Tracker Pixel for Entry

The heart and soul of Ralph’s Corner

by J. Earl Miller | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Editorial | September 6th, 2017

Our opinion: We are made of memories, all of us.

It’s always tough to talk about people passing and in the last few years there have been many friends, acquaintances and icons that have left us. This past week I have had five people that I knew and have shared time with pass away, and yes, it’s sad.

The first thing I did was try to remember the good times, the memories. For some it was many and for others I had to think about a long time ago when we shared our time.

Donald Wood was my boss for several years. When it came to stories he had thousands, when it came to friends I bet he had hundreds.

But when it came down to it there was only one Don Wood. That is something I hope we could always say about the people in our lives when they pass.

The folklore of Donald goes hand in hand with Ralph’s Corner, along with the people that have since left their bar stools: Scotty, Andy, Johnny V, Dylan One Feather. I could name many more, just from the rail I served, but that list is getting too long.

We always had a people coming in asking Don for a little help. One person comes to mind that Don was willing to help and that was “Ghost.” I never actually new his real name.

Ghost would come in mid-morning or mid-afternoon, always when the bar was a little slower. Don would greet him and ask him to sit down, then pour him a 10 oz. High Life. I don’t think Ghost ever paid for a beer but he always left with a little cash from Donald’s pocket, or maybe it was some gloves or a hat, something to make sure he was warm.

A few days later he would come in and give back the money, and then the process started all over again. Donald never said anything about this exchange, except “I have known that man a real long time and he has always been good to me”.

If there was one thing Donald did, that was feed the masses. Every Thursday night starting at 4pm the grill was heated up and it was time to start cooking. There were fish fries, steak fries, empty-out-the-freezer fries. Whatever was edible was given away to his friends and his customers.

Many touring bands that played on Thursday nights ate like kings. Students would come in and Donald would walk around dropping off potato salad and steak bits, feeding them just because they showed up.

Thursdays were busy, but the last Saturday of every month was the house-filler, “the famous Ralph’s liver fry.” The people that worked on the same block as us might not have liked the odor steaming from the vent, but all the booths were filled. Parents would bring their kids, young adults would bring their parents. It was free food for everyone who wanted Liver, Bacon, and Onions.

Those are some of the memories that will stick with me forever, but the biggest thing for me was the opportunity he gave me when I just had moved back into town, a job at my favorite bar.

He put absolute 100% trust in me to bring new music into the backroom. I don’t think Don ever thought how much of an opportunity this was for locals and touring artists. He was just happy that people liked coming and listening to music.

There was only one time that I saw Don spend a few minutes in the backroom and that was for Neko Case. There was a buzz in the papers about her coming and we anticipated how big a night it was going to be.

Usually on nights like this Don would head upstairs to his apartment and watch TV but for a few minutes he popped his head in that back room to see what was happening. There was no room to sit and barely any room to stand, but he listened. Just before he walked upstairs I asked him what he thought. He said, “She’s awfully pretty and sure can sing, but to stand in there like a can of sardines is not for me.”

So, thanks Donald and the Wood family for the job and putting your trust in me. Thanks for letting me visit with you after Ralph’s Corner had closed its doors, thanks for always telling me a story and offering me a beer.

But before I wrap things up I will crack a Bush Light Draft as Donald would have for Marcus Rudnick, Cam Just, Kelson Bush and Nancy Sauvageau. These are friends who have passed this past week and also made a mark in my life; and their friends and families will miss them.

So if you have a chance, pull up a chair and listen to the stories of how great they all were, share their generosity and make sure to pass it on into the lives of others and hopefully into your own life as well.

Recently in:

FARGO – Police are looking for young man in connection to a homicide in South Fargo. On Friday, September 21, 2018 at 11:23 a.m., Fargo Police and Fire personnel responded to an apartment located within 2302 17 St. S. for medical…

by Ryan Jankeryanjanke@hpr1.comPhoto by Anne BradleyValkyries of the Valley will invade the North Dakota Apartment Wrestling Federation (NDAWF) for Brawl-esque, a variety show that will be held at Prairie Brothers Brewing Company…

Best Bets

Spirit Talk

by HPR Staff

Thursday, September 27, 7-9 p.m.Homewood Suites by Hilton Fargo, 2021 16th St N., FargoGet in touch with the other side! Sunny Dawn Johnston will help you reach the spirit world in this two-hour, eye-opening event. This is a group…

It’s bad enough when his word versus her word regarding sexual assault gets out in a high school hallway, but can you imagine it spreading throughout the national news media? Imagine reliving those events every time you turn on…

We failed to educate the players of “flag” footballI passed all of the American history courses in Morrison County District 54, Little Falls High School, and Moorhead State Teachers College, but I’m often appalled about what…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

by Ryan Jankeryanjanke@hpr1.comAs I sat across from my wife at Himalayan Yak Tuesday evening, it dawned on me that time had slowed down. So often when we go out to eat, we are in a hurry. We get anxious when we aren’t greeted…

Music

Back in the saddle

by Sabrina Hornung

After a long hiatus members of Teenage Lobotomy reunited for the first time in 22 years at Center Fest in Robinson North Dakota this summer. With influences such as Husker Du and the Circle Jerks their high energy immediately had…

Director Craig William Macneill speculates on the infamous legend surrounding Massachusetts murder suspect Lizzie Borden in “Lizzie,” a long-germinating labor of love for star Chloe Sevigny. Working from a screenplay by Bryce…

It may be cliche to say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, but when wet plate artist Shane Balkowitsch found out that his 15-year-old daughter Abby Balkowitsch was following in his photography footsteps, he was…

by Stella Mehlhoffstellamehlhoff@gmail.com“Our mission is to invigorate civic conversation through intimate and transformative storytelling.” This statement posted on Theatre B’s website and tacked to their studio wall in…

In the approximately three years I’ve been writing for the High Plains Reader it seems I’ve always circled back to comedian Adam Quesnell. First, I wrote about his farewell show before he set out from Fargo and the comedy…

When walking into the new space on 1st Ave N that now houses Drekker brewing, one can only say, “Wow.” The majesty of the interior is unprecedented for a brewery in the region and provides a feeling of awe and astonishment.…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

By Melissa Martinmelissamartincounselor@live.comThink back to one of your worst small decisions. Then answer the following questions:How did you make the decision?What happened after the decision?When did you know it was the worst…

by Andrew Alexis Varvelmr.a.alexis.varvel@gmail.com“If a piece of equipment purchased in the 1920s is kept up and can guarantee, at present, an operable rate close to 100 percent and if it can bear the production burden placed on…