Nelson: A recent forum post was full of great content – InForum

I’m not crazy about the predominantly digital format of the Forum these days. I tend to binge read it, days at a time, and it was much faster for me to skim through the print editions than to run them on my computer. Also, I never had to worry about internet connections. But alas, things change – and I don’t think change is always for the better – but I guess there are good economic reasons for my newspapers and magazines to fall under the digital gun one by one.

But the August 27 print edition was particularly good. I regularly enjoy Lloyd Omdahl’s historical commentary and his humorous and accurate takes on old age. Of course John Wheeler’s Weather Reports are must-read – where else would I ever have heard of the Eemian period? And “Did you know? by Curtis Eriksmoen. chronicles about North Dakota history and the people I never skip.

Eriksmoen’s column on Bismarck, “the meanest city in the United States”. was classic. Saloon owner and ne’er do well Dave Mullen’s sordid career was charted – prostitution, shootings, all the elements of the Wild West on display right here in early North Dakota. Imagine a time when Mullen and his partner Jack O’Neill walked into the office of Clement Lounsberry, editor of the Bisrmarck Tribune, to threaten him not to raise up a vigilante force to calm Bismarck. Lounsberry took them on and they left without a shooter.

A comment in the article about the brouhaha about a pork plant project in Sioux Falls, SD, page B11, irked me a bit. A community stalwart derided the pork butcher plant as bad for Sioux Falls’ economy and bad for “high-skilled, high-paying jobs.” Well, not everyone is suited for high-tech jobs and sitting in front of a computer all the time. I speak as someone who worked at the slaughterhouse, uh, at the West Fargo packing plant at the time. It was hard but well-paid manual labor, at least at the time. The first two weeks I worked there I could barely move, I was so stiff and sore from handling big chunks of meat and bone. The negative review now from Sioux Falls echoes some West Fargo residents who thought the beef plant was a crude, crude business and were happy to see it go. As if the beef they put on their tables fell from the sky like manna. Also, they still call the high school team the Packers.

The obituary in the same Carol Levin edition was inspiring and moving. I don’t know her, and most of us will probably never see her name again. But his life was filled with accomplishments and perseverance. She is one of those people who have never been famous but who took their families, their cities and their country on a journey. Everyone has a story, but some are just amazing and the only time we hear from them is when they die. “Don’t be sad, she said, I’m happy. I have loved you all and I have been loved by all. I had a wonderful life… yes, thank you all. On the contrary, Ms. Levin, thank you. The Forum of August 27 was read enough.

Nelson lives in Casselton, ND, and is a regular contributor to the Forum’s opinion page. Email him at

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This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Forum Editorial Board or the owners of the Forum.

Melvin B. Baillie