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PALM GARDEN + SMITTYS BASEBALL + MARILYN DAVIS + AUGUST WITTE

MAY/JUNE 2020 • ISSUE 44 • FREE

M A G A Z I N E

LEAVING A

LASTING

MARQUEE Questers Preserve Aberdeen Landmarks pg. 26

Enjoy! DUE TO THE QUARANTINE, THIS ISSUE HAS BEEN MAILED TO THOUSANDS OF HOUSEHOLDS FOR FREE.


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 CONTENTS

VOLUME 8 • ISSUE 3 • MAY/JUNE 2020

REGULARS

20

04 FROM THE EDITOR

30

06 THE BUZZ

Your source for what’s happening in Aberdeen.

14 CALENDAR

Never miss an event in the Hub City.

FEATURES 16

LEADERSHIP IGNITES IN UNITED WAY INTERNS

36

Get the inside scoop on United Way’s internship program. Central High School seniors Colton Hansen and Mariah William are this years’ interns, and through first hand experience, they’ve learned all about the social service field.

18

THE HEART OF PALM GARDEN

20

AT THE SEAMS

22

EDUCATION IN THEIR SHOES

26

30

Karla Stangl operated the Palm Garden Cafe for the past 12 years. Although closed now, the cafe served up delicious food for over six decades starting back in the 1930s. Costume Designer Marilyn Davis has worked at the ARCC for the past 20 years. Go behind the scenes to experience what the season is like for her designing costumes for 921 dance students. In an effort to normalize diversity in Aberdeen, Cornerstones Career Learning and Planning Center offers free General Education and English courses to anyone looking to complete their GED or to learn English as a second language.

TO PRESERVE AND RESTORE

April showers bring May flowers, and the Questers of Aberdeen are preparing for the annual Garden Walk in June to raise funds for the ongoing restoration efforts of the Capitol Theatre.

ECONOMICAL RECIPES TO KEEP YOUR FAMILY FULL

Grocery shopping has become a challenge for everyone, but these recipes are meant to keep your family full and your wallet happy by using ingredients found in almost any house.

34

SOCIAL MEDIA AND SOCIAL DISTANCING

In a time of great upheaval and uncertainty, Tom Black used the power of social media to bring people closer together, while abiding by the CDC and social distancing, of course. These are the results of his efforts.

36

’NUFF SAID: REEDY FOSSUM AND THE HEYDAY OF SMITTYS BASEBALL

Take an in-depth look at the life of local baseball coach legend Reedy Fossum, who coached the Smittys baseball team from 1946 to 1948, and again from 1959 to 1973.

18 40 THE HARDWARE MAN

August C. Witte immigrated to Aberdeen in 1881, and helped establish Aberdeen as the town we know and love today. But did you know he also owned and operated one of the most successful hardware stores in South Dakota? It was open for nearly 86 years.

46

THE WHEELS ON THE BUS (AND STREETCAR) GO ROUND AND ROUND

PALM GARDEN + SMITTYS BASEBALL + MARILYN DAVIS + AUGUST WITTE

52

COULD YOU NAVIGATE ABERDEEN WITHOUT YOUR CAR?

In part three of our Aberdeen 2020 series, buckle up and experience our city like you’ve never seen it before as we show you the ins and outs of the current public transportation system.

56

TELL US YOUR THOUGHTS

Aberdeen Magazine wants to hear from you!

MAY/JUNE 2020 • ISSUE 44 • FREE

M A G A Z I N E

LEAVING A

LASTING

MARQUEE Questers Preserve Aberdeen Landmarks pg. 26

From streetcars and buses to taxis and even a horse drawn carriage or two, public transportation in Aberdeen has always been a bit of a bumpy ride.

Feelin’ our content? You really should subscribe ;-) Do it now at aberdeenmag.com/subscribe

2 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE may/june 2020

40

Enjoy! DUE TO THE QUARANTINE, THIS ISSUE HAS BEEN MAILED TO THOUSANDS OF HOUSEHOLDS FOR FREE.

 ON THE COVER The Capitol Theatre has been a beacon in our downtown since 1926. The brilliant marquee has withstood nearly 100 years of use. Most people don’t realize it used to be green instead of the fire-engine red color. In the mid 1990s, Aberdeen area Questers raised over $130,000 to have the entire marquee removed and restored. They are back at it again in 2020 to raise funds for maintenance restoration on the Aberdeen landmark. Learn more about the Questers quest to preserve Aberdeen icons on page 26. Photo by Troy McQuillen


TAKE HUB CITY RADIO

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LISTEN ANYTIME. ANYWHERE. Download our Android and Apple apps to take us with you wherever you go.

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 FROM THE EDITOR ello, my name is Karlie. I want to introduce myself to all of you as the new Managing Editor for Aberdeen Magazine! I was born and raised in Mobridge, but I recently graduated from Northern in December 2019. I started working at McQuillen Creative as the Social Media Coordinator shortly after graduating, and at the end of February, I started as the editor for the magazine. And if there is anything I’ve learned in putting this issue together, it’s that Aberdeen is full of wonderful people and stories! But before we get to those, this issue has a few changes to it. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our calendar looks different for this issue. We hope this is a one time thing. You’ll notice the Buzz section has changed Karlie Spiry also. It’s, well, buzzier. The stories are shorter, but there are more of them MANAGING EDITOR to bring you a wider scope of news and events in the community. Lastly, you’ll find a new addition at the end of the magazine, but you’ll have to flip to the end to find out what it is, and definitely tell us your thoughts about it. In the pages of this issue, you’ll find stories about Aberdeen transportation old and new, recipes to feed your belly and your soul, and feature stories about Smittys coach Reedy Fossum, an early Aberdeen pioneer named August Witte who had a knack for community, the annual Garden Walk, and so much more about Aberdeen small businesses and people! //

H

 FROM THE PUBLISHER oly cow are things weird right now! Firstly, I hope all of you are safe and following proper protocol to keep yourself and everyone around you healthy. Secondly, you’ve just met our new Managing Editor, Karlie Spiry (above). She has stepped in to fill the shoes of our previous editor, Jenny Roth. It was sad to see Jenny go, but she had another opportunity to pursue, and for that, we congratulate her. We also thank her from the bottom of our hearts for pouring her soul and immense talents into this magazine. The last issue was our 8th anniversary issue. I honestly can’t believe we’ve been going this long. But it’s people like Jenny who have contributed to the quality, integrity, and spirit of Aberdeen Magazine that have made it so popular. I am proud to offer the Editor experience to young writers wishing to advance their careers by managing this magazine. Thank you so much, Jenny Roth, for your contributions to Aberdeen Magazine. You left the magazine in perfect shape for Karlie to take over. Karlie is a very talented NSU graduate with a flair for whimsy, thoroughness, and serious storytelling. Jenny still wishes to contribute to the magazine, so keep an eye out for her byline. Best of luck to you, Jenny, and welcome Karlie! // — Troy McQuillen

H

 CONTRIBUTORS  TOM BLACK is one of the volunteer founders/producers of the South Dakota Film Festival. He has begun bringing major concerts back to the historic Aberdeen Civic Arena.

 PATRICK GALLAGHER is a regular contributor commenting on Aberdeen’s personality, food options, and history.

 DANI MCQUILLEN loves parties with themes, decorations, and creative cooking as befits the granddaughter of the original Sioux "Martha Stewart" of the Prairie. As the mother of five, with three still at home, she's a master of large, budget-friendly meals.

 DANIELLE NOTZ is an intern for Aberdeen Magazine who specializes in writing and editing. She is a Northern State English major who will be graduating in December 2021. In her free time, she enjoys reading classic literature.

 JENNY ROTH is a writer who loves this beautiful, windy corner of South Dakota. She and her husband farm near the Hosmer area and are raising three daughters. She is the former Managing Editor of Aberdeen Magazine.

 ANGIE CLEBERG and AARON SCHULTZ are on the executive team at the United Way of Northeastern South Dakota. The United Way is instrumental in providing support for health and human service programs in our community.

4 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE may/june 2020

VOLUME 8 • ISSUE 3 • MAY/JUNE 2020

ISSN 2378-3060 MANAGING EDITOR Karlie Spiry PUBLISHER Troy McQuillen DESIGN Eliot Lucas AD SALES Julie Lillis julie.aberdeenmag@gmail.com INTERN Danielle Notz PUBLICATION OFFICE McQuillen Creative Group 423 S. Main St., Suite 1 Aberdeen SD, 57401 (605) 226-3481 PRINTING Midstates Printing SUBMISSIONS Aberdeen Magazine welcomes your input. Message us your story ideas, drop off historic photos, or stop in for a chat. Email us at: troy@mcquillencreative.com WEBSITE www.aberdeenmag.com PRIVACY STATEMENT Any personal information, email addresses, or contact submitted to the editorial office or online via our Facebook page will not be sold or distributed. Aberdeen Magazine does wish to publish public comments and attitudes regarding Aberdeen, therefore written submissions and comments on our Facebook page implies permission to utilize said information in editorial content. Aberdeen Magazine is produced exclusively in Aberdeen, South Dakota. All content is copyright with all rights reserved. No content may be shared, copied, scanned, or posted online without permission. Please just ask us first. We're pretty flexible.

Facebook @AberdeenMagazine INSTAGRAM @aberdeenmagazine

www.mcquillencreative.com


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 BUZZ

 From left to right Jace Brownlee, Kayla Klatt, Korey Klatt, and Matthew Perreault. Not pictured: Dr. Ben Harley, Justin Bartel, and Dr. Tim Downs.

 Watch the Mayor’s Advisory Committee Facebook page for the exact date and time in July. If your group or organization would like to help with the celebration, please contact Eric Vetter at 605.380.0031.

Curling with Wolves, Northern State’s very own curling team took second at the Aberdeen Curling Club League Playoff. Curling with Wolves is a mixture of Northern staff, faculty, and administrators. Aberdeen features an entire curling league called the Aberdeen Curling Club. Twenty teams actively play throughout the winter season at the Holum Expo Building. Captain Matthew Perreault says the second place finish was unexpected but well earned. // — Karlie Spiry

Opening Act Multi-talented and looking to re-establish her east coast hybrid business here in Aberdeen, Deena Roynane is a founding member of Hardly Working Promotions, LLC. This firm specializes in marketing and theater production. Although the theater portion of the firm is in the works, Deena has spearheaded its marketing efforts. Having done marketing events around town for the Main Frame and Conklin Clinics, Deena says, “I take the burden of marketing off clients and run with their vision in mind.” // — Karlie Spiry  Hardly Working Promotions, LLC can be reached on their social media pages, by phone at 407.460.2236, or on its website at www.hardlyworkingpromotions.com.

 Deena Ronayne handles public relations and marketing for events and companies and also specializes in theatre production.

Halotherapy at The Salt Cellar The Salt Cellar at Profiling Beauty offers its patrons an experience like no other in town. The Himalayan salt room is a haven of self-care, allowing its users to unwind in 45-minute sessions while inhaling and being surrounded by an excess of soothing salts. These sessions can even help improve physical health. Guests of all ages are welcome. Individual or group appointments can be made at www.mindbodyonline.com under Fit and Fire Studios. The Salt Cellar is located at 224 First Avenue South East. // — Danielle Notz

6 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE may/june 2020

Photo by Troy McQuillen

 Himalayan salt, which covers the floor in this room at The Salt Cellar, is believed to help clear airways and improve breathing.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Erin Brownlee

In July, the Americans with Disabilities Act will be turning 30. To mark this event, the Mayor’s Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities will be hosting a celebration. This event will allow people to see the available disability services in Aberdeen and how they can help people with disabilities. Event-goers will have the chance to learn braille, see different off road wheelchairs, win prizes, and experience many other disability related activities. There will also be free food! // — Karlie Spiry

Curling for Victory

Photo by Troy McQuillen

ADA Turns 30

Photo courtesy Mayor’s Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities

 The ADA celebration brings awareness to all of the disability services available in Aberdeen.


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INSPIRED TO SUPPORT OUR COMMUNITY

As the COVID-19 situation continues to impact us all, Eide Bailly continues to focus on our community and is ready to help, listen and serve. We’re here as questions arise about planning for the future, tax legislation, remote workforce technology and more.

605.225.8783 eidebailly.com/covid19

may/june 2020 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE

7


 BUZZ

 Racers at the Dacotah Bank BMX Raceway are ready to compete in a day jam-packed full of racing!

Off to the Races On June 13, Aberdeen will host an event of olympic proportions! The Dacotah Bank BMX Raceway, along with 350 other tracks nationwide, will be hosting Olympic Day, in which riders can enjoy a free day of competition. This is a national event being held in major cities across the country, and Aberdeen is the first city to host this event on the east side of South Dakota. The goal of Olympic Day is to promote the values of the Olympics: Fair Play, Perseverance, Respect, and Sportsmanship. // — Karlie Spiry  For more information, contact Kyle Oswald at 605.216.1910, or go to www.usabmx.com/tracks/1075.

Photo courtesy of Presentation College

 Dr. Paula Langteau, President of Presentation College, on the left, and Debbie Streier, Vice President of Avera St. Luke’s Hospital, holding the $150,000 donation check from Avera.

