As part of KCCM's Our Home Town series, this program is a sound portrait of Dunn Center, North Dakota. Highlights discussion on friendliness, conformity and lack of privacy as a general characteristic of small towns. About Our Home Town series: KCCM Radio in Moorhead, in conjunction with the North Dakota Committee for the Humanities and Public Issues, produced a series of twenty-six half-hour programs that documented attitudes and character of life in five North Dakota communities (Strasburg, Belcourt, Mayville, Mott, and Dunn Center). The programs were produced as sound portraits with free-flowing sounds, voices and music, all indigenous.
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All these small towns up and down this whole line. I can always go someplace in one of those towns know somebody. Because I've lived here long enough and been affiliated with a nice thing is that they're all just saying. Hi. You're from Dunn Center. I remember you and that's the way it goes. You know them. You've known him for so much as I'd life that you know, almost know which way they're going to turn to next time. That's Almer Whitaker. One of the residents of Dunn Center will be telling you about the twin characteristics of any small towns, friendliness and Conformity then send her with a population of 107 is located in the west central part of the state. And this sound portrait is one of a series titled our hometown. These programs are made possible with funds from the North Dakota committee for the Humanities and public issues that are produced by Minnesota Public Radio Station k c c m e or is John ydstie Dunn County booked another on Monday Holiday Inn. And of course, I know so many people like this. I could tell you I have known or at least where they lived in the cities. You don't even know where your next door neighbor you going to ask for so-and-so live never heard of him and all that's that's what kind of really puzzles a person to hear my gosh, you know people from somebody come there. So, you know, I'm for 25 miles around you where they live, but can you do don't you I mean new Met lot of guys from Iowa and stuff like that and they live 15 miles apart and I didn't know each other. I just couldn't understand that for 25 miles. I think, you know, once you know people I bet you can go 235 40 miles around you and I was over two miles from where I started that is wrong. My route is lived until I stopped and got some gas and didn't know who that who they were country has ever feel like you don't have enough privacy. Well, I think everybody loves their business. Truth or is not everybody knows what? Winning today, you know pretty much wrong laid Wilder aldosworld by the list of the Cavs up. We have a little horse dog cat. And the animals have a chance to get out move around. Yeah, I'm in the city. I can understand why people want animals in the cities because they're it isn't their natural habitat and same with children. We have always felt that we have raised some wonderful children hearing done Center. I wouldn't like having no like we have a house next door and we have an empty and we have an empty because we wanted empty. I don't like close neighbor. I lived in Warner and we had 10 acre. And we came here and I have a neighbor across the alley kitty-corner startup. Not what you'd call close. And we had the house next door this we keep it for a hired man. If he was married have to have a house to live. That would be the height man's house. Isn't I like people in fact if I don't see people for a day or two I get sort of fancy, but I want to yell at my kids and I think I got used to it. I'd be okay, but I just haven't been used with girl you've lived in this area and grown up with people known their mothers and fathers and their grandmothers and grandfathers. I think it's good to have that kind of knowledge of people is good. stop you depend on them and they depend on you and they know. That's good to ask you for anything and same with you. You are scared to ask him for everything and more and you'll get it to you get shirt off their back. That was what they you wanted a person gains growing up and tell Mike Dunn Center. Goodness, being able to understand I think. You can be concerned about other things than just yourself. You're involved in so many other things. here everybody has to step in with the church with the tongue. And anything that goes on there to step in and help out. Otherwise nothing is going to happen. And so on. I think that the other small towns involves everybody. And if you aren't involved you're just showering in it. There's a certain togetherness. That grows up between the people. After they've been together so many so long. most of these live is younger Farmers out in the country that I serve on my route. They almost seem like my own kids because I've known them since I didn't went to school. and pain They treat me the same way. and like today I found a note in the mailbox. Will you throw in my switch to the to the water pump? And that's the kind of stuff that goes on the ground. And that's the way I like it. Would you miss most If he if you had to leave? Turn Center. friends And that daily contact with a familiar face. That would be the greatest disadvantage I could think of is that we walk down the street you foresee meet you on the street and meet the next when you say who was that everyone is acquainted and there's a familiarity that I would miss very very much if I were living in a city. Be all right for a while, but I think that then it would Paul after while not knowing anyone a case in point. And some friends of ours have a summer home here now from Arizona and I had spoken to Monday. He was driving through the street and I helding. And he stopped and he came over and said, you know, I just couldn't believe it that you called. My name said he's from Phoenix and he said that week after week. I walk the streets in Phoenix. Nobody even says hello, and he said this straddled him. So when they first came back here to live that someone would call him by name while he was driving through the street. We generally go away for a year. I mean a month in that winter time and like like I say we go to San Jose and my mother and sister lives there and then spend some time in Phoenix and all that time. Those people that we know there is only ones that we know and you are continually looking for a familiar face because you're so used to looking at the Miller Faces all day long in your everyday life after you come home. If someone says hello to your almost surprised, even though he's your friend. So it's just a matter where you're at, I think what to do how long ago did the garage door open? Well, it's true. I mean, I can't stand to go down the street and just hang my head not even look at people I got to speak. That's why we were brought up. I guess here. If the Astros run tree