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Some Questions Do Get Answered

SOME QUESTIONS DO GET ANSWERED

By Carolgene Wolf

Retired Jamestown, ND Teacher 

l'amour & franklin school letter

Louis L’Amour Letter to Franklin Third Grade, Jan. 25, 1983

Louis L'Amour Letter -Note from Carolgene to CsiBack of Louis L’Amour Letter to Franklin Third Grade  Jan. 25, 1983

Back of framed letter: Carolgene’s note to CSi* with a note from Kathy L’Amour

upon the opening of Louis L’Amour elementary school on Sept. 30, 1990.

*Framed letter hangs in the CSi 2nd floor conference room. CSi is housed in the old Franklin School.

SOME QUESTIONS DO GET ANSWERED

 “Did anyone famous ever go to Franklin School?”

“Maybe somebody famous once sat in my desk!”

“Or had class in this very room?”

“Let’s try to find out!”

“How?”

“The library! The Librarian knows everything! Well, maybe just about everything.”

Thus, a conversation was begun in the third-grade classroom on the 2nd floor in the SE corner of Franklin School. The project took a few weeks and included a field trip to the Alfred Dickey Free Public Library. Amazing! That librarian did know Louis L’Amour went to school at Franklin School.

“Let’s write him a letter!”

One student volunteered to help compose the letter to Louis L’Amour. Of course, it had to be taped to the wall, so everyone could contribute and be written on a giant piece of Palmer Penmanship Paper. It needed to be proofread again and again because it was going to “Somebody Famous.” Third graders are not patient! When the letter got to the “good enough stage”,  it was folded and stuffed into a large envelope. Another Field trip! This time to the Post Office which was NOT just across the street where it is now, but…a few blocks away. Surely the Post Master would know how many stamps we needed on the huge envelope the Franklin School Principal had offered with a twinkle of the eye.

The third step was taking turns going down the steps to see if the Third Grade had any mail.

“Only once a day, please!”

It maybe was okay to kind of look over the railing and get a glimpse of the mailman coming or going. Nearly all the students lived in the area, so that mailman had 20+ third graders, their parents, and even some of their grandparents for best friends that month.

Louis L’Amour must have chuckled at our letter and realized how impatient kids can become. In a loooooong three weeks we had an answer. Wow! EXCITING! The student who delivered the letter got to read it to the class. It was even typed! Several of our grandparents had read his books and a few of our parents even owned one or two of his books. One can only imagine the after school and dinner table conversations that night.

More questions the next school day,

“How do we know it came from Louis L’Amour?”

That was a great question.

The postmark looked authentic. After much scrutiny, it was decided the letter was written by Louis L’Amour himself. His typewriter must have been worn and well used because several keys had nicks in the letters produced. It needed a new ribbon!!

The letter itself told us that:

  • Louis thought he had gone to Franklin School until about the fifth grade.
  • He did remember that his classroom had been in the SE corner room because he always liked looking out the window to see what was going on in Jamestown.
  • Whenever he was about to describe a scene in one of his books, he would spend time just sitting quietly in a similar spot. He would listen carefully and observe every single detail from the sound of the whistling wind, to how the cattails smelled, to the way the water rippled in a light breeze.

I kept the letter until it started getting frayed around the edges. When I retired, I had it framed and took it to Chris and Roy Sheppard who had renovated Franklin School. It may very well still be there.

TIMELINE

22 March 1908:  Louis L’Amour born.

1910: Franklin School Opens.

1916-1919: Louis L’Amour attends Franklin School.

Dec. 1982:  Franklin 3rd Grade sends letter to Louis L’Amour.

Jan.  1983:  Louis L’Amour writes back.

