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Stories that beget stories – Nieman Storyboard

Stories that beget stories - Nieman Storyboard

“Remembering Lloyd,” an obituary/remembrance of an area man who had died 17 years earlier, revealed within the Grand Forks Herald in November 2012.
Chuck Haga

Chuck Haga with his camping partner and story muse, granddaughter Emma. Haga says they have both aged since this picture was taken, but that Emma wears it better.

Chuck Haga together with his tenting companion and story muse, granddaughter Emma. Haga says they have both aged since this image was taken, but that Emma wears it higher.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Metrics apart, the true check of a very good story is that it evokes different tales. That’s what occurred once I requested veteran storyteller Chuck Haga to put in writing a “Why’s This So Good” essay a few story by James Eli Shiffer, an editor on the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. Shiffer’s piece, based mostly on a trove of previous pictures, wove threads of analysis and emotion to create a tapestry of the too-short life of a stunning, and much-loved, little woman. Haga stated Shiffer’s story reminded him of a bit he had accomplished 5 years earlier, for the Grand Forks Herald, based mostly on a three-paragraph obituary and an identical trove of pictures that came his means.

Haga has long been somebody I comply with to review the right way to mix trustworthy reporting with trustworthy emotion. He had a storied career on the Grand Forks Herald and Star Tribune, and now teaches and mentors lucky students on the University of North Dakota.

In honor of our belief that tales beget stories, we’re reprinting Haga’s story under, with permission. Pair his piece side-by-side with Shiffer’s offers an amazing lesson in the energy of curiosity, the search for answers and the truth that compelling stories are wherever you look.


Salvaged pictures and other pieces of household historical past fill out the story of a child of the Purple River Valley: Farm boy, veteran, development worker, son, brother.

By Chuck Haga
Grand Forks Herald
November 11, 2012

BUXTON, N.D. – Lloyd Domier died 17 years in the past. A quick obituary discover within the newspaper stated he was born close to Buxton in 1928, served in the Military and labored in development.

And that was that: a life in three paragraphs.

He was half of a giant household, with six brothers and four sisters. However Lloyd by no means married, the household has largely died off or scattered, and just a few older residents of this Traill County town recall the Domiers. Like members of earlier generations, Lloyd was quietly fading into the unremembered previous.

Then the photographs came.

A person in Florida, taking out his trash in the future this fall, noticed a bundle of pictures in his condominium complicated Dumpster. Curious, he fished them out. In pale photographs and scrawled notes, they hinted at a multigenerational story, the story of a household.

Most of the footage had notations that made reference to the little town of Buxton in northeast North Dakota. The man who found the photographs had been born in North Dakota, and his father had grown up in Prosper, a small town near Fargo. So, he shipped the photographs, more than a hundred of them, to his father in Louisville, Ky.

“I have had them for some time however really wouldn’t have any personal interest in them,” Loren Waa wrote lately to the newspaper in Grand Forks, understanding the town was not far from Buxton. “It seemed to me that they might be better off in your palms than mine.”

In Buxton, Duane Bjerke, 84, visiting with buddies over coffee on the Cenex station, appeared at the photographs, one by one. He paused as he studied the smiling face of a boy, a boy from another time.

“That’s me,” he stated.

“I used to be raised on a farm 4½ miles west of right here,” Bjerke stated. “The Domiers have been on a farm 3½ miles west. Lloyd ran with the identical crowd I did, however he stored principally to himself. He labored for a development outfit for many years. They built elevators. Pretty much the entire family worked for that firm.”

Bjerke smiled as he remembered one among Lloyd’s brothers.

“I was a police officer here for 10 years,” he stated. “Lloyd’s brother, Douglas, was somewhat wild, and I needed to speak to him a couple of occasions.

“He turned a minister. He was back right here once and he thanked me. He credited me with steering him in the best path.”

One other man in for coffee referred to as for Doug Thompson, the Cenex supervisor. “Don’t you could have an tackle for Douglas Domier out in California?”

The family still had a monetary interest in the cooperative, and Thompson shortly discovered an handle.

“I have a telephone quantity, too,” he stated, “however I don’t understand how present that’s.”


“Of the brothers, he (Lloyd) was the closest to me,” the Rev. Douglas Domier stated final week from San Juan Capistrano, Calif., where he lives.

“He was an older brother who actually encouraged me to continue with my education,” Douglas stated. “He invested in me, personally and financially and every other means, to encourage me to finish faculty and go to school.”

