Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

Real People. Real Jobs. Real Adventures.

Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Linton visits Linton...

Posted 12/23/19 (Mon)

My first job out of college was working at the Emmons County Record in Linton. It was my hometown newspaper so I already knew my way around pretty well.

One day I got a call from a Michigan resident who was visiting Linton. Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal, but this guy’s name was Linton.

So we came up with the headline “Linton visits Linton” and it confused a number of readers.

I never stopped thinking about that parallel and in 1993, while on vacation in Australia, I ended up in the town of Grafton in New South Wales.

So, I did the quirky thing and sent a postcard from Grafton to Grafton.

Sometimes we run across oddities like this and when we do, one would hope that the person in that position would take advantage of it.

When I landed a job at The Kenmare News in 2013, it didn’t take long to discover there is another Kenmare. It’s in Ireland, and unlike Kenmare, N.D., it’s population is about 5,000 and the newspaper is a third-class monthly.

Regardless, I attempted to contact the newspaper editor at the Kenmare News, which has the same name as the North Dakota newspaper. I didn’t have much luck and will be making another attempt in January.

Sometime later, there was a young lady from Australia who came to visit her grandparents in Kenmare.

We were walking out into the Downtown Square (city central park) and she was asking me about Kenmare and North Dakota.

I told her there is only one other Kenmare in the world and she quickly piped up and said “There’s one in Australia.”

I thought I knew a fair amount about Australia but I guess I don’t. So she told me about Kenmare, NSW, which is a tiny farm village of maybe 150 people.

That got me to thinking. I needed to contact someone from Kenmare and just exchange greetings if nothing else.

Kenmare was too small to have a newspaper so I was able to track down the editor of the newspaper in nearby Rainbow, NSW.

I told her what I was up to and she gave me the names of several people in Kenmare who might talk to a reporter from another Kenmare in the United States.

After jockeying emails for what seemed like a long time, I finally made contact with a farmer who wasn’t living in Kenmare, but was still farming his land there.

When I interviewed this man, it was as if I was interviewing a farmer right outside of town.

He grew wheat and canola and was going through a drought, something we were dealing with at the same time.

Sound familiar?

He drove a Case IH tractor to pull his tillage equipment and he hauled his grain into the local elevator (called silos in Autralia).

Sound familiar?

He was an Australian military veteran and told me he was thinking of selling out because he was getting to an age where he didn’t really want to do it anymore.

Sound familiar?

It’s just uncanny how this turned out. In fact, he had a granddaughter who played on the high school volleyball team in Rainbow and he always made it a point to get to her games.

Sound familiar?

It was a pleasure getting to know his story. It was nearly identical to a North Dakota farmer, but he had never heard of North Dakota until I contacted him.

If I had enough time, I would attempt to do this with other communities with the same name.

Examples, Langdon, Alberta, Carrington, Missouri, Edgeley, Saskatchewan, Valley City, Ohio,  Devils Lake, Mich., Williston, Maine, Burlington, Vermont, Niagara, Ontario, and Hazelton, Kan.

I would be willing to bet there would be someone in each of those communities who would have something in common with the like named communities in North Dakota.

Every morning on my way to work, I listen to KSL-AM 1160 in Salt Lake City. It’s a digital AM broadcast and although I have no real interest in Salt Lake City, I’m blown away by the quality of sound in this high definition signal so I keep listening to it.

Anyway, there’s a suburb of Salt Lake called West Valley City that they are often talking about on air. In 2005, I was actually in West Valley City for a short time while on military training at Dugway, Utah.

Quirky, perhaps? But the stuff you can learn from making contact. It’s just remarkable.