The residents of Jamestown were looking forward to a better year ahead back 75 years ago.
The year of 1935 had been tough economically across the entire nation with much hardship in the Dakotas.
And the Christmas holiday of 1935 had been pretty rough as well.
On Christmas Eve Paul Antonowitz, a Polish immigrant who farmed north of Fried had died in a blizzard. The storm was so bad the Antonowitz’s team of horses died of exhaustion. Paul tried to walk for help but perished. His wife stayed at the wagon and managed to reach safety the next day.
Then there was the fire up at Cooperstown. Billy Detwiller, an 11-year-old dressed as Santa Claus at a school program, backed into the Christmas tree.
Not a good thing back in the day when the Christmas tree was lit by candles. Billy did survive but celebrated the holidays with burns over his face and hands.
But still people were looking forward to a better year in 1936.
Acting Governor Walter Welford himself said the economy of North Dakota could return to normal, if the weather cooperated during the next year.
Part of the optimism was a state program that furnished farmers with loans for seeds and other planting expenses.
And the state’s new sales tax was providing enough cash to keep the state afloat and even fund a new program that operated parks to provide recreational areas for residents.
On the national scale it was anticipated congress would fund a social security program to offer a pension to the “old age, mothers and blind.”
But it all depended on, as Gov. Welford put it, the cooperation of the weather.
But on Jan. 1, 1936 they had no idea how uncooperative the weather could be.
Temperatures that year reached extremes of both heat and cold that stand as North Dakota records to this day. The temperature extremes were brought on by the extreme drought that dried out the area.
The crops that summer shriveled and died. Yields, where crops were harvested, barely returned the seeds that were planted that spring.
“Taking everything into account we have much to look forward to in 1936,” Welford wrote.
I think every year begins with hope and optimism. Here’s hoping that 2011 lives up to your hopes and dreams.
Just don’t back into any candle lit Christmas trees and hope for rain.