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Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, Published September 28 2013

As I recall: Memorable F-M businesses

Recently Forum reporter Dave Olson wrote about businesses that have vanished from the streets in Fargo and Moorhead, and I’d like to comment on several of those that readers remembered.

While I don’t remember the featured business, the Cinema Grill, I do remember going to Fargo’s Lark Theater at 630 1st Ave. N., when it opened because you could smoke in the balcony, and I’d been in theaters in big cities where you could do likewise, and I thought Fargo had joined the real world. How things change.

And, because I’m a north-sider, I try to avoid going west of University Drive and south of 13th Avenue South (except to go to Breadsmith), and because I grew up eating Italian food prepared exquisitely by my Norwegian/Swedish mother, I never went to Pazzo’s or Valentino’s on the far south side.

But I do remember going to Paisano’s Restaurant on Center Avenue in Dilworth in the late 1990s and trying just about everything on their menu. Unfortunately, the restaurant is long gone.

The young woman who was surprised there was a store in downtown Fargo that sold just hats might like to know Dotty Dunn was not the only hat shop.

At 109 Broadway, there was Vera Jean Hats, owned by Mrs. Vera J. Gillerstein. It was adjacent to May’s at 111, which sold shoes, and Arthur’s, also at 109, which sold women’s clothing. These stores were next to Mandel Furs at 113 Broadway, another thing that has changed.

I don’t remember Epko Film Service at 631 NP Ave., as fondly as my former co-worker and friend, Nancy Edmonds Hanson, does.

In 1961, my parents and my brother and I returned from Europe on a small ship – 100 passengers – on the Holland American line. Off of the coast of Nova Scotia, we encountered the tail end of a hurricane. It was a wild ride, and my father took many, many photos. My brother, who suffered from sea sickness, spent most of the nine-day crossing in his bunk.

The slides were taken to Epko, and they mailed them to our home just 12 blocks north via fourth-class mail. They were lost and never recovered. I didn’t think much of the post office at that time either.

I too remember the Tree Top restaurant above Moorhead’s Frederick Martin Hotel, which opened in 1950 with hostess Vivianne Kaiser, and Deanie Baker at the piano bar. And the Skol Room on the hotel’s ground floor, with jazzman Jimmy Bowman playing the piano.

But I also remember two other Moorhead restaurants. The Rex Café was first located at 202 1st Ave. N., and after urban renewal at 424 Center Ave. And anyone who ever had a meal at the Silver Moon Café on Main Avenue surely will recall their experience.

Moorhead profited from the North Dakota liquor divorcement laws. Liquor was banned in the state from 1890 to 1933, and in 1946, it became illegal to sell food and liquor in any public place with the exception of private clubs and fraternal organizations. So, if you didn’t belong to a special club and you wanted a drink before dinner or wine with your meal, you went to Moorhead to dine. And now that, too, has changed.

Stories in the paper about the past always prod my memory. I imagine it’s because I’ve lived here all of my life and have much more to look back on than to look forward to. I’m just happy that at age 73 I can still remember. I’ve had a good life here and am grateful for everything that has come my way.