Blue Moon Donations Bring Scholarship This year’s Black & White Ball brought Presentation College the gift of scholarship. Avera Health donated $150,000, and The Sisters made an equal match of all donations for the night, which easily pushed the total of donations over $300,000. The final total of the evening is over $520,000, which makes this the most successful ball PC has held in its history. In a press release from Avera St. Luke’s and Presentation College, “The donation will be used in the area of greatest need for the college and will provide scholarships for students.” // — Karlie Spiry

8 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE may/june 2020

B-Dubs in Hub City? Over the past few months, you may have noticed some construction work happening where the old First State Bank of Warner building used to reside on the south side of the Aberdeen Mall. Blazing Wings Properties, the company that owns the Buffalo Wild Wings in Watertown and Brookings, purchased the land for $1.2 million back in 2016. For years, lovers of the sports bar chain have wondered if a location would be opening Aberdeen, and with the approval of a retail liquor license back in January, it seems things are ready to move forward for the business. As for an opening date, nothing has been disclosed to the public. // — Karlie Spiry

 Participants from the 2019 Relay for Life stand in the shape of the cancer ribbon to signify bravery and strength. The 2020 Relay for Life is being held at the Expo Building from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on May 29.

Walk the Walk The Brown County Relay for Life is celebrating 25 years of raising funds for the American Cancer Society. Allison Disbrow, a member of the committee, says the relay is “to celebrate survivors, remember those who have lost their battle, fight back by raising funds for education, treatment, awareness, and to help people going through their cancer diagnosis.” The relay is being held on May 29 with a fundraising goal of $75,000. // — Karlie Spiry  For more information, contact Becky Jacobson at 605.380.2502, or visit the Relay for Life of Brown County SD’s Facebook page.


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 BUZZ

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You  Dayna Magee shows off the level of fitness that can be gained from learning pole.

More often than not, the public views pole dancing in a negative light. Dayna Magee believes “Learning pole isn’t just about cool tricks and getting physically stronger; it’s also about building confidence in yourself and being part of a supportive community of like minded people.” Ending the stigma surrounding pole is something she works towards by offering pole classes to the public. Having established her own studio in 2014, and expanding it in 2016, Dayna has been teaching pole classes to groups and individuals since. She offers a variety of classes from pole fit, open pole, and even classes for kids to learn fitness. // — Karlie Spiry  For more information, visit www.aerialartsbyavery.com, or check out their Facebook page under the same name.

Photo by Troy McQuillen

Aerial Arts Builds Confidence

With an opening planned for the end of 2020 or early 2021, Odyssey Aberdeen 8 will be the newest state of the art cineplex in the northeastern part of the state. In a press release from Odyssey Aberdeen 8, owner of Odyssey Entertainment, Steve Tripp said, “We heard loud and clear from many Aberdeen residents that visit our Watertown cineplex they would love us to bring a state of the art cineplex to Aberdeen.” And oh, are they listening! With eight screens, reclining luxury seats, an immersive sound system, and a seperate area for adults to enjoy wine and beer, this is not your average movie theater. For more updates, check out Odyssey Aberdeen 8’s Facebook page. // — Karlie Spiry

Photo courtesy of Odyssey Entertainment Corporate Offices.

 Although the Odyssey Aberdeen 8 will be designed differently to that of the Watertown location, you can count on the luxury recliners being a staple favorite of everyone.

 You can check out a selection of The Boss Baby Boutique products at www.shopbossbaby.com, or visit their Facebook page for more information.

 Kelsea and Gil Schwab, owners of The Boss Baby Boutique, are all smiles in their first store location.

Concrete is In

 This commercial space in Aberdeen was treated with a reflector flooring in tones of gray.

10 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE may/june 2020

Have you seen the floor at Harr Motors recently? Dakota Wild Decorative Concrete, LLC professionally did it. Owner Stacey Jones, and employee Mike Rohwedder specialize in epoxy flake, quartz, and reflector flooring, and they also do concrete grinding and polishing. Stacey says, “we basically take your already poured concrete and make it look amazing!” With limitless colors to choose from, this floor is the perfect choice for garages, basements, bars, workshops, large retail areas, to just about anywhere there is concrete. It’s durable, chemical resistant, and holds up against stains. To find out more information, contact Stacey at 605.380.6168, or Mike at 605.626.1319. // — Karlie Spiry

Photo courtesy of Dakota Wild Decorative Concrete, LLC.

Kelsea Schwab of The Boss Baby Boutique has made the jump from being an online retailer to owning and operating a store in the Aberdeen Mall. The boutique sells fashionable clothing for infants and children size newborn through kids 16. The new store gives Kelsea new opportunities to serve customers. Kelsea says, “It means the world to me to be able to have a person to person connection with my customers and to be able to give them an incredible shopping experience.” // — Karlie Spiry

Photo by Troy McQuillen

Baby’s First Store


Congratulations to our Aberdeen Public Schools athletes, fine arts performers, and academic achievers. We have GREAT students and staff, and the Aberdeen Public Schools Foundation is proud to support them ALL!

We've Got Your Back BROWN COUNTY CHIROPRACTIC SOCIETY

Proudly Serving the Aberdeen Community & Surrounding Area

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may/june 2020 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE

11


 BUZZ

 The new Family Dental Care building also has a large parking lot to accommodate the brand new building on Sixth Avenue.

Acting Accordingly Brandon Johnson, chef and baker of The Brass Kettle, shared his grandmother’s recipe for Navajo flatbread to Facebook and it’s become famous. Called naneeskaadi, the simple flat bread is made without yeast to cut down on preparation time. Brandon shared the recipe at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to share an easy, filling food with others who are low on resources. He says, “We have a proverb in our culture: Always assume your guest is tired, cold, and hungry, and act accordingly.” // — Karlie Spiry THE RECIPE: Makes 6 • 2 cups flour • 1 - 1 1/4 cup of lukewarm water

• 1 tbsp baking powder • 1 tsp kosher salt

• 1 tbsp oil/butter/shortening

1. Mix dry ingredients together and add almost all water, mix, and then

Photo by Troy McQuillen

add water until it has the consistency of tacky pizza dough.

2. Knead for a few minutes. 3. Let rest in a greased bowl for 30- 60 minutes.

New Smiles on Sixth Avenue After breaking ground where the Alexander Mitchell Public Library once stood, Family Dental Care is now open at their new location at 407 Sixth Avenue South East. Drs. Robert Sanders, Jason Grebner, and Thomas Kaiser are all excited to welcome the community into their new dentistry. The brand new building features state of the art dental cleaning technology and techniques, and an inviting lobby designed with comfort in mind for all. // — Karlie Spiry Photo by Troy McQuillen

First Class Ride Montam Charters & Tours recently added a new motor coach to their lineup of touring vehicles. The MCI J4500 motorcoach is the definition of luxury with padded leather seats, hardwood floors, and lots of space for passengers to feel comfortable on tours. Owners Monte and Tammy Wahl started their touring business in 1992 and have since escorted people all across the country to concerts, live theatre performances, sporting events, and so much more. This year, they have tours planned for the Ozarks, The Little Brown Church in the Vale, and separate tours planned for the Eagles and Elton John concerts coming to Minnesota! // — Karlie Spiry  For more information on upcoming tours visit www.montamtours.com, or call 605.229.1566.

12 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE may/june 2020

4. Divide into 6 pieces and roll out on a floured

surface thin. (Tortilla thickness)

5. Lightly oil pan, and heat on medium-high heat. 6. Cook until golden brown spots and flip, cooking

until done.

7. They can be made ahead

and kept under a flour towel or frozen for later use.

 Brandon Johnson whips up a fresh batch of naneeskaadi in no time!

 Looking sleek and sharp, Montam's new MCI J4500 motorcoach is hard to miss out on the road. Courtesy photo.


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may/june 2020 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE

13


Bringing a Community Together From a Distance Normally what fills these pages is a list of events coming to Aberdeen and the surrounding area. It’s a preview of events we put together for you to look forward to in the hopes of getting out into the community and enjoying yourselves. However, the current COVID-19 pandemic has prevented us from sharing these events with you in good conscience. Most, if not all, events scheduled leading up to this issue have been cancelled. Instead, you will find these pages are filled with information about several local outreach programs and organizations that have come together in the community to help those in need in these dark times. Our sincerest wish for this information is to bring positivity and hope to the Aberdeen community, because it is a very scary and overwhelming time for everyone.

 There are plenty of resources available to everyone. Brown County and the city of Aberdeen have made sure of it. The Brown County Office of Emergency Management has worked extensively to create an open channel of communication with the community. Staying connected is important, and that’s why the 211 Helpline has been established. By texting “AlertBrown” to 85511, your phone will receive public impact texts affecting Brown County. The 211 Helpline Center provides up-todate information, assistance in finding food or other basic essential needs, and mental health resources. It also provides a centralized location for organizations and businesses to list available assistance, closures, cancellations, and program restrictions.

 Staff members of Mike Miller Elementary pass out breakfasts and lunches to students waiting in cars.

14 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE may/june 2020

 The Aberdeen School district is continuing to provide their Food Service program. Each student will be able to pick up two breakfast and two lunch “grab and go” meals three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The locations vary depending on the time of pick up. The pick-up locations are at each elementary school from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM, Lakesides Estates at 11:15 AM to 12:00 PM, and at Park Village at 12:15 PM to 1:00 PM. Menus can be found on the District website.

Photos by Troy McQuillen

One of the biggest concerns many community members fear is food scarcity. It’s tough out there for many. To alleviate some of this financial stress, organizations throughout the Aberdeen community have stepped up.


Aberdeen Aquatic Center  The Boys & Girls Club is offering Club Side To-Go, the club’s free meal programs for kids ages 1 to 18. The meal includes lunch and a snack, and it’s offered seven days a week starting at 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM. Club membership is not necessary to receive this service, but signing up ahead for meals is encouraged so the staff at The Boys & Girls Club know how much food to make. To sign your child up for meals, go to The Boys & Girls Club of Aberdeen Area’s Facebook page and click the link in their post about the free meal sign up.

 Volunteers at The Salvation Army pass out food to people waiting in their cars.

 Staff at the Boys & Girls Club give the thumbs up waiting to hand out food for their Club Side To-Go food program.

 The Salvation Army has redirected their focus from feeding children to feeding families in the community who need food. They are serving food out the back door of their dining room everday from 12:00 PM to 12:45 PM. People in need of food can stand in line or wait in their cars and have their meal brought to them. Along with the meal, people will also receive a bag of produce and bakery items. The Salvation Army of Aberdeen is also accepting food and monetary donations for their food pantry. Monetary donations are accepted at The Salvation Army office at 1003 Sixth Avenue South West, and food donations should be brought to the pantry doors which face the alley.

 Working together as a community is one of Aberdeen's biggest strengths, and being able to support one another at a distance is such a wonderful thing because there aren't many communities that are able to do so at all. As we continue to adjust to this temporary normal of social distancing, The Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce has created a list of restaurants in Aberdeen that are offering to-go and delivery options for meals. This list can be found on their website or their Facebook page. The Chamber also hosted a radio-a-thon as part of their Small Act-Big Impact Campaign on April 8, in which $212,000 of giftcards were sold during the event. This also includes online orders. The goal of this campaign was to create a cash flow for chamber member businesses as they've suffered losses from the pandemic.

Aberdeen Magazine would also like to recognize the services and sacrifices area healthcare workers, first responders, law enforcement, and essential employees are making. Their services will go unrecognized by many, but if it were not for them, we would not be as healthy of a city as we are. Not only are they risking their lives to help those who are sick, but they are actively leaving their families and isolating themselves from them to keep them safe. We would also like to express our thanks to city and state officials who have worked to stop the spread of COVID-19 through legislative and city ordinance means. It’s an incredibly difficult time for everyone, but we are in this together, and we will make it through. // — Karlie Spiry

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 UP CLOSE

Leadership Ignites in United Way Interns The United Way offers first hand experience in the social service field to area students looking to create change. by ANGIE CLEBERG he United Way of Northeastern SD (United Way) has traditionally had a non-profit internship experience for college level students. This current academic year, the United Way opened two spots for high school students. Aberdeen Central Seniors Colton Hansen and Mariah William, in partnership with the Aberdeen Central Internship Class, received firsthand experience of what it is like to work in the social service field. “The United Way internship program not only gives the experience of the day-to-day operations, but also provides access to our community’s largest employers and most recognized leaders in the area,” says Aaron Schultz, Director of United Way. Colton Hansen reflected on his time with the agency by stating that: “The United Way kept us very busy. We have both helped deliver around 173 meals with the Meals On Wheels program, volunteered at Camp Dream Makers, helped pack 25,000 pounds of food for the NALC-United Way Food Drive, packed 150 meals for the Salvation Army Summer Food Program, archived 80 years worth of historical documents, and helped spread publicity on the United Way social media accounts.” A unique aspect of the United Way internship experience is learning from the United Way Board of Directors. The United Way encourages the interns to reach out to Board members and learn about their connection to the agency to get a better understanding of the community employment opportunities. This year's

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experiences included a one-on-one interview with NSU President Dr. Tim Downs, a behind the scenes look at the Aberdeen 3M plant with the Plant Manager Andy Rehder, understanding patient care and responsibilities with Inpatient Nursing Director at Sanford Heidi Myhre, and a hands-on learning experience at the 5th Circuit Court with the Honorable Judge Portra. “The opportunities to meet with the United Way Board members and learn about all the great things people are doing in our community was a highlight of my internship experience,” says Mariah William. The original design of the United Way internship program was to give college students the feel for working in the notfor-profit sector. The program has evolved into an experience for both high school and college students to learn from leaders in

a variety of fields in our region. Leadership is not a new concept to either one of these high school seniors. Collectively they are involved with CHS Debate, CHS Football and Basketball, and Future Business Leaders. They are both officers for the CHS National Honor Society Chapter as well. This year the officers challenged clubs and teams with the “Golden Hour,” where each group goes out in the community and puts in one hour of volunteering. As of March, CHS students have logged in over 1200 hours of volunteerism. “We have an opportunity to cultivate servant leadership through learning from some of the most prominent leaders in our region. We owe it to the future generations to do everything we can to show them what it means to ‘Live’ and ‘Lead’ united in our community,” Aaron Schultz says. //

Photo by Troy McQuillen

 Central High School Seniors and National Honor Society officers Colton Hansen and Mariah William participated in the United Way’s internship program.


