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4/21/2010 – Editorials

By Richard Peterson


Yes, Minnewaukan has lots of problems related to flooding from the relentless rise of Devils Lake. But there are others who are also struggling.

Farmers and ranchers have lost thousands and thousands of acres. The 101 Ranch headquartered on Graham’s Island had about 5,000 acres of lakebottom pastureland. It’s now all under water. Other ranchers and farmers have suffered the loss of their land without any compensation or program to help them. A number of farmers in the area whose property adjoins the lake have suffered severe damage.

Currently farmers east of Old US 281 in Normania Township of Benson County and Chain Lakes, Pelican and Coulee Townships of Ramsey County are facing ruin. Not only have thousands of acres of their deeded land been flooded, their roads are going under, with no prospect of them being raised, not only because of lack of funds but because raising them may be an act of total futility. Some farmsteads are being flooded while others are high enough, but the roads leading to them are flooded. They can’t get to Old US 281 any more to go north to US 2. I don’t have any idea how they’re going to get in and out. Not only that, they can’t transport their machinery to their land that’s above water. It’s a terrible mess.

Pelican Township people who are in big trouble are Dan Eversvik, Tammy Tollefson, Marlene Tollefson, Marco Tollefson and Bob Blegen, for sure.

There are undoubtedly others.

When the bridge at the Helgeseth farm goes under, and it almost certainly will, Arden and Sylvia Helgeseth and Howard Dressen, who live alongside Old US 281 will be out of luck.

I drove by Channel A which drains a large area north of US 2 into the lake and was surprised to see that south of US 2, Channel A no longer exists as a channel. It’s totally covered by the lake. Six Mile Bay has extended itself northward all the way to US 2! And the water is surging non-stop underneath US 2 into the ever-growing lake.


Here’s an interesting item from the column of John Andrist in The Journal at Crosby:

I marveled at the life experience of my parents.

Born at the turn of the century, they experienced the arrival of automobiles and they lived to travel on jet airplanes.

This all came back to mind as I was sitting in my reclining chair watching a high definition picture on a 55-inch television screen.

And I was amazed.

It brought me back to my early childhood when I experienced the opening of Crosby’s movie theatre some 70 years ago.

It seemed like a giant palace, enormous in the eyes of an eight-year-old kid. And all 406 seats were filled for the opening of a movie called "Robin Hood" — incredibly, in full color. Or should I say technicolor.

It didn’t take more than a year or two before it put our older movie theatre out of business.

And then my mind drifted to the advent of television in this community.

First it was just a very snowy picture from a single channel in Regina.

On good days we would run down the street to see the picture on a small box at Otheim Hardware.

And here I sat last week looking at a high definition picture on a giant screen in my own living room that was clearer and crisper than that of any movie theatre in which I’ve sat — choosing between an array of perhaps a hundred channels.

Do you ever stop to marvel at some of the technology that has come into your own life?

Here’s another one — listening to a guy even older than me describe life in the Depression years on public radio.

Never mind the awful economy. Just living in homes engulfed with dust, for which the only relief was a wet rag held to your nose or hanging from a leaky window sill.

It really isn’t that long ago that one of the rites of spring was still sifting dust and clogged nostrils from hard winds blowing across fallowed fields.

I often thought even the North Dakota cold would be better. I would welcome it if there were a way to stop the depressing reality of choking, blowing dirt.

Now the miracle of farming technology — limited cultivation, constant cropping, air seeding into the stubble and other stuff like that — has all but eliminated that scourge of the prairies. It’s a miracle!

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our day-to-day struggles that we don’t take time to appreciate the good changes that have taken place in our lives.

Today’s miracles become things we take for granted tomorrow.

Hard as it is to believe, 100 years ago:

• Your life expectancy was 47 years.

• Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub and only eight percent had a telephone.

• The average wage was 22 cents per hour and the average worker made $200 to $400 a year.

• More than 95 percent of all births took place at home.

• Most women only washed their hair once a month and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

• Four leading causes of death were pneumonia, influenza, tuberculosis and diarrhea — in that order.

• The population of Las Vegas, Nev. was 30.

• Only 6 percent of us were high school graduates.

• Marijuana, heroin and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstore.

• There were about 230 reported murders in the entire year in 1910.

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