Saturday, January 29, 2005

Dunn Center, North Dakota, is a town seven miles from here. It's where my grandparents live in the winter. It's also where I lived for a year and a half in the late 70's when I was in first and second grade. My dad was the bus driver and I'd have to get on at 5:30 every morning while he meandered through the countryside for two hours picking up children. The only school for miles around was in Killdeer, and that's where we'd all end up by 7:30 a.m. Dunn Center is small, with maybe 100 residents, but it does have a bar, post office, and cafe. The cafe is called Alice's Restaurant and is owned by Alice. I've known Alice since I was seven. Next to Alice's Restaurant there used to be a building where an elderly woman named Myrtle Russell lived. Myrtle was considered crazy by most. She had long, silver hair, dozens of cats, and would scream each night, "God damn, I wish I was dead!" Anyone walking down Main Street could hear her. She had scratches and scabs on her legs from the cats. Once she approached me and my pack of urchin pals. Everyone ran but me. She asked me to paint her porch for $5. After I painted it she had me come upstairs to get paid. The cat poop was so thick (at least an inch) that it seemed like a crap carpet. It was EVERYWHERE! She'd feed the cats by throwing a bucket of cat food on her bed and then shutting them all in there as they hissed and howled. She's been dead for twenty years, but I still think of her often.

Anyhow, her building got torn down along with a lot of others. This has been sad for me to absorb, since my Dunn Center years were very formative. I used to chew Copenhagen, ride bikes, fish, and drink a lot of Mountain Dew there. Last week the old grocery store got pushed over. Dad and I spent all of today ripping off the thick, black, tarpaper roofing to get to the 2 x 8 rafters. I'll be using these in the process of framing my own structure someday.


Anonymous said...

It can be hard, can't it? Living in a place like that. Somehow, though, it gets under your skin and into your veins and before you know it to leave is to want to go back again. And not many people understand.


Chris Sand said...

Yup. This region resonates w/ my soul, now.