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Perham

November 20, 2014

The history of a successful team: Perham girls basketball

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The first girls basketball team at Perham Public Schools began in the fall of 1969.

Meryl Gisselquist was the coach. The team was made up of six players, with a ‘roving’ guard who could travel the entire court. That first season, the team played only seven games.

The next year, Ruth Cole took over the coaching position. Sometime during the 1970s, the game changed to five-player basketball. The girls improved steadily, and in 1972 they had their first winning season, with a record of 10 and five. The following year, the team tied with Dilworth and Frazee for the Heart O’Lakes Conference championship.

Perham went on in the following two years to be undefeated Conference Champions. The girls placed third, fourth, and second in the first three District 23 tournaments held in the fall of 1972, ‘73 and ‘74.

In 1975-76, the girl’s season moved to winter instead of fall. In addition to winning the Heart O’Lakes Conference, they also won the District 23 title for the first time ever.

The next year, Tony Bjork took over the head coaching job and led the team to eight consecutive winning seasons, including four District 23 Championships, three runner-ups and one third place. When Coach Bjork retired after the 1984 season, the girls had had 122 wins and 45 losses.

The next three years, the team was coached by Deb Meyer, with the girls finishing second in District 23 for two of those years. In 1988, Darrel Pederson came on board, and their success that year included a 22-3 record.

In 1991, the Perham team made history by being the first girls basketball team to ever qualify for the State Tournament. The team that year had a 25-4 record and defeated Osakis for the Region 6 Championship. The team went on to capture fourth place in the State Tournament.

Information for this article came from the “1994 East Otter Tail History Book, Volume II.” Lina Belar is the founder and retired director of the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County. 

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November 13, 2014

Welter brothers’ stores are a part of Perham’s history

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The decade of the 1920s saw much business activity on Main Street in Perham. One of the busiest spots was the Welter Brothers Grocery and Meat Market, operated by the Welter brothers, Ambrose and William.

Daily, even hourly, delivery service was an important part of the business. After a damaging fire, the store was moved across the street to the southwest corner of Main and First Avenue.

In a few years, the business was moved again. This time, Welter Brothers Hardware opened in the location where Nadine’s now does business. In the meantime, Welter had begun a new enterprise and added a huge turkey farm east of Perham on Highway 10.

Both the turkey farm and the hardware store did very well. However, in 1966 Ambrose became ill with cancer. The business was then sold to a buyer from Detroit Lakes.

After four decades in business, Welter Brothers became a part of Perham’s past history.

Information for this article was submitted by Agnes Welter for the “1994 East Otter Tail History Book, Volume II”. Lina Belar is the founder and retired director of the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County. 

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October 16, 2014

The start of the Comet Theater

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The Comet Theater began when Roy and Viola Rasmussen bought the J.C. Penny Store Building.

Remodeling began in June 1937 by the contractor Al Wassner. The project also involved Charles Olson and Rudy Doll as electricians. Olson alone did 245 hours of wiring, at about 35-50 cents per hour. The theater was complete in the middle of July 1937, with the first showing on July 26.

Olson operated the projector. The Comet Theater seated about 300 people and showed features seven days a week for an admission charge of 25 cents.

There was another theater in Perham at the time, across the street from the Comet. It was called the Lux Theater and it was run by Oscar Weickert. The Lux Theater sound system was on a disc, while the Comet Theater sound system was on film.

The Rasmussens operated the Comet until their deaths in the early 1970s. The theater was then sold to Tuffy Nelson, who operated it with the help of Tom and Mary Alstadt.

Joe and Delores Wasche bought the Comet in April 1972, and it is still under their ownership.

In 1988, the theater was remodeled with furnishings that had been bought from the Carlton Club in Bloomington, bringing some classy décor to the theater.

By 1994, the Comet had gone from two projectors to one. It was lighted with a 1,000 watt bulb and used a large platter that took care of the whole movie without the necessity of changing projectors.

Today, the Comet Theater continues to show movies using more modern technologies.

Information for this article was submitted by Joe Wasche for the “1994 East Otter Tail History Book, Volume II.”

Lina Belar is the founder and retired director of the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County.

Perham

October 9, 2014

Emergency services in Perham’s early days

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Ambulance service in the Perham area was originally provided by Schoeneberger Funeral Home, which used a hearse to transport patients to the hospital. As national and state regulations were established, Schoeneberger’s found it financially impossible to continue in that role.

In April 1968, the Perham Rescue Association was formed, and members of the Perham Volunteer Fire Department were asked to staff the ambulance. Initially, they were reluctant and vetoed the idea, but finally agreed to accept the responsibility on a temporary basis until other help could be found.