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 F E AT U R E

News of the Palm Garden Cafe’s closing comes as a shock to many, but the history of the building, and the heart of the business was being kept alive by Karla Stangl. by KARLIE SPIRY ituated on the corner of Third Street and Sixth Avenue South West is the Palm Garden Cafe and Chocolate Shoppe. The building is painted a sunny shade of yellow and features a sports memorabilia museum on the second floor. Appearances are deceiving, and those who went to the Palm Garden know that the cafe and chocolate shoppe were unlike anything else in Aberdeen. Bright yellow walls, hand carved wooden booths, eclectic mermaid statues, and a candy case over 100 years old were just some aspects of the eatery’s interior design customers found particularly striking. Unknown by most folks, the Palm Garden Cafe and Chocolate Shoppe didn’t start out as a restaurant. In fact, before the chocolate

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shoppe sold any sweets of any kind and before the restaurant was even added onto the building, it was a corner grocery store. The original owners were Albert and Pauline Klabo, who opened the corner grocery in the 1910s. It was called Sanitary Grocery. The grocery store also featured a walk up ice cream service that few

I love this place and want Aberdeen to enjoy it for years to come.

remember going to to get a tasty afternoon treat in the summer. Looking to expand their business in the early 1930s, Albert and Pauline added the Palm Garden iconic log-style Cafe onto the grocery store, and for over 20 years, they worked side by side, serving their famous southern fried chicken to their customers. Albert passed away in 1956, leaving Pauline to run the restaurant and grocery store with their son, Marlin, and her sister Emma Schock. In 1958, long time employee Gary Jasmer would join the Palm Garden family and would work there for nearly 30 years. For a long time, the Palm Garden House of Chicken was the local name of the restaurant because the signature dish was a big, heaping plate of fried chicken served with coleslaw and fries, and it would only cost you 25 cents, 35 cents if you ordered all white meat. Another classic crowd favorite was their onion rings. Both their fried chicken and onion ring recipes came from the south, and were closely guarded by Pauline as the secret to their success. Dedicated to a good time and serving the best food around, not much changed at the Palm

Photo by Troy McQuillen

The Heart of Palm Garden

 Standing in the main restaurant part of the Palm Garden Cafe and Chocolate Shoppe, Karla Stangl bought the business in 2009, and spent the last 12 years working to keep Aberdeen history alive while serving up some delicious food.


 A midcentury exterior view of the restaurant and grocery store. Since Sixth Avenue (US Hwy 12) was a major artery in town, loud signage was employed to lure highway traffic.

 A 1930s era view of the dining room. As you can see, it hasn’t changed much since then. The cans stacked everywhere are beer cans. After prohibition, beer was sold in cans for the first time due to the invention of “Keglined” beer cans in 1933. The center of the dining room is now filled with seating options, but it used to be table free, and kept as a dance floor. In the back corner is the entrance to the kitchen. The kitchen used to be a seperate hut and wasn’t incorporated into the building until the 1930s.

Garden in the initial 50 years it was in business. During the ‘60s, parking was first prohibited on Sixth Avenue, which had a dramatic effect on the business’s final years of operation. It wasn’t until Pauline’s passing in 1983 that the Palm Garden closed and was placed into a trust. Pauline’s son, Marlin, died two years prior in 1981 at 54 years old. Over the next twenty years, the building would play host to Lauinger’s Country Store, an antique shop owned and operated by Gloria and Dick Lauinger. The antique store was successful for many years, and when the trust expired, everything in the Palm Garden went up for auction, including the building. Karla Stangl grew up on the same block as the Palm Garden, and spent nearly every afternoon of her childhood there. With a deep passion for the Palm Garden, and a love for Aberdeen history, she set out with the intention of buying the building and business at the auction. She successfully acquired the business and as a bonus, the beloved candy display case, but the building went to Carlyle Mardian. Determined to bring the Palm Garden back to life, Karla struck up a deal with Carlyle. She would run the cafe and chocolate shoppe downstairs, while the newly built second floor of the building would become the home of Carlyle’s sports memorabilia collection. While not everything Pauline and Emma established survived the rebirth of the restaurant in 2007, Karla made sure to keep some things the exact same way. “We did everything by paper and

pencil,” Karla says. And while the menu included items a little more complex than fried chicken, like paninis, steak, and pasta dishes, the heart of the Palm Garden remained the same. The wooden booths that Albert Klabo carved for the restaurant back in the ‘30s were used until the very end, and hundreds of hand carved initials and messages could still be traced and read by patrons until the dining room was closed to the public due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions. Karla says, “People would get engaged here quite often. I can’t even count how many times I’ve had older couples come in and find the booths where they got engaged, and they would see their initials there.” For the past twelve years, Karla enjoyed moderate success until recently. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Palm Garden was forced to close its doors indefinitely. Time will tell if the restaurant will reopen again. In the meantime, they are entertaining options to sell the business to a history minded person. “We are looking for a buyer that also wants the Palm Garden,” says Karla. Karla fears that with the Palm Garden gone, a part of Aberdeen history will be lost forever. “I’m not in this to make money and be rich. I love this place and want Aberdeen to enjoy it for years to come.” //

 John & Holly are just one of the hundreds of couples’ names etched into the hand carved booths. These booths were hand carved by Albert Klabo in the 1930s and stood the test of time as they were used throughout the entire resturant’s 60 plus years of operation.

Celebrity Sighting...Sorta Before he was famous, Spencer Tracy lived in Aberdeen for a time. Originally born in Wisconsin, his parents sent him to a good midwestern town in his adolescent years to keep him out of trouble. His aunt, Jane Feely, lived in Aberdeen on South Sixth Avenue. He also had a relative in Ipswich named Frank Tracy. Having visited Aberdeen several times starting in 1910, Spencer would come for short periods of time to spend with family. But in 1917, Spencer got a delivery job at the Sanitary Grocery store for the summer. This was years before he was an Oscar winning actor, or romantically linked with superstar actress Katherine Hepburn.

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 SPOTLIGHT

AT THE SEAMS Marilyn Davis has spent decades professionally designing costumes for the Aberdeen community, and she’s still sewing strong.

by KARLIE SPIRY

Photo by Troy McQuillen

hen at a performance, it can be easy to get caught up by the show itself, by detailed sets, or even by catchy musical numbers, but what often gets overlooked are the people who put these shows together. Whether it be a commercial, a movie, or a stage production, the people that played a part in handcrafting the show are usually the ones that go unnoticed. For the past 20 years, Marilyn Davis has been the costume designer at the Aberdeen Recreation and Cultural Center (ARCC). Having studied clothing design at the University of Missouri, Marilyn developed a knack for sewing in her youth. But it was her children’s passion for theater and performance that led her to costume designing. “I got involved with the things my kids were involved with, and then over time, sewing turned into a job,” she says.

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20 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE may/june 2020

Her daughters Amanda and Emily played big roles in Marilyn’s seamstress career. Marilyn’s eldest daughter, Amanda, was involved with dance classes and when they needed help costuming, Marilyn was the woman to volunteer. According to Marilyn, at the time, she did sewing at home for the ARCC on a contract basis for several years, but once the old costume designer left, she took over. A typical day of work for Marilyn varies depending on the time of the year. The other part of her job at the ARCC includes managing the sales of dancewear and once September rolls around, things pick up quickly for Marilyn. On top of doing sales, she along with two other seamstresses, do all the fittings and sewing for the ARCC’s 921 dance students. During the fall, each student is measured for their costume and fitted for their shoes, a lengthy process that


Photo by Moment To Moment Photography

Photo by Troy McQuillen

Dance photos by Moment To Moment Photography

 With over 900 dance students, organization is necessary for keeping the ARCC’s costume closet coordinated for every performance.

takes several weeks. While that is all happening, pieces from the ARCC’s stock of costumes are pressed, steamed, and bagged for each dancer to take home until the recital is over. “It’s a lot of work, but we have so much fun in the costume shop!” Marilyn always speaks highly of the effort put in by her co-workers, “The people I have working there are very good at what they do.” It’s not all tap shoes and tutus for dancers at the ARCC, however, as Marilyn says, “Most costumes have about five to six pieces per student. It could be a leotard, skirt and shoes, but they could also have vests, gloves, armbands, ruffles, and or hats. There are a lot of different pieces that can go out for any performance.” The items are then returned to Marilyn and her team in heaps of laundry, which she jokingly says is her favorite thing to do.

What’s been her favorite costume to create? The colorful, long ballet skirts dancers wear as they prance across the stage. It’s a costuming trick used to create an illusion of multicolored fabric, and when the light catches it just right, it creates an elegant rainbow effect that wows the crowd. She says her favorite costume of the current season is a tailored boys costume. “We designed a boys costume that is sharp! It’s black with a silver glitter pinstripe vest over a black shirt and pants with a silver tie and a hat that has a silver band around the brim.” Marilyn’s costuming talents can also be seen onstage at the Aberdeen Community Theatre (ACT). Much like how she started at the ARCC, she volunteered at ACT because her daughter was involved with Young People’s Theatre (YPT). The first major production she did costuming for

at ACT was Anything Goes in 2006. “I’ve probably done close to 30 or 40 shows, with about three or four shows a year.” At the time of this interview, Marilyn was working as a member of the crew for ACT’s production of James and The Giant Peach. Marilyn’s process of working on a production at ACT is a bit different than at the ARCC. There is a smaller number of people involved, but more research is necessary on Marilyn’s part to get everything accurate to the script’s directions. “Once I have a cast, I measure them and then I read the script. I take extensive notes of the script and what each character needs.” She then goes through ACT’s substantial inventory of costumes in the basement of the theatre to find what she can use. For Marilyn, one of the best parts about designing costumes is shopping for the extra bits needed to complete a look, “I’m hitting up the thrift stores, or sometimes we borrow from other theaters or ACT people, or actors bring stuff in to use. The people she works with both at the ARCC and at ACT play a significant role in what keeps her inspired, and getting to work on so many different shows has brought Marilyn much joy and learning. “Every show is different with setting, dances, time period, and you learn something new because it’s different. I learn something new from every show.” Thinking back to the days when YPT would put on summer shows, Marilyn recalls the excitement kids would have as they would learn about costuming and explore ACT’s costume inventory. “They would say this is like a dress up dream come true!” As for the future, Marilyn doesn’t plan to stop costume designing anytime soon. In fact, she plans to pursue some of her own costuming projects at home, starting with creating a sewing room for herself. Becoming a grandmother has also sparked Marilyn’s interest in making cute stuffed animals and clothes for her granddaughter Maisie. // may/june 2020 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE

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 F E AT U R E

 The staff at the Cornerstones Aberdeen location, from L to R: Adult Education Instructor Becky Backous, Program Coordinator Jennifer Wagemann, Staff Assistant Kim Thorsen, and Adult Education Instructor Zachary Kovach. Not pictured is Adult Education Instructor Comfort Hauck.

The mission of Cornerstones is to access, promote, and provide education and employment training services to area workforce and employees. by KARLIE SPIRY

22 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE may/june 2020

I

Photos by Troy McQuillen

EDUCATION IN THEIR SHOES

magine this: your country is war torn or poverty stricken, your family is struggling to survive, and you know that changes must occur in order to find safety. This is just one version of an immigrant’s reasoning for seeking a better life elsewhere. For some, the idea of moving to a new country is often romanticized. The reality of a new life in a foreign country can be just as scary as the one that is being left behind. Language barriers, culture shock, and even the flaws of the immigration system are just a few obstacles immigrants face when coming to the United States. Embracing change can be a tough thing to do for people, especially in a tight-knit community like Aberdeen where almost everyone knows everyone, but that’s also one of the spectacular things about Aberdeen. It’s familial warmth allows for strangers to be welcomed with open arms and opportunities in the community present themselves for not only immigrants to become members of the community, but for the Aberdeen community to learn more about diversity and the world itself.