are guiding and pull up your flowers. You get out there and raise a Ruckus about it and it won't happen again, but here you in the city you call the police missed all so far away and there's nothing personal. I think your lips are Ativan an island unto yourself. What do you think you'd miss most if you had to leave here? Well, I miss my neighbor some people that's about the main thing. I'm in the otherwise you're playing are going to play in the senior Recreation. You could get that just about all over but I miss the old people. the old good morning or kind of being rast a little everyday and I think if I don't want to miss that. Going fishing in the summer with a bunch of retired people when I get to miss that little thing we go down to the river here to Resorter response Elsinore West here to travel quite a bit fishing. Just to be fishing. That's all me we going with a car's is Allison and wherever fishing looks good. And the talk is the language is about the same and fishing as it is impenetrable. I'm not going to give you this. Today, aren't you? Yeah, I thought it was awful good. Without the damn seeds in them. California dates and they're right fresh. They just got a man Saturday morning. Have another one. I ain't going to give you no gun this morning. Well, I think that they are awful good. Yeah. She did little hole in here. 7078 10th Avenue bed find a postmaster. That's what I need all the time. Yeah. Thanks for the day. Do you ever feel them that you don't have enough privacy that people know too much about your lives? Well, it doesn't bother me one bit. But I guess there is that feeling because of what I do. I really don't mind if they never Norton if they don't use often gets in the paper anyway in the local news item, so no, I don't I don't mind that. and you can avoid knowing I'm don't have pin tension is not concerned. But the in many ways, I think it's good. To know about your neighbors not in the militia sense and it isn't done that way. It's primarily newsworthy. It's not too vicious, sir vindictive or anything like that. Just and often times can be helpful Saturday. I think it was he said he got up on the horse and rode back to town though. But that when you walked in here this morning here you come on crutches I could walk or what did you do break your leg and he says no not that bad to the doctor x-rays, but it's bruised and be serious. As far as I'm concerned. It doesn't affect me one way or the other whether my next door neighbor knows what's going on. I probably in the past have done some things that might not have been above reproach but it would have been very minor if it had been and but like I say, it's just an open book. I don't care what they Neighbors say or think or know, I just go on about my business as usual. Yes in a lot of ways. It bothers me worry too much because some people know when I do that that happens, but you threw your tell your best friend about something and then go to the Ocala his best friend and then it spread Center on first thing is all over at the little town travel. Is not enough privacy while I tell you something if you don't that have too much Sky do I you don't need to do much privacy? In other words if you if you if you conduct yourself so that you don't have too many skeletons in the closet in the first place. You you don't you don't require that privacy. At least I found it. So anyhow, I don't know that I want to live somewhere where I didn't know who I was. I just can't imagine it really because I've lived here all my life and I know everybody in the area and of course everybody in town. So high I can't imagine living anywhere else. Some people say that small towns demand of Conformity of people that you have to live a certain lifestyle. It is, you know doesn't deviate from that normal. The standards do you think that's not to say that? Yes, I believe that that there we all have the same sense of morality. And as for instance with you, it took us a while to accept the beard. It took quite a while but now we all accepted without reservation and there is this you know that you said night any change is unacceptable at the time, but we aren't so close-minded that we don't come around and usually work everything out that way because some I don't think we're narrow and as I said television and radio and accessibility to the cities and our people go and has helped in that respect. We have broadened our Horizons the ideas of people I think are different as long as you know, the ideas of what dinner ideas ideas of politics ideas economics ideas of anything when you're going to be bombarded with different ideas because there's so many people around that I don't see how you can hardly help with be sure you could live very much alone, but What's another word you saying the difference between a small town large town is a diversity of ideas. I think that's a pretty good description in a large population of opinion and ideas. There's a there's a good side and bad side. What about everything? Living in the city has a lot of Van cuz I've been there. Your opportunity for education and opportunity for open-mindedness. Is always is coming always bombarding you you have to keep an open mind if you're going to be able to cope with siding. get into an area like this you find a lot of movie theater close mine people who Make change hard and I grew up in a town where there was a university of over 40,000 students. Can you bring in 40,000 students all considering what percentage of them have liberal plots and lines while you're bound to come come out with some change? And most likely the exponent. This will be a radical change in order to Make themselves noticed in the area like this or just isn't there is a spot Galatians there just didn't the influx of of new thinking of new ways of doing things and people become accustomed to him. Although I think you'll find it with the advantage this mass media television radio and so forth and so on and then a lot too. to encourage some of the people around here to change some of the ways they look at things. Do you feel pressured to conform? I think it used to be a lot worse than it is. Now. I think people as in I'm starting to realize that everybody and I should be able to do what they feel like a few years ago with long hair or something. You know, that was just awful that people but we were going to the dogs if you had long hair it's something but it's it's coming in and people are just kind of accepting it now and I think you know, it's a lot better than it was. I think we have more individualism out here and then probably any other place you're still an individual. You still have your own ideas and like you said it's getting on awfully lot better. You can do just about our be anything. You want to nobody's going to say anything about it that mean before they would have gas but as it gradually came in and it was