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25 Years Ago-1993

The Mandan Finder general manager Greg Moore has received the “Big Dog Award,” which is symbolic of being named Shopper of the Year among the 18 shoppers owned by Lee Enterprises Inc., stretching from Iowa to Arizona. Shoppers were judged on revenue growth, community involvement and special projects. Mandan’s Finder shopper was originally published in 1976 by John Maher, who owned a similar publication at Bowman. The Finder, along with the Mandan News and Dakota West Printing, was sold to Lee Enterprises Inc. in September 1988.

Funerals this week:

Jason Esson, 93, New Hope, Minn.; raised, educated Duluth. Served with U.S. Army engineering battalion during World War I. Moved to Mandan in 1920s. Married Josephine Hoffman in 1930. Worked for Burlington Northern Railroad, retiring as freight conductor in 1970. Moved to New Hope after death of wife in 1989. Survivors include one son and his family.

Tony Meuchel, 79, New Salem; raised, educated in Judson area. Worked on farms in Montana, Washington and Oregon, then back to Mandan in late 1930s. Purchased his father’s farm near Judson in 1943, where he farmed and ranched until present. Survivors include his wife, two sons, two daughters and their families, three sisters.

Earle Toepke, 84, New Salem; raised, educated near Judson. Attended Hanson Auto School, Fargo, returning to New Salem in 1928, and worked for New Salem Chevrolet garage. Married Dorothy Backsen in 1933. Began his own business, Toepke’s Garage, in 1935, renamed Toepke Chevrolet in 1938. Retired in 1992. Survivors include his wife, three sons and their families, two sisters.

Temperatures Tuesday, Dec. 28: a high of 2 degrees; 21 degrees below zero for the low.

50 Years Ago-1968

Area residents joined the nation in listening to reports from the astronauts aboard Apollo 8, whose mission was broadcast on all three television networks, 24 hours a day, from liftoff Dec. 21 until mission’s end on Dec. 27. Spectators paused from their workday activities to watch a powerful Saturn rocket launch astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders on a 230,000-mile journey through space to be the first to orbit the moon.

A live transmission from the spacecraft on Christmas Eve gave viewers a closeup of the moon’s surface, followed by the astronauts’ incredible view of Earth rising above the lunar surface, which caused Lovell to say, “The Earth from here is a grand oasis in the big vastness of space.”

A new corporation, headed by Charles J. Whittey of Bismarck, has purchased Riedinger Motors Inc. at 110 Fifth Ave. N.W., Mandan. The new firm, dealer for Chrysler and Plymouth cars and Dodge trucks, is called Mandan Chrysler- Plymouth Inc. The firm has also leased property on West Main Street, across from Foremost Foods, for a used car lot. A grand opening will be held in January after remodeling is completed at the Mandan headquarters.

Mandan High School senior Gary Wood, son of Mr. and Mrs. Kent Wood, has been named the local winner of the Voice of Democracy Contest sponsored by the Mandan Veterans of Foreign Wars. Gary was presented his $25 prize at a VFW meeting and will now be entered into state competition.

The Mandan Jaycees “Be A Good Neighbor” drive for 1968 has closed down, according to chairman Henry Beckler. This year’s donation of $931 enabled the Jaycees to deliver 35 baskets of food, clothing and other items to area needy families and to also accompany 35 youngsters on a shopping tour in which each youngster spent $10 for a winter cap, gloves and overshoes.

75 Years Ago-1943

With the war raging throughout Europe, Asia and the Pacific, and with no end in sight, it appeared to be a sad Christmas for many soldiers who were separated from their families this Christmas. There seemed to be no “Peace on Earth” message this year.

However, in spite of all the gloomy wartime news, a group of women in Mandan, headed by Mrs. G.A. Steinbrueck, decided to make this Christmas extra special by bringing wrapped packages of homemade cookies and candy bars to the soldiers arriving at the Mandan Depot. “Although we can’t change the train’s destination, we can certainly delay its arrival there for one historical moment,” said Mrs. Steinbrueck.