 Originally built in 2009 as a private nonprofit of the Department of Labor, Cornerstones can be found at 420 South Roosevelt Street right behind the C-Express Cenex Gas Station.

READY TO MAKE A MOVE?

The work being done at Cornerstones Career Learning Center is just one of the ways the Aberdeen community has embraced diversity. Cornerstones is an adult education center focused on delivering free classes in basic education with a heavy emphasis on teaching English as a second language. When Cornerstones opened in Aberdeen in 2009 on Roosevelt Street, it was only the third location for the private nonprofit organization. The first location opened in Huron in 1986 as the Career Planning Center with a goal of incorporating more diversity into the workforce. This meant creating an opportunity for not just the influx of immigrants moving into South

Dakota to get an education, but also for people who wanted to complete their secondary education after not being able to do so by graduating high school. When a second location opened in Mitchell in 1994, the organization was renamed Cornerstones and became a part of the Department of Labor as a private nonprofit. Vermillion and Yankton also have locations that both opened in 2016. Jennifer Wagemann is the Program Coordinator for the Aberdeen location and she has been with Cornerstones since 2019. Through her work, she has been able to actively engage with immigrants who’ve moved to Aberdeen in the search of changing their lives for the better.

Currently, the Aberdeen location serves Somalis, Karens, and Hispanics for their ESL courses, all of whom come from Redfield, Groton, Leola, and the rest of the surrounding areas of Aberdeen. Cornerstones offers two ESL courses, one class in the afternoon and also an evening class for those who want to attend after work. When Jennifer first started working at Cornerstones, part of the job required training in Sioux Falls. For the first few minutes, her program instructor only spoke and wrote in Japanese. This simulated what immigrants face when they move to a new country with little to no language skills of the common tongue, and added some perspective for new teachers. “It puts you into their shoes,” says Jennifer. “If I were to go over to one of their countries and have a regular conversation, I wouldn’t be able to do it.” Cornerstones’ ESL classes also help with social skills with potential employers. Jennifer says, “We get referrals from the Department of Labor. It’s easier for them to get jobs if they can speak English.” If you’ve ever noticed the staff at the Aberdeen Walmart, you may have noticed that it’s pretty diverse. Jennifer says the store in Aberdeen hires a lot of Somalis who are referred to Cornerstones so they can work on their English and have the opportunity to interact with the public more. Cornerstones’ ESL classes are in demand as they are the only free adult education courses offered to the public within a hundred miles of Aberdeen. “We actually have a group from Redfield that have gone through college in Mexico and are veterinarians that work out on a pig farm. They take turns coming to ESL classes to learn English,” says Jennifer, “We actually have

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to encourage everyone to learn to the best of their ability. Jennifer says that working in groups has allowed for little families to develop among students. “For example, Somalis will help Hispanics , and they will both teach each other in their own languages, too.” These positive connections also encourage students to keep after their studies. To maximize convenience for everyone, Cornerstones also offers a long distance learning program. This program allows students who can’t make it in for classes to learn the same coursework, but all online. The long distance program runs through the head office in Huron, while the Aberdeen location checks on students in the area. Students only qualify for the long distance program if they score high enough on their initial tests. The journey some Cornerstones students make to get here is longer than others, and while some have come by themselves, others have come with their families and have kids enrolled in the public school system. It’s the encouragement from the kids that plays a big factor in the support parents feel while attending classes. One of the best things Jennifer h a s ex pe r i e nce d since teaching at Cornerstones is watching her students grow in confidence. “It’s really exciting to watch students come in knowing hardly any English and then being able to help their children do their own homework.” Working together has made a huge impact on the community at Cornerstones. Everyone helps everyone out in the learning process. “We don’t want anyone to stand out or feel bad for not knowing something. We always talk about how no one is discriminated against. Everyone who walks in here is on an equal page no matter how much they know.” Everyone works together because they are all after the same goals. Like the Aberdeen community, Cornerstones embodies that family feeling because everyone is there supporting one another. Jennifer states, “We are here to help diversity, and help the diverse groups that come and function with us. They aren’t here to work against us, they are here to be among us and be considered equal with everyone that’s in Aberdeen.” //

UNDERSTANDING NATURALIZATION Cornerstones also offers the Naturalization Test preparation classes for immigrants to utilize as they move towards permanent residency. “We help prepare them for the questions, and we work on how the questions are worded so they don’t get mixed up,” says Jennifer. Cornerstones does not administer the official Naturalization Test, they only offer prep classes. Do you know the steps needed to become a naturalized United States citizen? The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has several different resources on their website with all conflicting bits of information on how to become a naturalized citizen of the US. In an attempt to clarify the naturalization process, and for those who want a refresher on how this institution works, here are the steps to be taken by immigrants seeking to become naturalized citizens of the United States. For more information, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website at www.uscis.gov. 

Basic Steps to Naturalization 1. Determine if you are

already a U.S. citizen.

2. Determine if you are eligible

to become a U.S. citizen.

3. Prepare your Form N-400, Application

for Naturalization.

4. Submit your Form N-400,

Application for Naturalization and fees.

5. Go to biometrics

appointment, if applicable.

6. Complete the interview. 7. Receive a decision from

USCIS on your N-400 Application for Naturalization.

8. Receive notice to take

Oath of Allegiance.

9. Take Oath of Allegiance.

Photo by Troy McQuillen

a lot of people from other countries that are doctors and are highly educated, but they just want to learn English, whether that’s writing it or speaking it.” Cornerstones’ other major focus is their General Education program. The GED program begins with an intake of students who do initial required testing to see where their abilities are at. After initial testing, students begin classes and work section by section on each subject until students begin to feel they are ready for the official test. According to Jennifer, those who do well enough in their ESL classes have the option to go right into their GED courses and work towards that goal. GED classes at Cornerstones are free, and all the materials are provided for students to use. The only thing they have to pay for is the GED exam itself, which costs $32.50. For their GED classes, Cornerstones teaches a variety of ages. Jennifer explains, “We have a few 17 year olds, but it’s mostly 18 on up to people in their 40s and 50s.” Their reason for getting their GED? It’s on their bucket list. Most are motivated by their kids to finish what they started a long time ago. “They come in very nervous, and our classes are small. We have up to ten in a class, and a lot of them come in thinking they will never be able to do this, but we have programs that they can utilize before taking the actual GED test to see if they are ready or not.” Jennifer adds that on a perfect night, if everyone could show up for class, it would take that small number of ten students a night and jack it up to 41. Showing up to class isn’t always easy, however. “It’s a scary time for them because they’ve been out for a while, and classes have changed so much,” says Jennifer. To calm these fears, Cornerstones uses a simple teaching method: the class doesn’t move on from any one subject until everyone has a clear understanding of it. Unlike high school or college institutions, there are no tutors available for extra help. It’s necessary for every student to have a clear understanding of everything so they feel confident and knowledgeable, and keep showing up for classes. “If they feel like they are getting behind they aren’t going to say anything about it and they give up,” says Jennifer, “That’s one of the primary things Cornerstone’s focuses on with each student that walks in their door. Regardless of where they come from, they want


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 F E AT U R E

hat’s one of the best ways to celebrate summer? Getting outside and enjoying nature’s beauty of course! Gardens have been known to bring joy to almost anyone who steps foot in one, and when the Questers began the Garden Walk back in 1994 with the intent to raise funds for the Capitol Theatre, enjoying beautiful gardens became a bonus. The annual Garden Walk event has become a summer highlight for many horticulture enthusiasts who want to see how community members have designed their gardens. Five gardens are chosen across town, and some years, the Garden Walk has included public spaces such as the Kuhnert Arboretum and NSU’s Sculpture Garden. Flower, vegetable, and rock gardens have been featured at some community members’ homes over the years. More recently, landscaping has become a popular feature. This year, the Garden Walk will be held on June 25 from noon to 7:00 PM. As tradition calls for, five gardens, all of a different variety around the community of Aberdeen will be on display for event goers to visit. Tickets will be available after June 1, pandemic permitting. Locations to purchase tickets will be announced later. As part of your ticket, enjoy the afternoon tea being hosted by all three Questers chapters at the Capitol Theatre. And just who are the Questers? “It’s fun to search and a joy to find.” This is the motto of the Questers, an international organization dedicated to preservation and restoration of historical community landmarks. The Questers originated in Pennsylvania in 1944 when Elizabeth “Bess” Bardens bought a syrup pitcher at an antique shop over her lunch break and brought it to work with her. According to the official Questers’ website, this syrup pitcher sparked so much conversation and interest, it inspired Bess to hold regular luncheons featuring discussions about antiques and collections. From these meetings, 697 chapters across the United States and Canada have formed to make up Questers, with some 11,000 members. But what does this have to do with Aberdeen? Out of the 12 chapters in South Dakota alone, Hub City is home to three of them.

To Preserve and Restore The Questers of Aberdeen are dedicated to preserving local historical landmarks for everyone to enjoy. by KARLIE SPIRY

26 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE may/june 2020

Photo by Troy McQuillen

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GROTH PAINTS ABERDEEN HISTORY

 Celebrating the fruits of their labor, the Yellow Brick Road chapter poses in front of the marquee as it shines bright for the first time in years at the relighting in May of 1998. Photo courtesy of Bea Premack.

Stepping back into 1972 for a moment, a group of 21 women in Aberdeen who all shared an interest in antiques and historical knowledge formed the Dakotah Prairie Chapter of Questers. Although they seperated from the international organization to support the Dakotah Prairie Museum and several other community organizations, the rising popularity of the Questers across the state prompted the ladies to rejoin the official organization in the early ‘80s. This led to the chapter being renamed to Dakotah Pasque #539 in 1981, and finally changed to Land of Oz #1001 in 1986. Due to the club’s rising popularity, two more chapters were organized in Aberdeen in 1991. Paying homage to L. Frank Baum, the other two chapters’ names are Wizard of Oz inspired too, one being Yellow Brick Road and the other Emerald City. You may be wondering why there are three chapters in Aberdeen when they are all a part of the same organization? Longtime Questers

and Land of Oz chapter member Carol Leach explains that there is a maximum number of 26 members each chapter can fill before it’s considered full. Each chapter meets with members monthly to share in antique finds and collections. Learning about local history, meeting fellow collectors, visiting preservation and restoration sites, and, through mini lyceums, expanding their interests in events, crafts, and art are all things the Questers do. Together, the women of the three Questers chapters have worked to preserve some of the greatest landmarks of Aberdeen, including the stained-glass windows at the ARCC and Brown County Courthouse, and ongoing restorations at the Capitol Theatre on Main Street. Longtime Aberdeen residents will know that the marquee of the theatre, the awning of lights that now illuminates South Main Street during show nights, hasn’t always been a beacon for

 Mary Gorder Groth is a nationally acclaimed artist, but her roots are based in Aberdeen. She started drawing as a child, and illustrating has been a big part of her career as a professional artist. Having graduated from Central in 1969, Mary went on to establish her own independent art studio called Mary Groth Fine Art. Mary's artwork depicts the simple, rural South Dakota lifestyle and features elements of the prairie. Having worked with the Questers in the past, Mary is again commissioned by the three Questers chapters to create a painting for the K.O. Lee Aberdeen Public Library. The proceeds from the last two Garden Walks are paying for this special commission. The piece is centered around the history of all the Aberdeen libraries. The large pastel painting won't be unveiled until this summer, but Mary describes it as a montage of the two previous libraries Aberdeen had, and the current one, along with elements of the book mobile and the temporary library set up near the Webb Shoe Store. To see more of Mary's artwork, visit her Facebook page by searching Mary Groth Fine Art. //  Here are two small previews of what the much larger pastel painting will include. At right, Groth’s depiction of Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish immigrant, steel magnate, and philanthropist who donated $15,000 for the original Alexander Mitchell Public Library to be built in 1901.

