Volume 124, Number 10
Art Rice turns 100 Friday; party planned Saturday
Esmond native and Esmond booster Arthur Rice of Devils Lake will turn 100 on April 13. A birthday party is planned for him on Saturday, April 14 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Devils Lake. A program will be held at 2:30 p.m.
He was born April 13, 1907 near Esmond in the farmhouse he still owns. He was the oldest of seven children. He had three sisters, Viola, Gilma and a sister who died as an infant; and three brothers, Walter, Helmer and Edwin, who died young. Walter died May 31, 2006, so Art is the last of his generation.
Art is of Norwegian, Dutch and Danish ancestry. His father came from Norway to Alexandria, Minn. and then to Fargo. He attended Concordia College. Art’s mother was born and reared south of Fargo. Her parents came to Fargo in 1872 when Fargo was "just a bunch of tents and shacks." Art’s father made his first trip to Esmond in 1898 on a bicycle, using the North Star for directions. His parents moved to the Esmond area shortly after that.
Art remembers being three years old and attending a circus in Esmond. He specifically recalls seeing the elephants. He also remembers the exact lines he recited in his first grade Christmas pageant.
His father bought a Buick automobile in 1913 and then in 1916 a brand new Model T Ford for $440. Art still has the sales contract and title for the Model T. He remembers the first radio in Esmond. He was in about the sixth grade. The radio was brought into the fire hall and the station it was broadcasting was CKY out of Winnipeg. He said everyone was crowded into the fire hall and he couldn’t even get in the door to see this new contraption which made words fly through the air with no wires. But it left a lasting impression which resulted in a later adventure into the world of electronics.
Telephones were installed in Esmond in 1907, the year Art was born.
There was a central office there with two or three girls working the switchboard day and night. Art’s phone ring was two long and two short rings. There were 16 people on his party line. People would listen in on each other’s conversations. Art called these eavesdroppers "rubbernecks." In 1940 the phone company was bought out by Northwestern Bell.
Art doesn’t remember much about World War I because he was only about 10 years old then. He does remember barley being mixed with wheat for flour and that it made a "heavy" bread. He also recalls "meeting parties" where ladies would get together and knit sweaters, caps and gloves to be shipped to soldiers in France. He said the sweaters were supposed to be given to the soldiers, but they had to buy them. Art went to school in Esmond but never finished high school because his dad died when he was 16 and since he was the oldest son, he had to take over the farm. He remembers all the changes in machinery during his farming career. When he first started farming he used horse-drawn machinery. Before combines, there was the threshing machine, which was operated by a crew of about 19 men. Art remembers harvest time as being a great time of year. One of his jobs included being the "engine man." There was a small vial on the steam engine that he had to watch. If the water got just below a line on it, the whole machine could explode. He had to make sure to keep the water at a safe level. There might be only two or three threshing rigs for an entire township so the workers threshed for all their neighbors.
Art still remembers all his teachers’ names and what they taught. He remembers one time about seventh grade when the first Fordson tractor purchased in Esmond was coming down the road near the school and the seven boys in that class all rushed to the windows to see what was coming. It was early morning. The teacher then made them stand like that, each boy facing a window, for the rest of the day. He remembers there were seven windows in the school, four facing the east and three facing the south so there were just enough windows for the seven boys.
Around apple harvesting time each year, a railroad box car would come to Esmond filled with apples. When the boys knew the train had come in with apples, they would sneak downtown during recess and run to the rail station, where the workers would throw them apples. This was a real treat, and Art remembers how enjoyable it was.
About 1926 Art and his buddies, Verdi Rognlie, Chester Bruns, Louie Fuglestad and Christ Schloss built a radio and it worked! They decided this wasn’t enough, so they made a broadcasting station and called the station PDQ. They broadcast for a short time before the authorities told them to stop or they’d be arrested because they didn’t have the license to broadcast.
In the 1920’s he took the train to Wolverton, Minn. to visit his grandmother. She was apparently quite well-to-do and the evening before he left for home she gave him a check for $600, a small fortune. The next morning he went to the bank to cash the check, but the bank didn’t open by the time his train left at 10 a.m. People were milling about near the bank wondering why the bank wasn’t open. When he got to Moorhead, the headlines in The Fargo Forum stated the Wolverton Bank had closed. Art turned his $600 check over to the bank examiners and he later got a refund check in the mail for 25 cents. Art laughs about it now, but back then it wasn’t very funny.
