Committee joins Ghost Towns of North Dakota
“The mayor says he can’t balance the budget with the expense of the community hall on his back,” announced Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ork Dorken to the town citizenry assembling in the building doomed by the mayor. “If we don’t support ourselves, he’s going to abolish the committee, shut out the lights and lock the door.”
“It’s the hard facts,” added Alert Officer Garvey Erfald. “I saw the figures myself. We lost three people in the Census so we will be getting less money from the state. It’s snow removal or the hall.”
“But the Homeland Security Committee is the only social life I have,” argued Orville Jordan, the retired railroad depot agent who never left town when the railroad did.
“Let’s think positive,” suggested Ork. “We need to come up with a fundraiser to keep this place open.”
“We could have a rummage sale,” proposed Josh Dvorchek, “but everything I own has already been through three rummage sales.”
“Now if we reorganized as a farm co-op and used vacant lots for raising crops like carrots or beets, we could open a vegetable stand, then if we had a crop failure, we could get crop insurance from the government,” Holger Danske offered in one long breath.
“Too much paperwork and we ain’t got nobody who does paperwork,” Old Sievert pointed out.
“Let’s start a ghost town,” suggested Little Jimmy, the online college student waiting for his parents to come back from hunting for gold in the Yukon.
“I see on Facebook.,” Jimmy started.
Einar Stamstead interrupted. “What’s Facebook?”
“It’s for people who don’t read newspapers,” Jimmy responded and then continued. “These two guys in Fargo have started Ghosts of North Dakota for towns that are past their prime.”
“Well, we passed that about 1936,” Einar interjected. “How’d you make money being a ghost town?”
“They have 10,000 ghost town fans on Facebook and if we declared ourselves a ghost town these people would come and experience overnights so we could start bread and breakfast places to raise money,” Jimmy explained.
“Well, I have one double bed so I could make room for one, sort of stay on my side of the bed,” offered Holger.
“That would be an experience,” Madeleine observed.
“We don’t have big breakfasts at our house,” Orville noted. “Can’t hardly charge anybody for a bowl of corn flakes.”
“It would be more of a ghost town kind of thing if we put them in empty houses,” Holger proposed. He didn’t like the idea of sharing his bed with strangers, anyway.
“There’s the old Duccek house across the tracks,” suggested Orville. “Nobody lived there since Golvin slugged Gerda and headed for Deadwood, and she ran off with that kettle salesman from Kansas City.”
“Then every weekend we could put on a ghost dance here in the hall,” Jimmy suggested. “We could hang some old lanterns aroundhave a few candlesmake it real creepycharge by the dance.”
“Great idea!” Garvey exclaimed. “I move we declare ourselves a ghost town open for business.”
“Might as well, seeing as how we’re going to be a ghost town whether we want to be one or not.” Holger added.
Ork banged his Coke bottle. “Everyone in favor say ‘aye’, the motion is carried, and we are officially a ghost town.”
The meeting erupted in cheering not heard since 1935 when Satchel Paige waved from a Pullman car as the Great Western Zephyr roared through town on the way to an exhibition baseball game in Devils Lake.
Omdahl is a UND professor emeritus in political science and a former lieutenant governor of North Dakota.