Art by Floyd Fairweather

Minot, you’ve come a long way!

In a matter of weeks, I will be retiring from the private practice of law. It has been an interesting run with victories, defeats, joy, and pain. I won’t be completely idle, however, as I am involved with several endeavors of interest to me. Minds, like bodies, can atrophy without some stimulation.

When I moved to Minot in 1974, I literally had everything that I owned in a Volkswagen purchased with borrowed money. It would be wrong to trash a community, where I leave a continuing successful family business. Has everything been perfect in Minot? Of course not. That is not the way the real world works. That said, I will not dwell on my personal mistakes nor mistakes that in my opinion have been made over time by community leaders. Ordinary people with extraordinary challenges cannot win them all.

When I moved to Minot its population was around 31,000. Now it is around 48,000. When I moved to Minot, there were no four-lane highways here. Now there are four-lane highways to Williston to the west, Bismarck to the south and Grand Forks to the east. When I moved to Minot, there were only two television stations, NBC and CBS. If the Vikings, or whoever was your favorite team, were playing on ABC’s Monday Night Football, you were out of luck. There was no such thing as a regional shopping center. Arrowhead and the Town & Country Center, both of which are now primarily office complexes were the closest facsimiles. There was no such thing as the Norsk Hostfest. Minot State College now known as Minot State University played its basketball games at Swain Hall which was a smaller facility than the high school I attended in Minnesota. There was no such thing as the MSU Dome. There was no such thing as the All Seasons Arena complex. There was no such thing as the MAYSA arena complex. There was no such thing as the Jack Hoeven baseball complex. The only decent restaurants in town were the Riverside and the Elks Club. If you think downtown has issues now, you should have seen it then. Now downtown has a nice selection of boutiques, restaurants, and places to enjoy adult beverages. Due to antiquated “blue laws,” all stores were closed on Sundays except corner grocery stores. The chamber of commerce eventually figured out that conventioneers and tourists weren’t coming to Minot to worship with us. They wanted to shop, eat, drink, and be merry. There were no walking/running/biking trails in Minot. No longer do I have to worry about projectiles like bottles being hurled at me while running or vehicles swerving at me. Yes, readers, that used to happen.

Is Minot still a community that relies on the Air Force Base? Is Minot still a community whose economy relies upon the volatility of commodities markets? Yes. Such was also the case in 1974. I have been in all 50 states. None of them are without problems. That said, Minot is a much better place than when I moved here. It is a safe, family-friendly town in which my family has prospered. My parting shots are that particularly the younger generation needs to be reminded of these things. Also, the many well-intentioned people who made these changes need to be thanked. Many of them are no longer with us, but in so many ways they are. None of this happened by magic here in the Magic City. It took hard work, thick skin and forward thinking. They had more than their share of critics. Critics serve a valuable purpose, but creative thinker/doers get things done. Minot is OK. I could have done worse.

Jim Maxson

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