This column ran in the July 27 edition of the Prairie Post
Prohibition was the law of North Dakota in 1912. It had been since statehood in 1989. The nation didn’t try what was called the “Noble Experiment” until 1920.
Gov. Hanna told reporters the state was happy with prohibition. He also said he felt North Dakota would leave the law in place permanently and that after a few problems with enforcement were worked out all would be well.
That didn’t seem to be the case on a day in May of 1912 in Jamestown.
Three men, we’ll leave the names out of it even after 98 years, were arrested for public drunkenness.
“Saturday night celebrations at Jamestown nearly proved the downfall of three enthusiasts who indulged too freely in a certain brand of red eye that mysteriously made an appearance,” the Jamestown Alert wrote. “Three disturbers of the peace were taken up as drunken and disorderly and placed in the city Bastille to cool off.”
Mr. C pleaded for leniency saying he hadn’t been arrested for drunkenness since April and, after all, it was already May. His April incident seems to have made news as well.
It appears while drinking and fishing on the James River Mr. C had fallen off the dock and into the “drink.”
I guess this proves you actually can be too drunk to fish.
Mr. C was given until the end of the week to find a job, earn $10 and turn it over to the city as a fine or serve 10 days in Jail on bread and water. The other defendants were fined $5 and court costs.
But the parole didn’t work out so well for Mr. C. On Monday night he and three others were arrested again for, you guessed it, public drunkenness. However, the quartet had an excuse.
They said they had been met by a stranger with a bottle of whiskey who took a sip to prove it was good and then handed it to the group. The stranger then left and the four good citizens felt they had to destroy the contraband.
The judge wasn’t impressed with the argument. Police Magistrate Murphy gave the four a choice. They could work off a $5 fine with manual labor on the Jamestown Street Department or spend 10 days in the city jail on a bread and water diet.
It appears from the newspaper reports the quartet took the high carbohydrate, low fat option.
This column ran in the July 20 edition of the Prairie Post
It was planned as a nice outing for the Methodist Missionary Society in July of 1912. The trip included 28 ladies on an excursion to Spiritwood Lake.
The destination even had a name. W.B. DeNault called his cottage “U Needa Rest.” He should have called it “U Needa Dryoff.”
The 28 ladies made the trip without incident and were enjoying a warm summer afternoon at the lake. They even decided to take a moment to pose for a picture on the dock at U Needa Rest.
And if you expect that’s where the story goes awry you’re way ahead of me.
While the 28 ladies posed for Denault’s camera the dock suddenly collapsed and plunged most of the ladies into the water.
No comments on heavy Methodists please.
“Twenty-one ladies, members of the M.E. Missionary society of Jamestown slid gracefully and otherwise into Spiritwood Lake yesterday,” wrote the Jamestown Alert. “A section of the long pier in front of the DeNault Cottage, U Needa Rest, broke down under their combined weight, dropping them into six feet of cool water. All were rescued or made their way to shore along the dock without serious mishap.”
The paper continues to say that of the 21 ladies dumped into the drink seven ladies got wet to their knees only, seven ended up wet to their waist and seven were wet all the way up to their necks.
The paper said Mrs. DeNault and a Mrs. Charles Scott swam to shore while the others waded along the dock to dry ground. A fire was quickly built in the cottage to allow the ladies to dry off.
I’m sure the 1912 version of any church society on an excursion was not a blue jeans and t-shirt crowd. These ladies had to have dressed in their Sunday finest even if it was during the middle of the week. It had to be quite a view to see them all soaked to some extent.
“They returned to the city afterwards telling many wonderful and ludicrous tales of their sensations and experiences,” the Alert wrote.
The incident was probably a little embarrassing for the ladies and fine fodder for the news media who had only one regret.
“In his haste to save the fair sex, Mr. DeNault failed to take the picture,” wrote the Jamestown Alert.
First, obviosly interest in the Roy Rogers story has dropped off enough so the museum wasn’t a paying proposition. This world needs more people who pay attention to the philosophy and life style of the cowboy heros.
And secondly, if you spend more than a quarter million dollars on a horse that’s been dead for 45 years you have way to much money on your hands.