Original training consisted of only a few hours of basic first aid, with the main emphasis on rushing the victim to the hospital for treatment as fast as possible. At first, a modified Cadillac station wagon was used as the transport vehicle. The first van-type ambulance was purchased in 1973.

For many years, ambulance and first calls were received and dispatched from the Co-op Service Station, which was open 24 hours a day. In 1979, the base station was moved to the Perham Memorial Hospital.

The first Emergency Medical Technicians on the department were trained in 1976. Their instruction consisted of more than 100 hours of training, with the emphasis switching from rapid transport to stabilizing the victims at the scene; they also learned how to use basic equipment during transport.

Over the years, pre-hospital emergency saw rapid improvement and development. Equipment training and regulations became increasingly more demanding. In 1990, the Rescue Association formed an ambulance department separate from the fire department, whose ‘temporary’ service had extended 23 years.

The association entered into an agreement with the Perham Memorial Hospital for management services, and the Perham Area E.M.S. was formed. By 1994, paramedic personnel were required by have 1,000 hours of training.

Today, the emphasis is on advanced treatment, essentially bringing the emergency room to the victim, rather than waiting for the victim to arrive at the emergency room.

Information for this article was submitted by Randy Grover for the “East Otter Tail History Book, Volume II.” Lina Belar is the founder and retired director of the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County.

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October 2, 2014

Prohibition came early to East Otter Tail County

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Prohibition started early in the cities and towns of East Otter Tail County because they were located near what was then called the Indian Territories.

It was decided by the forces in Washington, D.C., that any area within a certain number of miles of the territories (supposedly the distance a real alcoholic would go to get a drink) would be declared dry. In the early part of the century, agents visited one town after another until the whole county went ‘dry.’ A perusal of newspapers from the early days can trace the progress of the agents as saloons in one town after another were shut down.

There was a saloon in Luce, just up the road from Perham, called “The First and Last Chance Saloon.” It received its name from the people coming from the west, as it was their first chance to buy liquor since Frazee was part of an Indian reservation. For those that came from the east, it was their last chance to buy liquor, as they would soon enter the reservation. By the time prohibition took place throughout the nation, one local journalist wrote that it was about time, as by then they were “plumb lonely for company.”

The popular notion of prohibition as depicted by the entertainment industry is of a rollicking era filled with notorious gangsters. That may have been true in Chicago but in rural Minnesota, prohibition had a quieter side. First of all, prohibition was a law that was almost universally disliked and the good German and Scandinavian farmers weren’t about to change their way of life because of what they thought was a stupid law.

There was protection from above; a complex network of informants kept sellers of the forbidden product aware of the progress of the revenue agents as they moved through the territory. Perfectly ordinary people of the area simply ignored it.

There was one resort, just north of Perham, that was known to be a popular ‘watering place.’ It’s said that on Sunday mornings, a local judge was the first person in the place.

Prohibition had its darker side, as well, as told in this story of “Prohibition Days” from “East Otter Tail County History I, 1977”:

“In the prohibition days, Martin Huneby of Section 2 of Butler Township had a ‘Moonshine Still’ and used to carry some of the moonshine with him in his Model A Ford.

“One Sunday morning, about 2 a.m. July 30, 1933, Martin Huneby and Ole Salmela had a collision with their cars.

“Men by the name of Waino Kangas, Eno Kangas and Weirela were coming home from a dance in Wolf Lake in their Model A coupe with a rumble seat where two of the men rode. They came to the collision and stopped to see if they could be of assistance, but Huneby and Salmela were arguing as to who was to blame for the accident.

“The four men then drove off and Huneby said ‘those guys might be looking for my whiskey.’ He got his gun out of his car and fired twice, killing the two Kangas men. The driver, fearing for their lives, drove to Hillview and there called the authorities.

“One Waino Kangas was the son of Matt Kangas of Paddock Township and the other the son of Henry Kangas of Red Eye Township, Wadena.

“Huneby was hunted by the law, but was not found. Then, rather than give himself over to the law, Huneby committed suicide with a 44 revolver a few months later. His body was found in Sect. 2 of Butler Township by Albert DeClerk on Sept. 10, 1933, who was looking for a freshened cow.

“During the time that Huneby hid in the woods he was given food by someone, as there were newspapers found with food scraps on them. The name had been torn off the paper so as not to identify who brought him food.”

From information in the Perham Bulletin, and the “East Otter Tail County History Volume I, 1977.”

Lina Belar is the founder and retired director of the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County.

