Once Upon a Time in Albuquerque…

The house was brand new, built to  “order” as part of a builder’s development. The back wall of the yard was cinderblock, and beyond the wall was the school yard. Milly liked the idea of looking over the back wall and watching her children walk up to the doors of the school.

One of the big “selling points” for Macon Builders was the school. They were not in charge of building the school, but Macon could point to the brand-new school as an enticement to prospective buyers.

The school was supposed to be completed and open in the fall of 1964. Assorted strikes slowed the construction. Not only were there strikes involving different groups of workers on the project,  but the supply chain was in disarray. Some materials were in short supply because of different disputes with union workers.

Even though the construction was slow, the school attracted more families with small children to the area, and other subdivisions sprang up around it. When the school was finally completed and open in 1967, it was already far too small for the number of children in the area.

Two years later, they brought in portable classrooms. These portable classrooms were called “barracks buildings” by the community. No Army surplus was involved in the purchase, but the name stuck.

Barracks buildings provided extra classroom space at many schools in the district. Bringing in these fully-built units did not require the years of construction and cost-overrun it would take to add on to all of the schools. Everybody won with this arrangement — several of the school board members owned the company that provided the portable buildings.

These barracks buildings provided another purpose. Blocked from view with a cinderblock wall on one side and a square metal building on the other, an alley market sprang to life. Local preteens found it to be the perfect smoking section, free of prying adult eyes. Older teenagers bought, sold, and traded pot, pills, and pilferage.

Neighbors called the city to complain. The police were not interested in these petty complaints, as they were never able to catch any drug sales in the act. Due to the layout of the school yard, the teens could scatter before the cops could reach them. The school system shrugged it off. These problems were not happening during school hours, and the culprits were not their students. This is an elementary school, for goodness sake!

Summer dragged on. The neighborhood was losing patience with the situation. Now piles of trash were building up in the alleyway. As school was not in session, the school system did not have any groundskeepers actively policing the corners of the schoolyard.

Preteens smokers are careless. Being children, they don’t think consequences through very well. When they heard a noise and scattered quickly, their discarded butts were tossed into a pile of trash to hide the evidence.

The garbage smoldered quietly, spreading lazily from pile to pile, until a stray breeze fanned it into flames.

As flames licked up the wooden steps, the neighbors saw the smoke. Several neighbors had called the Fire Department to report the fire, and were impatiently waiting for the fire trucks to arrive.

Flames were now dancing against the side of the building. “This is bullshit!” Dave yelled, he grabbed his garden hose from his back yard. Herb and Johnson quickly followed suit. The three men aimed their water hoses at the building, stopping the fire from engulfing it. The steps and landing were a total loss, but the quick action by the neighbors meant the building did not catch fire.

The Fire Chief was not amused. “What the hell did you think you were doing?” he shouted at the bewildered neighbors. They had expected a word of thanks. Possibly a pat on the back for a job well done. Wildfire is a problem in dry desert areas – an untended spark can rapidly blow up into an inferno – and the neighbors had no intention of losing their homes without a fight.

Red faced and blustering, the Fire Chief harangued the men. “I oughta have you all arrested! Interfering with the  Fire Department!

Shame on them for saving their homes…

Square Dance Time!

The 2019-2020 Square Dance schedules are now out for both of the square dance clubs in western North Dakota.

The Minot Magic Squares

Minot Magic Squares will dance from 7:30 – 9:30 at the Moose Club

  • Minot Moose Lodge
  • 400 9th St SW
  • Minot ND
  • 58701

Many/ most of the Magic Squares dances will be held with the ABC format: alternating between a Square Dance lesson tip, then a mainstream dance tip, then a lesson tip…

If there are enough dancers that request a Plus tip to fill a square, and the caller calls Plus, there will be a Plus tip.

If there are Round dancers present and the caller cues Rounds, there will be a Round dance tip.

If the caller calls Line Dancing, there will be a Line Dance tip in the dance rotation

  • September 6, 2019
    • Larry Pfennig calling
  • September 20, 2019
    • (Annual Meeting)
    • Jim Lizakowski calling
  • October 25, 2019
    • Charlie Huhtala calling
  • November 15, 2019
    • Karry Pfennig calling
  • December 13, 2019
    • Roger McNeil calling
  • April 3, 2020
    • Charlie Huhtala calling
  • May 15, 2020
    • Roger McNeil calling

Bismarck Belles N’ Beaux

The Bismarck Belles N’ Beaux will dance from 7:00 – 9:00 at Edgewood Vista

Dances will generally alternate between Mainstream Square Dance tips and Round dance tips, with one or more Plus tips if there is a full square of Plus dancers who request it

  • Edgewood Vista
  • 3124 Colorado Lane
  • Bismarck, ND

Belles N’ Beaux Mainstream Schedule

  • September 14, 2019
    • Lurita Fugier calling
  • October 12, 2019
    • Jim Lizakowski calling
  • November 9, 2019
    • Lurita Fugier calling
  • December 14, 2019
    • Roger McNeil calling
  • March 14, 2020
    • Jim Lizakowski calling
  • April 11, 2020
    • (Annual meeting)
    • Lurita Fugier calling
  • May 16, 2020
    • Roger McNeil calling

Belles N’ Beaux Plus Schedule

All dances on the Plus Schedule with Larry Pfennig calling

  • Edgewood Vista
    3124 Colorado Lane
    Bismarck, ND

  • September 27, 2019
  • October 25, 2019
  • November 29, 2019
  • March 27, 2020
  • April 24, 2020
  • May 29, 2020
  • June 26, 2020

Come on out and Swing Your Partner!

