Memorial Day was once Decoration Day [UPDATED]Published 10:00am Tuesday, May 29, 2012 Updated 12:08pm Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Many people in Otter Tail County have heard from parents, grandparents and others that Memorial Day was once known as Decoration Day.
On Memorial Day many of us will attend veterans services and also visit cemeteries to honor those who have died.
Scores of flags will be seen at cemeteries throughout the county. Monday also is a day to honor all of those who have passed on, in addition to military veterans.
Decoration Day originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers. Fallen Confederate soldiers also have been honored in several states over the years.
By the 20th century Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars. Memorial Day, as noted on various web sites, typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.
Many veterans, before their passing, choose to be buried at state and national military cemeteries. Two of those buried at Fort Snelling in the Twin Cities, who were special men to me, are Fred Heisel and Duane Baglien.
Take the time, if possible, to take part in Memorial Day services Monday and also pause and reflect about those who have passed on.
• • •
Class reunions will again take place this summer for students who graduated from Fergus Falls High School. Many of them will go down memory lane. One topic will be operation of the 23 or so corner grocery stores that operated in the years following World War II, from the late 1940s to the early 1970s.
During the 1950s larger supermarkets closed for the weekend starting late Friday afternoon. Neighborhood grocery stores did well Friday nights, Saturdays and Sunday mornings in Fergus Falls. Many people stopped after Sunday church to pick up meat, potatoes and other food for the Sunday noon meal.
Others wanting weekend snacks stopped late Friday and Saturday at neighborhood grocery stores. Kids rode their bikes to neighborhood stores for candy bars, especially during the summer months.
Some corner stores purchased pop bottles from children who would spend the money on candy. If the bottles were too dirty, the kids would take them home, wash the bottles and return them to the corner stores.
Corner stores also were a place for friendship, fun and laughter, in addition to grocery shopping.
On a hot summer day, during the 1950s, Nesbitt’s quenched the thirst for kids in Otter Tail County and across the nation. Nesbitt’s was advertised as the “largest selling bottled orange drink in the world.”
Another favorite of kids in the 1950s was Nik-L-Nip, a brand of juice that came in a variety of fruit flavors and marketed by Tootsie Roll Industries. The fruit-flavored juice was found inside small, bottle-shaped wax containers.
The 3 Musketeers candy bar was advertised on television during the 1950s-era Howdy Doody Show hosted by Buffalo Bob Smith. Those were the days of black and white television, with only three networks.
This summer, during the class reunions, those grand days will be fondly recalled.
Former reporter Tom Hintgen writes a weekly column for The Journal.