Sep. 1990:  Louis L’Amour Elementary School opens in Jamestown, ND

Apr. 2003: CSi moves into Franklin School

Jul.  2010: Carolgene Wolf donates Louis L’Amour letter to CSi

Mar. 2018: Louis L’Amour Stories published by Friends of the James River Valley Public Library System

 

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Louis L’Amour Story – Western Writers Count

Jay Nitschke for AVWESTERN WRITERS COUNT

by Jay Marie Nitschke Current Library Board Member, Retired Spanish Teacher, Drama Director, Fiction Teacher

          Several years ago, when teaching in New Rockford, North Dakota I had an English fiction class on my schedule for the last half of the year.  That year was a bit different than other years because I had three very reluctant readers in my class that were all seniors and all needed another half year credit of English to graduate with their class.  They were not happy to be in the class and made that very clear to me and the others in the class. They did understand that passing that class was necessary for them to graduate and there was not another English class being offered that they could take that would allow them to meet the standards necessary to accomplish the task needed for graduation.

          One would think that in and of itself, that would have been a good motivator for them and they would have been putting their best feet forward toward meeting the necessary goal.  That however, did not seem to be their objective. Doing as little as possible, constantly complaining about the reading material and disrupting the class as often as they could did seem to be their objectives.  After the first novel the class read or should I say the entire class but three boys read I was at my wits end.  I needed to stop the frustration for the other students in my class as well as for myself and the three difficult students.

          That motivated me to call a meeting with my three non-reading students, the principal and their parents. My plan was to seek to find a solution to the problem and to get these boys to graduation with their class.  I knew in my heart they really did not want to not graduate. But did not want to read what we were reading.  I also knew that doing more of what we were doing with the texts I had available in the classroom was not going to motivate them to read or much less discuss literature, so seeking an alternative was a goal for that meeting.

          Like many of that style of meeting, it began with the parents telling the boys they would do the work, the principal agreeing to that statement and the boys looking as dejected as they did every day in class. Seeking to bring about a miracle I ask them what type of novel could they see themselves reading.  Two boys said none and one quietly said why can’t we read a western. Leaping on that simple suggestion, I readily said I would not be opposed to us reading a Louis L’Amour novel in the classroom, stating that he could qualify for a regional writer so it would meet the standards of the class. I knew the principal did not want us adjusting the class for these reluctant students as he was tired of their actions and did not want students in other classes to think they could set the curriculum. By stressing that Louis L’Amour lived in Jamestown, ND for a period of his life he could qualify for the regional writer portion of the class and it could solve the problem.

          After further discussion with the group the principal did agree to buy enough Louis L’Amour novels for the class and the boys had to sign an agreement stating the requirements they had to accomplish for each class or they would be removed and would not be able to graduate. I walked out of the meeting excited that we had a plan a signed agreement and all would be good going forward. 

          That however, did not prove to be the case. Some of my regular students in the class were not happy when I announced that when we finished the novel we were on we were going to read a western novel by Louis L’Amour. One even stated that she did not think we would be able to discuss the things we normally did like, development of character, style of writing etc.  When I asked why she thought that she said, western writers were not “high quality writers.”

          I pushed my relationship with that student a little and asked if she thought I would bring a poorly written novel into the classroom.  Well, she agreed that would be out of character for me and agreed to give it a chance.  The result, Louis L’Amour came into the classroom.

          Discussion of all aspects of literature, like foreshadowing, plot developing, charter building, vocabulary selection continued as was normal in the classroom.  Tests weregiven and the entire class managed to pass the class. My reluctant readers thanked me for letting them read something a little different and some of my standard readers in the class stated in their final essays about the book or the author that they were amazed the quality of writing was more complex then they had imaged and they enjoyed the variety.

          One could say Louis L’Amour saved that class and all involved with the class.  The following year when I was again teaching that fiction class I had students asking if we were going to read a western again. I smiled and said sure, Louis L’Amour was a fine western writer.

  

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Library, Library Story

Louis L’Amour Story: My Dad and a Typewriter, by Beau L’Amour

Beau L’Amour is an author, art director and editor. He has also worked in the film, television, magazine and recording industries. Since 1988 he has been the manager of the estate of his father.

