Wednesday, November 30, 2016
If one wanted to watch a movie there was the Orpheum Theater, The Strand and The State. In 1952 the Empire opened. Admission was a quarter and a bag of popcorn was a dime.
For more adult entertainment and refreshments there were a number of bars in Downtown Minot. There was the Brown Derby, The Buffalo Tap, Brady’s, The Covered Wagon, North Main Tavern, The Terrace, The Grand Tavern, Lee’s, The 13 Club and Vaughn’s . Downtown Minot provided all ages with some sort of entertainment in 1950.
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
– In 1950 there were close to 50 eating establishments in Minot. Those in the Downtown area on Main Street included The Victory Café, The Union Café, Gimbles, the Ameerican, LaPlaza, Nellie’s and the Uptown Nook. Others were The Cut Rate café, Woolworth’s, Kresge’s, Arvids Red Carpet, The Bus Lunch, the Pantry, and Nagatomo’s. There were others along Central Avenue and on 1st Street. One would not have to worry about going hungry in Downtown Minot. In most places 2 bits or a quarter would buy a burger and something to drink.
Woolworth's Lunch Counter
Monday, November 28, 2016
– In 1950 a number of department stores were open on Main Street. Woolworths was listed as the 5 and 10 cent department store. Kresge’s was just up from Woolworths, carrying merchandise from 25 cents to $1.00. Other department stores on Main Street included Sears, on the north end of Main Street, Montgomery Wards, a favorite meeting place, J C Penny on the corner of 1st Avenue and Main , S & L on South Main, featuring trading stamps, and Ellison’s on 2nd Avenue and South Main.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
The first Piggly Wiggly Store opened in the mid 40’s at 213 South Main Street. In 1957, at a cost of $300,000, Piggly Wiggly opened a new store by the Fairgounds. Piggly Wiggly East was one of the largest grocery stores in the state at that time. In 1961 another store opened in the Oak Park Center. The store on Main Street closed in 1960 and shortly after a third store was opened in the Town & County Center. In 1982 the Oak Park store moved to the Arrowhead Shopping Center. At one time Piggly Wiggly employed over 250 people. I worked at the Town & Country store in 1966-67. I started at $1.25 per hour, soon got a raise to $1.32 and shortly after the minimum wage increased to $1.40. Gas was about 25 cents and I was “rolling in the dough”.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Liquor Raid – Destruction Device – at 32 Central Avenue East a device had been constructed so that liquor packed around it would be destroyed by fire when the current was on. The device consisted of a small wire coil in a concrete enclosure. Around the coil were shavings and other flammable material. Mixed in with this were the bottles of liquor. When the current was turned on it would ignite the material and heat the bottles enough for them to be destroyed thereby eliminating evidence. When agents barged into the room, they unplugged the device. The bottles had not heated up enough to explod The evidence was intact.
Monday, November 21, 2016
A heavy door from one off the raided establishments was removed from its hinges and brought into the courtroom. It has “three thicknesses of lumber and 5 locks” . Officers were impressed by its durability. Also found were hundreds of empty liquor bottles, pretzels and small glasses. Slot machines were also found in some establishments and many Canadian product labels. This led the authorities to believe that the liquor was produced locally and falsely labeled as being Canadian.
Friday, November 18, 2016
Liquor Raid – Aug 15, 1939 – One of the biggest prohibition raids in Minot took place on this day. Nineteen people, 10 men and 9 women were arrested. The raid was conducted by Federal agents from North Dakota and Minnesota. Search warrants were obtained for 12 establishments but only 8 were actually entered. Three establishments had heavily barred doors so tear gas was used to drive out the suspects and gain entrance. Charges of possession and selling intoxicating liquor were filed …. These charges carried a maximum fine of $10,000 and 5 years in prison per charge or both
Thursday, November 17, 2016
The original Third Street, or the area of ill repute was 1st Street SW, from Central Avenue south. The town was much younger and much smaller in the early days. This street (then known as Reishus Avenue) was the edge of town. What is now known as Broadway was the outskirts of town in the late 1800's. The city fathers decided to move this area of ill repute “way out of town.” They moved them about 2 blocks to the west to its Third Street Southwest location. Its good they moved them to Third Street as Second Street eventually became Broadway. One of the first Madams on Third Street was May Butler. She was located on the west side of the block between Central Avenue and 1st Avenue SW
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Cars of the Third Street Men– Lincolns, Cadillacs, Imperials and other big luxury cars were the favorites of the Third Street Men. One of these men had a 1956 Imperial hard top that he had stored in the Stearn's Building. At one time he owned a big and fancy Lincoln Continental. Rumor has it that the car was stored at Stearn's Motors and he hired someone to go to the garage twice a day to dust the vehicle so it always looked good when he wanted to drive it. This person later started driving Oldsmobile Toronado’s..
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Ladies of the Night Shopping. – the ladies of Third Street were regular customers at many of the best clothing stores in Minot. They had their own shopping time. Years ago, all the stores in downtown Minot were open every Thursday evening until 9:00 pm. Since the stores were open later in the evening they would open later in the morning, on Thursdays. Many of the stores like S&L, Bader’s and others would open between 8:00 am and 10:00 am just for the Ladies of Third Street to shop. They would always pay in cash and were always done shopping by the time the stores opened for regular business. The Ladies of Third Street would spend a lot of money and did not disturb the regular shoppers and could shop in peace.