This column ran in the July 13 edition of the Prairie Post
We don’t know who threw the switch for the first night baseball game in Jamestown back on a July night 75 years ago. We do know that the ballpark in Jamestown became the first one in North Dakota where night baseball could be played.
And it was a big win for the Jamestown Red Sox. They beat Bismarck 9 to 6 in front of a capacity crowd under lights that took a community effort.
The baseball association approached the Jamestown Public School earlier that summer to see if they could borrow the flood lights from around the football field.
With the donation of some tall poles from the Northern Pacific Railroad and the labors of the pole climbing crews of Ottertail Power and Northwestern Bell the ball park in Jamestown was home to the first night game in the state.
The article in the Jamestown Sun was a little expansive on evening baseball.
“Penned with the quill of clean sportsmanship,” they wrote. “Dipped in the inkwell of good baseball, a new chapter in the history of the greatest game in the world in the northwest was written on the newly lighted pages of City Park here Monday evening as the Jamestown Red Sox trimmed Bismarck 9 – 6 avenging a smarting 13 – 4 defeat the day before.”
I don’t think our sports writers do stories like that anymore.
The Jamestown squad beat a very good Bismarck team.
The Bismarck team won the national semi-pro baseball championship that season. The big star was future Hall of Famer Satchel Paige who won 29 games and lost 2 that season. Some baseball historians consider that Bismarck team the best squad playing baseball anywhere in the country that year.
It would be nice to say that one of Paige’s loses came here in Jamestown in baseball’s first night game. Unfortunately it appears he rode the pine that night. He may have been the winning pitcher the day before.
The Jamestown Sun reporter felt a high quality of baseball was played under those lights.
A total of 25 hits attested the batters could see the ball just fine while the fielding play was “almost flawless.”
And the event drew a crowd despite rain showers about an hour before game time. The night game drew better than the event the week before where all ladies were admitted free and “all others” had to pay the regular fee.
Night baseball came to Jamestown 75 years ago this month and was a success. High quality baseball played against a tough opponent.
And we beat the Chicago Cubs to the night game switch by 53 years.
This column ran in the July 6 edition of the Prairie Post
The Stutsman County Fair gets under way this week. The fair is a tradition that goes back more than a century.
Even during the depression the people of the region came together to celebrate summer, the produce of the farm and the arts and crafts produced by the local residents.
And there were some contests of skill. L. Millspaugh of Montpelier took the top honors in “barnyard golf,” or horseshoes.
In 1935 the fair opened on the Fourth of July with a bang. No reports on any fireworks but the attendance for the day was tallied at 12,000 people. The Jamestown Sun said it was the best turnout since the fair had restarted 15 years earlier.
It would appear not everyone left the fair happy, or with all the cash they had on arrival.
Reports of “confidence” games were common it would seem. The best count was 18 games operated by ,”dainty, good looking young girls to gray haired old men,” and “young boys to bent old women.” These games had a whole variety of ways to separate a gullible resident from his money.
The “dainty, good looking young girls” probably drew more attention from the young men than the “bent old women.”
Most involved making some sort of investment in the contest and then winning a prize, or not. Possible prizes included radios or even nickel-plated revolvers. I’m guessing they don’t give away firearms at the fair anymore.
Although it must have seemed like a bigger deal at the time the money lost in these con games was modest. The highest report was $35 with amounts in the teens or $20 more common. In one case the sheriff even got $10 back for one player that lost a $20 bill.
Still, the good attendance coupled with the fact people had enough money to try to win a game of chance at the fair had officials optimistic.
“It looks as though Old Man Depression, who has held the spotlight for the past 6 or 7 years, is at last going into his finale,” The Jamestown Sun reported. “At least that’s the impression 18,000 central North Dakotans have left with Stutsman County Fair officials after the three days of the fair.”
The optimism was probably a bit premature. Even though 1935 had good rain and an improving economy the next year kicked everyone in the teeth. The year of 1936 is known for intense drought and extreme cold and hot temperatures. The economy also had further troubles restarting the depression that seemed to be improving just the year before.
But for 1935 people saw things a little brighter. The rains had come and jobs were available.
And people had enough cash in their pockets to lose a little on a con-game at the fair.