I have no idea of how we were trained, my sister and I, but we knew how to approach my father if he was working and we wanted his attention. We would enter his office picking our way through the piles of books and papers. We would stand to one side of him, just within his peripheral vision, and silently wait while he worked.  Sometimes he would lift his fingers from the keys and say, “Just a minute.”  Then he would go on and complete a thought or get himself to a place in the story that would remind him what he had been intending to say next. Then he was yours…

…for about ten minutes. Before long, you would see the story or some innate discipline calling him back. We never had to worry about interrupting him because, while he was happy to be briefly distracted, he guarded his work time very carefully, and it never occurred to us that he might behave in a different way. “You run along now, I have to get back to work.” He would lean forward then, hunting and pecking at the keyboard, back in the story and perfectly in tune with where he had left off. It seemed as if he always knew exactly where he was going and no interruption could confuse him or even make him pause for very long.*

*L’Amour, B. (2017) Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures Volume 1, xx.

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Libraries, Library, Library Story, News

Louis L’Amour Story: Louis L’Amour and the University of Jamestown

Phyllis Bratton, University of Jamestown,  Raugust Library Director

Shortly after Louis L’Amour’s death, Kathy L’Amour gave the University of Jamestown’s Raugust Library copies of all of his books, and continued to do so for many years after his death, as more were found among his papers and published.  In this gift, she included many translations of his works.

As a result, Raugust Library holds 387 volumes of his work, 189 of them in a language other than English.  These include Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Czech, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Greek, Hungarian, Slovak, Dutch, Hebrew, and Slovenian.  This might be the largest collection of his works in foreign languages in the world, outside of the Library of Congress!

Mrs. L’Amour also gave Raugust Library a set of his bound works in English.  For many years, these were on display with pictures and articles about him in the library’s lobby.  Now, they are housed in the “Listening Room”, where students go to watch DVDs and to use other audio/visual technology.  Library staff added western pictures and photographs to the room to enhance the theme.

Raugust Library welcomes residents of Stutsman County to use our collections.  Library cards are available and users may check out a limited number of items.  We have only two main restrictions:  we do not do interlibrary loan, and we ask that people in the community not come during exam week, as we are very busy helping students finish their semester.

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Library Story, News

Louis L’Amour Story: L’Amour Family, Alfred Dickey and a Reporter

Keith Norman

Keith Norman is a published author. He is a photographer. He is a reporter for the Jamestown Sun. He is a constant researcher at Alfred Dickey Library looking for historical stories about Jamestown and its citizens including Louis L’Amour.

L’Amour Family, Alfred Dickey and a Reporter

Sometimes doing research on a story with the assistance of the Alfred Dickey Library, turns into research about the library.

Recently, during a project gathering information on the Battle of Big Mound, fought in Kidder County in 1863, the books the library supplied gave me an unexpected look at the town of Jamestown and the people who made the Alfred Dickey Library possible.

The book was “Yet She Follows” written by Edna LaMoore* Waldo, sister of western writer Louis L’Amour, about their grandmother Betty Freeman Dearborn. Betty’s father, Ambrose Freeman, was killed at the Battle of Big Mound near Tappen, N.D.

Ambrose’s death and scalping was noted in the author’s notes of a couple hundred million Louis L’Amour westerns over the decades as proof of his western roots.

Edna’s story, actually the recollections of her grandmother about the incident, point out going hunting for antelope in the vicinity of hostiles and a battle can lead to disaster.

The story did not end with young Betty losing her father but continued with her marriage to Abraham Truman Dearborn and their life in Jamestown in the 1880s. It was a glimpse of a Jamestown that was only a decade old.

The Dearborn home, just down the hill from the former site of Fort Seward, was on the wrong end of Jamestown. Even living amidst the seedier side of the frontier town, the family had friends of importance.

According to Edna’s story in “Yet She Follows” the Dearborn family, especially daughter Emily the mother of Edna and Louis, had a friendship with Jamestown businessman Alfred Dickey.

In the fall of 1890, Emily wrote a letter to Dickey asking if he thought she could work as a clerk at the upcoming session of the North Dakota Legislature.

Dickey was a good man to ask, he was the Lieutenant Governor for that initial session after statehood had been granted.

“I would not advise you to do it,” wrote Dickey in response. “The work is light and the pay is good, but unless you have some very good friends to board with, you had better not.”

*LaMoore is the traditional spelling of L’Amour. Louis changed it to a French version.

