German Translated by 'The Old New Kid'

Kathrein, Melanie. "German Translated by 'The Old New Kid'." Spectrum, 29 January 1991.

Alma Herman describes her recent appearance in People magazine as a fluke.
Alma Herman by her work area in here south Fargo apartment.

And whether this is true or not, her journey from a country school in Kulm, North Dakota, to notoriety as the oldest fan of the "New Kids on the Block" has certainly been an interesting one.

Recently Herman, 82, has been volunteering her time translating German for the North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies at SU.

Herman has finished translating the first half of the book, "Der Weg Aus der Steppe" (The Way Out of the Steppe), by Konstantin Mayer.

Mayer tells the story of the heartaches and agonies of the Germans who were forced to leave Bessarabia, South Russia, in-1940, Herman says.

The project is being supervised by Mayer and Michael Miller, North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies.

"Der Weg Aus der Steppe," will be published in Germany.

"I had good training in German," says Herman, who is of German-Russian decent. She learned how to write and speak High German in confirmation.

After moving to Fargo in 1975, Herman joined the Germans from Russia Association. She also wrote and translated for Heritage Review magazine.

Herman was born on her parents' farm east of Kulm, North Dakota. Her parents immigrated to the United States from Beresina, Russia.

She describes German immigrants as religious, thrifty, hard workers with strict morals, people who believe in family life.

"The German people have certain qualities that are lasting and beneficial to society," Herman says. "Any group like that would benefit any state."

Herman, a strong believer in the value of education, attended a country school, and says she was the first student from it to complete eighth grade examinations, and also the first child in her family to complete the eighth grade.

Herman promised one of her grade school teachers she would go on to high school. Although she had to put it off for a few years, she kept her promise, starting high school at age 18.

She completed high school in three years, and graduated valedictorian of her class.

After high school, Herman took classes at Moorhead State Teachers College, paying her way with income she received from the state as a reader for her blind sister, who was also attending MSTC.

Herman finished two years of college, and began teaching to help her family financially.

During World War II, Herman left teaching and moved to Chicago to work in a defense plant.

After the war, Herman continued working at the plant as editor of the company's magazine, and she also edited company catalogues.

"I was interested in free-lance publishing and writing," Herman says, "I was always working with words and journalism."

Herman retired at 62 and came to Fargo to help ill family members. She had planned to use the time writing a book about the Great Depression, but never had the chance to complete it.

Herman, a member of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), devotes a lot of her time to music and singing in senior citizens centers. She was also involved in a music group when living in Chicago.

It's Herman's involvement in music of another nature that resulted in her recent notoriety. A picture of Herman surrounded by a group of pre-teens appeared in the November 12, 1990 issue of People magazine.

"It's a fluke. It's the craziest thing," she says.

It started when Herman saw a picture in The Forum of a bedroom wall covered with New Kids on the Block memorabilia.

Herman discovered the bedroom belonged to Michelle Bruzelius, daughter of co-worker Barbara Bruzelius.

After Herman learned Michelle was trying to bring New Kids on the Block to Fargo for a concert, she sent her a note of encouragement and asked to be a senior member of the petition committee, New Kids Network of North Dakota.

Wearing a T-shirt saying, "Listen to the New Kids on the Block say no to drugs," Herman went to senior citizens centers to get signatures on a petition to bring the group to town.

Herman's friends nicknamed her "The Old Kid."

A picture of Herman appeared in The Forum and she was on television. "Because of the pictures in the paper, my friends all heard and talked about it. So, I got signatures for the girl," she says.

A person from New York came to Fargo to make a video of Herman. She was told it would be given to the manager of New Kids, instead it ended up all over the country.

The photographer from People took about 100 photos, Herman says, and she has also been asked to appear on "To Tell the Truth."

One of the New Kids managers sent her a box of figures of each of the groups members, which can be used to hold pencils, squeeze bottles or soft drinks.

"I gave them to the committee, but I've got

Donnie," she says, adding she was the first person in the country to have the set.

"My brother can't get over it," Herman says, "It's been fun to get all of that attention."

Reprinted by permission from The Spectrum, North Dakota State University.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller