Friday, October 30, 2015
Bienfait, Canada – The Canadian Liquor companies would rent a portion of the railroad depot warehouse in Bienfait. The liquor was stored in a closed off room. They would have a manager in town who would sell what was desired to the bootleggers, not to bars, just to the bootleggers. The depot is still in Bienfait, although it has been moved to different location and is now a museum. However, the original depot was purchased by and moved to a local farmstead about a mile outside of town. The railroad tracks still go through the town. The route out of town goes south to Ross Percy in the Souris Valley, then to Sherwood, splitting off to Columbus and Portal.
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Rowan Funeral Home – This information was given to me by Les Maupin back in 1986 while researching Minot for the Centennial. Rowans’s Funeral Home was on the corner of Main Street and 2nd Avenue, where Rueb’s Camera and Cards was located. Apparently the owners were affiliated with some aspect of the booze running in the days of Prohibition. I was told that the viewing rooms of Rowan’s Funeral during this time were home to many high stake poker games. Maupin was not sure if they ever actually held any funerals during this time. During Prohibition, the alcohol was brought in in one and two gallon metal containers. Rowan’s Funeral Home would fill a casket, or two, with these cans of booze and load them into the hearse. They had at least one if not more. The hearse would then deliver the booze throughout the country under the guise of transporting a body in a casket. Diving prudently and obeying the speed limits they successfully delivered the product. After all, who would stop and search a casket in a hearse?
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
At the turn of the century, the area known as High Third was originally located on 1st Street SW, south of Central Avenue. This area also the future home of Harry’s Tire Service, known back then as Pop Shaw’s Garage. The garage was on the main floor and the basement, There was a bowling alley on the second floor. The third floor was a gambling den and after hours night club. The garage was next to what is now Bremer Bank, and had an elevator. The bootlegger cars would enter the garage and the owner would ride the elevator down to the basement with the car full of booze. Rumor had it that he would booby trap the car in case someone tried to steal the liquor, lock it up and walk back up via the stairway. No one knew for sure as nobody was about to risk tripping the booby trap. By the 50’s the top floor was converted to an apartment where the family that managed the bowling alley lived.
Vendome Bar - North end of Third St.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
There is a story out there about a well known Booze Runner and free cars. The story says that this individual would offer a free car to anyone who could make three successful runs from Canada to Minot without getting high jacked or stopped by the law. The car was to have been a Buick, reportedly they were the fastest and most powerful vehicle at the time. In fact an entry in a national magazine claims that during the days of prohibition, Minot had more high performance cars per capita than any other city. Back to the free Buick. The problem for any takers on the offer was that if someone made two successful runs, this individual would make sure the third run failed. Since he knew the route and times, he would send his own men out to high jack the shipment so he would not have to give away a Buick.
Confiscated Still during Prohibition
Monday, October 26, 2015
Turn Around – A scenario for at least one of the Revenuer’s in Minot: When his car arrived at their destination there was a “turn around” in the garage . The “Turn Around” was a very large motor driven turn table. Upon driving into the garage, the car would drive onto the “turn around” and the vehicle was turned around so it was facing the same direction it had entered from. This way it could make for a hasty exit without having to back out of the garage. It could just drive straight out, often in hot pursuit of a bootlegger.
I have been contacted by the woman who lives in this now. The turn table is still in the garage however it is not functioning at this time.
Friday, October 23, 2015
Booze Runners -- when the booze car or cars got to their destination in Minot, a number of scenarios were possible. Some of the garages had special elevators. When the car entered with the booze, it would drive into a special elevator. This would either raise the car up to the floor above or lower it to the floor below. If followed by officers, they would enter the building and find no vehicle. By the time they would conduct a search, the booze would have been unloaded and stashed safely or moved to another location.
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Triple cars – The booze runners would travel in groups of three. Three vehicles, one with the alcohol and two decoy vehicles. The Choice of vehicle back in those days was the Buick. The alcohol was stored in a metal tank under the back seat. All the cars had a tank so all were weighted equally. The two decoy cars were loaded down with bricks. The reason for the equal weight was to leave the same track on dirt, muddy roads or grass when sneaking across the border. If the two decoy cars were not weighted down, the police could follow the car with the deeper tracks. The three cars would travel in line. The Booze car generally drove the speed limit, while the decoy cars would be speeding. If they were chased by the law, the two decoy cars would split and go in different directions. If the decoy cars were caught the worst they would get was a speeding ticket. With the law enforcement people busy with the decoy cars, the booze car was free to travel on to Minot or wherever their destination was.
