry Hackman come a knocking on my door. This time I don’t think they were lost. They actually seemed to know where they were. They said they had been over at your place before they decided to come here. They said they had been at your place at about supper time but you didn’t offer to feed them. I took this as a sign that they were hungry. Kathy had been baking all day for the fall supper at the church tomorrow and she let us have one of the apple pies [I think she’s gonna make me pay $10.00 for it]. A piece of that pie and a cup of coffee seemed to bring them around. They were grateful that I gave them their pie on a real plate but they wondered if they would have to wash them so that I wouldn’t get into trouble for having to go buy some new plates. They remembered me having to do that while Kathy was gone on vacation and I ran out of dishes while she was gone and had to buy some new ones so that I had something to eat on. This was before she had told about paper plates. Who ever heard of such a thing? Anyway I guess they’ve been touring through the Turtle Mountains these past few days just a stopping and visiting with people from Bottineau to St. John. It was a good visit and we all got to tell some lies [mostly Larry] and maybe Kathy. Well it’s getting late in the evening and I have to cook a turkey for the church supper tomorrow so I should call it a day. I still have to go catch one somewhere yet. I’ve got my dog watching for one so maybe with a little luck he’ll get one by morning. He’s kind of like Larry, does his best hunting in the dark. Later.
Blog (355) posted on January 30, 2009
Gary and Friends,
Today we got hooked up to DSL, so things are good! My new email address is :
With the many folks reading this blog, I thought it would be a good
place to post this change. Please change my address folks so I don’t
miss your individual messages. Thanks!
Dick, Because so many folks do not have high speed internet, many of which do not have it available to them, I keep the daily postings relatively small in file size. I try to keep them less than 500 KB. You will enjoy the faster internet service. Gary
From Bernice Belgarde (72):
I cannot find the newsletter that told the story of Alcide Lajimodere. It might have been #347 but I cannot retrieve it because my delete file cleared out my deletions too soon. Can you resend me the article on Alcide? Denise Lajimodere would like to know who wrote the article. I sent her the story but did not put in the email the narrator of this story. I just want to say chi mii-gwitch (a big thank you) for providing us the history of Dunseith, ND. I lived a different life in Dunseith coming from a native american home and I know a lot of the people there. My life as a youth and teenager does different from what the white students and people did there. Yet it is very interesting to see how they seen life in Dunseith.
Bernice Belgarde – Class of 1972
Bernice, It’s great hearing from you! I found those messages and forwarded them to you. I’m assuming Denise would be related to Alcide? Vickie Metcalfe phrased it so well with her phrasing, in a message quite some time ago, of the multi cultures that we had growing up going to school in Dunseith. Gary
Reply from Susan Fassett Martin (65):
Gary Metcalfe mentioned Elaine Watkins. She was born Jan 1st 1938 to Helen Amundson and Roy Watkins. She was a sister to Murl Hill, Jeannine Robert, and Carol Carbonneau. She died in 1993 peacefully in her bed at home on the farm north of Dunseith. She never fully developed mentally beyond about a 10- 12 year old mentality, but I believer God sent her into our family to teach us love and understanding and tolerance. She loved all of us kids (cousins Tim Hill, Charles Carbonneau, Susan Fassett, and all our siblings. We used to tease her unmercifully when we were kids, but she loved us anyway. Charlie, Mark Andersen, and I used to take her out on Lake Metigoshe in the boat (Charlie driving) and we would make her sit on one side and then Charlie would turn sharply so the edge of the boat was nearly touching the water, just to make Elaine squeal. She loved to tease the roosters and they would chase her when she came out of the house. I’m sure Carol can tell many stories about her and also Murl and Jeannine. These pictures are in my collection, of Elaine in 1940 when she was 2. The one of her dancing is with my mother, Irene Fassett, her cousin. Mom was teaching her to dance and that was at our house on the corner in Dunseith(Paula sitting on the couch.) We had lots of good times with her. I like to think that she and mom and dancing in heaven along with lots of other relatives who have gone home ahead of us. God Bless, Hugs and prayers, Susan
Reply from Paula Fassett (71):
Gary Metcalfe mentioned Elaine Watkins, so I decided to add my two cents. Elaine was my cousin – actually my Mom’s first cousin. My mother was Irene (Watkins) Fassett. Her mother – Gudrun Amundson – and Helen (Amundson) (Watkins) Nelson were sisters. Helen is Elaine’s mother – and mother of Murl Hill, Carol Carbonneau and Jeannine Robert. ( I hope my sister Susan replies, too – she is the historian of the family.) Helen worked at Hosmer’s for many, many years so I’m sure a lot of you remember her.
