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Otter Tail Historical Society remembers the 50's

Storyteller Bob Gasch was guest speaker. He wore western apparel--like his TV heroes from the 1950's, such as Gunsmoke and Roy Rogers.1 / 2
The Perham High School Swing Choir, under the direction of Kevin Kosiak, far left, performed in vintage clothing for the "Remembering the 1950's" annual dinner for the Otter Tail County Historical Society Oct. 15 in Perham.2 / 2

It was a time travel experience for the Otter Tail County Historical Society as nearly 100 enjoyed a "Remembering the '50s" annual meeting in Perham Oct. 15.

Perham's old "Tick Tock Tavern" was among the memories recalled from the 1950's. Also noted was a 1955 story in the Perham Enterprise Bulletin which reported that two sets of triplets were born within eight days at the St. James Hospital-at odds of more than 15,000 to one.

Meanwhile, at the old Dramann's Store, dresses were on sale for $5; dress shoes were $4.88 and winter parkas were $13.88. At the old Perham Fairway Foods and Red Owl, t-bone steak was going for 49 cents a pound.

This was one of the relatively few annual meetings the Fergus Falls-based organization has held at the east side of the county. In recognition of the occasion, the Perham Lakeside Golf Course/Mulligan's crew dished up the best of the early rock n' roll era for the 1950's-theme dinner.

Baby Boomers from anywhere would have been right at home in the Mulligan's banquet room. Just like a Sunday after-church dinner in 1958, mashed potatoes, pot roast and green beans were served family style­­-topped by a cherry pie and ice cream dessert.

The dinner drew rave reviews from Historical Society members-as did the Perham High School Swing Choir, under the direction of Kevin Kosiak. Dressed in 50's skirts, denims, white t-shirts and James Dean leathers, the boy-girl ensemble delivered its first performance of the school year to enthusiastic applause. For the older-than-average crowd, it was refreshing to hear that teens today can still sing beautifully-in a contemporary music scene flooded with rap and heavy metal.

Bowls of candy were served-every one of them filled with "retro candy." Double Bubble gum; Bit O' Honey; root beer hard candy; gumdrops; red and green suckers; and Milk Duds. Salted Nut Rolls, made by Minnesota's Pearson Candy Company, which is marking a 50th birthday this year, were also served.

On display were toys, books and other objects from the days of the early Baby Boomers. Remember the Slinky? Mr. Potato Head? Dr. Suess? Dick and Jane learn-to-read books?

Some Historical Society members came dressed in 1950's attire.

Guest speaker was master storyteller Bob Gasch, who led a humorous discussion, with audience interaction, about the 1950's.

In the spirit of the work of history organizations, he encouraged the audience to share memories and generate conversation across the generations to preserve family and community memories.

Holidays are an especially good time to reminisce with families, said Gasch. To get the discussion going-bring out memories by asking about favorite pets, first cars, first girlfriends, first movies, favorite stores and other simple topics of daily life.

Business meeting report shows deficit for Otter Tail Historical Society

With the annual dinner, there was a brief business meeting-but the financial reports were not exactly "the good old days" like the 1950's.

Year to date, the Otter Tail County Historical Society is showing a $45,814 deficit. Fundraising, grants and contributions are the revenue categories that have been hit the hardest.

Expenses have been cut by nearly $20,000 compared to 2008, but it wasn't enough to keep ahead of the revenue decline.

Membership has remained fairly steady in recent years, with a total of 1,082 members.

Phelps Mill historic site reports record visitation

At Phelps Mill historic site, the news was better, as Richard Osman, Battle Lake, reported that visits at the park were up 18 percent. Visitations broke the 22,000 mark over the course of the year.

A new security system, to combat the vandalism that occasionally occurs at Phelps Mill, has been installed--including five cameras, as well as seven smoke detectors as a fire prevention measure, said Osman.

Osterfeld, Oelschlager represent East Otter Tail

East Otter Tail representation on the Historical Society board continued, as Diana Osterfeld, of Perham Township, was elected to another term.

Also representing the east side of the county is Karen Oelschlager, a teacher in the New York Mills school system.

The "east side" is also served by the History Museum of East Otter Tail, which operates two museums, including the ITOW Veterans Museum; and the East Otter Tail Historical Society, which manages the Pioneer Village grounds north of Perham.