Volume 124, Number 34
Tornado raises havoc with Maddock native’s business
BY STEPHEN J. LEE
Grand Forks Herald It took a tornado taking a little off the top to move Gordon Sogge from his basement barber shop where’s he’s lowered ears since 1953.
But it took him only days to find a new spot to set up shop after the Aug. 26 twister blew the former Northwood State Bank building into oblivion, ending Sogge’s 54-year reign under it.
That’s longer barbering in one spot than anyone else in North Dakota.
But in a harbinger of this city’s response to its worst disaster in 120 years, Sogge started in at a good clip Friday in a corner of Northwood Auto and Truck Supplies on Highway 15 on the north edge of town. It’s his first relocation.
Not until an EF-4 twister with winds of 170 mph hit Northwood, killing one man, injuring 18 people and damaging most buildings in town did he ever think of closing up his shop.
"I’m kind of sad to leave this place after this many years," he said, looking around at the mess the tornado left behind.
The former state bank building has been Roger Kringlie’s law office for 40 years, but the tornado blew out the windows and littered bricks and legal documents on the pavement and down Sogge’s steps.
His barber pole is five feet tall and a century old and still standing, if battered. But its top, too, was taken off. "I found the plastic globe out by the City Park," he said. That’s about a quarter mile from the pole, but it was unharmed.
The sudden disaster takes some time to sink in, he said.
"At first, I thought this is not so bad. But as the days go on, it gets a little worse," he said, shaking his head just a little.
According to Jill Mrnak, a Bowman barber who is secretary/treasurer of the state Barber Board of Examiners, the longest-cutting barber in the state is Willie Sayler in Bismarck. He’s been cutting hair 61 years, first in Linton and for the past half-century or more in Bismarck. But the longest he stayed in one spot was 28 years, Sayler said last week.
In fact, no barber but Sogge has been in the same shop since 1953, Mrnak’s records show. Reinhold Bendewald has cut hair for 58 years, but "only" since 1955 in his current shop in Ashley, Mrnak said.
When Sogge started, there were nearly 1,000 barbers in the state, Sayler remembers. Now there are 240, plus 13 apprentices, working in 130 shops, Mrnak said.
Sogge grew up on a farm near Maddock, one of 11 children. Barbering wasn’t a family tradition, but serving their country was. "Five brothers besides me, and my dad, served in the military. So we did our job, I guess."
When he came here in 1953 after six months at Moler Barber College in Fargo, Sogge was 20 and the junior of three barbers in the cozy shop down eight steps from the street in the heart of Northwood.
Another barber shop sat directly across Main Street on a block that for decades has been a city green.
Sogge was drafted into the Army in 1957 and served two years, moonlighting as a barber.
He came right back to the same place, as a partner. He’s been the sole owner since 1962 and the only barber since 1971.
He and his wife, Darlene, raised three boys and a girl.
The tornado is far from the most difficult thing Sogge has faced. "We lost our oldest son," he said, quietly. Marc was killed in 1998 in a car accident near Detroit Lakes, Minn.
His daughter, Marci Johnson, until the tornado, worked a floor above her dad in the law office of Roger Kringlie, who started working in Northwood the same year Sogge did.
In 1953, Sogge charged $1.25 for a haircut, 75 cents for a shave. Now he charges $11, which, figuring inflation, is about the same price.
The bank moved out 40 years ago and Kringlie the attorney moved in, while down below Sogge kept barbering, selling Redwing shoes and corncob pipes and bartering paperback Westerns.
While forcing him to move, the tornado couldn’t hurt this sturdy basement shop much: a few holes in a window or two, through which dirt and debris blew in. Upstairs, though, was blasted, as if a bomb went off, the big front window gone and the law office open to the air.
The tornado’s wake brought some things to light. "Look at this," Sogge says, handing over the front-page section of the Minneapolis Morning Tribune from Nov. 5, 1944. "I’ve never seen this before."
But it’s believable it sat somewhere undisturbed in the shop since before Sogge started. The collection of antique barbering equipment, including some prized old chairs, survived just fine.
Also surviving is Sogge’s tonsorial faithfulness, answered by return loyalty from the barbered. Within days of the twister, longtime denizens of his comfortable chair were calling, wondering what they had to do to get a haircut.
For some, he brought his clippers and scissors to them, driving miles away to customers’ homes. "Just like a doctor, I make house calls," he said, with his patented shy smile.
