By Delta Daggett
Special to the Forum
I grew up during the times you had to describe where you lived, there were no street signs or house numbers. Your house was in one of the many general areas the town had.
We lived up near the Water Tower or Methodist Church hill. Ours was the second house west of the Water tower. Link Graham once told me this was called Cradle Hill in the early years. I asked why and he replied he did not know.
As you went west, you gradually morphed into Bunker Hill, which was the area on the top of the hill at the west end of Main Street. If you lived across the river, you just said “across the river” with usually a general direction of how to find your house. Across the tracks was always described by which of the two Churches you lived near or on the street to Town Lake. Also there was downtown.
Leaving town, you went west or east on U.S. Highway 10, take the Vergas road, near Rose Lake, Murphy Lake road, The North Road, (it was never called Becker County Highway 29) to Blacksmith Bridge and then take that road on the right. There was Four Corners, Cotton Lake, or West or East on State Highway 34 to Snellman, Comet Ski area, Ponsford, Little Toad Lake, Wolf Lake, Spruce Grove, Mickleson’s corner, Evergreen, or near a named country school or church, Butler, Toad Lake, McHugh, Luce, Hamilton’s Corner, Vergas, Hungry Lake Road or out 87. This gives a general idea of the many names that were used to give directions.
Taking a girl home after a dance or date in the dark, sometimes was hard to find the right driveway which occasionally really extended the drive time. Boys now don’t know the times they are missing with house numbers, street signs and GPS.
Lee and Bernice Anderson had one son, Gyle. He and I were good friends and both graduated in 1958 and grew up with interest in cars and in the 1950s. The cars were changing and developing every year. It was a big deal when the new models came out every fall. Anderson’s sold Chevy, Nelson Fords, and Daggett sold Oldsmobile.
Most boys during those times were always interested in the performance of the new larger engines each year. Every year grills, headlights and gas tank fillers would change and often styling, too.
Gyle was more of mechanic that I was. He repowered a 36 Olds coupe with a Chevy V-8, also started building a dragster, but I don’t think it was ever completed. The Fargo Airport had built a new, very long runway where drags were held Sunday afternoons in the summer.
Older brother Marvin, had a new 57 Olds with their three-Carb engine so Gyle and I took the two cars up one Sunday. As I was leaning over the fender of the Olds, adjusting the timing, one of Marvin’s good college friends asked, “Does Marvin know where his car is this afternoon, Delta?”
Actually he was looking forward to our return with anticipation of a prize of some kind. The car did well, but it had an automatic, so I did well until it hit a shift, then dropped a half car length each shift. The early automatics did not have the control, nor the gears, today’s automatics have. Olds was more of a top speed car and that did not happen in a ¼ mile.
Lee Anderson always had a few used cars around. One was a 1947 Maroon Chevy Coupe that had kissed a Dan Duggan truck. The right front fender had a kink in it so at night, that headlight lit up the right ditch very well. One summer we would take the Dan Dugan Special out to a field at Lee’s farm and round and round we went, not at cruising speed, but making an oblong track in the field. We never rolled once.
Lee Anderson and Chevy also provided a car for driver training. This had dual controls so Gyle used the accelerator and manual shift and I operated the clutch and brake. We could never get the smooth speed shifting to be smooth.
Gyle and I both hung around our father’s garages often when we were much younger. I was always in the way, asking drivers and mechanics questions, and falling out of trucks and trailers. I had to be doing something.
More than once, at 5-6-7 yrs. old, dad would put me in the car, drive me home, take me in the house and say, “Helen, keep him in the house and don’t let him out!”
The funny thing was, a little over 60 years later, his grandsons did the same thing.
When Gyle was 12, he was riding on a tractor fender, fell off and the free range turkey shed that was being pulled ran over his leg. He was in the Perham Hospital for weeks while they grafted skin onto his wound.
Hospitals at that time did not allow visitors under 14 and I was 12. Mother bought some flowers and Bernice drove me to Perham and told me to hold the flowers in front of my face when we walked in and I could sneak in to visit my friend. The nurses just smiled.
Gyle worked at his Dad’s shop in the summer where Anderson Bus is now located. Highway 10 came through town at the time. Gyle would sometimes take off his shirt, role up his pant legs a ways, put a strand of straw in his teeth, and then walk out barefoot to wait on a gas customer. His blonde hair completed the Norman Rockwell picture of a small town country boy.
If the car had an out-of-state license plate, the driver would sometimes ask if he could take Gyle’s picture. Gyle was a natural born emcee and an entertainer and funny man. His school mates would agree he had all the makings of a good salesman.
He and I were bestmen at both of our weddings, which were two weeks apart and held in 1960. Gyle was very enthused about the ideas he had, and the things he did. He could sell and entertain well, but had a hard time staying focused.
He once told me that “people like him had to come up with new ideas for new jobs, profit and get the economy moving, and people like me are needed to keep it moving.” His time on earth expired several years ago.
The sad thing about getting older is that so many friends and acquaintances are now just memories.