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Bob Lind, Published March 16 2013

Lind: Hum of plant’s generators audible in summer

Today, Neighbors’ mailbag contains messages about a mix of items: jazz, a power plant and old railroad days.

When jazz pianist Dave Brubeck died in December, The Forum carried a story about the concerts he had given in Fargo over the years. But that story missed one of those concerts.

Lance Johnson, of Dilworth, writes that, “Many probably don’t remember that he also played at the old Festival Hall (at the North Dakota Agricultural College, now North Dakota State) in the fall of 1957.

“I went to the concert but thought the music too far out and didn’t really appreciate the artistry, having been only 18 at the time.

“Recently,” Lance says, “I watched ‘Jazz’ by Ken Burns on Netflix and thoroughly enjoyed it, having learned more about this truly American art form.

“I was happy Brubeck liked Fargo.”

Old power plant

Neighbors recently carried a series of pictures from Fargo’s past. One showed a power plant that was torn down years ago.

Ron Fredrickson, of Roseville, Calif., writes that it was the NSP plant across the tracks from the Northern Pacific depot.

“The stock of coal for power generation was piled up just west of it,” Ron says. “The hum of the generators when the door facing the track was open in summer was very audible.”

Railroad vets

Ron, who has sent items to Neighbors before, is the son of Harvey Fredrickson, who was born in Horace, N.D., in 1906 and started working for the NP Railroad when he was 16.

Harvey began as an agent-telegrapher, working in many Fargo Division towns. The first town Ron remembers is Embden, N.D., where his mother died of polio in 1933 when Ron was 6.

Harvey then took a post in Alice, N.D., where his parents-in-law, E.E. and Selma Stangler lived.

Young Ron lived with his grandparents until 1938, when his dad married again. His new wife was Helen Stangler, sister of Harvey’s first wife and Ron’s aunt.

About the time Ron was of high school age, Harvey, his wife and Ron moved to Fargo where Harvey became a telegraph operator in the NP Division offices.

“Dad had a friend who was a train dispatcher who urged him to learn about train dispatching,” Ron says. “When World War II came along, the wartime train traffic was such that they suddenly needed more dispatchers, and Dad worked right in. Later he was promoted to chief dispatcher of the Fargo Division until he retired in 1967, a fair accomplishment for a person who had only an eighth-grade education.

“I, too, worked for the NP from 1943 to 1951 while going to Fargo Central High School and the NDAC,” Ron says, “so I still have some coal smoke in my lungs. One never ceases to be fascinated by the rails.”

Lots of railroad vets will agree with Ron on that.

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If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to (701) 241-5487; or email blind@forumcomm.com