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everyone to behold. A 1926 issue of the Aberdeen Evening Herald described the original January lighting of the marquee as, “[A] massive sign, crowned with a dome of a capitol towering 60 feet above the sidewalk, seen with its thousand lamps throwing out their radiance far down the street in either direction.” However, over the years, South Dakota weather had given the marquee a beating, causing it to rust and fall into disuse. The original cloth wiring from the late ‘20s was used until the late ‘80s when they stopped lighting the marquee altogether. Jim Walker, then Director of the Capitol Theatre, approached the Questers to establish a partnership for the restoration of the marquee. it may not be a shock to learn that the initial Things began to take shape in 1994 when all $30,000 estimate was not enough to restore the three chapters, in cooperation with the League marquee. The final cost of the project ended up of Historic American Theatres, set an initial being around $100,000 more than that. This goal of $30,000 to be raised for the complete did not deter the Questers from reaching their restoration of the marquee by the end of the goal. Through countless fundraising events, 20th century. Their campaign like selling one of kind prints slogan for this project read “Turn of the marquee by nationally of the century, turn on the lights”, acclaimed Aberdeen-born artist a testament to raising all the Mary Gorder Groth, applying for funds needed in the remaining state, federal, and international years of the decade, century, and grants, and receiving $31,000 millennium. A core committee from community organizations was created to oversee the and $18,000 in private donations plans pertaining to the marquee, from Aberdeen citizens, the with Nancy Aman serving as the Questers were able to reach chair of the committee. Jeanette their goal in 1997, just a few years Anderson, Lyla Bultema, Barb before the deadline. After 71 Frank, Mary Gederos, Sally years of decorating the outside Johnston, Jeanette Protexter, of the theatre, the marquee Ann Rassmussen, Bette Sandvig, was removed from the facade Judy Westegaard, and Jim of the building in January of Walker made up the rest of the 1998, and transported to Maple  This is the print Groth core committee. Grove, Minnesota to be restored created specifically for the To anyone who has started by the Pascual Sign Company, Questers to raise funds for a project on a budget before, the theatre. who had experience in restoring

 A group of Aberdeen Questers pose together at the national convention in 2001 in Rapid City. The Questers hold conventions at the state, national, and international levels, which give the opportunity to learn more about history and about what other chapters are doing. This year, the state convention in Yankton has been postponed. A new date has yet to be rescheduled for the event. South Dakota will host the International Questers Convention in 2023. Photo courtesy of Bea Premack.

the Orpheum and State Theatre marquees in the Twin Cities, and came recommended from the League of Historic American Theaters. Later in May of that year, the completed sign was returned home to Aberdeen for a grand celebration on Main Street. Land of Oz Questers member and chair of the core committee, Nancy Aman was declared the “First Lady of Aberdeen” for her efforts in leading the core committee to being successful. Not only was the marquee restored to its former glory, it along with the Capitol Theatre were granted a national landmark status. The three Questers chapters of Aberdeen have taken the initiative to continue their restoration efforts of the marquee and theatre. The initial restoration of the marquee was over twenty years ago, and the beacon of Main Street needs maintenance to keep it looking opulent and regal for everyone to enjoy. The proceeds from this year’s Garden Walk will go towards those goals. //  For more information about the Garden Walk, contact the 2020 chairperson Crystal Bohle at 605.380.3776 or at crystalbohle@gmail.com

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Campaign  The Capitol Theatre is considered a movie palace! Built in 1926 in the French Art Deco style of opulence and grandeur, this theatre is approaching 100 years old. Movie palaces are not common these days, in fact, there are fewer than 70 across the whole country. In the early 20th century, over 4,000 movie palaces were built across the United States to meet the demand and delight of motion picture enthusiasts everywhere. As one of the only remaining movie palaces in South Dakota, the Capitol Theatre is just one of the landmarks that makes Aberdeen what it is today, a community dedicated to the arts. Back in the early ’90s, Capitol Theatre restorations started to make the necessary accommodations for live theatre. This was the first stage of the theatre’s Improvement Campaign. The next phase of improvement included restoring “behind the scenes” areas for members of the theatre to work. The dressing room and scene shop both got a facelift, but what was perhaps the greatest improvement at the time was the updated electrical work. A new sound system was installed, along with custom made replicas of the Art Deco chandeliers that the Questers did the fundraising for. The third stage of the plan began in 2009 with the rebuilding of the lobby, concessions, and the purchase of a digital film projector and surround sound system for the theater.  Restoration work is still ongoing at the Capitol Theatre. To play a part in restoring local history or for more information, call ACT’s office at 605.225.2228, or email act@nvc.net.

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 TA S T E

ECONOMICAL RECIPES to Keep Your Family Full by DANI MCQUILLEN lthough the social distancing everyone is experiencing in Aberdeen is challenging for a number of reasons, families are beginning to dust off old recipes or revive family cooking memories and skills. As certain grocery items become scarcer and we are reluctant to shop as much, our family has tried to focus more on reducing food waste and repurposing leftovers. I have a standard family recipe for egg noodles, and we took some leftover hamburger and made homemade ravioli. We used grilled chicken from one night and made wraps a second night and so on. But one evening, we had a cut of steak that wasn’t the greatest, and enough leftovers of it made us wonder how we could repurpose that meat in

A tasty left-over delight. 4 cups of ground meat (we used 2.5 country style ribs, ground in a food processor) 1 cup mayonnaise ¹⁄³ cup pickle relish (sweet or dill, depending on your preference) Grind your meat of choice in the food processor. Mix with mayonnaise and pickles until well blended. Spread a generous serving on the bread of your choice and top with lettuce and enjoy. Multiply or reduce the recipe based on the quantity of meat and your moisture preferences with the quantity of mayonnaise. For large family gatherings or parties, my grandmother was known to grind an entire ham or beef roast.

Photos by Troy McQuillen

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a tasty new dish when I suddenly remembered a classic from my maternal grandmother. I’m not even sure it has a name, but I’ve only ever though of the dish as Ground Meat Sandwiches. My grandmother would use the recipe for leftovers or gatherings where you needed to feed a lot of people. The beauty of this recipe is that it’s delicious with a so-so cut of meat and even more so with a good one. It’s very versatile, too, as you can use about any meat for it. You might be familiar with it as a ham salad sandwich, but my grandmother also used the same recipe with roast beef. During this time of challenging shopping, we also tried it with country-style pork ribs with equally good results. Pair the sandwich spread with some loose-leaf iceberg or other lettuce and some good bread and you have yourself a refreshing and economical lunch or picnic sandwich.

Ground Meat Sandwiches

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Basic White Sauce ½ cup of butter ½ cup of flour 6 cups (+/- half cup) of milk (anything from skim to whole milk) Sautee butter and flour together over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Warm milk in a saucepan or microwave and add into the butter and flour mixture in small amounts, while stirring. Keep stirring while frequently scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent the milk from scalding. Keep cooking and adding more milk to the desired thickness. Keep in mind the addition of the other ingredients will cause it to get stodgier, so don’t be afraid to make a rather “loose” white sauce. One of the great things about the basic white sauce is you can also add chicken to it and serve it over fettucine with parmesan for a delicious chicken alfredo or add breakfast sausage for biscuits and gravy.

Other Ingredients 1 dozen hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced 2 12.5 oz. cans of tuna in water, drained (the large cans) Bread of choice, toasted and buttered Salt and Pepper to taste

Creamed Eggs and Tuna on Toast While a bit weird, this is comfort food at its finest.

ne of the weirdest comfort foods I grew up with made its reappearance during the recent food shopping challenges because you can recreate it with just a few very basic ingredients. My children love my mother’s recipe for Creamed Eggs and Tuna on Toast. My mother passed away in 2015 and, assuming this was a well-known family recipe, I asked her sisters about it and they had no idea what I was talking about, so apparently it was a creation of my mother’s! Not the most beautiful dish in the world and probably best described by that age-old diner moniker – (expletive) on a shingle, this dish makes up for its looks with its comfort food deliciousness. You start with a basic white sauce made from a simple roux (fancy word for milk thickened with browned butter and flour) and add tuna and sliced hard-boiled eggs for the sauce served over toast. That’s it. //

O

Photos by Troy McQuillen

SERVES 6-8

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Add eggs and tuna to white sauce. Salt to taste. Toast bread and butter as usual. Serve toast smothered in the egg and tuna sauce. When my children were younger, I used a pizza cutter to cut the toast into bite-sized squares before topping with the egg and tuna sauce. This recipe is a great post-Easter egg dying option or quick and economical comfort food. I’ll fully admit it sounds odd and looks ”interesting,” but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!


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10:10

 F E AT U R E

Social Media and Social Distancing posted by TOM BLACK I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I first got hooked on Facebook following my 20 year class reunion (Go Govs!). It was such a magical method for reconnecting with your old classmates and closing the distance between people. It was free to use and it was a beautiful thing. But as all good things go, we polluted social media, we took something great and turned it into a way to manipulate others, spew hate and divide us. When once I would joyfully add new people to my list of friends, I began disliking and unfriending people that I had known for years; because we disagreed about politics, religion or they were just saying mean things to other people. Things changed drastically as the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March of 2020. During this time of social distancing, it seemed important to me to turn this negative feeling trend around and find a quick solution to share joy with others. And as it turns out, my friends were ready for something new on social media. Every morning, I would pose a new Social Distancing Challenge of the Day. Something quick and easy to do, but specifically geared towards spreading goodness, love, friendship and appreciation for the world we are living in. My friends have really responded well. They have been sharing some wonderful things about themselves, their family and the world they love. I have asked them to write poems about their favorite city, post photos of locally made art, share pictures of the athletes in their family, post concert photos and the most popular was to share their favorite adages or motherism. People say the darndest things! So my suggestion to you is to check yourself before you post. Offer something positive for the world and your friends. Try your best to make social media fun again. The second challenge was to: Select one person and that one moment that they made an impact on your life. Here are a few of the results:

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JUDY JENCKS My brother Larry has been so supportive of anything I ever wanted to do. He is there when needed for all the siblings. He has been my hero since Jr. High when I realized having a big brother is great! Thank you for the chance to celebrate him!

JAY KIRSCHENMANN I didn’t realize the scope of what he was trying to accomplish when I helped his campaign for president in the ‘70s -- I guess I was too young. I still have some campaign buttons. In this photo many years later I was covering one of the State Theater milestones and in walked George McGovern… had to get a pic! It’s a bit blurry… He was gone not too long afterward.

STACEY MARGARET JONES I’ve known my friend Meg as long as I’ve known myself, and she always helped me be brave and to accept pain as part of life, but not the ONLY part of life.

JENNIFER BARKMEIER My friend Carmen has been there since my Jr. High youth. A fellow Webster Bearcat. She cares not for petty acheivements but is supportive on the deepest levels in everything I have done. She has always been there for me & I can share my deepest secrets & most obscure thoughts & ideas with ease & without judgement. She is a good listener & we can philosophize & solve the world’s problems with ease. She has been my rock & can always pick up where we left off. Always a friend. Never a stranger. She “gets” me.

LISA BROWN The one person and one moment that impacted my life is my son and the day he came into this world… I had my son shortly after my 17th birthday and raised him with a lot of love and support from my family. I went on to finish high school, got my bachelors degree graduating with honors and then getting my masters degree in social work. So much of my journey is shaped around becoming a single mom at 17 years old. I’m an incredibly proud mom of a 20 year son who is currently in college to get a bachelor degree in criminal justice and the desire to become a police officer.


Post a photo or video that you have taken of the magical natural world. 

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Post a picture of art. Yours, your child’s, your neighbor’s, something local.  1 George P. Sullivan Bison near Hermosa, SD 2 Stan Wise Wheat Field 3 Tim Ahartz Badlands National Park, SD 4 Dave Swain Sunset over West Hill, Aberdeen, SD 5 Betty Sheldon High Wires, watercolor 6 Katie Wahlen Acrylic on canvas

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 Y E S T E R DAY S

by PATRICK GALLAGHER

 Before the Barnett Center was built on NSU’s Campus, Aberdeen’s baseball stadium stood in its place. It was originally built east of NSU’s campus, but the college acquired land, east of the stadium, land-locking the stadium within state property. The state bought the stadium from Aberdeen for $175,000 in the mid 1960s which was an adequate sum to build a new facility for both baseball and football. The original stadium burned on August 3, 1951 and a $65,000 bond was approved, in its second attempt, by voters to rebuild it.

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eeing what could be a “once in a lifetime opportunity,” a generation of Smittys baseball players will descend on Aberdeen this summer for a reunion and, of course, a Smittys game. Organizer Gene Herold says the idea came when he and some former Smittys were together at a school reunion in Arizona. “Of course, we spent most of the time talking about playing baseball on the Smittys. Great stories, some exaggerations, but enjoyable,” he said. “A lot of our stories centered around Coach Reedy.”

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Reedy is Reedy Fossum, who coached the Smittys in 1946-1948 and 1959-1973, the “heyday of Smittys baseball,” said former radio announcer, and Smitty, Gene Reich. Gene Herold noted, “Reedy was an important part of the Smittys program and had an outstanding career coaching,” and, he added, was a “hell of a bus driver.” More on that later. A 1933 Central graduate, Reedy played football, basketball, tennis and high school baseball, but apparently not Smittys ball. After Naval service in World War II, he came back to Central to teach for many years. Gene Herold remembers, “Reedy provided me with a lot of information (baseball magazines) on how baseball impacted economics. In Reedy’s class, we spent so much time talking about baseball, I don’t remember what he taught.” The class was “Modern Problems.” Reedy ’s love for baseball translated into love for its history, and in 1976, he produced a summary of the Smittys’ first 50 years as a team, which is available in the Aberdeen library (his history includes player rosters for almost every season, but he is not listed as a player). In 1925, the national American Legion baseball program started at a state Legion convention in Milbank. Reedy’s history credits Aberdeen Legionnaire Frank Sieh with the idea of creating a youth baseball program. The convention adopted it as a resolution and forwarded it to the national convention, which also adopted it. Aberdeen’s team was formed in 1926.

 Coach Reedy Fossum with bat boy Gene Reich in the early 1960s. Photo provided by Dan Holdusen, Smittys reunion organizer, team member.

