Take some time for Bismarck | News, Sports, Jobs – Alpena News

March 19, 2022 by No Comments


Pat Hager wrote:

Most of us remember our childhood home with nostalgia, focusing on everything that was right about it.

I grew up in the small town of Mandan, North Dakota, where we had every business you could possibly need right on our main street. Mandan was a railroad town across the Missouri River from Bismarck. The railroad still runs along the southern end of its main street.

My hometown had a JC Penney and a Woolworths where my trucker uncle would always take me for ice cream soda at the soda fountain when he came to town delivering tombstones.

We had two hardware stores, one where my dad’s best friend, Stanley, would fix anything you needed fixed for a very modest sum. We had a movie theater with George’s bakery right next door. The cookies at George’s always tasted a little stale to me, but I ate them, anyway. We had several clothing stores — some with stale styles.

Everyone in town knew my dad; he owned Brady’s Used Auto Parts. Most guys then could fix their cars, and business was good. There were no complicated electronic systems with computer chips.

I still marvel when I look under the hood of a 1958 Chevy pickup compared to a 2021 Chevy pickup. In 1958, you’d see all kinds of space around the engine block right down to the ground. Not so today.

My dad’s business was on the west end of Mandan on the Heart River.

There, in summer, I spent almost every waking day fooling around by the water. My father had an endless supply of inner tubes, so I was the hit of the neighborhood. We would take Dad’s inner tubes and push them upstream on the Heart until we were tired, then refresh ourselves with peanut butter sandwiches — if they weren’t too soggy — before lazily floating back downstream.

Many a perfect day was spent this way — immersed in dreams that came easily, abundantly.

The Heart would flood in spring, but we were safely protected behind the dike which bordered all of Mandan. I shudder to think what would have happened if that dike had failed, since our home was right in the middle of the salvage yard.

The main street businesses are all gone now and Brady’s Auto Parts closed with my dad’s death not too long ago.

Oil prosperity has come to North Dakota, along with increased crime and homelessness. You never saw a homeless person when I was a kid. Now, you see homeless people all the time; many brave the arctic temperatures of winter because they have nowhere else to go. Much like the gold rushes of old, they’ve been left behind.

And the politics, too, have changed.

Oil tax revenues that have been collected have been put into a legacy fund managed by out-of-state interests. The fund holds over $8 billion right now. Many citizens would like those dollars to be used for property tax relief and education. But, so far, they haven’t had much luck with that.

As a child in Mandan, all the businesses I knew closed one by one as its citizens drove to the capital city across the Missouri for work and the lure of several big shopping centers created by the oil prosperity boom.

My mother, who did the bookkeeping …….

Source: https://www.thealpenanews.com/opinion/editorials-and-columns/2022/03/take-some-time-for-bismarck/


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