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Bob Lind, Published January 25 2011

Lind: The original social network

You hear a lot about “social networking” these days, in which you communicate with one another via the computer.

Not so long ago, there was a different but kind of popular way to “social network.”

It involved getting together with someone over lunch or a cup of coffee and talking face to face.


Anyhow, those who did it often gathered in local cafes. Several people have written Neighbors over the months about some of them.

One, the Comstock Hotel in Moorhead, had an all-you-can-eat deal that had readers discussing how much it cost. Evidence that the price was 50 cents, however, was born out by a photo of the hotel’s billboards a reader contributed.

If there’s any doubt after that, Wayne Klatt of Fargo sends in further proof: a brass token from the Comstock listing the price at 50 cents.

Steve Strege of Fargo, meanwhile, writes that he thinks the first time he heard “smorgasbord” was at the Comstock.

Another column mentioned the old Gopher Grill as being in Fargo. Wrong.

Mary Johnson of Moorhead knows it was in Moorhead, across from the City Hall. She ate there many times.

Tom Bogan of Fargo adds to what Mary says, saying the Gopher, on Center Avenue in Moorhead, was operated by Elsie Kossick.

She and her husband, Leo, also ran the Kossick Bowling Lanes above the Gopher, Tom says.

He says, too, that Elsie played a Hammond organ in the Gopher, and that no alcohol was served there.

“The Gopher Grill was a popular spot for high school students in the 1940s,” Tom writes. “Mostly it was after high school football games and basketball games on Friday nights.”

Going back to the Comstock’s all-you-can-eat meal, Mike Morrissey of Valley City, N.D., writes that the deal did have a restriction: You could have seconds on everything but meat.

“I suspect you could up the price and get meat seconds, but for us college freshmen, 50 cents was pretty much the limit,” he writes.

“The next best 50-cent meal in town,” Mike writes, “was the hot hamburger/pork/beef sandwich choice, with a heap of mashed potatoes and gravy, in downtown Fargo across the street south from the St. Mary’s Cathedral.

“One of my roommates, who shall remain nameless, prided himself on using up pretty much a new bottle of Heinz catsup on his serving. His logic was that using up a 29-cent bottle of catsup drove the price of his sandwich down to about 21 cents.”

“I think,” Mike thinks, “he was studying engineering.”

Trust an engineer to calculate this.

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