Elaine, in this day and age, would most likely be diagnosed “developmentally disabled”. Although that is the way the medical profession most likely saw her, to our family she was most certainly a treasure. And Elaine was smart in many, many ways. She rarely forgot a birthday or anniversary. She could probably have told you the family lineage of most of the people in the TurtleMountains. And clever – man, could she tell the jokes – some that would make you blush!!! AND she could play the harmonica!! In her later years, Elaine resided in Minot and I’m sure that many Dunseith residents who were at one time or another hospitalized in Minot can tell of Elaine coming to pay them a visit!! She kept an eye on the patient list in the Minot Daily News! She missed very few weddings, anniversary celebrations and/or funerals.
Elaine loved to chat on the phone, and although Aunt Helen would tell her not to make so many calls every day, sure enough the phone would ring and after you said hello, there would be a pause, then Elaine’s throaty voice, saying “Mother just went to the barn, so I can’t talk long”. One of my favorite Elaine “tales” is of Tim Hill (who is her nephew) at a time he was going to school in Grand Forks, I believe it was. Elaine was probably in Grafton? Tim wouldn’t give her his phone number for fear he would be inundated with calls, but he would pick her up on weekends that he was going home and take her along. Well, Elaine wasn’t satisfied with that plan – and she knew the street address of where Tim was renting. So she went through the Grand Forks phone book – line by line – until she found the address and Voila! Tim got a phone call! THAT is perseverance!
Elaine passed away a few years ago – I think she was about 65 years old. She was quite a character. I think you could ask anyone who was related to her – or a friend or a neighbor who knew her – and they’ll have a humorous tale of Elaine!
Reply to Gary Metcalfe from Jerry Williams (54):
Yes Gary I do remember Elaine Watkins. She was what in today world be would termed as mentally challenged. Back than we unfortunately had much more derogatory terms for her. She was teased by many of the students back than. I believe that in today’s world with the classes that we have for the mentally challenged she could have fit into our society.
There has been allot of talk about the past teachers from Dunseith School System. The one that I remember the most was my 6th grade teacher Mrs. Conroy. I had the greatest respect for her and she will always remain “Mrs.” Conroy to me. Of all the teachers that I have had in the past, both in Dunseith and in college Mrs. Conroy was, to me, the most outstanding and she had a profound impact on my life. Even though she has passed on thank you Mrs. Conroy from the bottom of my heart.
And yes Gary I am about 3 or 4 years older than you and I still remember you. If I remember right you were on the football team the fall of 1953. Am I right? You may have been on the basketball team as well, however my role on the BB team was bench warmer (at best).
Reply from Don Aird (Carroll Carlson’s nephew):
I’m sure you’ve covered the Peace Gardens in some of the earlier posts. My Dad, Don Aird Sr., helped build the Peace Gardens with the CCCs. Every Memorial Day we would come to Dunseith to put flowers on the Carlson graves at the Little Prairie Cemetery. Then we would go to the Peace Gardens. Dad would spend most of a day just going back to the places he remembered. One story Dad told me that you may not have heard had to do with Kelvin and the switchboard. Everyone was on the same “party line”. Ease dropping was common. The commandant for the CCCs had to make a report once a month to Washington using the phone. When he called Washington lots of folks picked up their phones to listen in. When they did that they drained the electricity powering the system so the report couldn’t be made. The commandant finally rang up everyone on the line and told them if they would wait he would call them all back and give them the same report he was making to Washington. So every month there were two reports one, to Washington and one to the ease droppers on the line.
|Reply from Sue (Gary) Metcalfe (57):
Thanks for the reminder of hotel reservations.. Gary called today and secured our room….we are getting very excited about this great vacation cruise. Our daughter, Leah and granddaughter, Angelina are also planning to come with us. Again, thanks for all your work Gary and Bill and everyone else involved. Sue
Sybil Johnson’s reply to Gary:
My birthday is July 2 and I also have 2 family members in July. My cousin is 6 days younger than me and we were
raised almost like sisters. Sybil
Sybil, you are only 19 days older than me and you are a Great Grandmother. Gary
Reply/picture from Randy Hiatt:
Gary, I have attached a picture of my step father Leroy Birkland and his wife Alice, and one of Wades sons so some of the folks can see. This was taken when I was back last December to visit him in Bottineau. I hadn’t seen my step dad in many years so it was really nice getting backand visiting with him. I took dad for a drive up in the hills and stopped to see Freddy Hiatts old farm byWillow Lake. A lot had change with that farm from the way I remember it when I was a kid visiting. The big red barn was gone and a lot of the out buildings as well.
I am still trying to figure out how this blog works in regards to what I type and what is posted. If I post a few things I will get the hang of it. I have lots of other pictures that people would probably be interested in seeing so let me know which way would be the best way to post them.
Thanks for everything
Randy, I will post pretty much what ever anyone sends to me and would like posted. I try to keep the postings related to the interests of the Dunseith Alumni. Folks love pictures, so please send what ever you have. If someone sends me a note or message that we have not heard from or have not heard from for a long while, with discretion, I’ll post their message to let folks know they are on board with us. There have been times that folks have replied to someone’s message letting us know they have not seen or heard of that person for many years, sometimes 50 plus years. Lots of our folks know your step dad Leroy Birkland. Thanks for sharing. Gary