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Bob Lind, Published May 25 2013

Lind: Fargo man shares memory of North Dakota poet laureate

Many people have written Neighbors about how much they enjoy the poems composed by North Dakota’s poet laureate, James W. Foley (1871-1939).

Bob Taylor has a special attachment to Foley: He knew him and his family.

Bob, 90, who lives at Touchmark, Fargo, was born and raised in Medora, N.D., where Foley lived.

When he was a young man, Foley lived in what was known as the Foley Lodge.

When Bob was in first and second grade, he’d get out of school at 11 a.m., go to the Foley Lodge, pick up a lunch prepared by James’ sister Mrs. Davis (Bob doesn’t remember her first name), and take it to James’ mother at the gift shop she operated. For this, Mrs. Foley would give him a dime.

Occasionally, he’d see James at the Lodge. “He was a nice guy,” Bob says. “He treated me nice.”

Bob had another errand he ran each day: He’d pick up a lunch at the Roughrider Hotel and take it to the Hay and Oats Store operated by Gus Bell, who’d give Bob a quarter.

This was during Prohibition, and now it can be told: Gus, Bob says, was a bootlegger.

Dad worked hard

Bob’s parents were John and Gertrude Taylor. His dad, Bob says, “did whatever nobody else wanted to do. He mined coal, he surfaced roads before they had blacktop, he started the furnace in the Catholic church and he wasn’t a Catholic. He even would take expectant moms to the hospital. He did it all. He was a hard worker.”

Young Bob, in addition to delivering lunches, also delivered the Billings (Mont.) Gazette to its Medora subscribers, meeting the train at 7 a.m. every day to get his papers. “Today I can’t sleep past 7,” he says. “I don’t need an alarm clock.”

He and his buddy sold pop at the Medora rodeo, each making $13. “That was big money, but we worked long and hard to get it,” he says.

When he was 15, he and his pal went to Montana and took care of horses on the Ringling Brothers’ Circus ranch.

He was in the Army during World War II, served in the South Pacific, did not see combat but hunted wild boar and ducked poisonous snakes on an island.

He was part of the occupation forces in Japan. “I was walking the streets of Hiroshima three months after we dropped the (atomic) bomb on it,” he says, “but I’ve had no trouble from it.”

In 1949, he married Lucille Booke, of Billings. He managed Northwest Bell Telephone exchanges in Beach and Rugby, N.D., then worked for Bell in Fargo.

He and Lucille had six children. Grandchildren? “I’ve got a bunch,” he says. “Great-grandkids, too.”

When Lucille died, she and Bob had been married for 63 years.

Tough cleanup job

Bob has many stories about Medora. One of them concerns the town’s statue of Medora’s famed rancher Marquis de Mores located downtown.

The statue often was covered with canvas to protect it from the elements. But one day when Bob was delivering the Gazette, he saw the canvas had been burned off. He learned later that some drunk cowboys had poured kerosene on it and set it on fire.

“The people in town had to clean off the soot; it was some job,” he says.

He’s glad all he had to do was get up early and deliver the paper.


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