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Observations from the archives, 1989: What caused mysterious explosion?

By Rachel Barduson - Echo Press Columnist

1914, 100 years ago: Upon urgent requests from a score of friends both in Douglas and Pope counties, E.E. Lobeck yesterday went and filed as candidate for the Senate from this district. Under no condition would he file before he knew what Senator Gunderson was going to do and when it was learned that Gunderson would not run again, the request from friends was renewed and Lobeck filed.

1964, 50 years ago: The Viking Sportsmen’s club announced that after vandals destroyed four of the nine Canadian geese originally stocked at Knute Nelson baseball park pond, a fund drive started in December has produced enough contributions to finance the purchase of 39 additional geese. The geese have now joined the four remaining from the original nine (one died later of injuries). All will remain indefinitely for the viewing enjoyment of the people of this area. The geese are pinioned so they cannot fly. The club is hoping natural reproduction will provide a continuous increase in the flock size. In other front page news, the apparent winner of the 1964 First Baby of the Year contest is David John Dynda, son of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Dynda of Hoffman. He was born on New Year’s Day.

1989, 25 years ago: Several holes in a double pane window at Ollie’s Auto Sales in Alexandria show where slugs entered the building and smacked into the business’ mechanical gorilla. Authorities speculate that a small-caliber automatic weapon, probably a pistol, was used to shoot the promotional display, valued at $1,400. Oliver Buse, owner of Ollie’s Auto Sales and the mechanical gorilla, said that it’s scary to think that somebody is running around with a gun doing that type of thing. He also voiced concern about what the person might do next. Ollie’s gorilla grew in popularity this last summer when a “Dress the Gorilla” contest was held. Several people and groups in the area took turns dressing up the 6-foot-tall mechanical figure in various outfits at the corner of 3rd and Nokomis in Alexandria. The slugs that tore through it destroyed its internal workings, so the gorilla now stands frozen in motion.

2004, 10 years ago: In response to budget cuts, the University of Minnesota Extension Service realigned its statewide offices. There had been an Extension office in each of Minnesota’s 87 counties. Now, there are just 18 regional offices across the state. The Alexandria office will remain open with a staff of 3.5 employees. The office previously had eight employees. The local satellite office will have a 4-H program coordinator, Jodi Hintzen; an administrative specialist, Kim Taveirne; a nutrition education assistant, Karen Block; and a consumer horticulturist, who hasn’t been hired yet. Extension Director Lori Anderson didn’t take a job with the revised Extension service, instead accepting another position in Alexandria. Four other employees, LeRoy Williams, Blaine Hansel, Audrey Knollenberg and Cindy Bigger will also be leaving the Extension office.

Just for fun – 1989, 25 years ago: Many Douglas County residents are mystified as to what caused an ear-shattering explosion in the air somewhere above Lakes Carlos and Darling. The loud noise occurred about 9:15 p.m. and was heard as far away as East Lake Ida. Some thought it was a meteorite crashing to earth, some thought it was a bomb, others thought it was an airplane crashing. So far, not a shred of evidence has turned up to support any of the big bang theories. Sheriff Terry Eilers said he thinks the noise and the flash were nothing more mysterious than plain old thunder and lightning.

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