Art remembers the stock market crashing in October of 1929 and that millions of people were out of work. President Roosevelt closed all the banks in the country in 1932 for about a week in an effort to try to correct the problems the country was experiencing. He said it was scary because nobody was sure of what was going to happen.
Art doesn’t remember much about Prohibition. Maybe that’s because he was never much of a drinker. He does remember, however, people making their own beer. Malt, bottles and caps could be bought at the store and people drank alcoholic beverages when they were illegal. In 1932 President Roosevelt opened up the making of what was called 3.2 beer. At that time the first bar in Esmond opened.
Art was part of the Great Depression and remembers it quite well. He said the drought started in Oklahoma and Texas and then moved up into this area about 1933. He remembers seeding and not being able to tell what he had already seeded because the wind would blow the dirt back into his wheel tracks by the time he came around to do the next row.
The dust would get so thick at times the sun was obscured.
He also remembers hordes of grasshoppers and how they ate entire fields. He said it was like they were being invaded. A contraption was made which consisted of a ten-foot-wide platform on wheels with a wooden box mounted on it with a screen on the back of it. Kerosene was put inside the wooden box. They would then drive this up and down the fields and the grasshoppers would jump into the kerosene and die. When the box got filled up with grasshoppers they would shovel them out. Art says that didn’t help much, but there was really nothing else they could do. He also says that the grasshoppers did not eat fence posts, as has been told.
Farming took much longer than it does today. The acres that would take one afternoon today took a week or more back then. Farmers have many more acres today than back then, when the average farm was about two quarters or 320 acres. A farmer could plow about five acres a day. Periodically during the day the horses would need to rest and have some oats and water so the farmers would take this time to visit with each other in the fields.
Art’s brother, Walter was among the first men drafted in World War II. Since Helmer was too young to run the farm, Art was allowed to remain on the farm to provide the grain for food for the soldiers.
Walter had a tuberculosis spot on his lung so he was also discharged from active duty and went to the San Haven Sanitarium until his tuberculosis was cured. The youngest brother, Helmer, did eventually end up in the war, stationed in Germany.
During WWII tires were rationed and families were only allowed four tires. All the spares had to be turned in at the train depot and they were shipped to Minneapolis. Art’s job was to write down the serial number on each tire and to make sure that each person or family in Esmond only had four tires. If one went flat, they had to patch it or go to Canada to get a tire there, where it was legal. Art said at that time drivers would frequently come upon people pulled over with flat tires, patching them and pumping them back up.
Jelly, sugar, coffee and other staples were also rationed. He said people could get jelly in Canada, too. Ration stamps were necessary to buy gasoline. At some point the production of autos and tractors was halted in the US. Art was married during the war in October of 1943 and he remembers that on his wedding day it was impossible to buy either cigars or candy. He also remembers not being able to buy a white shirt for his wedding because they just weren’t available. To this day he’s uncertain why this was. A big department store in Fargo had white shirts in stock. Art had a cousin who worked there and he would slip Art a shirt every once in awhile.
About 1940 he started doing carpenter work to supplement his farm income and he did that until about 1972 when he rented out his farm to Sylvester Hoffner and went to work as a carpenter full-time. In 1977 he moved to Devils Lake to be near his son, LeRoy, and family. He did a lot of carpenter work on a motel in Devils Lake and now lives in a six-plex he helped remodel. The six-plex, owned by LeRoy Rice and Ron Faleide, is the former Blue Moon Motel which once was located in Leeds and later near Churchs Ferry. It’s a building that’s been around.
In between farming and carpentering, Art has been a servant of his community. The Esmond School made use of his services for 34 years: one year as a director, nine years as board president, 22 years as clerk and two years as treasurer. Even at his advanced age, Art has been a tireless volunteer at getting the Esmond Eagles Alumni Center up and running. That’s one of the reasons he earned his honorary high school diploma, which was presented at a surprise birthday party April 27, 2003 at Esmond.
He had another surprise birthday party when he turned 99. Wayne Jensen and Sylvester Hoffner of Esmond telephoned him about the time of his birthday wondering if they could come to Devils Lake to visit him. Art told them that he and his son, Arthur Lee Rice, were coming to Esmond that very day and they could meet at the Esmond cafe. Four hours later when Art and his son arrived in Esmond they were surprised to see many vehicles at the cafe. It turned out that Jensen and Hoffner organized a birthday party in the four hours after their phone call.
