Trains, buses, fine music and old friends. Mom heads to Fargo for my brother’s Concordia College music recital.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

By Liz Taylor

March 5, 1980

Mouse River Farmers Press


                When I decided to go to Moorhead to take in son Justin’s sophomore flute recital, I felt the drive in a car would be tedious, so I decided to go by train or bus. I called the train depot in Rugby, nearest stop, to check on connections. I soon found they had all the connections, and I had none!

                Some major changes have occurred in our North Dakota passenger trains in the past several years. Major changes seem to hinge around the fact that the name has gone from “Great Northern” to “Burlington-Northern” to “Amtrak” with one less day of service per week for each name. Also, the name may have been changed with the hope that it would be lost in the phone book. Amtrak has a toll free number that is always busy.

                Since I wanted to go to Fargo on Saturday and come back on Monday, the gentleman at the depot rose to the occasion and advised me that the eastbound train only stopped on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, in the middle of the night.

                ‘Starline’ bus service offered a good deal, leave from Towner at 5:30 p.m., arrive in Fargo at about 11:30 p.m. after changing buses in Grand Forks. On the return trip, I could leave Fargo at about 7:30 a.m. and arrive in Towner at 2:30 p.m. with a one hour stop and change in Grand Forks.

                Since Winona Haman was going to meet me in Moorhead and take in the recital with me, I explored the possibility of going towards Bismarck with her on Monday and taking a bus from Jamestown to Drake. “Fine,” said the dispatcher, “We have three day service on that route, Monday, Wednesday and Friday…oh, wait, we don’t have service on holidays and Monday, February 18 is President’s Day. Which meant that I would have to return by way of Grand Forks, and I really didn’t mind the hour or so spent in the Grand Forks bus depot. They have three slot machines there; one for pop, one for cigarettes, and one for candy. I saw a kid hit the jackpot there and get a bar of candy!

                Actually, I enjoyed my trip by bus. It was still daylight for part of the trip from the Tastee Freez (local bus stop) in Towner on the Starline run, and I am a lover of North Dakota’s barren prairie landscape in the winter.

                We had about a half hour stop at a nice café in Devils Lake, and my two sisters from that area, Hjordis and Ruth, surprised me with a pleasant, though short, visit in the café. Ruth’s broken knee cap is healing nicely and she will be taking therapy to back in running shape.

                The Starline bus seemed to have the seats a little close together for my long legs, but it was not crowded with passengers. The Greyhound bus from Grand Forks to Fargo was roomier but it got so warm that I had to shed so many clothes to become comfortable that I feared arrest for indecent exposure.

                Justin met me at the Fargo bus depot at 11:30 p.m., where he had met Winona Haman at 4:30 p.m. She was waiting for me at the Ramada Inn in Moorhead, where she had passed the time reading a racy novel, and listening to people either partying or building cupboards in other rooms. The sounds were still going on after midnight.

                Justin’s recital wasn’t until Sunday afternoon, and we passed part of the time with a leisurely breakfast at the Village Inn Pancake House near the motel, with Bob and Beth Heintz of Fargo. Later, Mrs. Russell (Gwenith Kenny) Lee came to the motel and took me for a brief shopping excursion in Moorhead where the stores are open on Sunday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Winona waited in the motel where Mrs. Vic (Phyllis) Senechal of Perham, Minnesota, was going to join us to attend the recital. Her son, Kim, was Justin’s accompanist for part of the recital.

                I had not seen Phyllis for a number of years, and she looked grand, with the same wonderful sense of humor I had always enjoyed. I noticed that her hair, like mine, was getting gray, but not falling out. When you pass 40, you appreciate little things like that.

                Besides about three dozen students from the college, Bob and Beth Heintz, Phyllis Senechal, Gwenith Lee, Winona Haman, and I attended the recital at 4 p.m.

                I was very impressed by it, not only by Justin’s flute playing, but Kim Senechal’s spirited piano accompaniment on the first selections, and Twila Schock’s (Ashley, N.D.) equally fine accompaniment on the second half.

                For interested musicians, the selections were Concerto in G Major by Mozart, followed by an unaccompanied flute selection, Syrinx by Debussy, and Duo for Flute and Piano by Aaron Copland.

                I am always moved by a really fine musical performance, and this feeling was enhanced by the usual maternal pride. Besides being touched by Justin’s fine performance, I felt that Kim Senechal’s piano accompaniment, played with such verve and enthusiasm, was a remarkable feat in light of the difficulties he has had in recent years.

                As many of you may recall, Kim had his right leg amputated several years ago while the Senechals lived in Washington, D.C., area. Since that time, he has undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatments and is currently doing well. He is a handsome young man and is majoring in music at Concordia.

                An interesting sidelight was that until about December, neither Justin nor Kim knew that their mothers knew each other from Towner. Vic and Phyllis now live in Perham, Minnesota, the Russell Lees live in Moorhead, Bob and Beth Heintz still live in Fargo, and Winona Haman lives in Bismarck. All send their greetings to Towner friends and relatives.

                I received a letter today from Sigrid in Petersburg, Alaska, today, along the pickled herring recipe. I will share this with you after I get a little more information. Her recipe was something like those I find now and then of my mothers, a lot is left to the imagination.

                She also sent me a poem, no doubt inspired by my references to my housekeeping.  “Ode to a Dirty House, by Louise Dillon. With so many lovely things to do, Why should I waste my life on you?”

                Next week, “A journey to the past.”




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