Congratulations to everyone celebrating a class reunion this week, and welcome home to those who live elsewhere and are back to reconnect with your classmates.
Thomas Wolfe’s novel “You Can’t Go Home Again” wasn’t written about high school reunions but, for the most part, you can come pretty close by reminiscing with your old chums. High school is a monumental time in our lives and the friendships we develop with others, more often than not, stand the test of time.
Obviously our town has changed from the Dickinson you grew up in 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 or more years ago.
To begin with, there is just a heck of a lot more people and town than you knew even a decade ago. Your favorite country parking or party spot could be one of the countless new subdivisions or contain oil wells. Cruising Villard Street or Third Avenue, affectionately known as Main, today could require sitting through a couple red lights, dodging oil trucks and dragging vehicles with state license plates from anywhere but North Dakota.
Don’t be disappointed that you hardly recognize anybody if you are out and about, because those of us who live here permanently don’t either. How long have you lived here has replaced talk about the weather. A long-term resident is someone who has lived here a year or more. Roughrider Days, Christmas and hunting season used to be about the only time folks visited Dickinson. But these days there are far more visitors than locals. Going for a drive to count new subdivisions, motels and apartments is a new Sunday afternoon ritual for folks who have lived here for a while.
Having dinner with friends at the Queen City Supper, German Hungarian, or St. Anthony Clubs is no longer an option, nor is stopping at the A&W Drive In after cruising Villard and Main.
You can, however, still get a great steak at the Elks, or new spots like the Brickhouse Grill. Favorite old pizza spots like Eva’s and A&B have been replaced with chains like everywhere else in the country. Fast-food places employ a lot of international workers and require a little more patience and time for your order. Dickinson now has just about every cuisine in the world, including a new sushi bar, which may be the best example how much the town has changed.
These are exciting times in western North Dakota. The Bakkan oil play is the biggest economic story in North Dakota history.
The rapid growth has presented challenges, as well as incredible opportunities. Dickinson has adapted as quickly and as well as possible to this unprecedented oil play. Our economy is the envy of most parts of the country. Every business is hiring and unemployment in western North Dakota is only for folks who don’t want to work.
I hope you have a great time and enjoy your time with family and friends in the new Dickinson. You will find, despite the many changes, it is still a great city to call home.