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Title: "Dakota Datebook -- North Dakota Stories from Prairie Public"

Editor: David Haeselin

Publisher: The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota, 2019

North Dakota Prairie Public Radio each day runs a brief story about someone who lives or lived in North Dakota or about an event that took place in North Dakota, some from older times and some relatively current. They are generally read on the day the event took place or on a significant date in the person’s life. They are all read on air without taking much time, as most stories are no more then one or two pages long.

David Haeselin, who has a Ph.D. in literary and cultural studies, is an instructor in the English Department at the University of North Dakota. Haeselin worked with 16 student editors to compile and select 365 stories for this book, what I hope will be the first compilation of several volumes of "Dakota Datebook" featuring unique stories that have been broadcast on Prairie Public Radio every day since the early 2000s. Certainly there are more stories to be published.

With every month being a new chapter, and every day being a new story, this book is fun, entertaining and interesting. Let me share with you a glimpse of a few of these stories.

08 JAN – “The United Nations declared 1975 International Woman’s Year. The woman chosen for North Dakota’s special honor was Minnie Craig…” She was the first woman elected as Speaker of the House in 1933 when our Legislature held its first and only session in Bismarck’s newly completed War Memorial Building, the Capitol having burnt down in December 1932.

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10 JAN –In 1923 a bill was introduced in the state Senate “aimed at the Ku Klux Klan and prohibiting the wearing of a mask, regalia, or other head covering in public.” The bill quickly passed both houses in late January. It is interesting a bill was passed in the 2019 session banning the wearing of masks during the commission of a criminal offense.

14 MAR – On this day in 1953 a bill was signed into law banning the sale of candy cigarettes. As a kid I never tried to smoke one. Perhaps they should have tried to ban the smoking of “Pig Weed,” as that was something I did try. This law remained on the books until 1967.

25 JUN – On this day in 2015, Henry “Bud” Wildfang died at age 99. His remains are interred in our State Veterans Cemetery. Born in Bismarck and raised in Sterling, Wildfang served for 37 years as a Marine Corps pilot. “He racked up an astounding 24,000 hours in the cockpit, qualifying in twenty-one different aircraft. Bud was awarded five Distinguished Flying Crosses, twenty-nine Air Medals, and the Purple Heart.”

05 DEC – In 1930 in Anamoose, a 21-year-old daughter shot and killed her 66-year-old father while he was taking a nap. He was a cruel man who beat his wife and children and threatened them with violence. Although she confessed, her lawyer argued at her trial she was not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. She was found guilty and sentenced to 18 years in prison. The late Dan Chapman handled a similar case in Kidder County in the 1970s. A woman, who with her children was repeatedly and severely beaten for years, finally had enough. One night she shot and killed her husband. She called her family to tell them what she had done, and she called the funeral home before she called the sheriff. Chapman said he could not use the insanity defense. At the trial all the facts came out about his conduct. Chapman even called Burleigh County Judge Dennis Schneider as a witness for the defense as he had been threatened by the deceased. She was found not guilty. When I was on the bench near the end of my second term, I noticed an obituary about a woman from Steele who had died. I checked with the court reporter who took down all the testimony, and she told me this was the woman who was found not guilty. What I found remarkable about her obituary was the line that read, “she was predeceased by her husband.”

31 DEC – I was pleased to see the last story in this book was about my friend Chief Justice James Morris, who retired after 30 years on our Supreme Count on this day in 1964. I met him in 1959 when he swore in me and the other Boys State elected officials in June 1959. Like me, he served one term as attorney general before being elected to the bench. A World War I veteran and Legionnaire, he died in 1980.

The stories written by 27 authors are all well-written, interesting and informative. This book is an easy read, and since each story stands on its own, you can pick it up and start reading at any point. It is a fun and enjoyable book. My only regret is that there is no index, which is very helpful whenever one reads nonfiction.

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Bob Wefald is a retired North Dakota State District Court judge, former attorney general and a retired Navy Captain.

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