NFIA celebrates 70 years

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It is hard for me to imagine that this year is the 70th birthday of The North Fork Landowners Association, formally known as The North Fork Improvement Association. What makes it hard to imagine that it is that old, is the fact that I have been involved for that entire time.

Of course, when the organization began in 1947 I was more of an observer than an active member since I was only 10 years old. The organization was much different in 1947 then it is today in 2017. As a result I was more active than 10-year-olds are or could be today.

North Forkers always had an active social life. This involved dinner parties, card parties, and occasional community-wide gatherings.

When the NFIA was first organized its main purpose was to provide community voice to promote road improvement, communication improvement and to bring electricity to the North Fork. There was also a social element.

To encourage attendance at meetings it was decided to hold a monthly dance right after each business meeting. These dances featured live music and always lasted at least until midnight. The Hunt Orchestra provided the music with a fiddle, drums and piano and a caller and the cost was $40 for the band.

That is how I became actively involved. Dave McFarland, youngest son of Jack and Mary McFarland, was given the job of collection for the dance. Fee was one dollar per adult and children were free.

David and I each had a coffee can with small bits of colored ribbon and a stapler. The ribbons were a different color each month. We would collect the dollar and then staple a ribbon somewhere on the person’s clothes. At least in my memory we always collected enough to pay the band with a little left over.

Over the years the organization has evolved. There have been times when the road and endangered species and land use planning overshadowed everything else and meetings ranged from unpleasant to almost dangerous. There were also years when the NFIA became a social club to avoid argument.

Today, the group tries to maintain a balance. We gather information and try to educate the community. We try to avoid confrontation and only take stands when the folks are pretty united. Mostly it works. It really isn’t that hard to disagree without being disagreeable.

What do you think?

Larry Wilson’s North Fork Views appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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