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Library Story, News

Louis L’Amour Story – Louis L’Amour and My English Class

Bruce Berg

Bruce has taught in the Speech, and English departments at Rugby High School and Jamestown High School. He has taught in the Speech, English and Education departments at the University of Jamestown. He is a published author and frequent contributor to public radio programs.

Louis L’Amour and my English Class

IN 1972 LOUIS L’AMOUR CAME BACK TO JAMESTOWN TO BE HONORED BY JAMESTOWN COLLEGE. I WAS TOLD THAT HE WOULD BE AT THE LIBRARY IN THE LATE  MORNING SO I MADE QUICK PLANS TO TAKE MY 3RD PERIOD ENGLISH CLASS TO THE LIBRARY TO CHECK OUT HIS AGENDA.  NOT MUCH HAD BEEN SCHEDULED FOR HIM AND I FOUND HIM AVAILABLE TO SIT AT A TABLE WITH ME AND ENGAGE IN A BRIEF CHAT.

HIS WRITING SISTER EDNA L’AMOUR WALDO  WAS AT THE EAST END OF THE LIBRARY GIVING A TALK ABOUT HER WRITING.  I WAS CONSCIOUS OF THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO WRITERS AND HAD HEARD THAT LOUIS WAS NOT GENUFLECTED TO BY HIS SISTER. I HAD A PAPERBACK COPY OF L’AMOUR’S “SITKA” AND I ASKED HIM TO SIGN THE BOOK FOR ONE OF THE FEW AUTOGRAPHS I HAVE.  HE TOLD ME THAT THE LIBRARY WAS VERY IMPORTANT TO HIM DURING HIS JAMESTOWN DAYS, 1908-1923,AND HE THOUGHT HE’D READ EVERY BOOK IN THE ALFRED DICKEY LIBRARY.
I DON’T REMEMBER HOW MUCH EXPOSURE MY JAMESTOWN HIGH SCHOOL CLASS HAD WITH L’AMOUR THAT DAY IN 1972, BUT I KNOW HE WAS THE FAVORITE WRITER FOR A NUMBER OF STUDENTS WHO READ LITTLE ELSE.
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Library Story

Louis L’Amour Story: Louis L’Amour and My Dad

Mike Morrissey

Mike Morrissey is a former bootblack, grocery-bagger, and soda-bottler. He has also been privileged to be a teacher, public school superintendent, university professor, and Fulbright recipient

Louis L’Amour and My Dad

_16 Lou L_Amour, Dad and Mom copy

                  Louis, Dad & Mom, early 70’s

I met Louis L’Amour once, and at my age then, the meeting could not have been more perfect. He was passing through Valley City, or, alternatively, he had been brought there by Dad’s brother, Joe, from Jamestown, so that Lou might say hello to Dad after the passage of a lot of years since their last time together.   The time of the rendezvous was post WWII, the exact year of which I am unsure. But the meeting was perfect from my point of view because little was required, and nothing expected of me, a lad of eight or nine, circa 1949. The meeting is in black and white, the color of things post-war. Dad introduced me in the manner of “Son, this is my old friend, Louie L’Amour. We grew up together over in Jimtown…knocked down quite a few mallards back in the day, eh Lou?” I was able to shake hands, utter a syllable or two, and then get the heck out of the room. I disappeared at the earliest opportunity, never to converse with Mr. L’Amour again. If I had realized that he would one day be the most prolific author in the United States, I might have hung around longer. But more than likely, not. It was the way of young boys back then, a full load of tree-climbing and cave digging already on the week’s agenda…maybe a snake or two to be killed. I had heard of Louis L’Amour of course; had formed a picture in my mind’s eye from stories that Dad would tell about taking the younger lad (three years) hunting ducks and geese among the many sloughs that young boys could walk to from Jamestown, shotguns broken and cradled in an arm. Also, Dad’s brothers would mention Lou from time to time when the four of them were together.    After Lou had passed away and Dad was into his decline, I had a copy of L’Amour’s posthumously published Education of a Wandering Man when I visited my parents in St. Paul. “Hey Dad,” I said, “Do you remember this picture being taken?” showing him a picture from left to right, Dad, Uncle Rich, Evan Lougheed, Art Ringuette and Louis L’Amour, looking out over an early Ford pickup. (1922-23)

_7 Dad, Rich, and Lou Model TDad, coming out of the fog of his newspaper article, took a quick look and responded, “Wonder where the hell he found that!” Then, as quickly, back to the newspaper article. In less than ten months, Dad would be able to ask ‘Ol Lou himself… perhaps as they meandered the duck sloughs of eternity.