found out that the person's hair was long. He was no different than one of those shark as an example out people began to accept it. I don't think we have any pressure to conform you do to a certain extent but you do in any society any place. I think the pressure is is here, but it's not that great. And I don't think it's it doesn't affect me. It doesn't bother me. Maybe it would somebody else. That's why I'm here if it did if it bothered me I suppose I'd leave. I don't think if it's really Conformity or something. It just like light said there's two people here. And if you're a little different from somebody else, you're just notice more and I think If people are prisoners is not really different that's forward to use but I don't know if not, all people are accepted as well. Perhaps as they would be in a bigger city or someplace because you can just blend in with more people up there here. There's kind of there is kind of a certain type of people, you know, there's no doubt about it, you know, people know Sure, and and you wouldn't be as accepted as you know, Joe Farmer coming in for a lot of weed. That's for sure. But again, I think it's because there's just less people, you know, everybody everybody knows everybody so much some people say that small-town pressures people to be a like. Everyone has to conform to the Normal lifestyle have you ever felt that kind of pressure? It was Advanced to me at times by some church group that wanted me affiliated with lemon and do as I do. And I've always been more free than any nucleus of a small Society. So I rejected that individual know if you have a mind of your own way. You can enjoy the wide open space and their consequences. Being an individual to not going along with every everything that the normative lifestyle would demand consequences. You might be ridiculed. You might be Ostracize for a while until they begin to see your point of view. It'll come to them in time because you can probably see any more into the future than they do. RC the problem what will develop into and they'll eventually see the same thing as time goes by so they out they'll fall back into the in the line with you and the more friendly than ever. I'll probably make you a leader in other respects what's expected of a woman invent? I guess I am the first liberated woman in Dunn Center. I hold a man's job which was a little bit of controversy for a while, but What do people say? They thought it should be a man that plays in the position of postmaster of the family. but I had work this quick for several years and I took the examination along with several other people and I was number one on the Scores when the civil service test came out and so I got the job. I felt I mean I had the experience. I didn't feel that I cheated anybody else out of it, but I know there was some that did feel that way because my husband does have a job and they figured it should have gone to a man with a family. But I think these ideas have changed over them since I've been in the post office. I think that for the 10-year. They've kind of adjusted and I'm sure they see these things happening all over and they realized it women do get into some of these jobs now, but basically I think the women enjoy their own making around here. They really take a pride in it. some help their husbands in the stores if they have their store in the work part-time in the store but most of them are just are you working Housewives? It seems like most of the women here just believe that they shouldn't, you know not have a job, you know as far as like going away from home for funerals at 8 to 5 or whatever. It seems like they believe that they should stay home and take care of their their families and and really they being in all their on a farm. They really do have enough work to do the way it is without getting away and So it seems like most of them are in some sort of a social thing like the ladies a group or in the school activities with their kids and that's just Jim Lee the way it is you think okay. Now, what do the females around here? Do? All right, they are Homemakers. They raise children. What if you don't want to raise children? What if you do not want to be a homemade? Where's your alternative? Do you see that Janet? What would your alternative as you see it from being just to around here? I don't think there would be anything. You are a child Bearer and you live on a ranch or Farm. I don't know. There's no alternative you sync a small-town demands a certain Conformity out of people because people know each other so well. Yes, I I I believe it it. In fact, I think that you don't relaxing RR yourself. I think there's times that that You certainly may be days that you just said you don't feel that you are yourself that you have news times that you thoroughly enjoy then you can be yourself. Nothing wrong and what you're doing or anything, but you just don't feel that you. Can be you at time. Well, I think you can be yourself if you want to. But maybe it won't go over so good. There are some consequences right? You have two answers of the consequences and sometimes it's isn't easy, but I think if you want to be yourself you could you can what are the consequences of your actions? Probably that you everybody by the analyzing everybody else all the time and then head over. I don't know if it's everybody's plenty busy. It isn't that they haven't got enough to do but just something that happens in small communities it he didn't just about do anything you want. I guess that's that people get divorced sure. It's kind of does nothing really serious for forgotten that mean everybody loves you. Just kind of Judge done and your own merits. I guess if you do make a mistake people forgive you or did they kind of remember that. Brought the model, they all talk about you can mail something to talk about for a while. But I mean, you know if I'm up for a couple days, but I did forget about it. Nothing. They probably all done at themselves when they I know I know things about people that I wouldn't want to repeat and I wish I hadn't hadn't been told sometimes. I try to be careful not to repeat some of the things is it too much to ask, you know, how a group of women having a get-together men that mean it's a small town talk. I wouldn't say it's all gossip. a lot of chatter chatter Pastor coming you've been listening to the residence of Dunn Center North Dakota population 107 talk about privacy and conformity in the series titled our hometown. These programs would explore the values and quality of life in small towns are produced by Minnesota Public Radio Station k c c m with funds provided by the North Dakota committee for the Humanities and public issues series producers are John ydstie Fernando Sebring have copies of these programs are available from kccm in care of Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota 56560.