Community Forum

“Have you heard?” shouted Orville Jordan as he swept through the community hall door for the annual spring planting conference of the Homeland Security Committee.

By Lloyd Ohmdahl

“Governor Burgman is sponsoring a ‘main street initiative’ so towns can bring back their old vigor,” he explained. “We’ll be getting a new main street.”

“Well, I heard that the Legislature didn’t give him any money for that thing,” Madeleine Morgan added. “You can’t have much initiative if you don’t have any money.”

“That always comes later in these infrastructure programs,” noted Little Jimmy, now majoring in civil engineering online with Pasquale University in Del Rio, Texas.  Having the only computer, he was the town’s contact with the outside world.

“One way or another, the Governor will get the program if he has to pay for it himself so we need to be ready with the kind of main street we want,” Orville proposed.  “So what do we want for a main street?”

“For one thing, we need a blacksmith shop,” proposed Ole Sievert firmly from his stuffed chair in the corner.

“This town started going downhill when Jork Jorkinson closed his blacksmith shop and went to the coal fields out west.”

“Blacksmith shops belong on back streets, “Dorsey countered. “I was thinking more about businesses for main street, like a five-and-dime, a drug store and places like that.“

“What would a blacksmith shop do these days?” Chief Alert Officer Garvey Erfald asked skeptically.   

“They would shoe horses just like they always did,” replied Sievert.

“Sounds great but there’s only one horse in ten miles – lonesome Nell on the Gulch farm,” Erfald noted. 

“Well, if we had a blacksmith shop making shoes, the horses would come back,” persisted Sievert.

“Are you saying that the horses left because they didn’t have shoes?” asked Orville.

“Mostly! Okay, so the horseshoe market is gone but I still say that a blacksmith shop with a big forge would be a real town builder and tourist attraction,” Sievert continued.

“Forge-made steaks with roast potatoes on Saturday nights would bring the people to town,” agreed Holger Danske. 

“I bet we could make the 2018 North Dakota Travel Guide with that,” theorized Little Jimmy.  ”We would be right up there with the rock at Alkabo and Fort Sauerkraut at Hebron.”

“We could use a forge for more than making steaks,” suggested Josh Dvorchak. “We could teach the tourists blacksmithing and make tools for the tourist market.”

“ We can’t build a new main street around  a blacksmith shop,” Madeleine interjected, “ We need something that looks like a real main street, hardware, groceries, clothing…..”

“Don’t need no clothes store in this town,” Dorsey Crank ventured. “At the rate we’re wearing, we’re good for at least another 40 years.”

“We need a bar,” Einar Stamstead asserted. “Bars are the foundation of every main street – the first to come and the last to go. In fact, you see them in towns where there’s no main street at all.”

“I’m thinking we could start with three stools but build the bar long enough for adding stools as needed,” Einar imagined.

“We’re in a rut,” exclaimed Chairman Ork Dorken. “All we got is a blacksmith shop and a bar. Some main street!  I doubt that Governor Burgman is going to take us serious if that’s our main street initiative.”

“Let’s appoint a main street initiative committee and take this up later when the Governor gets some money,” proposed Garvey.

The 13 electors rose in unison. They knew a committee was the death knell for another great dream.

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