Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ponsford Fire

Tuesday evening as I was all stretched out on the couch watching American Idol ( I like Crystal Bowersox and Casey James).  Far Guys pager went off, the report was "The old feed store next to the Fire Hall in Ponsford is on fire."  Well there is no feed store, but there is an old grocery store.  I lept up and said "Can I go too?  I will get some photos! "
 The Ponsford Grocery Store  in  2009
Granted the old grocery store was a pile of falling down building, but in my mind it is still the grocery store of my childhood.  We could see the flames from the end of our driveway..five miles away cross country.

I was too little to see over the top of the counter..Ray or Bev would lean over and say Hi..they called everyone by name.  We went there once a week, just for the necessities that a farm family needed..sugar, flour, toilet paper, soap, sometimes bananas, oranges and apples, on a really good day..Ice Cream!!

Ray and Bev lived in the back of the store, they had sons much older than me, they were in the upper grades in school when I was little.  On Halloween you had to stop by their back door..for a full size candy bar. I thought I had died and gone to candy heaven with an entire candy bar that I did not have to share with my baby brother, or one that did not have to be sliced into four equal sections and put on a plate on the kitchen table and shared with everyone.

The floors were wooden, they were warped..they had a mind of their own with their hills and valleys.  The aisles were narrow, I do not remember a shopping cart, but there were shopping baskets.  Sometimes I would be in charge of taking something up to the counter, if anything strange was added..my Mother would know. Sometimes she would be short of money..One time she was short and I told her "Just write a check"  Thinking of course that the checkbook was an endless supply of money.  How could you be broke when you have a checkbook??  Sometimes things would have to be put on account..and paid for later when the milk check came.  My Mother never liked putting anything on her account.

The shelves were stocked practically to the ceiling, full of wondrous things that I had never eaten.  Things that I never learned to eat..so therefore I still don't eat them..like boxed breakfast cereal and pancake syrup.

Going to the store was an event, that is where you heard who was sick and on their death bed, who was getting married and who was having a new baby.  News..a side effect from needing a few groceries. 

Sometime in the mid 1960's Ray and Bev sold the store and moved to Frazee.  I believe they moved after their youngest son graduated from high school.   New people by the name of Cullen purchased the store.  They had a girl named Sheila who was a year older than me, we rode the same bus until the route was split. She later became the Homecoming Queen her senior year, not only because she was beautiful..she was friendly too.

There were lots of memories in the flames that rendered this old store into a pile of ash.  No doubt this was Arson..the Natives are restless.
April 06, 2010 
Carsonville Firefighters 


Far Guy 
The local papers reported nothing on this fire..apparently it was not news worthy:(
Update from Holly Anderson about the old store: 
My parents (Dale & Linda Anderson) bought the store from Cullens and ran a grain cleaning business out of it. That's why they called it the feed store in the fire call. When I was little, that is what I remember; climbing on top of piles of brown sacks of wheat seed ready for sale and the sound of the cleaner. The store has sat empty since the early 80s and the last time anyone used it was for the Ponsford Centennial in 1990.
************************
Update from Chuck Masog: 
I can add some history about the Red Owl store in Ponsford. My name is Chuck Masog. My folks were Bev and Ray Masog and the four of us including my brother John lived behind the store. They purchased it the winter of 1947-48 from Mr Colgrove and ran it until we moved to Frazee in the summer of 1958. John and I went to school at Linnell grade school 3 miles east on MN Highway 225 and Park Rapids High School.
It was primarily a grocery store but we also sold feed, tires, firewood, drugs, Lee jeans, and oil and gas. We sold and delivered bulk gas and fuel oil to farmers, resorts and households. Dad had a 400 gallon tank and pump specifically made to fit our 1952 Ford F3 pickup by Marvin Longforce who owned the garage. We bought and candled eggs from the farmers and sold them to Pederson-Biddick in Wadena

There were five grocery carts and one checkout counter which gives you some idea of the size of the store. The clientele were predominately Indians and farmers but with a nice influx of tourists in the summer from Iowa and Illinois. We also supplied the scout camp on Many Point Lake and I recall making 800 minute steaks which was part of their weekly order and was an all day job for our small meat equipment. Some of the unique items we sold in the store were bulk lutefisk and herring which came in wooden 25 pound pails, and bulk vinegar which came in 50 gallon wood barrels. Popular items in the meat counter were bacon squares (smoked pig jowl) which sat on top of the meat counter unrefrigerated and sold for 19 cents/pound, and pork neck bones. Our entire frozen food section was one open topped freezer that was about 3x4 ft and stocked predominately with frozen juice and meat pies. We also sold a lot of Mennen skin bracer as that was the drink of choice after the 5 beer joints were closed about 1954 because of a shooting that resulted in death.
My folks were good hearted and one could pay cash or charge it. This is not a business model I would recommend to anyone as not everyone paid up.
Dad remodeled the front of the store in the mid-50s and used vertical redwood siding. I saw the store in 2005 and was impressed with how well the redwood stood up over the years. I was also impressed with the how modern the front of the building and signage were, even to this date.
My dad also bought furs and wild rice. Ricing season, which started in last August, was the busiest and most exciting time of the year, with long hours. In the early years, the rice was sold to a processor in Aitkin, MN and in later years my Dad processed the majority of the rice himself on a 40 acre farm about a mile west of town.