After the call for donations went out over the local KGCU radio station and through the Pioneer newspaper, Mandan housewives brought more than 56,000 homemade cookies for wrapping at the Memorial Building. A committee was also formed to persuade businessmen to donate the largest decorated pine tree possible and brace it securely on the depot platform. The Knights of Columbus, who had been conducting a canteen service near the depot for the past year, also offered to contribute free sandwiches, a bottle of milk and a cup of coffee.

As troop trains approached the station, railroad officials telephoned one of the churches and soon church bells rang throughout Mandan, heralding the approach of the first of many trains coming into the depot. Hundreds of Mandan citizens, choral groups and even Santa Claus himself gathered at the depot platform to greet the surprised soldiers. The sounds of Christmas carols soon filled the air as hundreds of smiling faces gathered to wish a “Merry Christmas!” to these young men and women. Soon, the soldiers forgot their destinations as they too joined in the singing and exchanged names and addresses, while consuming gallons of coffee and hundreds of sandwiches.

As the servicemen boarded the train, Santa Claus and his Mandan elves distributed wrapped gifts of cookies and candy bars to each soldier, along with a stamped postcard to mail to relatives back home.

The message of “Peace on Earth” had visited the soldiers at the Mandan depot after all.

100 Years Ago-1918

“The Missouri River is freezing over and is commencing to ‘back up.’ It is thought horses and sleighs will be able cross the ice to the Bismarck side of the river in a short time.

“Born this week to Mr. and Mrs. Anton Beehler, of St. Anthony, a son.

“Carl Keidel of this city and Henry Oren of Huff arrived last night from Camp Dodge where they returned from New York to be mustered out of the service. They were on one of the transports that were turned back on the day the armistice was signed.

“The first boys from overseas to pass through Mandan were on the No. 3 train this morning on their way to Camp Lewis Washington, where they will be mustered out of the service. There were about 100 soldiers on the train.

“A number of Mandan boys arrived at various ports from overseas this week. Telegrams have been received from James Fitzsimmons who landed in New York; from Chris Knoll, son of Andrew Knoll, also in New York; from Claude Funden who was in Hoboken; and from Joe Fisher, son of Frank Fisher, Harmon, now at Camp Merritt.

“Christmas Day services began at St. Joseph’s Church at 12 midnight; followed by 6 a.m. Shepherd’s Mass; 8 a.m. Early Mass; 9 a.m. Children’s Mass; and a 10:30 a.m. Solemn High Mass with sermon and benediction, along with a special Christmas offering or promise of Liberty bonds to apply on parish indebtedness.”

125 Years Ago-1893

“On Thursday, Dec. 28, at 2:30 p.m., the thermometer recorded 26 degrees above zero.

“At Christmas Day, at St. Joseph’s church, High Mass was celebrated at 6 o’clock in the morning, a Low Mass at 8:30 and a High Mass again at 10:30. Rev. Lemieux was the celebrant each time, and there were large congregations at each service.

“At the Roman Catholic church, the children were treated to an old-fashioned Christmas tree, surrounded by small gifts supplied by parents and friends. Mr. T.C. Kennelly was the Santa Claus and his jolly manner won the hearts and cheers of the children. Before the arrival of Santa Claus, there was a program of recitations and singing.

“At the Methodist church, the children of that Sunday School were the recipients of gifts from a Christmas boat which was handsomely decorated for the occasion and from which the children sang their carols and recited selections of prose and verse.

“The children, with their parents and friends, of Christ Church Episcopal Sunday School were delightfully entertained by Mr. and Mrs. H.R. Lyon at their home on Wednesday evening. After a program of carols and recitations, each child was given a stocking filled with fruit, bon-bons and a book.

“A jolly party drove their sleighs to Fort Lincoln last night and danced in the Custer house. There were about 30 couples, and the drive and dance were much enjoyed.”

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Diane Boit was raised and educated in the Red River Valley before coming to Mandan with her family in 1970. She has been involved with the Bismarck-Mandan newspapers for more than 30 years. She can be reached at