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Bob Lind, Published September 23 2013

Neighbors: These hacks were no hacks

In past decades, many farm kids rode to school in the horse-drawn vehicles often called hacks. But some didn’t. Instead, they rode horses.

This comes up because of a note months ago from Terrance “Terry” Henriksen, formerly of Calvin, N.D., and now of Laveen, Ariz., reminiscing about hacks.

That led to many stories about hacks from Forum readers. And they’re still coming in.

Duane Otto, Langdon, N.D., for instance, sent in a copy of a photo of the hack owned by the late Bill Verke, Fairdale, N.D. That hack had a stove pipe, which Duane says was common.

Robert “Bob” Boyd says the Crosslake Historical Museum in Crosslake, Minn., has a hack on display.

It’s set up as a winter vehicle with a heater, although Bob says hack drivers preferred using heated rocks for heat in case the vehicle had a rollover.

Bob, by the way, says he was born in St. John’s Hospital in Fargo in 1926, attended Horace Mann Elementary School and First Lutheran Church, but left town in 1937 when his father died.

But back to the hack – or in the case of Virginia (Martin) Johnson, the lack of one.

Virginia, now of Fargo, writes that she and her seven siblings “were in the 5 percent who didn’t ride in a hack.

“During the 1930s,” Virginia writes, “we rode Shetland ponies to the country school (the Bracht school near Chaffee, N.D.) a mile and a half from our farm.

“A barn was located on the school grounds, where our ponies would spend the day.

“We ranged in age from 5 to 13. Our parents were Bill and Ada Martin. We were watched over by Mother from an upstairs bedroom window and by Dad as he climbed up in the silo to see us arrive safely at the school.

“A number of stories about those rides are told and retold at our annual Martin reunion. Selective memory is the operative word as the rides get more adventurous each year.”

Yes, memories do tend to get to “selective” over the years, Virginia.

But Neighbors will carry more stories about hacks that it believes are pretty accurate in coming weeks.

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