Reedy found that records of the early seasons were sometimes impossible to find. Newspapers didn’t religiously cover games, and coaches didn’t always report information to them. Plus, the team typically played only a handful of games. But by 1930, the Smittys won their first state championship, the first of 15 in those first 50 years. There were more postseason games than in the four-game regular season. After the state tourney, the team played in a national regional tournament against Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota teams. That state title might require an asterisk, however. Reedy reports that in 1930, some players had used their younger brothers’ birth certificates to qualify to play. Since they got away with it, they tried again in 1931, but someone recognized them during the district tournament, and Aberdeen was disqualified from the regional tourney.

The seasons became more organized, and games numbered in double digits, though the Smittys typically played teams within about a 100-mile radius. In 1939, the team won the state tournament again and hosted the four-state regional tourney in which they beat Cheyenne and lost to Omaha. The World War II years were good for the Smittys. They won State again in 1942, losing in the four-state tournament; 1944, when they also won the regional tournament in Miles City, Montana, but lost in the next level in Billings; and 1945, when they lost again in the four-state tilt. This success came despite—or perhaps because of—the Smittys’ participation in the Aberdeen City League, a league of adult amateur teams and stronger competition. It was likely a win-win. As its numbers were down due to men joining the service, the City League needed more teams. Further, playing in the League might have allowed

WHY SMITTYS? The Aberdeen American Legion Post had named itself after Private First Class Sidney Lawrence Smith (above), who was killed in action in World War I in France in 1918. The post was officially called, “Sidney L. Smith Post No. 24.” Born in Illinois, Smith had moved to Aberdeen in 1915 and joined the South Dakota National Guard. His father was S. Lincoln Smith and was a professor at Northern. They lived in the Dorian Flats apartments on 7th Avenue SE and Lincoln Street. Sidney, or “Larry” as he was called, was the first Aberdeen soldier (U.S.) to die in the war. According to Reedy Fossum’s history, in the mid-1930s, Aberdeen sportswriter, broadcaster, and South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame inductee Larry Desautels nicknamed the baseball team after the Post’s name. As Reedy concluded, “So, thanks Larry [Desautels]. We are proud of that name and hope we can live up to it.”

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the Smittys to reduce travel costs during the lean war years. In 1946, significant changes came. The Smittys stopped playing in the City League. The Aberdeen Pheasants professional minor league team came to town—and everyone had to work around their schedule. And Reedy Fossum returned from the war and coached the Smittys to be state runner up. Changes continued in 1947. The Eastern South Dakota (ESD) baseball conference started with most of the school sports conference teams. The ESD operated for five years, and the Smittys won the conference title each year; then it folded. It started up again in 1960, and Aberdeen won five of the first eight seasons. In addition, in 1947, Reedy led the team to another state championship, although it didn’t get through the four-state tournament. In addition to the Smittys, Aberdeen’s municipal ballpark was the home of three other champions in 1947: The Pheasants won the Northern League pennant; the Pred’s City League team (on which Reedy played) won the state amateur title; and the Aberdeen Junior-Junior team also won State. That ballpark was where the Barnett Center is now. “It was

 Coach Reedy Fossum painted by Mary Gorder Groth, provided by Dr. Stanley and Carlie Ryman.

a beautiful ballpark,” Gene Reich notes. “Teams liked to come and play us in the minor league park.” It’s not clear from Reedy ’s history why he stopped coaching the Smittys after the 1948 season, but the Smittys continued winning. Between the 1949 and 1960 seasons, the team would win eight more state championships: 1949, 1950, 1952-1956, and 1960. Booge Nicholas started coaching in 1952 and won championships in all five of the seasons he coached.

That 1960 title came in Reedy’s second year back with the team—he had taken them to the championship game in 1959. His history begins to show a little more editorial commentary around this time. Writing about the 1960 championship, after which the Smittys lost the playoff game against the Class B champion to qualify for the four-state tournament (a playoff instituted when teams were divided into classes in 1950), he commented,  American Legion Athletic Chairman Al Swanson and Coach Reedy Fossum in 1968. Photo courtesy of Dr. Stanley and Carlie Ryman

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“the team had a good season; came from behind and won the State A tourney only to lose to Howard in the play-offs—at Howard. Nuff said. [Italics added]” A lasting change with Reedy’s return to the helm was an expansion of the schedule. In 1958, they played 29 games, and in 1959, they played 40—50 games. More would not be uncommon in ensuing years. Gene Reich was Reedy’s batboy in 19641966 and remembers, “Being batboy for Smittys was a big deal. Reedy called my parents because they travelled so much.” He continued, “Reedy was a hustler so they played all over.” In 1962 and 1963, the Smittys returned to State, losing both years in one-run games to Rapid City. Perhaps a harbinger, it would not be the last time Rapid City spoiled title dreams. But not in 1964. Summarizing the season, Reedy wrote: “With all due respect to the ’64 team, you could call them the hitless wonders. They had a batting average of .254.” But, “Their ERA was 1.68!!!” At State, the Smittys dispensed with Rapid City early and took the title again, moving on to what was now a seventeam national regional, where, Reedy wrote, “the main thing in my mind was that we wouldn’t look bad getting beat. I couldn’t see how we could score against seven state champions. So what happens?” They went 4-2 in the tourney, winning 3 games by 1-0 scores and losing their last game 1-0 to future major leaguer Rich Folkers. The Smittys pitcher Dave “Tilley” Hottman pitched 27 innings in the seven-game tournament, giving up only the winning run in the last game. This would be the Smittys’ last state championship for more than 40 years. In 1969, after beating Rapid City, they lost to Sioux Falls in the title game, and in 1966, 1973, and 1976, they lost to Rapid City in the championship. As Gene Reich reflected, “Rapid City caught up to us.”


Obviously, the Smittys remained good. The 1967 team finished 458, “One of the best teams I ever coached,” Reedy wrote. “All of this only to lose to Pierre in a heartbreaker 2-1 in the last of the 9th. Leading 1-0 with two out and then to get beat with a fluky hit to left.” Then, regarding the 1972 team’s loss in the state regional tournament, came the comment that might earn a fine today: “One doesn’t like to say that Umpires beat you but in this case both Watertown and Aberdeen got the business. One would have to see it to believe it. Nuff said.” A year later, it was “Nuff said” for Reedy’s coaching career. He retired but continued to schedule for the Smittys and support amateur sports programs. Several Smittys alumni who plan to attend the upcoming reunion reflected on their playing days under Reedy. South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame inductee and former coach of NSU women’s basketball Curt Fredrickson, who played for Reedy in the 1970s and coached the Smittys twenty years later, credits Reedy as an influence. “He was a very fundamental, old time, old school coach. We all had to learn to bunt to play for Reedy, even the power hitters.” He added, “He did a good job of treating everyone the same.” Gene Reich was a batboy in 19641966, shortstop in 1968-1969, and assistant coach in 1972-1973 while he was in college, all for Reedy. As  A group of Smittys alumn met up in Phoenix last year for a class reunion. While chatting, they discussed a reunion for Smittys players in Aberdeen. Left to right are Jerry Hauck, Ron Klingman, Gene Herold, and Wally Johnson. They all played together in only one year, 1960. They won the State A tournament and Wally was named Legion Player of the Year.

a batboy, he says, “I learned a lot of baseball by sitting on the bench with him.” As the coach, “Reedy kept all the information for the team and scheduled everything. He was a hustler. He raised money like mad because other teams didn’t travel like we did, and Reedy got us the best equipment.” He also acquired several uniform sets so, as Gene said Reedy would say, “At least you can look like a ballplayer.” While preparing to attend his five-year-old grandson’s batting practice, George Amundson, another South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame athlete who played for Reedy, said, “Reedy was the man!” He occasionally had an assistant coach, but “He pretty much did everything, all the planning, including driving the bus. He was the third base coach and a player coached first base.” From third, Reedy gave his signs telling the batter what to do, and if you missed the sign, George said, Reedy would yell, “Good God!” In that vein, Jerry Hauck mentioned, “Actually my most vivid memory of Reedy was how red his face and bald head got when he was excited/angry.” Wally Johnson, who was named Legion State Player of the Year in 1960, remembers a similar reaction, “I was attempting to steal second. Noticing that nobody was covering the base I did not slide. The catcher threw the ball to the base which struck me on the head (no helmets at that time). I went

down to the ground somewhat dazed, looked toward third, and saw Reedy coming towards me on a trot, feeling good that my coach was concerned, I rubbed my head and stayed down waiting for Reedy. Upon his arrival I heard, ‘What are you doing on the ground? The ball is in left field and you should be on third.’ After that I never looked for any sympathy from Reedy.” In a seemingly questionable innovation, Reedy tried to extend the life of their wooden bats. Curt said, “He put fiberglass from the handle up to the trademark then adhesive tape over that. He thought it kept the bats from breaking.” Gene Herold added, “The first bats were a little rough on the edges. In fact, the fiberglass and webbing drew blood when gripping the bat. I don’t know how Reedy convinced the umpires that these bats were legal.” Another common memory of Reedy concerns transportation. The Smittys had their own bus, because they sometimes had long, seven-day, multi-state road trips, and Reedy was the driver. George remembers, “He’d buy a bottle of No Doz and eat it like candy, and he’d drive with his elbows on the steering wheel and his hands on his cheeks.” Curt added, “We had to ask him if he’d taken his No Doz. He’d nod off and that kept you on your toes.” R e e d y ’s 3 0 - p l u s y e a r commitment to the Smittys earned him the honor of having the new

SMITTYS STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS Single Class Champions 1930 1939 1942 1944 1945 1947 1949

Class A Champions 1950 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1960 1964 2008

 Provided by Tom Hurlbert

baseball field on the northeast side of town named after him, and the Smittys still play at Fossum Field, where they won the 2008 state championship. Gene Reich got to call that game on the radio. After being batboy for the Smittys last championship in 1964, he said, “That was a big deal for me.” Reedy died in 1989, and Gene Reich delivered a eulogy for him. A longtime educator, athlete, coach, and administrator at the high school and amateur levels, his obituary lists numerous accolades, including induction in the South Dakota Baseball Hall of Fame. Another honor will come this summer, when some of his biggest fans return to the ballpark named after him to celebrate him and what he brought to their lives. //

SMITTYS BASEBALL REUNION WHEN: July 10-11, 2020, Including recognition at the July 11 Smittys game.  Reunion plans are current as of early summer, pending pandemic conditions. As organizer Gene Herold reports, “We are in the “bus” going down the road and hoping the reunion will be played on time, but we just don’t know what the “COVID 19” will be like when we get there. We may have to stop at a roadside cafe to have “hot beefers” before we continue on to the reunion.” Former Smitty Craig Hayes, observed, “These are truly unprecedented times. As Reedy would say, don't get your dauber down.”

may/june 2020 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE

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The Hardware Man BUILDING A COMMUNITY to LAST Aberdeen has quite a few famous figures in its history, but few have had a lasting impact as strong as August C. Witte. by KARLIE SPIRY

40 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE may/june 2020


Witte Warehouse ďƒ˜ Mueller & Witte Hardware began in 1883 essentially where the Flame Restaurant now stands. By the 1890s the business was known as Witte Hardware and had moved to 111 South Main Street, shown here in the middle of this picture. This building was only 25 feet wide but extended all the way to the alley (142 feet). As you can see it was very ornate with a decorative parapet on top. It is now the location of Sander's Sew-N-Vac. This picture is from 1912. Photo from MCG archive.

A

berdeen has quite a few famous figures in its history, but few have had a lasting impact as August C. Witte. One of the early pioneers of Aberdeen, Witte was a prominent local politician, and he also owned one of the most successful hardware stores in South Dakota history. Witte (pronounced like witty, the pronunciation was changed upon immigrating to the United States) was born in Pein, Hanover, Germany on July 6, 1857 to August and Clara (Mueller) Witte. He showed great interest for business early on and after completing his general education at public school, and graduating from Hildesheim College in 1874, Witte apprenticed himself at a wholesale hardware store in Germany. He worked there for four years before immigrating to the United States in late 1879. According to a passport application found on Ancestry.com, Witte emigrated from Germany aboard the US Rhein. On October 17, 1879, Witte docked in New York and filed for naturalization papers. He made his way

ďƒ˜ Needing more warehouse space, August Witte and his step-children began developing more property. Directly to the east of his Main Street store, he built a four-story warehouse across the alley. It was tucked in between his building and the Mueller Building built on Lincoln Street. Aberdeen architect, J.W. Henry, designed both the Mueller Building and the warehouse. The warehouse was enlarged in 1909 at the same time the Mueller Building was built. The warehouse is long gone, leaving a parking lot for the Mueller Building (now known as the Herman Hotel, or Rogers Hotel). Photo courtesy of Mike Wiese.