29 comments:

  1. What a shame. I can't believe the newspapers did not even cover the story. Thank the Lord for Far Guy and the other firefighters.
    I really enjoyed your memories of the store and what it meant to your family. Children today have no such memories. Kinda sad.

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  2. First of all thanks to Far Guy and folks just like him who puts their life on the line against monster fires. It's so very sad when a historical place filled with so many memories is destroyed in such a tragedy. SHAME, SHAME on the local newspaper for not finding the story newsworthy.

    Ya'll have a beautiful day!

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  3. Thanks for the post -- I heard about it Wed. noon at work -- I said really I didn't smell smoke? Looks like all that old wood burned very hot! The newspaper goes to print on Tues noon so maybe the weekend paper will have something... Lots of history of a productive small town at one time. We couldn't see any flames - too many trees in between! Thanks Connie glad Far Guy took you with! Now I better get to work...

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  4. Great post - I hadn't heard that the old store burned. Just went to town now (THursday am) and met Stevie racing to the fire hall - another fire. Like you said Restless Natives! Your pictures should be submitted to the newspaper!

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  5. This brought about memories of the small grocery I visited in my youth. I wish we still had stores like that today. Too bad it burned down, I sure hope they catch the guy.

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  6. Your memories of the old grocery brings back many of my own. Hard to imagine in this day of super sized supermarkets that our mothers were able to get everything they needed from those little places. They certainly were community gossip and news hubs.
    Far Guy looks quite dashing in his yellow firefighter suit. Thank goodness for heroes like him that are willing to jump in at a moment's notice and be rescuers.

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  7. I'm so sorry. It is hard when stuff like that happens. The old store sounded like a great place to go with your Mom. Years ago I went back to my home town to find the house I was raised in and it was gone. A completely new and different house stood on the same spot. I was truly sad.

    I just have to ask though - what do you put on your pancakes if not syrup? :)

    The Duchess

    PS Crystal and Casey are my favorites too. Such talent!

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  8. Buildings have so many memories and it was good to hear of yours about this building. We lost a local building that had been a Blacksmith store. I knew one of the guys who worked there but I never knew as a place to shoe your horse. I still hated to see it go down. I am glad that you didn't have freezing weather while they tended the fire.

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  9. What a shame! People do some of the worst things in the name of 'fun'. Your photos are 'wow'.

    Thank Far Guy for his service, it's people like him (and you) that keep us safe!

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com/

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  10. How sad to see but with your memories and pictures you have really preserved its history.
    Hats off to Far Guy and the FD, it looked like a real inferno.
    Sunny

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  11. It is sad to see the building burned, hope they catch who did it.

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  12. Your description of the old store was so melancholy. It's sad that people today will never have that closeness, only the big super stores that don't care anything about them, only their money. A great post about an icon to many, I'm sure not just you...

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  13. I think your story and pictures should be in the newspaper. After all you are a great reporter.
    Patsy

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  14. It is sad when a piece of history is destroyed, especially when it is arson. And many small town newspapers are forgetting what is important. I used to work for one and I would write about the community, past and present. But my publisher thought I should write about "blood and gore".

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  15. Sorry that your childhood store is gone. Your photos are very well done, and Far Guy a firefighter! I didn't know that! I love small town life where so many community members volunteer to help provide the essentials of life.

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  16. I agree that you should write the article for the paper. And I didn't know that Far Guy was a firefighter either. So you are married to a man in uniform!

    You wrote a great tribute to a place of history in your community. Your pictures of the fire are brilliant! Does a person have to have a bit of special knowledge to photograph at night? I believe the answer to me is probably, "Well, duh - - - of course."

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  17. What a sad sight to see a part of history burn.Glad you have pictures of it before it burned.Sounds like your local paper is like our local paper!!!!

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  18. This is such a sad story. A few weeks ago a landmark court house near us burned down.

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  19. You did a great write up, just the way I remember it too. Those there the good old days. Simple, safe, familys working together, neighbors helping each other. When a simple drive to the local grocery store had all you needed, they had shoes, yard goods, etc. Yes and that Ice cream, hum! GW

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  20. Hi, I found your blog when I did a search for the Ponsford fire. It was so nice to read about your memories of the store and the photos of the fire are really amazing.

