The Road Home:
By Rita Maisel
Home is where the heart is with each person having their own definition. Last week 21 (or maybe more) members of the Peterson/Franta family arrived in Langdon wearing shirts with the caption “The Road Home.” For some of them it was returning to a place they had been to as children, and for the rest it was their first visit to the place where their grandparents had grown up. On the surface they had come to inter the ashes of their parents/grandparents which was a major stop. But along with that purpose they also had some private agendas: sleeping in the old farmhouse one more time, meeting friends of their family, and just seeing the town of Langdon. From the standpoint of those they visited with, we could add on asking lots of questions.
In retrospect they may some day wonder why they did not ask where the great-grandparents on the McDonald side were buried (Salem Evangelical Cemetery a mile or two east of Clyde), or what the connection was with the town of Hannah other than the fact that the railroad line ended there? The Franta home, built about 80 years ago, is still standing, and they found it with no trouble, but what happened to the big white house where Grandma Kelland had an apartment? It is now a one level duplex, white, and facing another direction.
The visitors were the children of Gary and Rosemary (Franta) Peterson, who both grew up in Cavalier County, graduated from Langdon High School and then went on to the University of North Dakota. While Gary was in the Air Force, Rosemary finished her degree, and a short time later they were married at Langdon. Some couples include travel as a honeymoon, but they often joked about their travel being tied to where he was stationed. Once the service years were completed, they returned to Grand Forks so Gary could finish college. At least one of their homes was in married housing described as wartime barracks in an earlier life. For Becky, Craig and Trevor there were childhood memories of coming back to Langdon to visit grandparents and relatives on both sides of the family. As a result, their family grew up referring to North Dakota as “home”.
Since the group included three generations of relatives, my memory is not good enough to keep their names straight. After years of knowing one of the grandchildren was Dakota (no gender mentioned), it was nice to meet her and learn she is a lovely young lady. The visitors took lots of pictures while they were here and promised to send a copy with all the names included. It is possible they went the long way home since there was mention of camping at Mt. Rushmore on the way back to Seattle.
Thank you messages were mentioned (“if you write about this”): one to the Hart family who had helped with arrangements for the burial and directions for sightseeing, as well as to the guides who took them through the Masonic display featuring great-grandparents and others who helped them see the sights at the museum at Dresden. They might have to come back to see the family memorial stone at Boyd Block Plaza. They enjoyed “Langdon’s Lake” and seemed surprised it had not been here on other visits. No, it was not high water they were referring to but Mt. Carmel Dam and Recreation area.
Many stories for this column have grown out of the clippings in a file their great-grandfather, Ed Franta, referred to as “The Morgue” since it began with so many obituaries. Ed had heard about a collection of this kind while studying journalism at UND long ago and began the file when he came to Langdon to work at the Cavalier County Republican. Currently it is kept up by the local library staff and contains stories filed by family names. Because time was limited, the visitors did not all have time to see this collection of history. The ones who did took pictures of the indexed envelopes for further study. Copies of specific stories could be sent to them later. Like many who find a family name, they were delighted to find the write-up for weddings from earlier generations.
Elsewhere in the newspaper you may find an invitation to a special summer service to be held at the Icelandic Lutheran Church south of Senator Young Dam on August 4 at 2 p.m. This is one of the oldest churches in our area, and both the church and the nearby cemetery are open history books for people from the area. The congregation worships elsewhere most of the year, but each summer they have a service at the church, and the public is invited. In past years it is possible they had an Icelandic sermon or maybe sang some of the long-ago Icelandic hymns, but this year I am told “the service will be in English.” All are welcome.
A project known to United Methodist Women’s groups as Love Ribbons will complete 50 years in the upcoming future so I have been researching their origins for that event. The story behind the ribbons is long and, at times, hilarious but not local history so will not include all the details. The ribbons began with Kathleen (Shear) Bellamy, daughter of the Dresden elevator manager, who graduated from Langdon High School in 1935. She went on to become a teacher and in 1941 married Wayne Bellamy from Drayton. His mother introduced Kathleen to the women’s group who is remembered as someone who did every job they found for her. As the years went by Kathleen was not only an active member, she was president of the Drayton group then president of the district and president of the conference level WSCS. The EUB ladies had their own organization (WSWS) and their own officers, but in the late 1960s both sides involved in the denominational merger learned to know Kathleen quite well. Not only did she come almost weekly to Langdon but met with similar groups at Cavalier, Grand Forks and elsewhere. In 1968 local groups met at Langdon and signed a charter where they would all be one unit but would keep their own circles and do their long standing projects. One of the Methodist groups said the initials for their group stood for “we serve chicken suppers” which they frequently did.
Other projects crossed all the denominational and community boundaries. Eventually one of these Kathleen suggested was called a Corsage for Mission. Wanting a project to raise money and cost almost nothing to make, they started out using ribbon from funeral bouquets. That ribbon was too large. A ribbon with a sticker of a flower (some were available at DeVold’s Dime Store) on it was too plain. They wanted something lacy to trim with. How about that ribbon put out by 3M for gift wrapping? If you made up a few of these ribbons and fanned them together with a flower sticker at the top of each one it looked like a small bouquet – hence the name. Ladies at meetings would purchase these to help out the fundraising and then give them away to people they thought were special: officers in the organization, guests, guest speakers, choir members, anyone over 80, ushers at church – there was a long list of people you could give a ribbon to. The corsage meant giving several ribbons like a small bouquet. Each ribbon sold for $1, and the money raised went to campgrounds, mission work in Sierra Leone, supporting missionaries born in North Dakota who went all over the world and then a group in Bismarck asked for help. Close to a shopping mall was a large trailer court of young mothers with small children. The mothers could work at the mall, but they had no babysitters. Not only did ribbon money go to help the Open Door Community Center become a reality, but it is still in operation – currently in one of the Bismarck churches. Dime stores went out of business and flower stickers were not readily available, so a church logo sticker was used, and the name of the ribbons changed to Love Ribbons.
Cousins asked me to go to a meeting with them at one of the campgrounds in the 1970s. It was a large group, and the ladies selling the ribbons had only one roll of yellow ribbon to make the love ribbons. People were asking for more variety. I did craft sales and had some No. 9 ribbon in the car so rolls of various colors became my donation. Later six of us held the office responsible for making the ribbons. Fortunately, I still had odds and ends of ribbon on hand. Some disliked this pokey little task, but I enjoyed it and am still making them from packages of supplies and stickers sent by others interested in the project. With a wide variety it is like working with a rainbow in your hands. Real lace ribbon was used as a trim for years, and when that was no longer manufactured we found substitutes. When the logo was discontinued, we found stickers at Bible bookstores. Somewhere along the line a hug was added to each ribbon. Funds raised help day cares, mitten and coat projects, after school programs, weekend backpack projects and dozens of other projects.