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Mandan Theatre

1936: Mandan Theatre drawing.

25 Years Ago-1993

After 57 years of providing weekly movies to area residents, Mandan’s Academy Theater officially closed as of Sunday, Sept. 12, following the showing of Disney Studio’s “Aladdin” and Sylvester Stallone’s “Cliffhanger.” The Minneapolis-based Midco Theatre’s planned expansion in Bismarck’s Gateway theater complex spurred the decision to also close the Dakota Theater in downtown Bismarck.

When the Mandan Theatre opened in 1936, it was considered one of the most modern in the state with excellent acoustics and an unusually large seating capacity of 600. The theater was taken over in 1974 by Jerry Brekke, who converted it into the Showboat Cinema, then added another screen in 1976, renaming the theaters Showboat Twin Cinemas. However, increased competition from Bismarck theaters forced the Showboat to close on Christmas Day, 1986. Midcontinent Theatres reopened the cinema in early 1987, but despite offering cheap ticket prices, the theater was unable to show a profit.

Funerals this week:

Magdalena (Lipp) Friesz, 76, Mandan; raised, educated at Solen. Married Alois “Ole” Friesz in 1938. Farmed in Solen area, moving to Mandan in 1983. A member of Solen Christian Mothers and St. Maria’s Verein. Was a homemaker most of her life. Survivors include her husband, one son and his family, two brothers, four sisters.

Gwendolyn (Gray) Geiss, 72, Mandan; raised, educated in Mandan, graduated from Mandan High School. Married Adam Geiss in 1955. Worked as secretary for Montana-Dakota Utilities, Missouri Valley Motors and Mandan Abstract, retiring in 1992. A member of Legion, Elks and Eagles auxiliaries. Survivors include:one son, Adam, Mandan, and his family, one brother, one sister.

Temperatures recorded Tuesday, Sept. 14: a high of 50 degrees; 28 degrees for the low.

50 Years Ago-1968

On Friday, Aug. 30, almost 14 years after its dedication, the American Oil Co. Refinery, north of Mandan, processed its 200 millionth barrel of North Dakota crude oil. Standard Oil dedicated the state’s first major refinery at Mandan on Oct. 2, 1954. It was also the first company to market petroleum products in the state in 1893.

To celebrate the occasion, the refinery gave away a television set and four radios with a drawing by refinery manager Roy Giles, assisted by Jack Swenson of the North Dakota Oil and Gas Association.

First-place winner and recipient of the TV set was Curtiss Parrott, of Mandan. Radio winners were J.H. Ackerman, John Haig and Wilbert Wagner, all of Bismarck, and Charles Howes, Mandan.

Funeral services were held at Mandan’s Presbyterian Church for Roy F. Dow, 77. Dow lived at 305 Third Ave. N.W. and had been Mandan’s assistant postmaster until 1956. He served in World War I, was a member of the Masonic Lodge, El Zagel Shrine of Fargo, the Order of Eastern Star and a lifelong member of the Elks and the American Legion. Survivors include his wife, Cora, two daughters and their families, and two brothers.

75 Years Ago-1943

The National Catholic Women’s Union says that styles of women’s clothes since Pearl Harbor“ have become progressively more offensive.” At its annual meeting, they asserted that “costumes for sport and play have become shamelessly brief, and skirts have long been raised above the limits dictated by modesty. The union is appealing to all Catholic organizations to “join forces in a campaign for decency in dress.”

Armed forces news:

“Sgt. Neal Van Eyk, of the Mandan company of the State Guard, won top honors in gunnery contests held during the weekend overnight hike of the unit, camped a short distance west of the city. The gunnery contests utilized both shotguns and machine guns. Other winners in the contests were Private Clem Albers, second place; Capt. Herman Uden, third place; and Private John Pennington, fourth place.

“Jacob Neidhardt Sr., of Hebron, received word that his son, Master Sgt. Jacob Neidhardt of the Air Corps, now stationed in North Africa, had received a broken arm a few weeks ago. He did not receive his injury in the line of duty however, but in a game of baseball. Neidhardt trained in England before going to Africa.

“Pfc. Jacob M. Froelick, son of Mr. and Mrs. Mike Froelik Sr., is in Africa. He writes that he has made several trips to Cairo, and that recreation at the base is USO shows.

“Mrs. Fred Miller recently received a letter from her son, Pvt. Marvin D. Miller, who is stationed in England. He writes: ‘I thought I’d get to write sooner but they sent me to England, and it took some time to get here. Don’t worry. I’m still in one piece, and I like it over here a lot. The people here sure are glad to see American soldiers; they wave to us wherever we go. Some places we even got coffee and sandwiches.’

“Mrs. C.R. Huddelson has received a card from her husband, Capt. C.R. Huddleson, USMC, who is a prisoner of war in a Japanese camp in the Philippines. This is the first direct word Mrs. Huddleson has had from her husband since the fall of the Philippines last year. The card is headed ‘Imperial Japanese Army’ and a typewritten message states that his health is good, that he is uninjured and well. Huddleson’s signature was on the card.”

100 Years Ago-1918

“Word has been received by John Reepsdorf, of New Salem, that his son, John, who was a member of the old Company I, Bismarck, had been killed in action in France on July 27.

“Peter Iverson, member of the 32nd Engineers, stationed at Camp Grant, is here on furlough to visit with his brother, I.C. Iverson.

“Word was received in the city late Saturday that Ira Place has been wounded. A short time ago, he was gassed but had recovered and was then sent back to his company.

“Twenty-six boys from south line towns — 14 from Hettinger County, 12 from Grant County — along with 20 draft boys from Mercer County, left Mandan last evening on the No. 1 train for Camp Lewis, Washington.

“The First National Bank is handing out some very attractive ink blotters with eight service stars, eight young men from this institution now being in the service.

News from Washington, D.C: “Director General William G. McAdoo has made an appeal to the people to avoid using passenger trains as much as possible and use their saved money to invest in Liberty Bonds. ‘Trains are already overcrowded due to transporting troops and war materials, and they must be given, at all times, the right of way,’ said McAdoo, adding, ‘It’s America’s public duty to refrain from traveling unnecessarily.’

125 Years Ago-1893

“On Thursday, Sept. 14, at 2:30 p.m., the thermometer recorded 82 degrees above zero.

“Several carloads of lumber were unloaded in the railroad yards near the machine shops and round house on Tuesday afternoon. It is to be used on re-flooring the roundhouse and other nearby buildings.

“Local railroad authorities are looking for 12,000 head of stock that are being driven to the Mandan stockyards from a section south of the Cave Hills, for shipment to Chicago.

“For the convenience of the public, a U.S. letter box will be placed on a pillar, about the center of the depot platform, ready for use beginning next Tuesday. The box will be emptied by the mail clerks on arrival of all trains.

“Rev. Daniel Cole of Chester, Pa., a missionary among colored people in the Methodist church, conducted a special service at the Methodist church here on Tuesday evening. Mr. Cole was a soldier in the Union army and fought with the 32nd Pennsylvania regiment. His special mission is among the colored people and where he finds enough of them in a town, he organizes a church for them.

“The editor of an exchange has discovered that this is a sort of a topsy-turvy world. One man is struggling for justice, while another flees from it. One man is saving to build a house, while another is trying to sell his house for less than it cost, to get rid of it. One man is spending all the money he can make in taking a girl to the theatre and sending flowers in hopes of eventually making her his wife, yet another is spending his gold to get a divorce. One man escapes all the diseases that a man is heir to and gets killed in a railroad accident, while another escapes the accident without a scratch and then dies of whooping cough.”

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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 dboit46@gmail.com.

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