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Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, Published June 20 2010

Halgrimson: Chautauqua Reed was a presence in F-M recreation

In 1874, the Chautauqua movement was founded in western New York state at Lake Chautauqua. It evolved into a tent show that provided information, inspiration and entertainment to rural and small-town America.

Chautauqua was also the name of a former Fargo park superintendent born in Devils Lake, N.D., on June 28, 1903. He was named for his father’s work as a Chautauqua performer. His middle name was Pearl. He was known as Chalky Reed.

A reporter’s note in Reed’s Forum file – date unknown – says that in his youth he was the best spud picker in the Red River Valley. The note also says Reed coached and taught everything from football to tap dancing and he described himself as having the unfortunate ability to be undiplomatic in expressing himself. It adds that Reed was crusty.

Reed was a presence in Fargo-Moorhead recreational activities for many years.

A graduate of Moorhead High School in 1923 and Concordia College in 1928, where he participated in athletics, Reed attended graduate school in California and at the University of North Dakota, concentrating on physical education.

In 1946, after spending 18 years as a teacher and coach in several Minnesota high schools, Reed was named football line coach at North Dakota Agricultural College, now North Dakota State University. He also was a varsity basketball coach.

He left NDAC in 1949 and became recreation director of the Fargo park system. In 1952, the park board named Reed acting superintendent of parks. He succeeded Georg Pardoe.

In the story about Reed’s hiring, it said the board had decided to raise fees at the Edgewood golf course to $1 for 18 holes. In today’s money, that would be $8.23. But today the fee for 18 holes is $23.75 Monday through Friday and $29 on Saturday and Sunday.

Reed resigned as superintendent in 1959 for health reasons, and the park board hired Gary Jones. However, Reed was rehired as park superintendent the following year when Jones resigned to concentrate on his position as golf coach at Edgewood.

Reed’s third wife, Dencil, whom he married in 1960, worked as the office manager for the Fargo Park District from 1956 until her retirement in 1971.

In 1966, Reed designed a set of portable standpipes to contain water that backs up through the storm sewers into low park areas. The pipes lock into the manhole openings and take up the overflow during flooding. They were used that spring at El Zagal Golf Course and worked. The pipes work if the floodwaters go no higher than 30.6 feet, which is the height of the dike that protects El Zagal.

Reed said that from 1949 to 1967, he saw Island Park flooded 11 times. There were two times when it flooded twice in the same year. He said that all floatable objects in the park – picnic tables, benches, hockey boards – were tied together in booms to keep them from floating to Winnipeg.

In 1968, the park board proposed that the short street on park board property just north of the Coliseum at Ninth Street and 17th Avenue North be named “Chautauqua Lane” in honor of Reed. He never said much about his name but agreed that the proposed name was better than “Chalky’s Alley,” which had also been considered. But it didn’t happen, and there is nothing named for him, that I know of.

Reed died on Dec. 18, 1992, in Pharr, Texas. He is buried at Riverside Cemetery in Fargo.

Source: Forum files

Readers can reach Forum columnist Andrea Hunter Halgrimson at ahalgrimson@forumcomm.com