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Dr. Steve Hoffbeck

Contributor, Dakota Datebook
  • On this date, in 1920, a newspaper advertisement touted the virtues of Huiskamp’s “Barn Yard Shoe” and Huiskamp’s Barnyard Shoe Oil. These work-shoes, according to a 1913 advertisement in Valley City, were manure-proof and ammonia proof; guaranteed “not to rot or crack-through from barnyard service.”
  • In our state, as elsewhere, there are internationalists who believe the U.S. should be deeply involved in foreign affairs; and isolationists, who do not believe the U.S. should be heavily involved with nations that don’t want anyone telling them what to do. In the 1930s, the prevailing mood was isolationist – that the U.S. should not intervene as the winds of war swept over Europe and Asia.
  • June is arguably the best month of summer for fishing and for “going to the lake.” Many North Dakotans flock to home-state lakes – Sakakawea, Lake Darling, Spiritwood, Stump, Metigoshe. Folks near the Red River often head into Minnesota. It was on this date, in 1889, that the Bismarck Tribune related some of the happenings on Big Detroit Lake, when North Dakotans were in a whirl of lakeshore fun, jam-packed with boating, relaxation, bathing and angling.
  • 11/24/2017: The most important animal in North America in the 1700s was not the mighty grizzly-bear, nor was it the stampeding buffalo. Instead, the most-important animal in colonial America was the lowly beaver.
  • 11/10/2017: One issue in a democracy is the balance of power between elected leaders and the citizenry. Shortly after the year 1900, a movement arose in North Dakota to establish a process of initiative and referendum, a method allowing voters to make laws themselves, rather than depending upon politicians and lobbyists. The key to initiative and referendum is found in the term itself – voters “initiate” a law. And referendum means a law already passed could be referred back to the people for a vote, allowing voters to “unmake” a law.
  • 10/30/2017: The rivalry between UND and NDSU for football preeminence in North Dakota began long ago, in 1894. At first, UND and NDSU merely contended for bragging rights, but a new element arose after 40 years of gridiron competition. It was on this date in 1937 that UND hosted NDSU in for homecoming, with the winner getting a brand-new prize – a shiny “Nickel Trophy” shaped like a gigantic Buffalo Nickel.
  • 9/13/2017: The year was 1863 and the Civil War raged, far away in the East. The Sibley and Sully military expeditions had driven Dakota tribespeople westward out of Minnesota in a number of battles following the 1862 Indian uprising. And in Dakota Territory there was a day when the Missouri River, near present-day Bismarck, ran red with blood.
  • 8/24/2017: One of the new hazards on today’s highways involves distracted drivers who don’t pay sufficient attention to the vital task of driving a powerful automobile. Talking or texting on cell phones endangers other motorists, pedestrians, passengers – and the drivers themselves.
  • 8/11/2017: Summer for some includes tennis. The ‘thwwwwack’ of a racket has echoed in North Dakota since the mid-1880s, when ‘lawn tennis’ infiltrated the region.
  • 8/8/2017: Americans live in the dark shadow of nuclear weapons; developed during World War II for fear that Nazi Germany might get atomic bombs first. The idea of unleashing subatomic forces came from famous nuclear physicists, including Albert Einstein and Enrico Fermi.