Bob Lind, Published May 26 2012
Lind: Remembering a friend named Fred
The story: A woman said that today’s drug problem isn’t new. When she was a kid, she said she was drug to church, drug to help in the garden, drug to help neighbors.
Feedback: Randy Finley, Fargo, writes, “I love the ‘drug problem’ article. We need more of those types of drugs!”
The story: Harry Simon operated a furniture store in Moorhead and was active in civic affairs.
Feedback: That story led Harry’s son Leon, of Boca Raton, Fla., to tell about another leading figure in Fargo-Moorhead: the late Fred Schlanser.
Fred was the hard-driving no-nonsense head of the Northern Improvement Co.
One day Harry got Fred to help him out. Harry bought a fuel oil burner to heat his building, but the fuel came in a huge 5,000-gallon tank. So he had Fred use his crane to lift the tank into place.
The day the installation took place, Harry was out of town and Leon, just 16, was left in charge of the store.
The tank would have to go past some wires. Fred said Leon shouldn’t worry about it.
So the tank went up, got tangled in the wires and set off burglar alarms all over town.
City officials chewed out both Fred and Leon. But the wires were fixed, the alarms were shut down, and all eventually was calm.
About 70 years ago, Fred was hired to place cobblestones on Fargo’s Broadway.
Merchants along the street were worried about business if the work was delayed, but Fred bet them that the work would be done on schedule.
It was. And Fred collected his bets.
Fred was a big booster of North Dakota State University.
One day he came by Harry’s store and asked for a $100 donation for the college.
That was a lot of money at the time, and Harry said he couldn’t swing that much.
Fred pointed to a vacuum cleaner Harry was selling and asked how much it was.
Harry said it was $120.
Fred reached into his pocket, took out $120, gave it to Harry and said, “Now you’ve got the money.”
So Fred collected both the vacuum cleaner and $100.
The bottom line on Fred, Leon says, is that, “If he was your friend, and there was a snowstorm, he’d come by and clean out your driveway for you. That’s the kind of guy he was.”
He sure was.
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