An Evening Stroll in Downtown Fargo

Often times a Wednesday evening walk is in order to counter or shake off the protracted sitting incurred throughout the day (Homo sapien is at a peculiar time in history, the most sedentary we’ve been since emerging out of east Africa some 150,000 to 200,000 years ago). To recap my

A May 2, 2012 photo of Rick Gion in one of his natural habitats.

walk from May 2, 2012, about the 7:30PM hour, I set out from 4th Avenue and Broadway in downtown Fargo and headed south toward Island Park. Along the way I noticed that groups of two-to-five or more gathered here and there, folks wanting to be outside with the short-sleeve temps and all. They tended to station themselves on the sidewalk benches installed at the ends of each block. About a block south of where I started my walk I ran into Rick Gion (or Rick Gion ran into me) to, as we often say, shoot the breeze. After busting each-other’s chops a bit (which is a North Dakota thing to do), Rick rode off to the north and I continued south. After that I called my father on my cell phone, and also thought of the mobility cell phones allow us. Not that many years ago a chat on the telephone required that we seek out a telephone which in turn was attached to a telephone line: this arguably required more social commitment, since you had to call someone, plan on being at a set location, and then do everything possible to make it to that location at the designated time. Today the convenience of cell phones and text-messaging ensures that you will receive something like 3 to 17 texts from the party you intend to meet, first canceling the meeting, then rescheduling the time and location, and then informing one another that you are within 2 minutes of arriving via text. Cell phone technology influences our behavior, but technology does that often. It shifts how we behave throughout time, and tracking this otherwise gradual change is one of the businesses of historians. Phone booths are nearly if not entirely obsolete, now, and I often wonder if in two or three decades (or even sooner) we will look at the 20th century as the Age of the Telephone Land Line. Anyhow, I phoned my dad because before setting out on my walk a couple

About Main and Broadway in Fargo on May 2, 2012. Photo looks west toward the storm dumping rain on central North Dakota.

friends from Bismarck updated their social media web site with information about rain and possible hail. I wanted to check up on that, chat with kin, and since the weather is a very neutral topic, it is a great way to have a conversation with basically anyone in or outside of North Dakota. I stopped just north of the intersection of Main Avenue and Broadway, looked west, and snapped a photo of the eastern tops of the cloud system that was saturating Bismarck. I communicated this to my dad, and then moved on to other neutral topics such as the price of gas, how the Twins are doing, and so on. Eventually I got into Island Park, and visited the Henrik Wergeland statue, which has been a monument for quite some time, a video-history of which can be seen here. I circled the monument, and then to the west noticed a chivalrous scene playing out. I snapped a photo of that as well. “So this is what some people do on Wednesday evenings…” I thought. “Interesting…” By the time I rounded the park, the cell

Knights at Island Park in downtown Fargo, North Dakota.

phone conversation had ended and another couple folks spotted me. So more light banter ensued, and I remember asking the two if they had yet seen the Cold War Comedy, “Spies Like Us.” This was the third time in 24 hours that I’ve asked groups of two or more if they had viewed this movie. Each time the groups have responded with no. For some reason I think it’s important for people to watch it. After that, the final stretch of my walk took me back up Broadway, and I inadvertently ran into Den Bolda, perhaps one of the most accomplished Civil War reenactors in the tri-state area. I say this only after learning that Mr. Bolda had just finished attending another knitting class, this so he could reproduce vintage (aka, knit) Civil War wool socks to wear at all the 150th anniversary mock-battles back east. Nice work, Den. Nice work indeed.

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