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Library Story

A Library Story: Libraries and Elementary Schools

Deb Hornung

                                                  3nd Grade Teacher, St. Johns Academy, Jamestown, ND

The James River Valley Library plays a very important role in the elementary classroom.  I have taught elementary children for over 30 years, and have depended on and worked closely with the library throughout each school year, at all levels of teaching.  I have used the library for thematic teaching units, to find as many resources as possible in order to peak student’s interest on a topic, and I also have borrowed books on a monthly basis to use for oral reading when studying heroes of character, such as Dr. Martin Luther King and Mother Theresa.                                                                                

I love the system of calling the librarian and upon communicating the need, she gathers the books of interest for me.  When I arrive, my books are ready, and it is always such an efficient system of enhancing my lessons.  Many teachers in our district use the library in much the same way, and we all encourage our students to get involved in the library programs throughout the school year and in the summer.  We have a direct connection with the librarians, and they are always more than happy to accommodate our needs.                                              

I am thrilled also, that the library offers free books to educators when they have discards.  I have used this benefit throughout my years of teaching and will then donate books to children after using them in my classroom.  I can’t put enough emphasis on the importance of a great relationship between our elementary schools and our community library system.  We are blessed to have a great resource at our fingertips and we utilize the library on a continual basis.      

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Library Story

A Library Story: Libraries and a World Traveler

Andy is an English lecturer at the University of Wisconsin, Stoudt. He has his MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN.

I don’t have any one single story about libraries playing a role in my life, but they’ve always been important. They were especially important for the year and a half after college. I took a year off before grad school to work as a caddy in Chicago and on the Oregon coast, and travel through Australia. Because I never stayed in one place very long, I depended on public libraries for internet so I could stay in touch with friends and family, keep up with current events, research graduate programs, and communicate with the graduate programs I was considering. As an aspiring writer, I depended on libraries as my source for books and films and was able to continue educating myself during that time between college and graduate school.

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Library Story

A Library Story: Woodworth, ND to Mableton, GA

Stephanie Loose grew up on a farm outside of Woodworth, ND. She had a two year enlistment with the U.S. Army, permanently stationed at Fort Campbell, KY where she worked as an equipment supply specialist and had temporary duty singing for the post’s choir. She went to work as a receptionist in Salinas, CA where she remained for 40 years, eventually becoming partner in the CPA firm of Ingraham & Loose. She has a BS in Accounting from Golden Gate University. She was actively involved in local & state politics as a political treasurer in CA. Semi-retired, she now lives in Mableton, GA with her husband John Avery, a retired police officer. She has two children who live in Minnesota and Arizona with their families. Much time is spent traveling the world. Lately, she’s started to be an extra on movies & television shows.

                                                          Woodworth to Mableton

As a young reader, I knew I liked Burgess books. I recall the shape, size and art on the cover and where they were located. I was very surprised years later, when I realized Burgess wasn’t the type of book, but the author.

I was the school librarian for three years at Woodworth High School. All juniors and seniors were required to write a paper on a topic of their choice. We would travel by bus to visit Alfred Dickey Library in Jamestown where we learned about the Dewey Decimal System and how to use the card files.

Not sure why, but it still brings about an excitement when I think about it. Maybe it was the empowerment I felt when I found what I was looking for. I’ve come back to Alfred Dickey library at various times since I left North Dakota in 1975. The Alfred Dickey Library aroma always brings back memories of my high school research.

As a parent in California, I was always within walking distance of the John Steinbeck Library and walked there many times with my son to get our reading material. I organized candidate forums here, in one of rooms available to the community.

Now, a resident of Mableton, Georgia, I live very close to a library. My last trip there wasn’t to get books though, it was to see the total eclipse of the sun.

 

 

 

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