Dr. Steve Hoffbeck | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Dr. Steve Hoffbeck

Many Baby Boomers recall the years when automobiles did not have seatbelts. A 1964 public-service song became a brain-worm: “Buckle-up for safety, always buckle up. Show the world you care, use it everywhere. Buckle-up for safety. When you're driving – Buckle-Up!”

Christmas bells ring in many forms – church bells, jingle bells, sleigh bells – all bringing forth heart-warming holiday memories.

Salvation Army bells also hearken recollections of bygone December days. It was on this date, in 1894, that the Grand Forks Corps of the Salvation Army first became established, tasked with doing good works and deeds of Christian charity for the poor and downtrodden.

Arguably, the greatest U.S. invention in the 1800s was the railroad, because railways tied the nation together, building commerce across the land. If a town had a railway, it had life, conversely, if a town did not get a railway, it died.

Pledge of Allegiance

Oct 21, 2019

There have been times in North Dakota when students in public schools regularly recited the “Pledge of Allegiance” as a patriotic classroom habit. With hands over hearts, young people saluted the “Star-Spangled Banner,” vowing loyalty to country and flag.

It was on this date, in 1892, that school children in the state spoke the allegiance for the first time, commemorating Columbus Day.

Sauerkraut. The very word, brings to mind pungent thoughts, smells and memories. Overpowering aromas of zesty, naturally fermented cabbage – called “sour cabbage” – empowers strong reactions.

Either you love sauerkraut or you don’t.

The German-Russians who founded the town of Wishek embraced sauerkraut, holding it close to their collective hearts, so much so, that Wishek has become the self-proclaimed “Sauerkraut Capital of the World.” Every second Wednesday of October, the townspeople celebrate “Sauerkraut Day” – the day when all who come to Wishek get treated to a meal of sauerkraut with wieners and mashed potatoes. A sauerkraut feast served for free.

In the year 1890, inventing a talking doll seemed like a brilliant idea to Thomas Edison. He had already captured sound on tin-foil-coated records with his phonograph invention in 1877, but tin-foil was too fragile.

Wax records proved to work better than tin, making phonograph technology marketable. But how could Edison sell phonographs?

That’s where the idea of talking toys came in. The Edison Phonograph Toy Manufacturing Company installed a small wax cylinder phonograph inside a 22-inch doll that featured a porcelain head, metal body, and wooden arms and legs. Each tiny phonograph included a 20-second-long recording.

Whooping cough was among the scariest of childhood diseases. Known also as pertussis, whooping cough came from the bacterium “Bordetella pertussis.” Adults could get whooping cough, but its effects were deadliest in children. Consequently, whooping-cough epidemics, before the days of antibiotics and vaccines, were greatly feared, for its germs were highly contagious.

How the West was Won

Aug 22, 2019

Harold Schafer loved the idea of the “American West,” just as he loved the reality of the West.  Schafer (1912-2001) will always be remembered as the Bismarck businessman who made his fortune manufacturing Gold Seal floor-wax and Mr. Bubble bubble-bath. He subsequently invested heavily in restoring historic Medora, making it the state’s supreme tourist attraction. Interestingly, Harold Schafer’s love of the West also got him into a Hollywood film in the 1960s.

In the heat of summer in 1885, at Fort Abraham Lincoln, on the west bank of the Missouri River, Captain Macauley saw something he had never seen before.

The river had spawned millions of mosquitoes and their bites were so bad that Captain Macauley could only remain outdoors if he wore heavy riding boots, “thick trousers, leather gauntlets,” a head-net, and a neckerchief tucked between his hat and shirt-collar.

Round Barns

Jul 26, 2019

For many decades, a barn was the most important building on North Dakota farms, protecting the livestock from the harsh weather. Pioneers built simple barns for oxen, cows, or horses, and sturdier barns when they could afford it, with spacious haylofts to provide sufficient fodder for the long winters.