Howard Lake Herald, July 6, 1998

Walk back in time through Howard Lake

By Robert Rekedal

This is the second part of a three-part series.

Mike could do anything with a piece of iron. Farmers used to leave their plow shares to be sharpened, before disposables came into use. When business was slow, this talented man would play a tune on his old eight-sided concertina.

South of the shop, Martha and Alice Nelson lived in a very old, meager dwelling. Martha was extremely independent and always ready to help others. She would clean hundreds of birds during the season and was the most generous person I ever knew. If she had something someone else could use, she gave it to them. People who tried to help her by giving her extra money would learn that she had given it to others.

Custer's Produce to the west of the blacksmith shop would soon give way to a Ford Ferguson dealer. Across the street, east of the Masonic Hall, was the Ed Rausch orchard, of which most has been sold for houses and a church. A large home, the Latham House, which Dr. Elmer Thiesse purchased and restored, was on this street. Unfortunately, a fire damaged it beyond repair. This is now the site of The Pines apartments.

North of Highway 12 was the Northrup King seed corn drying plant with Ed Thorne in charge of all its operations. West of them was the remains of the stockyard which once shipped cattle to market.

Across the highway from the Rotsolk Cafe was a small park with a drinking fountain and a band stand. Concerts were weekly during summer evenings directed by public school Superintendent L. B Olson. He also instructed the band at school.

Art Banke would park a popcorn wagon near Phil Carlson's variety store. Art delivered milk and creamery products daily around town. Businesses stayed open those nights until everyone went home.

On the corner was (and is) the town hall. In 1948 the post office was inside the corner entrance. In time, the post office replaced Hanson's grocery in the drug store building. The liquor store was on the depot side. Behind two high wooden doors opening onto Highway 12, the fire department stored their equipment beside a steel cage jail. Jack Schmieg was our town cop. I don't think the village provided a car.

The upstairs was large, as now, but no restrooms for the dances or games so people would have to use the liquor store facilities. (Was this intentional?)

The depot was a busy place with Curly Marshall delivering the freight which came by train. Great Northern passenger trains stopped each way daily on this main line.

At night, we could mail a letter in a box outside the station office until 11 p.m. The train stopped and the railway postal clerk would collect the mail. The morning mail train would catch a mail pouch without stopping. The pouch was caught by a postal worker standing in the open door of the passing mail car. He reached out with a hook and caught it off the tower as the train passed (Howard Lake air mail). A letter mailed at the west-bound 10:30 a.m. train would be in Miles City, Mont. that same day.

Kids would give the conductor 10 cents to let them ride between Waverly and Howard Lake. Depot agent Carl Steen sold tickets and used the telegraph to send messages and railroad communications. The passenger waiting room was large and clean with a ticket window into the office.

Henry Vogel, the landlord for the drug store building, was called "Out In Der" because he used that phrase very often. In the "drug store building", Hanson's grocery occupied the area now used by Carol's Beauty Shop and Omar Glessing's office.

On the second floor were several offices. Dr. Ryding M.D., Dr Meintsma D.D.S., A. C. McGrew, accounting; lawyer Elmer Murphy, the telephone exchange with operators, and an apartment (Bill Hanson?), with one his and one hers for the entire floor which was not too convenient.

On the west side of the building, past a vacant lot, was the Emil Wagner building on the corner. In the front, Art Strohschein had the Red Owl Grocery. In the back part, with a door opening onto Eighth Street, was Reuben and Gladys Pudlitzke's grocery. Between them, the Armbrusts operated a barber and beauty shop. Upstairs were rooms for rent. Emil Wagner had a lot of tenants in that small building.

There were a couple of sheds between the Wagner Building and the Al Nord Building on the far corner, across from the bank. Al had a produce business with rooms above, now the location of the Lee apartments. The parking lot to the east was not as well maintained as now, with mud at times and lots of snow.

The Justes brothers, Red and Gates, lived in the small house east of the parking lot. Curly Marshall used to bond Ex Lax to a chocolate bar and leave it for Red to find. Many stories are told about those track meets.

Curly was a trickster, always willing to trade knives or brooms. You never had one as bad as his. He loved to start at one end of town on Highway 12 and drive very slowly to the other, causing lots of cars to back up behind him. People still remember how he would sneak up to their car at night when they were parked somewhere for a romantic moment and turn on his lights to watch them scamper.

Curly had a heart of gold and did many kind acts most people never knew about. During our family's "horse period," he found for us an old platform buggy. Whiskey Ed (Engel) rebuilt a wooden-spoked wheel to make it usable. Curly refused to take anything for it. He also found a harness, again no payment. He gave people rides in his old truck and was always polite.

The corner on Eighth Street and Highway 12, now Super Valu, had a two-story, red brick building owned by Louis Miller. Phil Carlson's variety store, including work clothes and shoes, occupied half the main floor. Myron Munson's bakery, closed during World War II, and recently reopened, used the other half. Upstairs were many rooms which had been the hotel.

A small vacant lot was next to Dr. Leonard Harriman's office. Much was written about this fine man in the centennial book. However, his reputation as a driver left much to be desired.

When he decided to drive to Chicago for a meeting, everyone shook their heads and wondered. Upon his return, he said that he had driven fast and he had driven slow and arrived in Chicago just in time to have an accident.

Dr. Bill Thomas and Dr. Robert Shragg saw patients in the Harriman Building beginning in 1950. Elmer Lambert's shoe repair shop was between the doctors' office and Ernie Workman's pool hall. I think Spike Massey was running the pool hall. His father Nig was a horseman and loved to talk about races, especially harness races. Another son, Stub (Bernard) Massey, a very good house painter, did paper hanging and interior decorating.

Next was a small restaurant building. Lil Aiken cooked and served a small counter and a couple of booths. Curly Marshall could make Lil so mad. Some days, he would order a cup of coffee and a piece of pie. He would ask Lil to fill the cream pitcher and he then poured it over his apple pie. Curly also loved to lock himself in the (unisex) toilet and then spill a glass of water so it ran under the door on the floor as if the plumbing had failed.

Lil had many friends who stopped at her place for lunches. A small parking space was between Lil's and a much larger cafe operated by the Shausts. Their children, Don, Elaine, and Kathleen, worked there while attending high school. Ed. Koenig's corner filling station completed the block.

The third part of Robert Rekedal's 1948 walk through Howard Lake will appear in next week's Herald.

Back to Part 1 | Go to Part 3


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