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Bob Lind, Published April 13 2010

Lind: Memories of the Grove roll in

Memories of the Bachelors Grove community park west of Grand Forks flow in like the flow of cars that used to head there for church outings, baseball games, dances, you name it.

The park, written about here earlier and so named because the original settlers in that area were bachelors, now is owned by the Bible Baptist Church, Grand Forks, which uses it for church-related activities.

The Rev. Tony Scheving of the Fargo Baptist Church writes that he has been there “many times since it became a Bible camp, and I know the owners real well.”

But let’s turn the calendar back to the days when it was a popular area-wide gathering place.

Armond Erickson, Fargo, used to live in McVille, N.D., and played on a McVille baseball team from 1946 to 1958.

“There were many amateur baseball teams then,” Armond says, and most of them in the area played at the Grove, the name the park went by; if you said you were going to the Grove, everyone knew where you meant.

Community parks like Stump Lake, near Lakota, N.D., and Red Willow, near Binford, N.D., and the Grove were important in the lives of area residents a few decades ago.

“Going to the Grove was the event of the weekend,” Armond says. “The park would be packed; you couldn’t find a place to park.”

Sometimes romance flourished there. Ken and Maxine Rusten, Fargo, attended events there when they were dating; she was from Fordville, N.D., and he was from Milton, N.D. The romance of the Grove apparently worked; Ken and Maxine have been married since 1959.

Lunch at the Grove

“In the late ’50s, we would hit the Grove regularly, like every Friday night to take part in the dances held during the summer,” writes Vern Krile, Fargo, but originally from the Vesleyville-Pisek area north of the Grove.

“I remember some big-name old-time bands,” Vern says, “like the Six Fat Dutchmen, Whoopee John and Frankie Yankovic.

“Some local bands, too: Stan Rose, Bill Dvorak, Vern Malafa. And a few country music bands like Conway Twitty, Buddy Knox, Leroy Van Dyke and a few others before they hit the big time.

“I recall when Bobby Vee and the Shadows were scheduled and later canceled and were substituted for by an unknown band and this almost caused a major riot.

“I recall some of the dawn dances when we would come home with the rising sun, change clothes and hit the tractor.”

Vern had a major Grove connection during the summers of 1962 and 1963 when he ran the lunch stand next to the dance hall. “I rented the place from Clint Rodningon, now deceased, from the Petersburg and Grand Forks area.

“With my pregnant wife and whoever else I could muster up to help,

we would sometimes accommodate close to 1,000 hungry dancers,” he says.

“We also had the dance hall open on Sunday p.m.’s for roller skating, which would attract quite a few of the local young folks.

“There would always be large gatherings for family picnics on the Fourth

of July.”

All these, Vern says, “are good memories of the Grove – another chapter written into history, unknown to the kids of today.”

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