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Bob Lind, Published December 13 2010

Lind: Letters praise, ponder politician

Stories about William Langer, North Dakota’s late governor and senator, continue to arrive in Neighbors’ mailbag.

This one comes from Bill Treumann, now of St. Paul, who admits he isn’t a fan of Langer.

Anyhow, Bill writes of the time one of Langer’s men visited the University of North Dakota campus to, in Bill’s words, “extract money from students”

for Langer’s Nonpartisan League publication.

“The students grabbed him,” Bill says, “and tossed him and his brief case in the muddy English Coulee. They were arrested, charged with disorderly conduct and fined, but the faculty chipped in to cover the costs.”

On the other side, Bill tells of the time right after World War II, when Langer, then a senator, visited Hoople, N.D.

“Someone suggested to a prosperous potato farmer that he walk over to meet him,” Bill writes. “The farmer replied that he wouldn’t go across the street to meet that (and he used a term not fit for a family newspaper).”

“A bit later,” Bill says, “Langer walked over to meet the farmer, asked him what his needs were and was told rudely that he needed a certain implement but they were in very short supply and he had spent months on a waiting list.

“A few days later, the local implement dealer called the farmer to say that ‘You certainly have influential friends in D.C.; we have your implement ready for you.’ ”

Langer’s cigar

Chuck Humphrey, Pocatello, Ida., and formerly of Verona, N.D., writes that in 1958, when he was 16, he and his parents visited Washington.

“My mother, Alice, got passes to the Senate gallery,” Chuck says, because she wanted to shake Langer’s hand.

Alice stationed her family where she knew Langer would leave the Senate chambers to meet visitors.

Sure enough, there he came. But other North Dakota residents were awaiting him, too, and he began talking to them.

“After about five minutes,” Chuck writes, “Mom walked up close to the senator, almost forcing herself between him and the other NoDaks, extended her hand and said, ‘Senator, we are school teachers and farmers from LaMoure County, and it’s an honor to meet you.’

“The other NoDaks got the hint and let us (Chuck, his parents and his young sister) visit with him. He was carrying a cigar, still wrapped in cellophane.

“The visit was short but memorable.

“The senator died about a year later.”

And back to Bill Treumann, who says that in the late 1930s, “My cousin borrowed my dad’s car to take Langer’s daughter to a dance.

“He did not reveal who he was dating; my dad was such a Langer hater he would never have allowed it.”

There you have more stories about one of North Dakota’s most controversial politicians.

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