    My parents (Dale & Linda Anderson) bought the store from Cullens and ran a grain cleaning business out of it. That's why they called it the feed store in the fire call. When I was little, that is what I remember; climbing on top of piles of brown sacks of wheat seed ready for sale and the sound of the cleaner. The store has sat empty since the early 80s and the last time anyone used it was for the Ponsford Centennial in 1990. Since then, I'm sad to say my brother and I let it fall into ruin, because we didn't know what to do with it. It was too old and in bad shape to fix it, and the reality was that it wasn't going to support a business. Ironically, after all these years of watching it fall, I was making arrangements to have it torn down this week. Then I got a phone call saying it had gone up in flames. I'm driving out tomorrow to see what is left.

    You know, the only thing I really regret is not removing the old signs that were on the abandoned building for years and years. Eventually they were stolen. There was the large metal side that hung on the east side advertising Bubble Up pop and a small metal sign that hung on the west side that said "Ponsford Grocery."

    Anyway, it was time for it to go, but it is still sad to see Ponsford fade away.

    Thanks again for your memories and photos.
    Ho||y

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  21. But now this store lives on in all our memories, thanks to your good reporting. And I hope you were taping Idol so you didn't miss a thing!

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  22. Thanks everyone for your comments!
    Duchess, I put only butter on my pancakes!
    Miss Lynda, The fire was bright enough that the photos were easy to take without a flash. If I had my tripod along I could have used my night setting..but I didn't so..I just did my best.

    Holly, Thanks for solving the feed store question! I used to buy sunflower seeds for the birds from your Mom..she was a heck of a gal.
    I will add that info to the bottom of the post..to keep the history accurate! :)

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  23. Oh no - not arson! Love your memories of the old store.

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  24. Great pictures Connie....too bad its a sad ending to all that history though.

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  25. Interesting bit of your local personal history, sad circumstances for the telling though.

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  26. I can add some history about the Red Owl store in Ponsford. My name is Chuck Masog. My folks were Bev and Ray Masog and the four of us including my brother John lived behind the store. They purchased it the winter of 1947-48 from Mr Colgrove and ran it until we moved to Frazee in the summer of 1958. John and I went to school at Linnell grade school 3 miles east on MN Highway 225 and Park Rapids High School.
    It was primarily a grocery store but we also sold feed, tires, firewood, drugs, Lee jeans, and oil and gas. We sold and delivered bulk gas and fuel oil to farmers, resorts and households. Dad had a 400 gallon tank and pump specifically made to fit our 1952 Ford F3 pickup by Marvin Longforce who owned the garage. We bought and candled eggs from the farmers and sold them to Pederson-Biddick in Wadena

    There were five grocery carts and one checkout counter which gives you some idea of the size of the store. The clientele were predominately Indians and farmers but with a nice influx of tourists in the summer from Iowa and Illinois. We also supplied the scout camp on Many Point Lake and I recall making 800 minute steaks which was part of their weekly order and was an all day job for our small meat equipment. Some of the unique items we sold in the store were bulk lutefisk and herring which came in wooden 25 pound pails, and bulk vinegar which came in 50 gallon wood barrels. Popular items in the meat counter were bacon squares (smoked pig jowl) which sat on top of the meat counter unrefrigerated and sold for 19 cents/pound, and pork neck bones. Our entire frozen food section was one open topped freezer that was about 3x4 ft and stocked predominately with frozen juice and meat pies. We also sold a lot of Mennen skin bracer as that was the drink of choice after the 5 beer joints were closed about 1954 because of a shooting that resulted in death.
    My folks were good hearted and one could pay cash or charge it. This is not a business model I would recommend to anyone as not everyone paid up.
    Dad remodeled the front of the store in the mid-50s and used vertical redwood siding. I saw the store in 2005 and was impressed with how well the redwood stood up over the years. I was also impressed with the how modern the front of the building and signage were, even to this date.
    My dad also bought furs and wild rice. Ricing season, which started in last August, was the busiest and most exciting time of the year, with long hours. In the early years, the rice was sold to a processor in Aitkin, MN and in later years my Dad processed the majority of the rice himself on a 40 acre farm about a mile west of town.

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  27. Chuck, Thanks for all the great history about the store, I appreciate all the info..I believe it is interesting enough to be brought forward in my blog..you wrote enough to be the guest blogger for Wistful Wednesday tomorrow June 30. I am sure that all of my readers local and worldwide will appreciate your recollections..thank you! Your parents were special people, some of the kindest people I have ever met:)

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  28. What was the building in the 30s and 40s?

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    Replies
    1. It was a grocery store call Colgrove Grocery as far as I know:)

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comments! If you have a question I will try to answer it here. Connie