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The Groundhog and His Shadow

2/2/2016:

As the calendar turned the page from 1940 to 1941, there was more than enough bad news in the papers. The front page of the Fargo Forum reported on the fighting in Europe, and the predictions were bleak. It seemed as if the countries of the world were falling like dominoes before the German Army. And Great Britain was fearful of worsening air attacks.

North Dakotans were aware of the fighting, and concerned for what the future would bring, but there was also positive news as folks were still able to take some joy amid the winter weather. On this date in 1941, the groundhog saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter, but rather than dwell on the length of the winter, plans were in the works for some fun. The Fargo Forum reported that the American Legion post was sponsoring a special eleven-car Northern Pacific train to take almost 300 people to the winter carnival in St. Paul. Another eight-car Great Northern train would carry 100 to the event.

For those who did not want to venture to Minnesota, there was plenty to do in North Dakota. Wahpeton’s sixth annual winter festival featured twenty-six members of the new figure skating club in an exhibition and a competition. They were joined by members of the Fargo skating club. The Wahpeton Independents hockey team held a game against a team from Fergus Falls, and a snowman-building contest was scheduled. The city had collected Christmas trees and planned to burn them in an evening bonfire.

In Enderlin, residents gathered for a hobby show attended by more than 500 people. Exhibits included carvings, paintings, ceramics, and a stamp collection. Local students provided music and performed a play.

Fargo citizens attended an event called “Get to Know Your Hockey,” featuring a game at the Fargo Arena. The program was designed to promote the game of hockey, and cards explaining the rules were passed out to the audience. Ladies were admitted free, and gentlemen were encouraged to bring their wives or girlfriends with the promise that the action would surely give them a thrill.

The groundhog may have seen his shadow, and world headlines may have been grim, but that did not stop the hearty residents of North Dakota from enjoying winter in 1941.

Dakota Datebook Written by Carole Butcher

Sources:

The Fargo Forum, 2 February, 1941

“Ice Carnival Scheduled for Wahpeton”

“Hobby Exhibit for Enderlin”

“400 Persons Ride Specials”

“See That Hockey Game”

“Groundhog Sees His Shadow”