He invited others to stop by his house on the east side of town to get touched up.
One longtime customer from Tolna drove 40 miles last week to get a haircut in Sogge’s home.
Even before the tornado, Sogge made house calls. "Some of my customers can’t make it down the steps anymore. So I go to their house."
His house got some razor cuts from the tornado. But Sogge credits holding a window open during the deadly disaster to keeping worse things from happening. "Darlene was on the basement stairs yelling at me to get down there," he said.
Art Bilden, former mayor and legislator from Northwood, has been patronizing this basement barbershop since long before Sogge came to town.
"They used to be open to 11, 12 o’clock on Saturday nights, with shoe shines, baths, the whole works," Bilden said.
"I just talked to Gordie at the post office. He said ‘My business is now out on the highway.’ I said I shall be in for a haircut pretty soon."
Sogge has been a mainstay on Main Street, Bilden said.
"He’s a wonderful man, really. He takes care of people in the nursing home and goes out in the country to cut people’s hair. You don’t find many people like that anymore, so devoted to their profession."
To make a reservation, call Sogge’s Barbershop at (701) 587-5909.
This article was originally published in the Grand Forks Herald on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2007.
Maddock area native Gordon Sogge stands in his tornado-damaged barbershop in Northwood. The tornado that hit that town put the longest-serving barber in the same location out of his barber shop.
(Grand Forks Herald photo by Jackie Lorentz)
WWII Vet takes special trip to nation’s capitol
Axel Nielsen of Sheyenne was among 250 World War II veterans from North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota who participated in the second WDAY World War II Honor Flight to Washington, DC September 7 and 8. He was accompanied by David Karlsbraaten, also of Sheyenne.
While in Washington, DC the group toured the World War II, Lincoln, Korean, Iwo Jima and Vietnam Memorials, Arlington National Cemetery and Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.
A banquet honoring the veterans was held September 7. Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) was among the speakers.
The honor flight is a collaborative effort to send World War II veterans to Washington, DC to see the memorial built in their honor.
Nielsen was born and reared in Benson County. He joined the Army Air Corps on March 25, 1942 and served 22 months in the Southwest Pacific, spending two campaigns at Guadalcanal and serving on Green Island, part of the Solomon Islands. His duties included taking care of the ground radar.
Following his discharge in November of 1945 he worked as a mechanic for Concrete Sectional near Devils Lake, retiring in 1983. He has also been a volunteer for the Sheyenne Fire Department for over 50 years.
Nielsen served 23 years as commander of the Eddy County VFW Post 3696 and three years as 6th District Commander. He is also a member of the Eagles, American Legion and Cooties.
Axel Nielsen of Sheyenne stands in front of the portion of the World War II Memorial representing the Southwest Pacific. He was stationed there for 22 months as a member of the Army Air Corps.
Message from afar
Mark Motis of Minnewaukan holds a balloon with a card attached to it. The balloon was released September 7 by Jenalee Rave Reynolds as part of a Sunday school project of Our Savior’s Free Lutheran Church of Stanley. Motis found it September 22 while hunting for upland game southeast of Oberon. The balloon traveled about 150 miles as the crow flies.
Class gets kits
The Odin Sons of Norway Lodge of Rugby recently presented the third grade class at Leeds School with an Adopt A School kit. The kit contained a pencil, eraser, rubber band, gold thread, bookmark and a sticker of the Norwegian flag. Each item represented a special reminder to the children. Bottom row, left to right, are Elaine Nelson, Gary Redetzke, Kaylee Lybeck, Grace Nybo, Luella Follman and Alvina Engstrom. Top row: Erin Jorgenson, Spencer Follman, Josh Bowman, Andrew Follman, Ricky Jorgenson and Dalton Onerheim.
Joins hall of fame
Bob Hoffner of Esmond was inducted into the Valley City State University Athletic Hall of Fame during ceremonies on September 21 at the Valley City Eagles club. He was a four-year letterwinner in track and cross-country from 1979 to 1983 at Valley City State University.
He was an NAIA All-American distance runner and was a member of championship cross-country teams at the NDCAC and NAIA District level. Bob qualified for the NAIA national meet on three separate occasions. Bob is pictured receiving his award from VCSU president Dr. Ellen Chaffee.