Creative Inventing?

I felt like I was wasting far too much stabilizer, so I decided to try something different.

There is a really good chance that I am re-inventing the wheel, but I like this creative solution. It would not first time that “everybody knows that” but **I** did not. In case there are others out there that also missed this memo, I decided it was far too good a solution to keep it a secret.

When I was cutting the backing for my quilt blocks, I normally got six backing squares for my 5×7 hoop from a yard of the cut-away stabilizer. The stabilizer has to extend about an inch on all sides of the hoop, so there was more stabilizer wasted than actually used.

This last time I purchased more stabilizer, I cut the entire yardage down the center into two long strips. Instead of cutting the individual rectangles for stitching each of the blocks, I hoop it and leave the excess stabilizer at the top. Then I can cut at the very close edge of my embroidered quilt block, so there is only the bottom three or four inches wasted, instead of having three or four inches of wasted stabilizer at the top and at the bottom. As the quilt blocks are each five-inch squares, there was more stabilizer being wasted than actually used.

This solution made me happy, which is always a very good thing.

And it reduced the amount of stabilizer I was wasting, which makes my budget happy. That is also a very good thing.

Images of America : Minot Air Force Base

Images of America

Minot Air Force Base

by Lt. Col. George A. Larson, USAF (Ret.)

It is fitting that the cover of the book shows the first Boeing B-52H Stratofortress that landed at Minot Air Force Base, as the Minot Air Force Base is still known for and home to the Air Force’s B-52 bombers today.

The plane pictured on the cover is named the Peace Persuader. The Strategic Air Command equipped the 4136th Strategic Wing at Minot Air Force Base with B-52Hs in 1961. The first landing of the first B-52H was part of a celebration on the base referred to as “Peace Persuader Day.” Over 10,000 area citizens — including North Dakota Governor William Guy — came to the base to witness the historic landing. 

The B-52 Today

Today’s B-52 has been modernized and updated, just like the Minot Air Force Base itself. Construction of Minot AFB (named for the nearby city of Minot) began in May 1956 and it officially opened as the Air Defense Command (ADC) 32nd Air Base Group early in 1957.

The base’s location in the geographic center of North America made it perfect for a Minuteman missile wing complex to be built in 1961. In 1961, the Air Force selected the land around Minot to be the location for a new Minuteman I ICBM complex. The 455th Strategic Missile Wing was activated in December 1962 along with the 455th Missile Maintenance Squadron. The 740th and 741st Strategic Missile Squadrons operationally controlled the ICBMs and in January 1963, the 742nd Strategic Missile Squadron was activated with a third squadron of Minuteman ICBMS.

In Images of America, Minot Air Force Base, Larson gives us the opportunity to see the base go from a patch of open prairie grassland to the modern installation it is today.

Lt. Col. George A. Larson, USAF (Ret.), graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor of science degree in history and a commission as a second lieutenant in the US Air Force in May 1969. He is the author of Arcadia’s Images of America: Whiteman Air Force Base, as well as numerous other military aviation and history books and hundreds of magazine articles.

Available from Arcadia Publishing


Barnes and Noble




Summer Square Dancing

Western North Dakota summer square dance opportunities

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Summer Square Dancing!

Come on Out and Swing Your Partner!

The Bismarck Belles N’ Beaux and the Minot Magic Squares are proud and excited to announce there will be three exciting square dances this summer.

June 8, 2019, Washburn

Arnold Strebe will be calling a free square dance on June 8 at the Memorial Hall in Washburn from 1:30 – 3:30.  Washburn is also celebrating their Riverboat Days during this weekend.

August 5, 2019, Bismarck

Jerry Junck dance on August 5 in Bismarck, ND at the Bismarck Eagles Club.  $7.50/person 

Dining before (and drinking after the dance) is available for all dancers — you do not have to be a member of the Eagles Club to enjoy the evening meal in the dining room before the dance, and everyone is welcome to stay for an adult beverage after the dance.

August 17. 2019, Riverdale

August 17  2:30-5:00 dance with Hunter Keller.  

$7.50 per person

The former Riverdale high school has been turned into a bar and grill and lodge.  We will be dancing in the gym so plenty of room for lots of squares.  We would suggest you eat or (drink after the dance!) there.  They have a wide range of menu from appetizers, burgers, seafood, salads, pasta as well as steaks. 

Quilt Update

Moving at a snail’s pace, but moving just the same…

As I grumble that all my captions just got erased, I will try this again. Starting a new block here…

Pattern I am following for this block
You can see the quilting stipple — each block is quilted individually, then they will all get sewn together. Eventually…
making Harry Potter glasses on a cat’s face…
Done stitching, but the threads are not yet trimmed
rear corner of the forklift
Six and seven were just “blank blocks” with only the number and the quilting stipple. Eight takes us back into the design
Nice machine – it has an enclosed cab
and even a windshield!
Every big forklift needs controls to operate it!
Pinned them together to get an idea of what it will look like
Quilt one
Quilt two

Hopefully, the boys will have their quilts this year — I set a goal of having them done for Christmas. I think that is a realistic goal…

Cross your fingers!