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Bob Lind, Published May 03 2009

Lind: Longtime Guelph postmaster a great source of information

Guelph, N.D., southwest of Oakes and about 7 miles from the James River, wasn’t concerned about flooding this year. But then, Roland “Archie” Waite says to his knowledge, Guelph has never had a flooding problem, other than a road near town being covered with water.

Archie should know. He is Guelph’s “resident historian,” according to Jeanne Thorpe, also of Guelph, who says that when the town had its 125th anniversary celebration in 2008, Archie was the key person who came up with historical information for the event and also was “the driving force” behind the town’s centennial history book published in 1983.

Archie was Guelph’s longtime postmaster. So it’s appropriate that a former postmaster be the source of information about Guelph, since the town was named after Guelph, Ont., hometown of the North Dakota Guelph’s first postmaster.

Through the centennial book and Archie’s memory, many historical facts about Guelph are available. One of them:

When the Manitoba Railway, later to become the Great Northern, came through Guelph, it was good for the town but bad for Truman Thatcher, because it went right over his well, which had just been dug and curbed with stones by Archie’s grandfather and great-uncle.

Today … well, as is the sad case for many small towns, many of the buildings in town have disappeared.

But it’s people, not buildings, who make a town. Archie is one of those people.

He was born on a Guelph farm 89 years ago. His mother died when he was 2½, so he was raised by his step-grandmother and a nanny.

Young Roland got his nickname because of a comic strip.

Roland’s family lived next door to a family with several children, one of whom was named Rosalie.

Now, Roland was way too young to be interested in uninteresting things like girls, but he spent a lot of time over there with her brothers. But his uncle kidded him about “Rosie,” and since a popular comic strip at the time featured a character named Rosie who had a boyfriend named Archie, well, he pinned that name on Roland.

But Archie eventually discovered girls really were OK and he married one named Karen. They had five children and nine grandchildren.

Archie is a graduate of what was then called the State Normal and Industrial School at Ellendale.

He learned to drive in a 1929 Ford Model A.

During World War II, he was a Morse code operator, fought in Europe and earned several awards. He’s written a book about his wartime experiences, and he was among those taking the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., in 2008 to see the war memorial.

Archie was Guelph’s postmaster from 1960 until he retired in 1990, when the post office closed. When he started, a first-class stamp cost 4 cents.

These days, his age and having Parkinson’s disease slow him down a little. But he still snowblows and still regularly reads The Forum, the Oakes (N.D.) Times and several magazines.

And he still gardens, although he says, “Each spring I wonder if I should order garden seeds. But I do it. It gives me a reason to get up and moving.”

Well, this tough winter has given way to spring, same as always, and Neighbors predicts Archie soon will be out there in his garden again, same as always.


If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to 241-5487; or e-mail blind@forumcomm.com