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September 18, 2014

Football in Perham’s early days

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In 1932, Perham High School graduate, Fritz Hanson, set a standard for excellence on the football field that has been difficult for other Yellowjacket stars to duplicate.

After graduation, Hanson went to North Dakota State University, then to the Canadian Football League, where he became a charter member of the league’s Hall of Fame.

During the 1940s and ‘50s, Ted Meinhover coached the teams at Perham High School. His 1950 team was undefeated and unscored upon.

Larry Hauer coached the Yellowjackets in the 1960s, and they dominated the Heart O’Lakes conference. Under Hauer’s direction, PHS graduated its first and only Division I player, Dennis Drummond. Drummond started as a linebacker for the Colorado Buffalos for two years.

In 1982, under the direction of Bob Wilkowski, PHS was undefeated during the regular season, finishing at 9-1.

The 1989 team, coached by Fred Sailer, finished runner-up in the State Championship played at the Metrodome. The Yellowjackets entered the game with a 12-1 record, earning their way to the dome with two dramatic play-off wins over LaSalle and Deer River by identical scores of 10-7.

The Yellowjackets play their games at Ted Meinhover Field.

From information in the “1994 East Otter Tail History Book, Volume I.”

Lina Belar is the founder and retired director of the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County.

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September 11, 2014

History of the Perham United Methodist Church

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A Methodist house of worship has been on the corner of 4th Ave. SE and 2nd St. SE in Perham for 131 years. The congregation was officially organized in 1882 with the Rev. Fred Post presiding.

The trustees named were Charles H. Tuesley (attorney), Andrew McCrady (saw mill owner), George F. Russell, John Kennedy and Amanda E. Butler (teacher).

The original white frame building, erected in the fall of 1882, was 24×44’. It served the congregation for 91 years.

In those days, pastors often served several congregations, traveling by horse and buggy or train.

The Perham parish included Richville members for most of 1906 to 1985. Dent was part of the parish from 1915 to 1917, and also from 1939 to the present (1994).

The congregation has owned five different parsonages. The first parsonage was built next to the church in 1903. In 1939, an annex was added to the original 1882 building, with members providing the labor.

A 50th anniversary celebration was held in August of 1933. Three hundred people attended a picnic at Lake Marion, including a charter member of the church, Steve Butler.

In 1961, during the ministry of the Rev. Charles E. Pieh, the congregation and Sunday school grew too large for the building. A Christian education building was built in 1965, and a new sanctuary in 1973.

In 1968, on a national level, the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church joined to become the United Methodist Church.

In 1982, the United Methodist Church celebrated its 100th year. Bishop Emerson S. Colaw led 200 people in worship at a centennial celebration, which was held July 25 of that year.

From the 1994 “East Otter Tail History Book, Volume I.” Lina Belar is the founder and retired director of the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County.

History,Perham

August 28, 2014

A history of Young’s Jobbing House

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Henry Mathias Young lived from 1870 to 1944. He was born in Chaska, Minn., the son of Henry Young and Magdelena Iltis.

Nicknamed “Brigham,” he was married in 1893 to Bertha Schaler. He owned a confectionary store and was an insurance agent for the Chaska area before moving to Perham, where he founded Young’s Jobbing House in 1896.

Henry Mathias Young, the founder of Young’s Jobbing House.

The couple’s five children were Mabel, Clarice, Norman, Harold and Kenneth Young.

Albert G. Rotta came from Germany and worked ten years for Standard Oil in North Dakota before moving to Perham in 1928. It was Ernst Mueller (Rotta’s uncle, a pioneer of Perham) who influenced Rotta to go into business for himself. Rotta bought Young’s Jobbing House, at that time a small operation housed in a 22×44 foot building.

The Great Depression, during which all three of Perham’s banks failed, hit just as Rotta was getting started. He managed to survive and built Young’s Jobbing House into a large and highly profitable operation over the years. He also purchased Wadena Fountain and Supply, Thief River Jobbing and Bemidji Candy Company. He sold the Bemidji business to Lyle Caughey, son of a well-known Perham policeman, Otis Caughey.

Rotta was a busy man, but he took time to be on the school board, fair board and other city projects. He was a generous (and often anonymous) contributor to worthy causes and was noted for his good and fair treatment of his employees. He died in 1961.

His son, Albert A. Rotta, continued in the business until his death. His widow, Rita, and a son, David, continued Young’s Jobbing House until it closed.

From information in the “1994 East Otter Tail History Book, Volume II.” Photo and bio of Henry Young from the Robertson Register of Historical Photographs. Lina Belar is the founder and retired director of the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County.

