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Observations from the archives, 2003: Vikingland Games held in Alexandria

1913, 100 years ago: When the fire whistle blew at midnight, the people who heard it hastened to the place of the fire. It was a vacant, old shack near the electric light plant, and the loss was not great. While this was going on, the Eagle Clothing Co. was broken into and some cash was taken along with a considerable amount of clothing. At the same time, the safe of Moses Robinson was cracked open and about $10 to $15 taken from it. Entrance was made through a rear window in Frank Olson's tin shop. Here a heavy hammer and a large file were taken. No clue to the guilty parties is known at this time, although it is rumored that a suspicious character was seen at the time.

1963, 50 years ago: Fire of undetermined origin completely destroyed Hake's Variety Store and left adjacent buildings damaged by smoke and water. Loss was estimated at $250,000 for the Hake building alone. At the peak of the blaze the fire exploded through the roof and leaped 250 feet in the air before members of the Alexandria Fire Department brought the blaze under control. At the point of the explosion it was feared the blaze would spread and destroy the Gamble store to the immediate north, the Stoppel building and the new Carlson's Music Center building to the immediate south. The Garfield Fire Department assisted. According to Rodney Hake, vice-president of the corporation, no merchandise or fixtures were salvaged but quick work by the firemen saved many of the company papers. An upstairs apartment occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Walter Palm was destroyed. Mr. Palm is a Soo Line station agent. The Navy Recruiting office, also located on the second floor, was destroyed. Gambles, Diekman Jewelry, Agnes and Mildred's dress shop, and the upstairs apartments in the Stoppel building sustained smoke and water damage.

1988, 25 years ago: At least a third of Douglas Furniture's roof was ripped off by a rainy wind storm that battered the Alexandria area. The store, located just off South Highway 29, was one of several businesses heavily damaged by 90 mph winds. Preliminary figures indicate the total damage could easily top $100,000. Stub's Marine reported about $35,000 in damage. The owners of Douglas Furniture, Doug and Jolaine Anderson, estimated $20,000 (not counting the ruined roof), including damage to the inside of the store and its contents. A Cessna Skyhawk II was wrenched from its moorings at the Alexandria Municipal Airport. Another airplane, a Beechcraft, also lost its landing gear in the storm. Damage was also reported by Western Lumber Company, Festival Foods grocery, Saar Motor Sales and there were downed trees and wires on the north shore of Lake L'Homme Dieu and east of Alexandria on Lake Victoria.

2003, 10 years ago: The fourth annual Olympic-style Vikingland Games were being held for area residents and visitors age 50 and older. The games began with a golf tournament and continued with bowling, horseshoes, track and field, cards, billiards, trap shooting and basketball, among others.

Just for fun - 100 years ago, 1913: The Ladies Aid of the West Moe Church will have a social gathering at the home of Mr. and Mrs. John C. Egeberg where they will serve dinner and other refreshments in the afternoon. The Rev. Magelsen and Pro. Ristad will be there and give speeches. The proceeds will go toward a pipe organ for the church. All are cordially invited.

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Rachel Barduson of Alexandria is a regular contributing columnist to the Echo Press Opinion page.