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Call to Arms


When there's trouble, big or small--be it evil villains, murder masterminds, or even simply a tiny kitten somehow separated from its owner--the door is opened for all heroes to swoop into their separate stories and clean up the trouble. And like a moth to a flame, or better yet, like Batman to the giant bat signal, people come to the rescue.

In 1951, the citizens of North Dakota had experienced just such a call to assist. But they didn't have any Jokers to deal with. Instead, they had a lack of farm equipment and assistance, and a plethora of fields.

The harvest season was soon to begin, and North Dakota was short-handed. It was not expected that much help from out of state would come, and papers said that "if (North Dakota was) to get its crops harvested, citizens throughout the state must help."

On this day, many Dakotans were preparing to help, in some way. Papers across the state reported an appeal for North Dakotans to assist in harvesting the state's crops: "If you drive a truck, a tractor or a combine and will do it on even a part-time basis, then it's you whose help is wanted in harvesting North Dakota's 1951 crop."

Gov. Norman Brunsdale had launched a program to round up approximately 1,200 to 1,500 extra combines and approximately 1,200 extra people to assist. Some details of the plan had yet to be thought out, but Carl Fryhling, director of the state employment agency, was confident that those details would soon be hammered out. He also encouraged everyone able to help—even part-time—to register with the employment service or another volunteer service.

This extra number in machinery would be added on to the 38,000-40,000 already here in the state, and about the same number in farmers, laborers and field hands.

The possibility of using upper-grade boys to harvest was tossed about between those who were considering the options. Senator Young in Washington even tried to get emergency furloughs for servicemen to get extra help in the harvest, but that request was turned down by the defense secretary, George C. Marshall.

And in the end, what else was left but for the heroes to swoop in and save the day?

By Sarah Walker


Fargo, Friday morning, July 27, 1951

Minot Daily News, Friday, July 27, 1951