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August 21, 2014

Oil era: 47 years of Nundahl Oil

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In 1945, Bernie Nundahl Sr. and his wife, Sadie, came to Perham from Minneapolis, Minn., and purchased the Phillips 66 Station and bulk plant from Ziegler and Johnson. Bernie’s goal was to sell more than a million gallons of gas and fuel in a year.

With four road constructions going and much farm trade, the heating fuel and gas pumps at the station were kept active from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m., making that dream come true.

Nundahl Oil was the first Perham dealer to install a metering system on their delivery trucks. As distributors, they supplied many of the Philips 66 dealers in the area and also supplied aviation fuel to Park Rapids, New York Mills, Wadena, Henning, Evansville, Detroit Lakes and Perham – where they had pumps and tanks at the airport. The shop at the station was a busy place, with repairs, tires and oil sales.

After serving three years in the Navy, Bernie Jr. joined his father in the business in 1946. Bernie Sr. retired in 1952, selling the business and leasing the station to his sons, Bernie Jr. and Vernon.

At this time, Ed Beringer became a partner. Bernie Sr. died in April 1954, at the age of 48. Ed Beringer retired in 1971, to recover from a heart attack, and moved to California. Vernon worked part-time at the Perham Post Office, eventually selling his share of the partnership to Bernie Jr.

In 1979, the Nundahl Oil building at West Main was purchased by Bauck Chevrolet. The business was moved to 210 E. Main, where Bernie Jr. and his wife, Jan, continued to operate the station along with the bulk plant (which had relocated to the industrial park).

Bernie Jr. and Jan retired in January 1992, ending the Nundahl Oil Company era after 47 years.

Bernie Nundahl submitted this information for the “1994 East Otter Tail History Book, Volume II.” Lina Belar is the founder and retired director of the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County. An exhibit about the early gas stations of Perham is currently on display at the History Museum.

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August 14, 2014

The Palubicki merchants

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In the early 1900s, Jacob Palubicki and his brother John started a business in Perham, selling general merchandise and groceries at the corner of West Main and 2nd Avenue SW. In 1913, John moved to Montana, but “Jake” continued in business until he sold out in 1930 due to illness.

After finishing high school and two years of college, Jake’s son, Bernard, got the urge to follow in his father’s footsteps. He bought the Red and White Grocery in the Bauck building from Leon Ceynowa in 1937, taking on the Red Owl franchise in 1938.

Adjoining the Red Owl was the Perham Department Store, owned by Bernard’s aunt, Ann Mohr, who was also his bookkeeper.

In 1959, Bernard and his wife, Esther, took on an extensive remodeling project, expanding and converting their store into a modern “self-service” supermarket. They absorbed the area formerly occupied by the Perham Department Store and Bauck’s Hardware storage, plus a new warehouse addition in back of the Bauck building. The Red Owl corporation honored the Palubickis via KCMT-TV in conjunction with their grand opening in October 1959.

In the 1970s the Palubicki Red Owl was recognized for operating one of the top three meat departments in the Red Owl firm’s 300-store territory. Norbert Mikula was the meat department manager for 15 years.

In 1971, after four years of college and three years in the U.S. Army, Bernard’s son, Dick, returned to Perham and joined his father, taking over as owner in 1974. Dick and his wife, Karen, ran the store until the Red Owl Corporation was bought out by Super Valu in 1988. Due to this change, and the lack of customer parking, Dick sold the business and became owner of the Super 8 Motel. He also became part owner and manager of the Super America gas station and convenience store in Perham.

Bernard’s youngest son, James, was also in the retail food business, in Fosston, Minn.

Merchandising was an important part of the career of Palubicki’s daughter, Ann Marie. She and her husband, Bill Hughes, owned and operated the Hughes Department store for many years on Main Street, in the location now occupied by Lakes Café.

Bernard’s youngest brother, Michael, was also a food retailer. After serving with the U.S. Army in World War II, he returned to Perham and spent a few years learning the grocery business from Bernard. In 1949, with Bernard’s help, he bought the Red Owl in Aitkin, Minn. and operated it until his death in 1970.

Mike’s widow, Marge (Pawlowski), with the help of their sons Greg and Phil, continued in business and eventually built a modern new supermarket. After Marge’s death in 1978, Greg took over the Aitkin store and Phil bought the Red Owl in International Falls.

“Jake” would have been proud to see so many of his descendants inheriting his business ability.

Bernard and Esther Palubicki submitted this information for the “1994 East Otter Tail History Book, Volume II.” Lina Belar is the founder and retired director of the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County.