Bobby Stewart would be my pick for the best jockey to ever ride at Assiniboia Downs. - ASD HistoryHigh praise, but well deserved.
|St. Vincent (left) & Orleans (right): Built using same plans...?|
|[Click to enlarge & read details]|
I looked forward to the the Kittson County Fair each summer. I enjoyed the rides as well as the carnival. My brother Tony and I collected pop bottles to save for the Fair. We would frequently have 4-H exhibits at the Fair. I remember once we were on a Tilt-a-Whirl (or similar ride) and Tony got sick on the ride. The operator of the ride was a crude man with a number of tattoos including something like "Born Loser." In any case, he would not let us leave until we cleaned up the ride. Since Tony was in no condition to help, it was left up to me. As farm boys, we were somewhat intimidated by the carnival workers. It was quite common for the carnival games to be rigged. I think that we would lose only a $1 or so on these games but they were cheap tuition. I think that the Fair illustrated the seedy side of society as well as the best.
The Fair was like the Tale of Two Cities: the best of times and the worst of times. One of the worst moments was experienced by my Mother. In an essay she wrote for the Scribe Tribe1, she recounted how she placed her glasses case dutifully beside the hole.The case was cylinder shape and began rolling toward the hole because apparently the toilet was not level. In her haste to grab it, the clasp came open. Her glasses and keys went down the the dark smelly abyss. She was embarrassed but decided to take action. She found the Fair Manager and asked him for a flashlight and a shovel. The Manager asked her what she wanted them for. She was stopped numerous times by friends asking what she was doing with the shovel and flashlight. She dragged the odorous privy for a long time without success. For years after the episode, she was asked about how she got home without her glasses and car keys. For my Mother, this was the worst of times.
The Fair was also the best of times. The lights of the rides were beautiful. For many years the Fair was not complete without a tremendous thunder storm and sometimes funnel clouds in the area. Later, a tornado destroyed the Fair Grandstand only a short time after it was filled to capacity. The severe weather conditions and the lights brought an indescribable excitement to the Fair. The 4-H exhibit hall was a favorite place. I always took time to look at every exhibit. I always wondered how I could never get beyond a red ribbon for my vegetables and insect collection. There were a number of local merchants who had exhibits. One of the highlights of the Fair was when the car dealer would give away a car and also bicycles. I never won but the anticipation of winning such a prize was greater than Publisher's Clearing House.
My favorite place to eat at the fair was the Larson Family Stand which made the best hamburgers and generally had the best food at the Fair. Joyce Baldwin from Humboldt was a Larson and so many of the Baldwin kids helped out at the "Larson" food stand. Each of the 4-H clubs had special exhibits which depicted our activities for the year. I belonged to the "Stick-To-It" Club which was one of the oldest Kittson County Clubs. We had very good adult supervision. The Gatheridges, Baldwins, Bahrs, Wieses, Diamonds, Clows and many other families were active in the club. I remember that the older kids in the club were very helpful to the younger ones in exhibiting their products. Dennis Diamond was one of those older kids who was always helpful to Scott Clow and I who also showed sheep. Another memory I have is a 4-H parade through Hallock. A very pretty young lady asked me to help control her very large and unruly 4-H calf. I managed to keep the calf from stampeding through the streets of Hallock, but still received only a white ribbon. I can still remember the smell of those hamburgers at the Larson family stand. I hope that other former Kittson County residents will contribute their memories of the Fair and of their "Wonder Years."
1 - The Scribe Tribe began as a continuing education course in 1966. The writing class morphed into a club with meetings in homes. These were more than social events - everyone in the club felt a great social pressure to produce writing. It was Dotty Boatz who first suggested that a writing course taught at Humboldt-St. Vincent High School continue on as a club and she was one of the most active members. The Scribe Tribe proved to be a huge success, and Gloria Swanson and Virginia Ott ended up writing a very interesting book on Fred Jones, who was an innovative handyman and inventor who lived in Hallock for many years. The title of the book was Man With a Million Ideas: Fred Jones, Genius/Inventor.
|Although I have not obtained a photograph of the mysterious
Mrs. Rasche yet, I did come across one of her children in a
Maryland history book; The two young ladies sitting were born
in Kittson County. [Source: Western Maryland Historical Library]
...Kate was mistress of the Rasche household in Oakland [Maryland] from her 1879 marriage until 1888 when the family moved to Minnesota...where Henry assumed the management of the Oakland Hotel and of many farms owned by his son-in-law, Dennis Ryan. From there, in the fall of 1888, she composed and had published a campaign song called "Cleveland's Grand March"...In [Kennedy], Kate Rasche was the matriarch of the community. There was no doctor, clergyman, dentist, or undertaker in Kennedy. Kate was consulted by the Swedes in sickness, and she helped to lay out the bodies of the dead for burial. She set up one room of the Oakland Hotel as a chapel, and in the long periods between visits by the clergy, read Catholic services frequently attended by Lutheran Swedes. Kate organized the first ever July 4th celebration in Kennedy and was given credit for its great success in the press. She also wrote prolifically for the county seat newspaper in Kittson County, Minnesota. Kennedy itself was too small at that time to support a newspaper. She had published many poems and articles concerning topics of interest in that time. Additionally, she composed and had published several songs, one of which "A Maryland Exile" reflects her homesickness for her mountain home back east.In 1894, that homesickness finally propelled the Rasche family to leave Kennedy and return to Maryland. On the way home, Henry went on ahead to the Mill he owned in Oakland, Maryland, while Katherine and the children stopped off to visit her parents in Pittsburgh. While there word arrived that Henry had been caught in the mill machinery and had met a violent death. As sad as that was, Katherine went on to raise the children and accomplish much more, but that is another story. Kittson County was lucky to have her influence and community spirit during the six years the Rasche family lived here. I continue to hope to track down the song she wrote for my hometown, the St. Vincent March - stay tuned!