Famous Pit Bar B Que also known as Kay's Cafe
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
High Third Street – There were a number of businesses that flourished on Minot’s High Third Street. Third Street over the years was the home to Bars, Restaurants, Hotels and houses that participated in illegal activities that ranged from illegal alcohol sales during Prohibition, after hour alcohol sales, high stake card games and prostitution. Some of those Third Street Businesses were: The Avalon, The Coffee Bar, Metrol Café (Saul’s Barbecue), Famous Pit Barbecue (Twilight Inn & Kay’s Café), The Grill, and later after Third Street was shut down, The Flame in Radio City. Business was brisk until 1960 when the Jaycee’s mounted a successful campaign to close down the area
The Grill – the Grill was located at 316 third St. SW… The Grill was a part of the area known as “High Third” although it did not have the reputation of some of the other businesses on Third St. Dee Dee Govan operated The Grill for many years. He acquired the property from “Ma” Butler, a legend on Third Street and the subject of another article. Dee Dee served pretty good food and at times would offer coffee laced with liquor, if so desired. After the decline of Third St. The Grill was home to Dee Dee’s Hot Tamales. He made them, packaged them and sold them out of The Grill. I was offered a job by Dee Dee selling the Hot Tamales when I was driving truck for Coca Cola Bottling back in the late 60’s.
Friday, October 16, 2015
Besides the highly profitable liquor traffic, Minot was also known for other questionable activities. An illegal drug trade flourished but not at the same scale as the liquor business. Between December of 1922 and December of 1924, enforcement officials cracked down on certain hotels, cafes, and other opium dens, most of them on the infamous Third Street. By the end of 1924, the opium and cocaine traffic was about at an end. In one raid on Third Street police confiscated over $100.00 worth of opium in the form of “decks” and “books”. The street value of a “deck” was $1.00. A “book” contained three times more opium than a “deck”, but it was still a relatively small amount.
Thursday, October 15, 2015
Gun Battle – Minot was also the home of many high speed automobile chases in connection with the bootlegging activities. One national magazine was quoted as saying “Minot has more high performance vehicles per capita than any other city in America”. These powerful cars, Buicks at the time, were the favored car of the bootleggers. One high speed chase resulted in the arrest of the proprietor of the Last Chance Barbershop on Central Avenue. In a shootout, whiskey-runner Avery Erickson was fatally shot by Officer F.S. Fahler, who later died from wounds received in the same encounter. In 1921 when state prohibition forces opened their northwest regional headquarters in Minot, they announced that their cars would be equipped with Browning machine guns. The office was closed a few years later.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Little Chicago – Minot had a reputation as a rowdy and “wide open” town. When nationwide prohibition went into effect, Minot became known as “Little Chicago”. It had the reputation as being the most wide open city between Chicago and Butte, Montana. It was believed that the police would raid speakeasies of those who had supported the losing side in the election for city officials. In 1921, soon after W.M. Smart was elected president of the city commission by defeating W.S. Shaw, (a six year incumbent), he was the subject of a recall petition. It was alleged that he allowed gambling and the operation of “Blind Pigs”. (Blind Pigs were illegal drinking establishments.)
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Inequity Hollow – Fred Hines at one time was a cab or bus driver in Minot in the early 1900’s. He drove for both the Leland Hotel and Waverly Hotel at different times. His task was to pick up and deliver clients to their destinations around Minot. He would deliver his passengers from the railroad stations to the hotels and when the fair was held on south hill, he would transport the passengers to it also. Quote from 1939 article “at that period in Minot’s history there was a segregated district of bawdy houses in a coulee southwest of Minot and as a hack driver he was called upon to transport gentlemen of the double standard from downtown hotels to this place which was sometimes called Inequity Hollow.” Also North Dakota was under state prohibition at that time, Hines recalls that whiskey was easily obtained in Minot. This area is what we refer to today as 3rd Street Southwest or Minot’s High Third.