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ďƒ™ If you visit the Dacotah Prairie Museum, pay particular attention to the cash register behind the counter. It is from Witte’s store. It still functions. The entire cabinet is considered part of the cash register. Each of the round buttons on the left corresponds to a cash drawer in the cabinet. If you ask, the museum staff will demonstrate it for you. It was secured for the museum by the late Helen Bergh when Witte Hardware shut down in the 1960s. Photo by Troy McQuillen

west and initially settled in Faribault, Minnesota in 1880, where he already had an uncle living. His uncle was named A.W. Mueller. In that same year, the two gentlemen opened a hardware store that also sold dried goods. The store was called Mueller & Witte Hardware. With the construction of the railroad underway in Aberdeen, Witte and Mueller followed the railroad and opened a second hardware store in Aberdeen in 1881 on the corner of Railroad Avenue and Main Street. At that time, Aberdeen was expanding rapidly, and due to the success of their Aberdeen store, Witte and Mueller closed their Faribault location in 1883 and both men moved to Aberdeen permanently. They worked together in the hardware business for ten more years until Mueller’s death in 1893. Witte continued to run the hardware store by himself under the name of Witte Hardware until 1903, when his two step-sons became his business partners. Witte later expanded the business and moved it to its final location at 111 South Main Street. The hardware store was open for a total of 86 years, and became one of the most successful hardware stores in South Dakota.

42 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE may/june 2020

Witte played an important role in shaping early Aberdeen. He was very active in politics and was considered a pioneer because he was one of the first leaders to rise from the hundreds of people moving to Aberdeen in the early 1880s. Several reports state he was a very quiet man, and did not speak unless he had to. This played in his favor later on during his political career. He helped Aberdeen advance from being just a small settlement to an actual city of buildings and streets. One of the first offices Witte held was the Alderman of the 4th ward from 1885 to 1891. Wanting to do more for Aberdeen, Witte decided to run for mayor in 1892 and was elected Mayor of Aberdeen. During his two years in office, Witte saw through many changes and improvements to Aberdeen, the biggest one being the implementation of the first sewage system throughout the city. Witte was also part of the committees in charge of securing water for the city, establishing a source of power to be used citywide, and the construction of a city hall. His final political role was that of Alderman again, which he served for the last time from 1899 to 1905.

Witte was also a founding member of the Home Building & Loan Association, which established the loaning system in Aberdeen for people to build homes and businesses. This organization was originally established in 1888, and was responsible for encouraging people to set up residence in Aberdeen and to start small businesses. Although, later on the integrity of this organization came into question due to some mismanagement of money, the Home Building & Loan Association can be credited with encouraging the commercial growth of Aberdeen at the turn of the 20th century. Dedicated to serving those around him, Witte was an active member in various community oriented organizations throughout his life in Aberdeen. He was a Freemason and was a member of the Aberdeen Lodge #38. He was honored with the 33rd degree of the Scottish Rite, and even served as Eminent Commander for one year in 1912. He later served as a commander of the Knights Templar. Witte was also the Grand


 Besides the Mueller Building and Witte’s store at 111 South Main, you can still find evidence of Witte’s presence downtown. This billboard is visible on the south side of Sander’s Sew-N-Vac from the alley. Photo by Troy McQuillen

 Many may look at the facades in our historic downtown and wonder why most all of them have lost their historic character. We often scoff at how unappealing they seem compared to their original designs. The truth is Aberdeen’s businesspeople were often very well traveled and progressive. Which meant remodels were often seen as modern upgrades to be relevant to the times. This remodel of Witte Hardware is certainly a nod to the sprawling chic retail centers that Southern California was experiencing outside of their downtown area during the late 1940s and into the 1950s. Photo courtesy of Jeanne Roers.

 In 1909, the Aberdeen Daily News reported that Witte Hardware had purchased a huge chunk of lots on Lincoln Street, across the alley of the hardware store. The article reports that the intent was to build seven buildings, all of the same size to be used as retail stores and lodging on the second floors. This photo and the inset show what resulted from this plan. This building was known as the Mueller Building. The Mueller Building Corporation rented the ground level stores out to businesses while they turned the entire connected upper floors over to a hotelier. The second-floor operation was first called The Herman Hotel. After struggles and troubles of disturbance, it became the Rogers Hotel with new management. The building still exists today and houses Gellhaus & Gellhaus law office and DSS Image Apparel. The second floor was completely remodeled in the early 2000s and is now used as apartments. The triangular parapets have been removed from the facade and the store fronts are now uniquely different. This building was designed by Aberdeen architect, J.W. Henry.

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 The Masonic Lodge on Main Street has archived their entire history while in Aberdeen. This photo, taken in 1932, has every Commander of the Lodge starting in 1887. August Witte, who was Eminent Commander in 1912 is pictured on the far right in the first row. Photo courtesy of Masonic Lodge.

Patriarch of the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows in 1893. He was also a member of the Yelduz Shrine and served as the Potentate. Witte served on the Public Library Board starting in 1890, and remained on the board for many years. During World War I, Witte even served on the Council of Defense of South Dakota. Witte married A.W. Mueller’s widow in 1895. Her name was Carole W. Witte, and she was technically his aunt by marriage. Carole had three children from her marriage with Mueller: Otto and Arthur Mueller were her sons, and Alma (Mueller) Easton was her daughter. Alma’s first marriage was to Russell Easton, the son of CF Easton of Easton’s Castle fame. August Witte passed away on February 2, 1947 from a heart attack. The hardware store continued to be operational after his death, and was managed by Lester Biegler. Witte’s stepdaughter, Alma Easton Woodward became the president of the company until her death in 1958. According to an Aberdeen American News article from June of 1981, Biegler retired in 1954, and the new manager was Alfred Humphrey who later became the vice president of the company. In 1960, Humphrey purchased the business from the Alma Easton Woodward estate. Humphrey kept the store open and under the name of Witte Hardware until 1967, and then sold the business to A. H. Sander, who moved his business, Sander’s Sales and Services, into the building. The business is now called Sander’s Sew-N-Vac. A champion for small businesses and local economic growth, Witte truly loved Aberdeen, and he embodied so much of that small town feeling Aberdeen is so well known for. He dedicated his life to serving the community here and to seeing it grow and flourish. For being a quiet man, Witte’s impression has lasted throughout Aberdeen’s entire existence, and that shows he built this community to last. //  We would like to thank Jeanne Roers of Sioux Falls for inspiring this story. Her father was Lester Biegler, whom at one time served as secretary and manager of Witte Hardware. Special thanks to Aberdeen Masonic Lodge #38 for assisting in research, and providing background knowledge of the Masons, the Dacotah Prairie Museum and Mike Wiese.

44 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE may/june 2020

 When August Witte married Carole Mueller (his mother’s brother’s widow) the new family lived at 304 S. Kline Street. They later moved “up” to the Highlands when Witte built this house at 1403 North Main Street in 1916. Carole would die in the house in 1920. August Witte died in the house close to his 90th birthday of a heart attack in 1947. He had been retired and out of public life for nearly 25 years. He lived in the house with Carole’s daughter and husband, Alma and Russell Easton. Easton was the son of C.F. Easton of Easton Castle fame. Upon August’s passing Alma inherited everything and served as the president and owner of Witte Hardware and Mueller Building Corporation. She divorced Easton and married Harry Woodard.


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 Y E S T E R DAY S

Wheels

The

Bus Round

on the Go

(and Streetcar)

Round —Til They Fall Off

and

Public Transportation in Aberdeen or about Aberdeen’s first 70 years, there was a lot of interest in private public transportation—that is, moving many people within the city for a profit. Through the 1950s, about a dozen private companies tried to operate streetcar and bus lines, and all had one thing in common: failure. Not enough people wanted to pay the price for a ticket to ride.

F

46 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE may/june 2020

Before we board this glimpse of Aberdeen’s transportation history, a couple caveats. First, taxis—horsedrawn or automotive—have moved people around Aberdeen since its earliest days. The focus here is on larger people movers, however, so taxis aren’t really part of the story. Except when they are. Second, the history is hard to piece together. The library has newspaper

by PATRICK GALLAGHER

clippings going back more than 100 years, but not surprisingly, they don’t always tell full stories. Online newspaper indexes help fill in gaps, but it seems the stories weren’t there. After all, none of the companies have operated in nearly 70 years. So this might be more hodgepodge than history. (Also, the expense account didn’t cover weeks of microfilm viewing.)


 From 1910 to 1922 Street cars served as a convenient mode of transportation to Northern, Wylie, train depots and many stops in between. This spot in front of Witte Hardware at 111 South Main featured double tracks so the cars traveling in opposite directions, could pass one another. Aberdeen photographer Nicholas A. Brothers shot a lot of photos of the trolleys when they first began so this is probably from the early 1910s. Courtesy MCG archives

Riding the Rails

Streetcars came first, and since 1886, Aberdeen wanted them, first offering franchises to a couple out-of-town firms, which didn’t pan out. A local group attempted to start up, but the depression of the early 1890s intervened. A hard to imagine scheme to link streetcars in Aberdeen and Huron also fizzled. Finally, in 1909, a headline announced, “Local Capitalists Will Build Street Car System in Aberdeen,” and the Aberdeen Street Railway Company (the first of a few names by which it was known) launched successfully in 1910. The “capitalists” viewed it as a public service, hoping it would promote growth. Wisely, they didn’t expect profits. The company laid more than five miles of tracks and ran three routes around town, basically covering the downtown corridor from

Northern to what is now Presentation College and ultimately including Wylie Park and St. Luke’s Hospital. Electricity delivered by overhead lines powered the streetcars, which were operated by a motorman who drove the car and a conductor who took tickets and kept the stove burning in winter. The first cars ran on Thanksgiving Day, 1910, carrying perhaps 5,000 people. The twelve years of streetcars produced more interesting newspaper stories than subsequent transportation efforts. Just a few months after the line opened, its president asked schoolteachers to talk to students about “boys— and sometimes girls” “doing foolish things,” such as jumping on the steps of moving streetcars or standing on the tracks playing chicken with an approaching car.  While not technically public transportation, an early solution for public transportation included horsedrawn carriages from the various Aberdeen Hotels. This is a very early image of the Chicago & Northwestern Depot. Courtesy Mike Wiese

A July 4, 1911, story reported that passengers packed the streetcars’ aisles and rooftops because of the “big Redfield-Aberdeen game” at the baseball park and events at Wylie. In 1913, a streetcar crashed into a milk wagon pulled by a horse blind in one eye. Neither horse nor milkman saw it coming. Ahead of their time, perhaps, or maybe addressing World War I labor shortages, the company hired women and, said in a headline, “Women as Motormen Prove Satisfactory.” The women received the same wages as the men. It was not a lucrative business, however. Already in 1911, the company was considering dropping the service. In 1918, despite carrying 374,000 passengers, more than 1,000 per day, it still lost money. The City controlled fares, and when it allowed an increase, the finances didn’t improve. Weather has always been an enemy of transportation, and snow consumed the company’s summer profits. Cars didn’t run for days as crews cleared tracks after blizzards. The early 1920s economic downturn forced the line to close on July 31, 1922. In addition to lack of customers, the demise of streetcars was accredited to “Fords and friendliness”— people transported themselves in their own automobiles and then picked up friends waiting for a streetcar. Rails were removed from streets in stages over several decades, into the 1960s. may/june 2020 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE

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 A Hyde Hub City Lines bus in the background of the 1947 Northern football team on their way to Roswell, NM. Courtesy Beulah Williams Library Archives and Special Collections

Burning Rubber

For much of the three decades after the streetcars’ demise, buses served the city, operated by one company after another, each losing money until it shut down. And then along came another. Repeat. The bus era started auspiciously, maybe even brashly, as the Aberdeen Daily News reported on the day streetcar service ended, “An auto bus made its appearance on the street today offering transportation to fill in the gap when the street cars quit running tonight.” Jerry Smith, “a taxi cab man,” planned to offer transportation to Wylie Park for dances and possibly add more routes “if there is patronage.” This would not be the last link between cab companies and buses. By early August, Smith advertised bus routes, but things ended abruptly. He soon posted notices in the paper that the city routes were discontinued until further notice. At least one cancellation notice appeared the same day as an ad promoting the service. Smith sought City approval and in October drove a bus to City Hall to show the Commissioners. In the end, perhaps due to red tape, no bus line materialized. Or perhaps due to the would-be patrons. In that same October, locals had petitioned the City to call a public vote on creating a municipal streetcar line. The idea went down in a 4:1 landslide—only half as many voted for it as signed the petition. An intense campaign had opposed it, no doubt partly driven by opposition to higher taxes. But the campaign also featured newspaper ads promising “Aberdeen will have a system of complete motorbus transportation…just as soon as the people vote against the dangerous, costly, municipal ownership scheme.” The ad

