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Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, Published August 29 2010

Halgrimson: Memories of dairy on the prairie

When I first started college in Fargo, it was called North Dakota Agricultural College. The following year, NDAC became North Dakota State University of Agriculture and Applied Sciences when a proposed amendment to the state constitution was passed in the 1960 election.

And because I went to NDSU over a period of 25 years before graduating in 1984, I have many memories of the campus.

But my memories began even before I was a student with a visit to college President Frank Eversull, who was our neighbor on Broadway, and many trips with my mother to the creamery in the old Dairy Building at the southeast corner of Centennial Boulevard and Albrecht Drive. It is now the Geosciences Building.

When we entered the Dairy Building, we turned right and went down a half-story of steps where there was a Dutch door with a buzzer alongside of it. The top half of the door opened, and Albert Jurjans, the man who operated the creamery, asked what we would like.

I peered in and noticed the shiny machinery and the red tile floor that always looked as if it had been freshly washed. The room had the particular odor of slightly soured milk that I loved.

We always bought a tub of ice cream that Gram used to make our Sunday night malted milks. Sometimes we also bought cheese and cream, which came in glass bottles, as did the milk the creamery sold. However, it is the ice cream – the best I have ever tasted – that I still yearn for, and I’d like to know why the dairy department no longer sells ice cream, cheese and cream.

The dairy department has moved elsewhere on campus, and the sculpture of a cow’s head was taken off of the old building. However, the grave of a famous Jersey cow that was buried in 1932 is in the yard of the old building – although the grave marker set on a boulder, as well as the sculpture, have both been moved elsewhere.

The grave is that of Noble’s Golden Marguerite, a cow that produced 977.7 pounds of butterfat in 1921. Her record stood until 1969.

The cow’s owner, Samuel F. Crabbe of Fargo, was a prominent North Dakota dairyman and not only served as president of the American Jersey Cattle Club, but secured an appropriation from the state Legislature large enough to build the dairy building in 1913, and to construct the original college dairy barns, of which he was the architect.

I have always had a great fondness for cows, and if they are near a fence in a field, I stop to chat.

Source: Institute for Regional Studies at NDSU

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