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Alvin & Minnie... opposites attract

Love of a lifetime

Submitted by Alice Gunness of Moorhead

The small town of Abercrombie, ND, in the late 1800s and early 20th century, had about 150 people, all originating from a certain spot in Norway (Renabu). They lived along the Red River of the North at Abercrombie, which was the Gateway to the West at one of the first crossings of the Red River at the time.

Abercrombie had a Lutheran church in town, and there was another Lutheran church, of a different synod, about five miles west of town. The minister living in town served three churches--Abercrombie, the church out in the country, and Galchutt, ND. Everybody knew everybody, and not only that, but they knew their history because they all came from the same place in Norway.

Minnie’s family came from a farm and attended church in the country. She was the organist and pianist for all the events there. She and her sister, Laura, were both graduates of Oak Grove Lutheran High School in Fargo, ND, and later of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn. They hadn’t married until later in life. Both were school teachers, Minnie in Abercrombie, where she also taught piano lessons. They were Christian people, very devout and serious minded.

Alvin was also a local resident. He lived on a farm west of Abercrombie with his brother and family, as he, too, wasn’t married. Families gain reputations for different things. His family was known for being full of fun and telling good stories. Opposites attract.

Alvin worked in the local hardware store and was quite a storyteller. One fact Minnie didn’t know anything about was that Alvin could cuss and swear with the best of them. Every week the men in town would gather at the hardware store for camaraderie. Alvin was the life of the party.

The two decided to get married on Christmas Eve, of all nights, with Minnie’s sister, Laura, and her groom. It was a double wedding at Bethany Church in the country. Of course, everyone in the community was invited and planned to attend, with relatives and friends galore. The only comment my husband Don’s grandmother made was this: “They spoiled Christmas Eve for us.” Nothing more was said.

A few years later, after World War II, Alvin purchased a new Chevy car. He was proud of it, but the gas gauge didn’t work. It was common enough to have trouble with manufactured cars after the war. Alvin came into the garage one morning when Don was there and proceeded to rant and rave, and cuss and swear, because his brand-new car wasn’t working right. Alvin would fill the car with gas and he and Minnie would go for a little drive. Very soon the gas gauge would show empty. He had no way of knowing how much gas he really had. It wasn’t too big of a job for the shop to fix, but Alvin was venting... and cursing.

Don pretended Alvin’s wife was walking up behind him from the Post Office on the same street. Don turned his head, looking beyond Alvin, and said, “Good morning, Minnie!” When Don came home, laughing, he said Alvin almost jumped two feet off the ground. He told Don, “Don’t ever do that to me again!” The most Alvin ever said that Minnie heard was, “Heavens to Betsy!”

At Alvin’s funeral service, a few years later, the town’s old minister, who served for 35 years, bragged about Alvin’s character. He said, “One thing for sure about Alvin was this: There was no deceit in him.” The minister never knew what went on in town, when Alvin let loose with his own language. And neither did Minnie!

This was the one and only time Don came home laughing after a funeral service. Maybe Alvin had the last laugh after all!

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