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Former Fargo facility was the birthplace of many readers

Former Fargo facility was the birthplace of many readers

That place means a lot to Eugene “Gene” Jordheim, Casselton, N.D., because he was born there.

Gene has his birth certificate showing he was born there Aug. 3, 1933, although it calls it the Camp Maternity Hospital.

His parents were Norman and Ethyl Jordheim, of Walcott, N.D., where Gene was raised.

Walcott seems to have provided considerable business for the Camp place, because here’s another person who was born there.

She’s Marilyn (Olson) Bensen, who with her husband Robert Bensen now lives in Horace, N.D.

“I was born there (at Camp’s) Jan. 3, 1936,” Marilyn writes.

”The only information I remember hearing was that it was a very cold winter.

“My folks, Oscar and Rose Olson, lived on a farm at Walcott.

“Since I was to be their first child and it was such a terrible winter, with storms and high snowbanks, it was decided mother should be in Fargo for the delivery.

“They tell me that when I was taken home, I was kept warm at our house by keeping me in a large wicker basket on the oven door of the kitchen cook stove.

“A friend of mine, Ralph O. Knudson, of Horace, was also born at the Camp June 8, 1928. He died in 2016.”

Now Kevin Carvell, Mott, N.D., comes up with some history of the Camp home. He knows about it because, he writes, “it was in the old St. Anthony’s neighborhood where my dad grew up.

“It was operated from the first days of the 20th century by Oscar and Jennie Camp.

“In later years, it was a nursing home for women.

“The Camps raised a number of children, and while I’m not sure all of the kids were their progeny or perhaps grandchildren or even infants left behind at the maternity home by impoverished or underaged mothers, one of the last was John Camp.

“John became a real estate investor and dabbler in politics, and one time was a member of the ultra-right-wing John Birch Society and later a close friend of Democratic Fargo mayors Herschel Lashkowitz and Jon Lindgren.

“He especially enjoyed closely examining government records and vouchers and unearthing evidence of misbehavior.

“He served on the governing board of the Model Cities program. But generally, he hated the limelight and preferred slipping his findings to reporters (of which Kevin was one) or to political friends.
“When John died and was buried in 2000, it was in complete secrecy,” Kevin says. “No obit, no death notice, no funeral. Just a tiny gathering in the mausoleum at Riverside Cemetery, attended only by his small family, Mayor Lindgren, myself and the late John Noah, the hockey great who was director of the city auditorium.

“On Camp’s tomb is the inscription, ‘Really, I’m fine.’”

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Now, let’s turn to old-time fiddlers.

Last year, Denice (Prete) Heiser, West Fargo, asked Neighbors’ readers if they could tell her anything about the Old Fiddlers contest that used to be held in Fargo. Her grandfather, Domenico Antonio Prete, who went by “D.A.”, once won the silver cup in the contest for being the best fiddler in the state.

That brought a response from Karen Radtke, Glyndon, Minn.

“I’m not sure that it was the same contest (that Denice wrote about),” Karen said, “but I remember listening to a contest on the radio with my mom, Sonja (Sirjord) Nelson, probably in the mid-1970s.

“Mom’s dad, Harold Sirjord, from Gary, Minn., performed and was recognized as being the oldest fiddler in the contest that year.

“I was just a little girl at the time, so I don’t have any more details,” she said, “but it was probably on WDAY or KFGO radio.”

Any of you folks remember those contests?

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email blind@forumcomm.com.