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Paper insiders recall former haunts

This column is called Neighbors because it's about people from the area covered by The Forum.

But the Valley City (N.D.) Times-Record once had a column with a more original name. It was called "The Boid Peeps." The reason? It was written by Gerrie Sparrow.

But when Gerrie married Ken Anderson, she had to change the column's name. She made it "My Say," a takeoff on Eleanor Roosevelt's column, "My Day."

Gerrie, who also once worked for the Lidgerwood (N.D.) Monitor, and Ken, both 85, had long careers in the newspaper business. Now they're retired and living near Battle Lake, Minn.

They're faithful Forum readers. "I more or less grew up with The Forum on a farm near Grand Rapids, N.D.," Ken writes.

Among items of interest to the Andersons were recent Neighbors stories that led Ken to reminisce via e-mail:

Concerning former Fargo-Moorhead cafes: "When we lived in Barnesville (they published the Record-Review there from 1953 to 1966), our big night out was dinner (or supper) at the Silver Moon in Moorhead. It was operated by Bill Kenney. The big treat was a Silver Moon Special, which consisted of a 10- or

12-ounce filet for $2.50.

"If we wanted to move up the social ladder a bit, we would go to the Tree Top Room on the top of the Frederick Martin Hotel. That was real class. Food was a little more expensive, but still very reasonable."

Concerning the Powers Hotel in Fargo - for their honeymoon, Ken and Gerrie "missed Cancun, Hawaii and Europe, and all the other exotic places that are common honeymoon destinations for today's young people," Ken says.

Instead, they stayed at the River Inn in Fergus Falls, Minn., then spent three days at the Powers, then two days at the Graystone Hotel in Detroit Lakes, Minn.

"It was a low-budget honeymoon," he says.

A column about former North Dakota Gov. Bill Guy's visit to what used to be the Powers Coffee Shop brought back "special memories of the hotel and the fine coffee shop," Ken says. "By a strange coincidence, Bill's son Bill Jr. is our family attorney. Nice guy."

The Andersons started in the newspaper business by publishing the Review in Battle Lake in 1949. Then they ran the papers at Barnesville and, later, Windom, Minn.

"Those were letterpress days, a far cry from the computer age," he says, accurately.

"We tried to make our papers reader friendly with a lot of names and unusual incidents," he says. "We tried for a down-home style of writing."

Neighbors suspects they did a good job of it, starting with Gerrie's first "peep" from "the Boid."