From the Echo Press archives, 1972: Alexandria's Big Ole billed as 'Largest Santa in the World'

This week in history in Douglas County.

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Rachel Barduson
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This Week in 1972 – 50 years ago: All dressed up and no place to go, “Ole” the Viking donned his traditional holiday garb this week. Located on the north end of Broadway in Alexandria, he is billed as “The Largest Santa in the World.”

1962, 60 years ago: From Erc Aga’s column “Potpourri” – “Holy smokes, have you been in the new Ludke building out north of Highway 52? This is by far Alexandria’s largest building. It measures 260 feet by 242 feet. The firm has now moved out there and they are just getting settled. The building reminds one of about two Williams arenas. Four box cars can load or unload at one end — four big trucks at the other. Ludke’s employs 17 people and covers a 100-miles radius of Alexandria with their trucks and salesmen. Leonard Blade tells me he has no idea how many box cars or groceries the place will hold — but it’s several hundred. The old building on Broadway is now for sale, though it’s now used as a storage place for much of the city fire equipment, etc.”

1972, 50 years ago: Owners Pete and Dorothy Engh have about doubled their floor space in the former Engstrom building in the newly relocated Gambles store in Alexandria. The store has three shopping levels. The first floor of the store is the usual Gambles stock. The top floor is devoted to a new line of furniture and there is also merchandise in the balcony. The new Gambles is located at 607 Broadway.

Burglars picked up some cash and a couple of snowmobiles in an after-hours escapade in Evansville. Two used snow machines sitting outside of Johnson Implement were stolen. The Land O’Lakes Ag Center elevator reported $43.30 in cash and $210 in checks were taken following a break-in.

1997, 25 years ago: Cellular 2000/Rural Cellular Corporation (RCC) has added six additional cellular sites to their Minnesota operational service area. The Menahga, Red Lake Falls, Perham, Deer River, South Bemidji and Brandon cellular towers will improve cellular coverage for these six rural and surrounding areas. A 7th site, in downtown Roseau, was also expected to be up and running this week. RCC is headquartered in Alexandria and serves more than 100,000 customers.


2012, 10 years ago: Pastor Grant Aaseng, along with members of Shalom Lutheran Church, turned the first dirt in celebration of the expansion project to build a new sanctuary for Shalom. With assistance from WSN Architects and ORB Management, the Shalom members hope to have the new sanctuary completed and ready for use by June 2013. Shalom is at 800 County Road 44 NW.

The Alexandria’s Woman’s Club recently donated $200 to the Blue Star Mothers organization in Alexandria. The Woman’s Club raises money through various community fundraisers and donates this money to many local charities. The organization is part of the international organization of General Federation of Women’s Clubs. The Alexandria Woman’s Club strives to empower women and works to better the community.

Just for fun, 1962 – 60 years ago: About 200 parents who attended a special PTA-sponsored discussion, got plenty of answers to their questions on junior high dance parties and dating. The majority disapproved of dating in the 7th and 8th grades, and gave approval of junior high dance parties and dance classes in physical education. The moderators said the dance steps taught are “not the dance steps you see on American Bandstand.”

Sports Trivia, 1972 – 50 years ago: Terry Quist, sophomore offensive guard, was a member of the Concordia Cobbers football team this past fall. Quist played mostly on the specialty teams such as kick-off return. He is majoring in history and political science at Concordia and minoring in physical education. Concordia finished their 1972 season with a 6-3 record Jim Christopherson.

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

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This is a commentary from a reader that was submitted to the Opinion page. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.
This week in history in Douglas County.
The following is an opinion column written by an Echo Press editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.
This week in history in Douglas County.