Hazen, ND: Good
Place for car Trouble
Foss, Steve. "Years of Fear, Secrets." Grand Forks Herald, 30 January 2000, sec. 1C & 6C.
You probably never heard of Hazen, N.D. It’s a town our niece
Karen and her husband Andrew will never forget.
You see, they were hung up there Aug. 2 when they were on their
way to Grand Forks to see me. They were heading back home to Vermont
from the Black Hills when their `88 Dodge minivan sputtered. Andrew
called and said, “We think it’s the alternator.”
Well, the Lewis and Clark RV Park was full. But Betty Syck, who
runs it with her husband, Tony, said, “Car trouble, huh? Well,
we’ll make room for you.” Then she made sure they were
settled for the night and she came and told them there might be
a storm warning. She wanted to make sure they knew in an emergency
which church to go to for shelter. “As a matter of fact,”
she said, “I’ll come and get you.”
The storm passed, and Andrew spent the next day hanging around
Mel Roth Oil Company. Karen met Sue Lee who runs the food section
of Tesoro Station. And Sue drove Karen over to the library. There
Karen met Val Albrecht, the head librarian, who offered her a cup
of coffee. Then Karen checked her e-mail on one computer available
to the public. And she met Jo, a friend of the librarian, who loaned
Karen a sewing kit so she could take care of a little mending job.
They visited in the library about canning vegetables.
By then, our niece was feeling right at home in Hazen. She said
she had never met such friendly people.
Andrew was pleased with the work James Heth did at Mel Roth Oil.
And as you will remember, Andrew knows his motors, Shirley. The
problem indeed was an alternator and the first one they sent out
from Bismarck was the wrong model. So it was afternoon before the
right part got to Hazen. By then, Heth was thanking Andrew for his
Since Andrew works for the Vermont Life magazine, he takes special
notice of places and people. Instead of the delay there being a
big boring time, it was a pleasant day.
Hazen is a town of 2,500 in Mercer County. It’s on State
Highway 200 and about 70 miles from Bismarck. It’s 15 miles
from Lake Sakakawea. It has a power plant and coal mines. And Mayor
Lonny Adler is pretty proud of the town. When I called him this
week, he was telling me they just finished redoing their streets
and water plant. And now they are building a new sewage lagoon.
Much of what gets done around that town is because of volunteer
work by people. They built the campground and they built a pocket
park downtown. Many of the people around Hazen are of German descent
with farming backgrounds.
Hazen is trying to keep people who work in town living there instead
of moving into Bismarck. And Mayor Alder says people like the small
town life they found in Hazen.
People zip by the little towns like Hazen all of the time on summer
travels. Sometimes being waylaid in one of them can turn into the
highlight of a trip.
Love, from your sister Marilyn thumping watermelons in the markets
of the Red River Valley of the North.
P.S. We should all get off the beaten path from time to time and
explore the world around us.
Reprinted with permission of the Grand Forks Harald.