The Minnewaukan School held its homecoming week September 10 through14. Activities included dress up days, coronation on Wednesday, Clash of the Classes on Friday and the annual homecoming game and dance in Leeds on Friday night. The juniors won the Clash of the Classes and came away with the most points. The freshman class was the rowdiest! Members of the homecoming court,left to right, were, back row: Adam LaRoque, Jessy Kraft, Terrell Thomas and Louis Swiftbird. Front row: crownbearer Kayleigh Murphy, Jordan Callahan, Charmayne Thomas, Alyssa Erickson, Katrece Thompson, and crownbearer Eric Thompson.
First graders who served as crownbearers were Kayleigh Murphy and Eric Thompson.
The Minnewaukan School 2007 Homecoming king and queen were Adam LaRoque and Katrece Thompson.
Celebrating 25 years of community service
The Maddock Community Center was dedicated at an open house held on April 18, 1982. The 70’x100′ building wasn’t quite complete, but things were finished not long after.
Two years previous to the dedication the first major fund raiser was held. When the center was complete only $25,270 was borrowed for a building that was valued at $250,000.
The purpose of the building hasn’t changed since 1982. It is still a meeting place for different organizations and still has Senior Meals every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Not a lot of roller skating is done anymore. The auditorium floor makes basketball a challenge, too.
But if you are invited to a birthday party, baby shower or anniversary celebration in Maddock, chances are it will be held at the community center.
To keep the center going, an annual turkey benefit dinner is held in the fall. This year the dinner is on Sunday, Sept. 30 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A special invitation is extended to all past community center board members and cake will be served in honor of the center’s 25th anniversary.
Maddock homecoming royalty
Members of the Maddock Bobcats Homecoming Royal Court are, left to right, front row, Kimberly Randle, Alisha Knutson, Courtney Foss and Shannon Schloss. Back row: Levi Griffin, Taylor Arne, Ethan Markestad and Andy Bergrud. Homecoming festivities were held Sept. 17-21.
Queen Courtney Foss and King Andy Bergrud reigned over homecoming activities at Maddock.
Warwick adds pre-school
Warwick Public School has 17 students in the pre-school class it added this year. Becka Gjovik teaches the class and Fannie Greyhorn is the para-professional. Students are shown at their color-coded tables getting ready for the next activity. Left to right at the front left table are Aaron Green, Keyen Omen (hands) and Cole Smith; next table, Mackenzie Robertson, Mark Shaw, Tashylla Feather, Mrs. Gjovic and Marlin Demarce Jr.; back table, Ethan Jerome, Taniya Redfox, Ms. Greyhorn and Ryan Leaf Jr.; and table on the right, Kalista Jackson and Beau Retzlaff.
Kindergarten students taught by Charlotte Franks-Erickson recently learned about "9/11" and patriotism. They are shown wearing their star headbands while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the school flag pole. Kneeling, left to right, are Warren Greene, Kory Georgeson, Mary Jane Cavanaugh, Diego Lufkins, Lint Georgeson, David Mandan and Montero Redfox. Standing, left to right, are Jackson Delorme, Kalem Jackson, Chadd Keo, Mallory Demarce, Gary Feather III, Kansas Cavanaugh, Sarah Anderson and Julian Hill.
Students learned about "hurting" and "helping" the land when they walked from the school to the highway and picked up litter along the way. Seven bags of garbage were collected, mostly aluminum cans. The cans were donated to the 4th Corporation in New Rockford. Leading the way are Montero Redfox, left, and David Mandan. Following, left to right, are Mallory Demarce, Sarah Anderson, Mariah Redfox, Kalem Jackson, Gary Feather III, paraprofessional Dori Walter, Jackson Delorme, Chadd Keo, Mary Jane Cavanaugh and Sydney Tollefson.
The recent death of schoolmate Joe Peterson as the result of a car accident was a shock at Warwick School. The high school staff organized students for hand stitching on a star quilt made by FACS instructor, Barb Eversvik. The quilt was presented to Joe’s family. Students also made buttons with his picture for all to wear and put up a bulletin board filled with his photos and a poem written by students. They had readings and a balloon send off the day before his wake. His locker was also decorated with personal notes. Pictured with the star quilt are, seated, left to right, Felipe Mendoza, Christian Redfox and Brandon Jackson. Standing, left to right, are Shaquille Littleghost, Shaylene Jackson, Wayne Littleghost, Thamarah Morin, Courtney Paul, Bridget Baker and Felicia Owlboy.