Art served 23 years on the Esmond Equity Elevator Board, 20 of those years as president. He was on the county school board eight years (Benson County at one time had as many as 77 school districts). He served eight years on the county Farmers Union board, two years as president of the Sons of Norway, 14 years as secretary-treasurer of the Klondike Telephone Co., 14 years as assessor of Esmond Township, two years as president of the Isabel Farmers Union local and as election clerk 35 years. Talk about public service!
He’s still serving! He’s the outer guard at monthly Sons of Norway meetings and faithfully attends. Even at his advanced age he’s Noble Grand (equivalent to president) of the Odd Fellows Lodge in Devils Lake which meets Wednesday evenings. He’s also on the state board and is the Grand Herald for the North Dakota Odd Fellows. He was recently notified that he will be inducted as Grand Herald for another one-year term at the state convention in Devils Lake in June.
He remains a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Esmond and is an associate member of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Devils Lake.
Art has two sons and daughters-in-law, LeRoy and Diane Rice of Devils Lake and Arthur Lee and Cindy Rice of Grand Forks. He also has four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Art keeps busy these days helping LeRoy restore tractors. They are nearly finished restoring a Case DC and an International MD. Next they’re going to do a Ford Ferguson. The work is done in LeRoy’s garage near Lakewood.
It’s unlikely he has any enemies because he’s such a nice fellow. Of course, if he ever did have any enemies, it’s a sure bet they’re dead. And he wasn’t always nice. As a seven-year-old, he sneaked into the hired man’s quarters and smoked some of his tobacco. Art got so sick his mother put him to bed. That may have been one of the best things he ever did because he’s never touched tobacco since.
He’s been remarkably healthy all his long life. He doesn’t need glasses to read newspapers, but he does use them to drive. "I can see things at a distance better with glasses," he explains. He just got a new driver’s license which is good until 2011.
He’s seen lots of changes in his lifetime. He remembers being young and looking up at the moon wondering what was up there, and then unbelievably seeing the day when man walked on the moon. He remembers when it took 45 minutes to an hour to get to Esmond from his farm, which was three miles away, by walking or with horses. And when they had automobiles that went 30 to 35 miles-per-hour, they thought they were going incredibly fast.
Art loved the food back then because it was fresh, homemade, and totally unlike processed food today. Grocery stores have also changed dramatically. Back then, the food items were on the back walls or in bins or barrels. The store clerk got what was wanted and the customer never touched anything until it was carried out the door. The items were put in paper sacks or wrapped in paper with string that was pulled down from a big ball up in the ceiling. The clerk would write down what each item cost and add it up. Art remembers buying dried foods, coffee, fish and wonderful cookies. He remembers buying an 8 oz. Baby Ruth candy bar for five cents. That’s half a pound for a nickel!
As a young man on Saturday nights for entertainment Art would go into town and get a haircut for 25 cents and a shave for an additional 10 cents. Then he would see a movie for 25 cents. He can remember the silent movies and how the captions appeared at the bottom of the screen.
There were many more people populating the area then. Esmond had up to five grocery stores, seven grain elevators, lots of bars after Prohibition, pool halls, movie theaters and two hardware stores. There were five barbers. Today there isn’t one full-time barber in the entire county.
At one time there were approximately 50 businesses in Esmond. Today there are probably less than 10.
This article has many references to Art remembering. He sure does! He rattles off incidents with dates and names as though they occurred yesterday. Art has lots and lots of good memories, far more than space here allows.
Editor’s note: A good portion of the preceding article was written by Erika Gilbertson for a history class at Lake Region State College in Devils Lake in December of 2002. The article was edited and items were added by the editor after visiting with Art Rice and it was originally published in this newspaper May 7, 2003. The editor visited with Art Rice again April 4, 2007 and the article was updated.
Erika also has Esmond connections. She is the daughter of Mike Gilbertson and Debbie Chandler of Devils Lake and the granddaughter of Margie Leier of Devils Lake and the late George Leier and Sylvester and Eris Hoffner of Esmond.
Art Rice in his Odd Fellows blazer. His name tag carries the badge of office of the North Dakota Odd Fellows Grand Herald. He has been notified that he will be installed to serve another term as Grand Herald in June.