Monday, October 12, 2015
Grocery Stores 90 to 100 Years Ago -- … Eastwood Park Grocery – on the corner of East central Ave and 6th St SE (Next to the Hump back bridge that is now closed) … Shirley’s Grocery – Downtown Minot – Oak Park Meat Market -- 422 2nd Ave NW … Fairway Grocery –4th Ave and 9th St SE – At entrance to Eastwood Park … Oppens Market – in 1927 located at 3rd St and Central Avenue ( Val’s Cyclery) …. Watson’s Sanitary Grocery – 39 1st Ave SW (Downtown in the area of US Bank …. Fairway Grocery & Meat – 823 4th Ave SE – They delivered in Minot … Chain meat & Grocery – On North Broadway (about where the Barley Pop is now) …
Shirley Grocery- Delivery vehicles
Interior - Shirley Grocery
Friday, October 9, 2015
Fisher – Sandlie Motor Company – They acquired the Pence Auto co. – Buick dealer … eventually became Fisher Motors in Downtown Minot before moving to 20th Ave. SW ...Crowell Motor Company – Authorized dealer for Paige automobiles … Parker Motor Co .—115 -119 1st Ave SE – Dodge dealer (across from the Blue Rider) – Had a large auditorium on the top floor of the building which house Skateland and burned in 1962) … Minot Reo Co. – 21 1st St SE – Dealer for The REO Flying Cloud and Wolverine autos …
Parker Motors - 1949
Thursday, October 8, 2015
Auto Dealers in 1927 -- Kluver Motor Co. – 16 Third St NE – ( across from the Ice Box Bar on south side of the 3rd St overpass) in 1927 they were the Pontiac and Oakland dealer – later would become the Plymouth dealer … Westlie Motor Co – at Central Avenue and 2nd St NW (Broadway) – Ford and Lincoln dealer … Interstate Motor Co. – Dealer for Hudson and Essex automobiles … Frosaker Motor Co. – 2nd St and 1st Ave SW – now the home of the Wells Fargo Drive-in bank …
Original Westlie Motors
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Blaisdell Motors – Chrysler Dealer – 4th Ave and Main St. (now Main Medical) … Hanson Motor Co. – Central Avenue and 2nd St SE – Falcon-Knight auto dealer …. Whitmore Motor Co – Erskine and Studebaker Dealer … Nash-Westra Auto co – Franchise dealer for Nash Automobiles … Eck-Johnson Motor Co – Willys-Knight and Whippet dealer in Minot …
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
In the early 70’s a person could purchase 4 track and 8 track tapes and cassette tapes were just beginning to make their appearance, (cassettes were going to revolutionize the music industry)….. but the main source of music was still albums. At Christmas time in 1972, JC Penny was running specials on top “hit” albums for only $3.57. Artists like Mac Davis, John Denver, Cher and The Partridge Family….. Christmas albums were only $1.99 …. (Perry Como, Al Hirt, Elvis and more). To play those albums one could purchase stereo systems as low as $28.00 for a portable record player to $170.00 to a console stereo complete with an AM/FM radio….
Monday, October 5, 2015
A few people have inquired about Heisler’s Super Valu. It was located in northwest Minot at 4th Avenue and 21st St NW. Heisler’s was open 7 days a week from 7 am to 11 pm…. One of the few stores open on Sundays back in the 60’s and 70’s. Heisler’s featured a complete line of groceries, fresh produce and fresh, quality meats. Also magazines and health and beauty supplies.
Friday, October 2, 2015
Snuggled up to a major highway, a hilly chunk of ground which many people though useless, was transformed and there emerged, in 1963, Minot’s Town & Country Shopping Center. In 1968 a sign proclaimed Town & Country to be the largest shopping center in North Dakota. The cost of building the center in 1963 was about $1.8 million. When it opened, Town & Country had 16 businesses operating. I recall working at the JJ Newberry Cafeteria and later at Piggly Wiggly in the mid 1960’s. I also remember Town & Country as a gathering place and full of activities. One of those in 1966 or 1967 was a Battle of the Bands.
Thursday, October 1, 2015
Oak Park Theater – On Saturday, March 27th, 1976 the Oak Park Theater was showing “The Hindenburg”, staring George C Scott and Anne Bancroft. The Oak Park Theater also featured Saturday Matinees. This particular Saturday the Matinee was “ The Phantom Toll Booth”. The theater ad stated: “Mothers, take an hour and a half break and come along with your kids to see this great show. They’ll drive you crazy but you will thoroughly enjoy the show. All matinee seats – 75 cents. The upstairs of the theater also had an separate for parents with small children to watch a movie without disturbing the rest of the audience.
I also remember back in the late 60’s, the Oak Park Theater would have all night shows on Saturday nights in the summer. The late evening shows tended to get a bit rowdy causing the theater to stop having them.