Ladies from High Third
Monday, November 14, 2016
Mayor of Third Street – This individual controlled what happened on Third Street. Because of his control over the Third Street area, things were rather peaceful. The area pretty much was self policed. One of the local, well know individuals on Third Street, we will refer to him as Jim, had an altercation with the “Mayor” and slapped him. The “Mayor of Third Street” looked at Jim and told him he had until evening to get out of town. Jim left town and went to Winnipeg. Jim did not return until the “Mayor” died.. This occurred on a hunting trip. The “Mayor” and a number of his cronies were out hunting and drinking. The practice was to have someone sitting on the front fenders of the car as they drove along looking for game. They group was driving down a corn field looking for pheasants. When they got to the end they noticed the “Mayor” was not on the front of the car. He was lying in the field. They had run over him breaking both legs. His friends took him to town and to the hospital. He died within 2 days due to an infection. After that, Jim was able to safely return to Minot
Friday, November 11, 2016
Raids - Woman in the Cupboard – Back in the 50’s, as the story goes, there was a raid on one of the houses on Third Street. One of the women in the house was found hiding inside a kitchen cupboard. She had crawled in and shut the door, hoping to avoid being found. This was a bit unusual as most of the time the establishments in Third Street had advance warning of pending raids by the Police Dept. When the Police Dept was located on 1st Avenue in downtown Minot, it was in the same building as the fire dept. and City Hall. Some of the firemen would watch for unusual activity in the Police Dept and if it was a raid on Third Street, they would call and warn the Third Street businesses. Usually no one of importance was caught in the raids, however many prominent people in Minot would frequent many of the establishments. Because they establishments were usually warned when the raids were about to happen some speculate there was really no need for escape tunnels.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
it is well known that many of the High Rollers of the day would often hold high stake poker games. Many a car was lost and many won over a deck of cards. One of the Bootleggers always claimed the Cadillac’s or other cars he won from a well known auto dealer, always ran better than any he had purchased. He claimed that he won as many cars as he had lost. This same Bootlegger had at one time won a house on Third Street in a poker game. He also lost it in a poker game. Before he lost it in another poker game he hired someone to clean the house so he could turn around and sell it. As the cleaning person was clearing out a closet in the basement, she fell through the closet floor into a sub basement below the actual basement. One can only speculate what the lowest level was used for.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Courthouse to Leland Hotel Booze Line—This is from a listener who used to have a water well drilling company in the area: Apparently at one time there was an underground pipeline that ran from the Ward County Courthouse to the Leland Hotel in Downtown Minot. It seems that when the court would prosecute booze runners during the prohibition days, the judge would dump all the illegal alcohol down a drain. Some enterprising individuals reportedly ran a pipe from that drain, under downtown Minot to the Leland Hotel. The alcohol was collected, processed and served to the guests of the Leland. Apparently many contractors over the years would hit the illicit pipeline when doing underground work in the area. The pipe was always patched and repaired, until they realized that it was not a water line and was no longer in use. At one time there were a number of contractors who were aware of this booze pipeline
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
One of the most sensational incidents was when a group of runners came up with the idea of buying a large amount of Canadian liquor and paying for it with cashier’s checks drawn on banks that had closed. The runners made sure they stayed south of the Canadian border as the Canadians who sold them the liquor were literally out gunning for them. As one of the group, a runner from Minot said, “They gave us bad whiskey so we gave them bad checks.”
Monday, November 7, 2016
In a report to a federal grand jury in Fargo on October 6, 1920, Judge Charles Amidon reported that there are automobiles loaded with liquor in convoys that have men armed with rifles and sawed off shotguns. He was encouraging the jurors to enforce the law.
On October 25, 1920 a story was printed about $40,000.00 worth of confiscated whiskey being destroyed in Minot. “The fumes of the strong liquor became so dense at one time that some of the officials became nauseated.”
Friday, November 4, 2016
A Whiskey Six was the name given to the big, high powered automobiles used by the booze runners in the days of Prohibition. The favored automobile was the BuickThe “whiskey sixes” would run to Canada and back in the late spring through the fall, until the snow came. The price paid to the runners for running from their start to Canada and back varied. The amount ranged from $100.00 to $500.00 per trip. A lot of money was made in a very short time if you wanted to take the risk.
Thursday, November 3, 2016
Booze Runners - The runners carried heavy loads in the “whiskey sixes”. Where the roads were good, the cars could travel along at speeds as fast a 50 to 60 miles per hour. The runners would travel in a line, or group with the lead car posing as a tourist to flush out the lawmen. The lead car would stall on the road, warning the runners that the law was ahead so they could make their get-away. Another trick used by the runners was to have a woman companion and at times a woman driving the car. The thought being that the lawmen would hesitate to shoot at a car occupied by a woman. It was generally considered by their appearance that these women companions were not home loving housewives.
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
The Whiskey runners made a lot of money and made it in a hurry. They were flashy dressers, sporting big diamonds, silk shirts, fancy ties and suits. They were also big tippers. One night in Minot a group of them lined up and peppered a bass drum in a Minot dancehall orchestra with silver dollars. The group was trying to break the head of the drum. They eventually ruined the drum but the orchestra was not upset as they got to keep all the silver dollars.
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
A Whiskey Six was the name given to the big, high powered automobiles used by the booze runners in the days of Prohibition. The favored automobile was the Buick. Minot was a local point for the Whiskey Runners in the era of 1919 to 1921. The whiskey running was at its peak during this time. Minot was the last major stop before Canada. The whiskey runners at times would travel in packs with a pilot car ahead to warn the if any lawmen were waiting up ahead. On some days, a whole city block would be lined with “whiskey sixes” waiting for dusk to make their run for the booze. They seldom returned to Minot after getting the load as the main destination was points like St Paul, Minneapolis, Sioux City and Omaha