Dear Miss Amanda Silverman

From Amanda: I recently wrote about my part in the 1997 Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.  I received the following handwritten letter from Alden L. Burris of Inkster, N.D. shortly after returning from New York.  I’m a hoarder of letters and have saved just about every one ever sent to me; I particularly get a kick out of this one every time I read it (because it’s great storytelling).  Today felt like a good day to share it with all of you.


Dear Miss Amanda Silverman,

I read in the Grand Forks Herald that you and another young lady from Grand Forks, Shosti Iverson, made the All Star Dance Team and won the right to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.  Though I didn’t get a chance to watch the parade on television, I wanted to let you know that I’d heard of your good fortune and offer my congratulations to you.

An article in the Herald the day after the parade told about high winds in the city during the parade, presented quite a challenge to the participants who were handling the giant balloons.  It told of one balloon crashing into a lamppost, knocking part of it down on the heads of some spectators.  This brought back memories of my glorious youth and the time I went to the Big City and encountered a high wind.

It was back in May of 1954, if my memory serves me right.  Friends and neighbors, Harold and Geneva Maxwell owned a fairly new Studebaker pickup with a stock rack on it.  The meat packing plant was still operating in Grand Forks and we had a couple of calves that Ma wanted to sell.  Maxwells were going to the Forks and offered to take the calves.  I was invited to go along.

I don’t remember exactly when the wind hit, it must have been after we unloaded the calves.  It wasn’t a storm, the wind just changed direction and started blowing fiercely.

I remember walking on the street by a cigar store, or pipe store or some kind of a tobacco place.  Anyway the store had a large window in the front of it and the wind had blown it out.  Then when I walked around a corner, there was a woman holding on to a lamppost for dear life to keep from blowing away.  You could barely walk, the wind was so strong.

One of the Maxwell girls, Betty, is married to Al Sheppard and his folks lived, I think, kind of on the southern edge of town in the woods.  We went to visit them and it was nice and quiet there because of all the trees.  Going home was difficult because the wind was at an angle to the highway and Harold had quite a time keeping the pickup on the road.

When we got to our farm, no buildings had blown over, but our windmill had gone down.

I didn’t know it at the time, but since I’d watched Too Tall Tom give the weather I know that the terrible wind was caused by the isobars being too close together.

In conclusion, let me say, that from the looks of your picture in the Herald, “Big”* has grown into an attractive young lady and Shosti isn’t exactly “chopped liver,” either.

I’m not familiar with that branch of the Iverson tree, though I do know Curtis Iverson who along with his lovely wife, Janice, own and operate the Ford Store and Trustworthy Hardware in Fordville, North Dakota.  I don’t know if Curtis is related to Shosti Iverson.  I don’t know if Curtis can dance.  I don’t think he can kick very high, because his legs are so darn short.

I hope that your wish for a dancing career is fulfilled and my best wishes to you and your family for the season and the new year.

Sincerely,

Alden Burris

P.S. Since we’re approaching the Festival of Lights, I’m enclosing a little gift for you.  If you’re uncertain as what to do with this tremendous windfall, you should probably tune into P.B.S. on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

Uncle Lous Rukeyser and his colleagues present much economic information in a clear and forthright manner, except when Jim Grant is on.  He’s kind of hard to follow, sort of speaks in parables.


*My mother, Robin Silverman, had a long-running column in the Grand Forks Herald, in which she called me “Big” and my sister “Little.”

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