From the Echo Press archives, 1971: Santa arrives via huskie dog team

This week in history in Douglas County.

This Week in 1971 – 50 years ago: A team of professional burglars ransacked two businesses in Evansville and escaped with nearly $6,000 in merchandise. Hardest hit was Ostrom’s Hardware. The thieves forced open the front door and made off with $4,000 worth of merchandise. Over 40 items were stolen, including the store’s entire inventory of men’s and women’s snowmobile suits, five portable color television sets, two black and white TV sets, a stereo player and speakers, four small radios, two chain saws, two mixers and two electric knives. The burglars also struck Johnson’s Implement across the street from Vern Ostrom’s store. Snowmobile suits were the main target there too. Owner Arlynn Johnson said some 25-30 suits were taken from a front rack in the store. Johnson, who is in partnership with his brother DeLoyd, estimated the stolen merchandise at about $1,500.

1971, 50 years ago: Alexandria motorists did a classic double-take when they saw Santa Claus driving up Broadway behind a team of huskies. He stopped in front of the Andria Theatre just in time to greet the kids attending the free movie sponsored by the Alexandria Police Station. Some 1,000 youngsters saw the show “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” starring Don Knotts. The beautiful huskie dog team belongs to the popular entertainer Ardis Wells of Alexandria. She raises and trains the animals at her home. The visit of Santa, along with Miss Wells and her team of huskies, was arranged at the request of the Alexandria Area Chamber of Commerce.

1981, 40 years ago: Minnesota Department of Transportation workers erected city limits signs listing the 1980 population figure of 7,608. The old signs, which listed the 1970 population figure of 6,973, were taken down and given a facelift before being returned by workers.

1996, 25 years ago: The Alexandria Super 8 will offer free accommodations on Christmas Eve to out-of-town friends or relatives of patients in nearby hospitals and nursing homes. The Super 8’s 7th annual “Rooms at the Inn” holiday program is designed to bring family and friends together during the holidays by removing the cost of a motel room. Last year some 500 Super 8s throughout the U.S. and Canada donated 1,397 rooms.

The Alexandria H & R Block complex was named the 1996 Franchise of the Year for the Minnesota-Wisconsin region. Elaine Mounsdon accepted the award (for the second consecutive year) at the Satellite Franchise convention in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Mounsdon also received one of the top four public relations awards.


2011, 10 years ago: Alexandria was one of 140 communities that the Canadian Pacific’s Holiday Train rolled through this year with its mission of “making a difference, one stop at a time.” The Holiday Train is North America’s longest running food pantry fundraiser. Since 1999, it has entertained thousands while raising more than $5.6 million and generating more than 2.45 million pounds of food donations for local food shelves. Canadian Pacific donated $1,000 to the Douglas County Outreach Food Shelf.

Just For Fun, 1971 – 50 years ago: Perhaps one of the more uncomfortable positions a driver can twist himself into is the one assumed when attempting to mail a letter through the right car window at the mail drop near the post office on 7th Avenue. That agonizing situation may be corrected, after the city council adopted a resolution urging the post office to place left window mail depositories at the entrance and exit of the parking lot behind the post office.

Sports Trivia, 1996 – 25 years ago: The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has recommended a 28% increase in game and fish licenses. Without further revenue, the DNR claims, program and staff reductions could result. The State Legislature will act upon the request in January.

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

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