48 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE may/june 2020

quoted several business leaders from Billings, Montana. Remember that town. Another cause of Smith’s failure may have been the Aberdeen Motor Transit Company, which announced in December 1922 that it would run buses by New Year’s Day, 1923. The prediction was about three months premature, however, and in late February, a newspaper proclaimed, “Aberdeen Adds Latest Idea in Transportation.” Described as local, Motor Transit had ties to a Billings outfit, and one could be forgiven for wondering if it was involved in the streetcar election campaign. For example, a “representative of a motor bus company” addressed the City Commission regarding the vote, suggesting a possible business interest in the city, and asserting that if Aberdeen’s streetcars had carried 380,000 people a year, “with that number of patrons, a motor bus line would pay here.” Famous last words. Motor Transit’s buses ran all day, mostly in the general area served by the streetcars (as did future lines), for eleven years. Signs of trouble cropped up early, however. A West Hill route was dropped within the first year, and the

schedule was halved from running buses every 15 minutes to every 30 minutes. In April 1934, a newspaper reported “Aberdeen to be Without Transportation First Time in 23 Years.” Motor Transit’s manager blamed lack of patronage, and the company moved to Billings. Five months later, E.C. Olander, of the Olander Motor Sales car dealership, applied to operate a bus company. The cost of insurance made him hesitate, but he opened in 1934. Then, true to script, Olander seemed to disappear from the news, although the company may have operated for nine years. Things get a little confusing in the early 1940s when information gets sketchier. In 1942, Mayor O.M. Tiffany urged Aberdonians to use Virgil Heathman’s Aberdeen Bus Service, partly to keep it in business, but also as a patriotic act in World War II: “Now that conservation of rubber has become so necessary, it would seem as if it would be good public policy to save rubber on our own cars as much as possible and use bus service whenever convenient.” It’s unclear where Heathman came from or if he competed with Olander. The 1981 Centennial edition of the American News also mentioned an “out of town couple” who attempted to run a bus service in that era. At some point, Duane Hyde appeared. Operating as Hyde Hub City Bus, the owner of the Red Cab Taxi Company may have bought out Olander or Heathman in 1943. We know the start date only because 1951 stories about him closing mention his 1943 opening. In fact, those seem to be the only stories about his business. He suspended operations in May 1951, intending to resume in October after the summer ridership decline. Repeating a common refrain, Hyde said Aberdeen had never supported a bus line and echoed the streetcar complaint about competition from private cars and people picking up friends at the bus stop: “This type of competition we cannot combat.” He suggested if another bus service opened before October, he might close  This image is from the Aberdeen American News and is of a Hyde Hub City Lines bus. It is parked at the corner of South Lincoln Street and 4th Avenue S.E. The building in the background is the Federal Courthouse/Post Office Building on 4th Avenue.


CHRISTOPHER STANICHAR, CONDUCTOR/DIRECTOR

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 Oscar Herbold and Arnold Travland’s Hub City Transit started up bus service in Aberdeen in the early 1950s but soon changed to providing bus service for Aberdeen schools exclusively. Courtesy Dacotah Prairie Museum

and focus on his Rapid City bus company. Taking the hint, a couple weeks later, Oscar Herbold, a presumably out-of-work Hyde driver, announced plans to start a bus service with partner Arnold Travland of Watertown. Herbold and Travland expected the City to prevent Hyde from resuming, and the City approved their license and cancelled Hyde’s. The line started service in mid-June and eventually became known as Hub City Transit Company. Plagued by high insurance costs and

insufficient volume, Hub City had a difficult ride. Ultimately in 1955, Travland ended the city service, in part because the driver for his last remaining bus was arrested for not having a bus license, an arrest Travland blamed on taxi companies complaining to police. Hub City shifted to school bus service. The private companies were often used for getting students to school—as paying passengers, not a school service. Two more bus lines were approved after 1955,

BUILDING YOUR NEXT HOME

one for a gas station owner in 1957 and another for the Yellow Cab Company in 1959. If either actually launched, neither had staying power because they don’t appear in the news. After that, it seems the capitalists gave up, and no other bus lines were attempted. Still give them credit for attempting to meet a perennial need for transportation, even in a relatively small town. Their lack of success in a period when more shopping and jobs were concentrated downtown, where the buses focused, points to transportation challenges today when growth has spread destinations all around a geographically larger town. Speaking of today, the ride has been extended for the last half-century by the City of Aberdeen, which created Ride Line in 1968, Aberdeen’s longest-running bus service (that 1922 vote must only apply to streetcars). With its on demand service and initially limited focus on clientele, it’s a bus of a different color. That’s public public transportation, and that’s another story. //  Thanks to the K.O. Lee Aberdeen Public Library for research assistance. More detailed accounts of Aberdeen’s streetcars can be found in Sue Gates’ Looking Back: Aberdeen’s First 125 Years as well as “Catch a Car!” in Aberdeen Magazine, Volume 4, 2018.

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 VERSION 2020

 Tom Wanttie, the manager of Ride Line, works year round to address the transportation needs of Aberdeen citizens.

Could You Navigate Aberdeen Without Your Car? In January, we brought you the results of a survey on the ways Aberdeen can grow as we enter a new decade (check out our January/February and March/April 2020 issues). In this part three of the series, we invite you to buckle-up and experience our city from the view of its public transportation systems.

“You can’t understand a city without using its public transportation system.” If this is true, would you be able to say you really know Aberdeen? The quote is one by writer Erol Ozan, who we can safely assume has never been to the Hub City and therefore didn’t base these thoughts on all of us here. His words float around the Internet mostly on travel blogs, inspiring wanderers to immerse themselves into each new city they enter by sitting shoulder to shoulder with its people. One of the easiest ways to do this is to talk with the taxi driver, who has probably lived there her entire life, or at least long enough to know the quickest routes around traffic. Or, you could go one step further and catch the subway or bus and strike up a friendly chat with people who are just going about their usual day-to-day. You’d probably walk away really knowing what life in that new place is all about. I agree with Ozan’s quote that the best way to know a place is to know it’s people. If taking public transportation is the way to do that, though, then admittedly this would mean I have a lot to learn about the region I call home.

52 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE may/june 2020

Driving myself everywhere is something I’ve done since I got my license at age 14. Take away my car, and it would be devastating. Many of you reading this can probably relate. If I want to go somewhere, it’s not a matter of if and how and when I’ll go, it’s a matter of jumping into my car, starting it, and being at the place I want to be. Does this sound like you too? How easy, and how taken for granted. It’s a far cry from my husband’s grandma, Jenny Haar. At age 90, she has made it through her entire life so far without ever driving a car or having a license. She worked at the downtown Virginia Cafe during her teenage years, and when I asked her how she got around to work and school in Aberdeen without driving, she told me she walked (from her house on Lloyd Street) or took a taxi on cold mornings. But, she added, “I was young and a long walk was easy for me then.” Her point hits home. In 2019, the city of Aberdeen completed a Coordinated Transit Plan. Its job is to identify transportation gaps that exist here and the populations affected by those the most. Those identified populations are: seniors, persons with disabilities, and

low-income persons. We could add schoolage children, college students, refugees, and immigrants to this list as well. Getting to work, to your appointments, to your groceries, or to simply visit a friend isn’t as simple as walking or calling a cab for everyone. Enter the Coordination Committee. This group of about 20 or so local stakeholders has been meeting since the end of 2019 to examine ways our city can grow and improve in public transportation. Committee members represent many branches of Aberdeen, including human and service agencies, local government, and transit providers. They’ve pinpointed our major unmet needs as far as public transportation goes, and of these have prioritized the top four, which are: 1. Providing transportation for students coming and going to school. 2. Providing transportation that spans normal business hours (i.e. —for those going to work early in the morning or late at night and for weekend travel). 3. Providing residents more door-to-door service, versus curb-to-curb (more on that in a minute), and

Photos by Troy McQuillen

by JENNY ROTH


“WE HAVE A NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHOSE ONLY MODE OF TRANSPORTATION IS RIDE LINE.” —TOM WANTTIE, MANAGER, RIDE LINE

4. Providing more workforce support transportation to workers within Aberdeen and to those traveling into town from around the region for employment. Currently, Aberdeen Shuttle & Taxi is the only taxi service available in town. Owner Randy VanMeter has operated the business since 2005 and was unable to be reached for an interview. You can also catch a ride just about anytime via the Lyft and Uber apps. But the main form of public transportation here is Ride Line, a service that started back in 1968 to bring meals to elderly. They have since expanded to serve all populations (including those with disabilities) and to become a department of the City of Aberdeen. Manager Tom Wanttie says Ride Line today is made up of 16 buses and 21 staff, including three full-time dispatchers, one full-time mechanic, himself, and the drivers. They give rides in Aberdeen and within a 2.5-mile radius of the city, as well as provide connections to Summit for people wishing to get on the Jefferson Lines bus to Sioux Falls or Fargo. On an average day, they have between 330-380 riders. Rides cost $2 each way per individual and have to be scheduled

by 4:00 PM the prior day. Why the need for advanced scheduling? Half of Ride Line’s funding comes from federal grants. Wanttie explains, “Because we have a taxi service in Aberdeen, we cannot offer same-day rides. That’s a rule put in place at the federal level.” Ride Line is a huge part of the solution concerning transpor tation needs in Aberdeen, but they can’t do it alone. That’s why the Coordination Committee is searching for other resources in town who can help out. About 46 percent of Ride Line passengers are school rides. This means roughly 175 youth depend on Ride Line to get to and from school every day. Wanttie says they often have a waiting list of student riders. They typically start taking reservations for the new school year on June 1 and fill up quickly. If you remember back to our list of the top four unmet transportation needs, rides for school kids is number one. Tom Janish, director of finance for the Aberdeen School District, says when he started his position in 1996, the schools had just eliminated in-town busing. “The state of South Dakota had recently implemented a new funding formula, and the Aberdeen School District was going through significant budget reductions. The budget for busing was reduced from $540,500 to $429,634—about 20 percent— due to this change.” Even so, until 2002 the school did keep out-of-town bus routes for all students in grades K-12. Now, the number of routes has decreased even more. They provide busing for K-8 students who live more than five miles outside of town, and for a fee, also to those living 2.5 to five miles away. Janish explains it would be difficult to get in-town bus routes back because of the expense. “The cost of one rural route is about $45,000. When we eliminated routes in 2002, we took out 10. So to add those in, it would be $450,000. My guess is we would need to add at least three to five more on top of that to cover the entire city, so another $150,000 - $250,000.” With in-town busing through the school off the table for now, the Coordination Committee has may/june 2020 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE

53


—MIKE HERMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BOYS & GIRLS CLUB OF ABERDEEN AREA

been seeking other ways to help kids find rides to school. “We’re still looking,” Wanttie says. “We’ve asked other entities in town that have buses or vans, like churches or the Boys & Girls Club and the YMCA, but those places are all using their vehicles to their max capacity already as well.” Other gaps in Aberdeen’s public transportation include a longer span of service and door-todoor pick up. Ride Line drives from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM Monday through Friday. There are employers in town, specifically in the manufacturing and industrial sectors, whose working hours fall outside of this schedule. Wanttie says, “We have people asking for rides outside of our regular hours, wanting earlier hours than we start driving because their work starts earlier.” Ride Line is also curb-to-curb, not door-to-door. Many populations, the eldery and young specifically, would benefit from having even closer access to transportation. “We’re

54 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE may/june 2020

looking at possibly vanpooling as an option for some of these issues, but that’s in the very initial stages right now,” Wanttie says. Ride Line is busy even in the summer when school kids are on break. Many of them still need rides to and from their activities while parents are working. This summer will be the second year they’ve added their Summer Ride Program. It allows kids ages 6-16 to get on the bus and take it wherever they need to for just $60 for the entire summer, as long as the rides are still scheduled at least by the day before. With Ride Line operating at least 50 percent on federal grants, it isn’t always a guarantee that they will get the funding they need. Some grants cover administrative costs, others pitch in for new equipment and vehicles. Wanttie says, “Getting funding and grants is a process that is always in motion. We aren’t always sure from one grant year to the next what our funding will look like.” For

example, one of their regular grants, which in the past has helped cover the costs of equipment and buses, is not going to be available this year. The South Dakota Department of Transportation, the City of Aberdeen, Avera St. Luke’s, and the United Way are some agencies who make up the rest of Ride Line’s funding, along with fees from riders and private contracts. Even if we can raise the bar higher for public transportation in Aberdeen, we would surely notice if what we did have wasn’t here. Wanttie says, “We have a number of people whose only mode of transportation is Ride Line. Maybe they don’t have a vehicle, or are eldery and can’t drive anymore. People with disabilities, the elderly, youth riders, and the general public— those are all parts of the population we serve.” Erol Ozan’s quote seems more true than ever. To understand how everyone who lives here gets around, and the challenges they face in doing so, is one way we can all better know and take care of each other. //  You can help Ride Line in Aberdeen by donating to the program or by donating bus passes for riders in need. To learn more about Ride Line, or the Coordination Committee, call Tom Wanttie at 605.626.3333.

Photos by Troy McQuillen

"WE OWN AND OPERATE 12 VANS AND ONE MINIVAN, AND WE PICK UP 310-325 MEMBERS PER DAY AT EACH ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOLS AS WELL AS AT THE WARNER AND NORTHWESTERN SCHOOLS. LAST SUMMER, WE TOOK OUR MEMBERS ON 442 FIELD TRIPS ACROSS NORTHEASTERN SOUTH DAKOTA AND MINNESOTA."

 Getting kids to and from school is one of the biggest transportation needs in Aberdeen. The Coordination Committee is searching for entities in town that have buses or vans that could give rides, like churches, the Boys & Girls Club, or the YMCA, but so far those places are already using their vehicles to their max capacity.


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