Minnewaukan Supt. Myron Jury and substitute teacher Lori Cline model their new jackets, which were given to them by the ND Game & Fish Dept. for their work with and support of the Minnewaukan Outdoor Wildlife Learning Site (OWLS) Project. The site on the grounds of the Minnewaukan School provides habitat for wildlife and the students can learn from observing the site.
Local art instructors attend art convention in New York City Karen Anderson, art educator at the Minnewaukan School, Deborah Carlson, art instructor at Lake Region State College and Kathryn Luther, art instructor at Fargo’s Shanley High School, recently attended the National Art Educators’ Convention in New York City. The convention, held March 14-18 at the Hilton New York & Towers Hotel, in mid-town Manhattan, was the gathering place for art educators from around the country.
Anderson and Carlson live at Warwick.
With more than 1,000 presentations available during the five day convention, the three educators were literally busy around the clock attending workshops designed to provide classroom applications that enable participants to return home with ideas to use in their own teaching.
Special sessions with industry leaders such as Jack Lew and Daniel Pink were attended. Jack Lew is the Global University relations manager at Electronic Arts. Electronic Arts (EA) is the world’s leading independent developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software for personal computers and advanced entertainment systems such as the PlayStation2, Xbox and Nintendo.
Daniel Pink is a best-selling author and an expert on innovation, competition and the changing world of work. His latest book A Whole New Mind, charts the rise of right-brain thinking in modern economies and explains the six abilities individuals and organizations must master in an outsourced and automated world.
According to Anderson, "Both Mr. Lew and Mr. Pink were emphatic that we must be training students for jobs that don’t exist yet." Anderson explains. "What this means is creative problem solving, collaboration and synectic thinking are the ‘new math’ and are worth their weight in gold. These attributes are available to students by immersing them in fine arts courses such as visual arts, graphic design, dance, music, creative writing and drama."
Anderson and Carlson hope to use the information garnered at the convention in a grant they are writing to provide a sequential visual art program for small local rural schools to use as a segue into the art program at Lake Region State College.
The three educators also took in many of the city’s world class art museums. Anderson’s trip was part of a professional development grant from the ND Council on the Arts. The NDCA is the state agency responsible for the support and development of the arts and artists throughout North Dakota. The NDCA receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the State of North Dakota, and interest income from the North Dakota Cultural Endowment Fund.
Deb Carlson and Karen Anderson in New York City.
To go to state
Leeds FCCLA members participated in STAR Events at Lakota. Earning the privilege of advancing to state competition April 15, 16 and 17 are, left to right, back row, Nikki Herman, Callie Brossart and Ali Strand in the senior division illustrated talk. They received a gold star. Earning a silver star in the junior division illustrated talk were left to right, front row, Ashley Manley and Morgan Leapaldt.
Local artist visits
Advanced art students at Leeds High School learned to construct stained glass garden stones with artist Kathy Benson of Wolford. Pictured, left to right, are Ross Braun, Morgan Leapaldt, Amber Bracken and Kathy Benson.
Advanced art students work on stained glass garden stones. Shown, left to right, are Brittany LaRoque, Lemeng Zeng, Stephanie Harkness and Kendall Boyles.
Art to be at UCB
Final design projects and more will be featured at a Senior Art Exhibit at the United Community Bank in Leeds from April 23 to May 4. Three seniors from Leeds High School will have work displayed.
Their art teacher is Sheila Moser.
The bank lobby hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. The public is invited to stop in during that time.
Ross Braun will be displaying his golf course project.
Kendall Boyles will show a top made for the exhibit.
Stephanie Harkness constructed an architectural model.
Strand selected for youth tour
Alisha Strand, a junior at Leeds High School, will represent North Dakota by attending the 12th annual Foundation for Rural Service
(FRS) Youth Tour this June. She is the daughter of Mike and Donna Strand of Leeds. As a youth tour student sponsored by North Dakota Telephone Company (NDTC), she will be introduced to the telecommunications industry within a legislative context.
The educational trip features a comprehensive overview of the industry. Strand will be exposed to telecom careers, the critical role telecommunications plays in rural America, and how legislative and regulatory decisions that are made in Washington, DC affect the industry. She will also have the opportunity to tour many of the historical sites in the nation’s capital.
FRS hosts the annual youth tour. The foundation was established by the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, of which NDTC is a member.