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Donnybrook Courier from 1941 brings back memories...

A lot of memories came back to Pat Caroline after she started reading her hometown newspaper from Nov. 27, 1941.

5/05/20 (Tue)

A lot of memories came back to Pat Caroline after she started reading her hometown newspaper from Nov. 27, 1941.

Caroline, who was 11 years old when the Nov. 27, 1941 edition of the Donnybrook Courier was published, occasionally worked at the newspaper at that time.

Caroline, who grew up Patsy McKenna, stressed that she didn’t work at the Courier all the time and she wasn’t good at writing.

Instead, she worked in the mail room, folding copies of the Courier before it was mailed each week.

“Our next door neighbors had the paper and I helped out when they were short handed,” Caroline said. “I folded the paper when they were getting ready to mail it out. I was a sixth grader in 1941.”

The daughter of Mack and Louise McKenna, Pat was like just about any other kid in a small town. She liked to roller skate and earn some spending money, so in addition to the Courier, she worked in the Red & White Grocery store through high school, graduating from Donnybrook High School in 1948.

She admits that 1941 was a long time ago and there isn’t a whole lot she remembers about her part-time job, but there are a few things that add a little color to what Donnybrook and the Courier were like.

As an example, she remembers machinery in the newspaper office that would run the paper through it, most likely attaching address labels.

She said it was a pretty small building and her neighbor Gertrude Johnson was the paper’s publisher and her son Horace was the editor. Gerty’s husband Henry passed away years earlier and Caroline only has a very vague memory of him.

Horace also had a sister, Emma, who may have, from time to time, worked at the Courier as well.

She also recalls that when deadline pressure was off, Gerty Johnson would meet with several other ladies in Donnybrook for coffee and conversation.

Caroline also had her name on the front page of the Nov. 27, 1941 edition twice.

The big story was that her cat Mixey had died.

“I was surprised Mixey made the front page,” she said. “I didn’t remember that (until now). I do remember I found her. She was pretty old for a cat.”

Mixey was 18 years old when she died.

“She wasn’t well when I found her,” Caroline said. “She was outside a lot but she was a good mouser. And she had a lot of kittens for us to play with.”

Caroline was also named as one of numerous students who received a red star for excellence in spelling.

There were also a lot of people Caroline began to recollect after reading their names in the newspaper.

The way she described it, Donnybrook was quite a lively community in the early ‘40s and although it was a long time ago, many of the memories came back to her.

“I certainly remembered people after reading this paper,” Caroline said. “It brought back memories of people I haven’t thought about in years.”

There were nine students in her class and all the boys have passed away. However, the four girls remain, Caroline in Kenmare, two classmates in Minot and one in Williston.

“The one in Williston had her 90th birthday,” Caroline said. “I sent her a card. I hope she wasn’t too shocked.”

Her sister Sally was also involved in newspapers. She was a correspondent for the Ward County Independent in Minot.

“When she left home, my dad wanted me to take over,” Caroline said. “But I wasn’t good at it.”

She described Donnybrook in general and how different it was than now.

There was a confectionery where the kids liked to hang out, her dad Mack ran the pool hall, there were two service stations and a bank.

“One of them was a three-story garage,” Caroline described. “The shop was on the lower level. The main floor was office area and the second floor was a hall where we roller skated. Sometimes it was fun to go down into the shop on roller skates.”

There were two churches, a Methodist and Catholic church that were both active in 1941.

And in school, basketball was important and she remembers going to Kenmare for the tournaments.

She thought the Courier was diagonally across the street from the Lehman gas station.

“There were stores on each side of the street when I was a kid,” Caroline said. “Saturday night was a big night, a big shopping night and we sometimes didn’t leave the store until 10:30.”

Born in 1930, Caroline was also 11 years old when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7.

“I was at the confectionery when I heard about Pearl Harbor and some of the older boys I knew left for the war,” Caroline said. “Once they were out of high school, they were in.”

The only reference to Japan in the Nov. 27, 1941 issue of the Courier was an entry in which the United States welcomed a new Japanese ambassador to Washington, D.C., but it was under heavy political tension.

Japan was in the middle of an eight-year war with China and the Roosevelt Administration wanted Japan to back away from China for various reasons.

Less than two weeks later, all hell broke loose in the Hawaiian harbor and the United States was at war.

There were the Dust Bowl years and even though Caroline was a young child in the mid 1930s, she remembers the fine, silky dirt that blew like snow and when it got deposited, it made for some smooth surfaces for children to play.

She admits she was too young to remember the result of the Dust Bowl devastation that forced a lot of farmers into bankruptcy and many of them left for California for jobs.

It was also a time when banks continued to fail and she thought that her dad had lost some money when his bank closed.

All in all, she has a lot of good memories about growing up in Donnybrook with her roller skates, the Hi-Liner sports teams and of course, the Donnybrook Courier.

“I had a good life in Donnybrook,” she said. “It was a good place to grow up.”

The Donnybrook Courier began in 1901 and ceased publication sometime in late 1942... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!