I pulled into the church parking lot. It’s gravel, so you feel the car grip the car in a way smooth roads don’t. Or are you imagining that? Simultaneously stronger, but less secure. The tires seem to enjoy the challenge.

There’s a graveyard next to the graveyard. One is ancient, at least by Midwestern standards. The other is new, and dedicated to veterans. One has a scattered collection of individual markers. The other has a uniform style, everyone arrayed on parade. When I was there a hoe was turning up the earth for a new arrival.

No such action at the church graveyard. I don’t think anyone’s been added since I left. There’s one new marker, but it’s open-ended. just the birth date. It looks as if it's celebrating someone who turned out to be immortal.

One of the oldest:

Another, with a lamb. Time has weathered it so it looks like a dog from a distance.

Dogs are better than lambs, I think. Lambs are innocent. But lambs are led to what? Right. A dog is faithful and constant. I know, I know, the religious angle. But still.

It’s possible no one puts a stone dog sleeping on a tombstone or over the grave because that, well, that would be too depressing. The place is bad enough, but that puts you over the edge.

My parents graves are some of the first you encounter. Side by side, and next to my mother’s parents. Chatted a while. It feels self-conscious and forced at first until it doesn't. There's no one else here, after all. No one else on this side of the grass. The workmen in the other cemetary can't hear you over the backhoe.

The fact of the coffin sometimes feels like an anchor. You imagine your loved ones out there, in the ether, atomized and yet coherent, but then again there's the fact of the coffin and the fact of its contents, and it all seems terribly silent and final. Which, of course, it is.

I left the churchyard without seeing the damage. Last June:

HARWOOD, N.D. (KFGO) – Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner says the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has taken over the investigation into a suspicious church fire.

Someone opened a propane tank by the side of the church and ignited it. Someone tried to burn it down.




Drove downtown to my hotel. Ladies an Gentlemen, FARGO:

It's the Jasper Hotel.

Also a corporate HQ. It has a plaza where once, for decades, there was just a parking lot.

How did it feel to be back? I felt jaunty! I was going to meet sis and bro-in-law, but was staying at the hotel for a story. It was cool to stay downtown, and see old friends. By which I mean buildings and signs.

The use of Papyrus is lamentable, but the sign . . .

It goes way back. For all the years I was growing up:

The "White" and "Banner" changed over time, though. Obviously, that's not original to the sign.

The Black Building is being renovated. Seems to be taking a while. I stopped in the lobby to see if the elevator doors are intact, knowing, of course, that they would be. No one would undertake a restoration and remove this.

It's also impervious to time, it seems. The entire lobby is timeless.

When I was a kid these eagles seemed to carry the weight of the entire government.

When I lived here there wasn't a skyway. Now there is. I'm not sure how vital it is to downtown commerce. Perhaps they intended a downtown system, but it didn't pan out. This sign was a relic:

That was the old mall. Downtown had two downtown malls built in hollowed-out department stores. Gift shops with candles and cards, cookery stores, scarves and shoes. Both malls failed, as they always do. There doesn't seem to be any pictures of the Elm Tree Square Mall on the internet. Except for mine.

Through the windows you can see the renovation in progress, and note the old railings, like something glimpsed when the submersible turned up the wreck of the Titanic.

A big surprise at the end of Broadway:

I'd heard that the old office building - a bank, always a bank HQ, and for a while the premier office address - was under renovation. But they're adding some steel at the top. Bell Bank has it now. It's gutted, in the process of a rehab.

I'm guessing people will be expected to go back to the office when it's done. You don't spend that much money without expecting people to be present.

Not everything abides. The American Legion has moved, somthing that probably happened a long time ago. Love the mid-century sign:

From the parking ramp of my hotel, our old friend the Sunny Brook Liquor Cowboy smiles.

As this Flickr site notes:

The original Sunny Brook Whiskey advertisement was painted on the wall in 1949. A week after the advertisement was painted, a temperance group had it whitewashed. By 2001, the whitewash had worn away, revealing the fading original advertisement. In 2003, the advertisement was restored.

There are many pages on this restoration, but none I can find cite the original ad source. Which is:


Kidding! (Sort of.) There seems to be but one place to find the last remnants of the original, and that would be lileks.com/fargo.

Tomorrow: Fargo by Night.




It’s 1923.

Note: the claims in this ad are absolutely and completely true PROVIDED your feet are actually under attack by small demons, working in concert to mortify your pedal extremities.

Nothing like an oxygenated foot


Obviously a British ad, since we’re talking about getting your tooth powder from the chemist’s.

At some point the word “toothpaste” completely replaced “tooth powder,” and no one spoke the latter again.

Someone was the last person on earth to request Tooth Powder.

It’s partly a matter of a smaller number of available products, and partly a sign of the importance people put in such things. It seems like a lot of to-do for a hair brush, is all I’m saying.


"Tufts of bristles" doesn't sound too soft.

“Have some Bengers!”

“Bengers what?”


“What is it, though?”

“It’s food!”

Says this page:

Benger’s Food was a commercial food powder to be mixed with milk that was popular in the first half of the 1900s. It was a bit more scientific than Ovaltine, however, as it was made with "wheat-flour and an extract containing the digestive ferments of the pancreatic juice." The digestive enzymes, when added to milk and heated, would start to break down the starches in the wheat into sugar and pre-digest the milk. The drink was allowed to sit for anywhere before 5-45 minutes before consumption, depending on the need of the patient.

Never had much call for it, myself.

Speaking of highly scientific compounds:

It has its own wikipedia page, of course.

Andrews Liver Salts was first sold from 1894, by William Henry Scott and William Murdoch Turner. Their business in the north-east of England originally imported margarine in the 1870s and 1880s. Their offices were in Gallowgate, Newcastle upon Tyne, and the product was named after St Andrew's church nearby. The trademark "Andrews Liver Salt" was registered in 1909. From the 1930s, promotional materials recommended taking the salts for "inner cleanliness”.

Andrews Liver Salts were widely advertised and, as a relatively rich company, could often afford large billboards. As such, the brand appears incidentally within many British movies, such as the chase scene in the film, Brighton Rock.

Well, let’s just see if we can find that . . . Hah! I was peering at all the small signs, and then hello:




Wonder what it tasted like. I can probably guess.


From small beginnings in Dumbartonshire in 1817 Bulloch Lade & Co Ltd. grew into a major producer and exporter of Scotch whisky until its voluntary bankruptcy in 1920.

Why? “The rising costs of coal and barley.” The page says it was sold, and finally dissolved in 2007, and is currently owned by Diageo. Schoedinger's whisky.

MMMM, Green Mould:

Chocolate Blanc-Mange. Think . . . oh, I don’t know, Milk Jell-O.

That, sir, is impossible.

I know, I know - it’s an exaggeration. But you’d think they’d go with QuieType of something that didn’t promise the absolute absence of acoustical output.

Alos: Eace is, indeed, riceless.




That will do! Now enjoy more adventures from America's favorite Nicotine Imp.





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