The photographs, he stated, might have been tossed by an ailing elderly relative in Florida, or by somebody caring for her.

“Yes, I might very very similar to to have them,” he stated.

The pictures embrace old-time pictures of a chubby-cheeked boy and a child woman: Douglas and Lloyd’s father and mom. Their maternal grandparents are dressed in their Sunday greatest for a formal portrait, and their paternal grandfather poses as a young man with 5 brothers.

A reprint of a studio portrait taken about 1900 exhibits a proud aged couple, also dressed for the moment: Lloyd’s paternal great-grandparents, Henrik and Kari Domier. With the photograph is a replica of the passenger listing from the Norway-Heritage Line’s Fauma, the three-masted sailing ship that brought them to America in 1867.

Newer pictures present a young Lloyd at work on a farm, posing with two brothers, and sitting on the fender of a 1940s-era automotive with a toddler, a nephew perhaps, in his lap. Snapshots barely an inch square, taken within the early 1950s, present a young man in uniform, sitting with a woman on a park bench, and standing jauntily outdoors a café in Frankfurt, Germany. “A German café that a lot of the guys go to from this outfit,” he wrote on the again.

In one other, he is bending over a stream, about to splash water on his face. “Cleaning up somewhat,” he wrote. One other exhibits him in uniform and reclining on a bed, perhaps in a barracks. “This is my room,” he wrote, and doubtless sent the little photograph house to his mom.

There are letters, too, although spelling clearly was not Lloyd’s power.

“Pricey Ma Only a line to inform you to not proper to me right here I will depart right here celebration soon. Lloyd.”

On Jan. 29, 1952, he wrote slightly extra.

“Pricey Mom and Pop I obtained your letter yesterday however I sat down last night time and tried to write down a letter however I could not consider anything to put in writing about so I gave it up.”

He wrote that it was good to hear they have been nicely “and that the roads are nonetheless open” again in North Dakota. He was a farmer’s son.

He informed concerning the weather there in Germany, too, how there was snow on the ground nevertheless it was melting and would in all probability be gone by the top of the day.

“Properly, that’s about all I’ve to put in writing about now. Inform all the youngsters hey from me and grandma too, and inform Douglas I’ll write him a letter actual soon.”

So close

“I used to be in the first grade when my brother was referred to as into the service in the course of the Korean Conflict,” Douglas stated. “I keep in mind sitting on a swing that morning outdoors the varsity, crying, considering I had misplaced my brother. I used to be already so close to him, and I assumed I might never see him once more.”

Individuals thought Lloyd resembled the actor Humphrey Bogart, each in appearance and in the best way he moved, a confident but not boastful stride.

“I liked to observe him,” Douglas stated.

Though he never married, Lloyd seems to have been a well-liked uncle and large brother. In a number of of the previous pictures, he is holding a teenager. Perhaps due to the age difference, about 15 years, and perhaps because of his personal disappointments, he felt a special duty for Douglas.

“He was a man who was pushing forward, working onerous, all the time trying to the day that his ship would are available,” Douglas stated. “However he also was wanting again and wishing he had made some better selections to get ahead in life.

“The first time he hired me — I was about 15 then — he talked to me: ‘I’ve by no means backed up to anybody in my life to select up a paycheck. I’ve all the time taken my paycheck and seemed of their eyes.’ And he needed me to do the identical.”

Lloyd was a development foreman with a crew, building grain elevators. “We worked like animals, 14 to 16 hours a day, and he all the time tried to complete a job earlier than other crews,” Douglas stated. “We have been paid by the hour, however it was a thing of honor to him.

“We have been a very poor family, type of the decrease class on the market by Buxton. That bothered Lloyd rather a lot.”

Douglas stated he didn’t all the time maintain to the straight and slender as an adolescent. “I had began alcohol, chasing around,” he stated. However Lloyd persuaded him to review onerous at college, work arduous at his job and plan for school.

“In 1960, I was a number of weeks into my first yr at Mayville State. Lloyd came house from work with a 1958 Ford Fairlane. ‘I would like you to have an excellent automotive to drive to and from faculty,’ he stated. He also took me right down to the financial institution and began an account so I’d have cash for fuel and things.

“And he stated, ‘But I inform you, you little S-O-B, in the event you spend my cash on booze and ladies, I’ll …’ Nicely, it worked.”

Douglas graduated from Mayville (N.D.) State College and went on to earn superior degrees. He entered a seminary, was ordained and spent 20 years as a missionary in Guatemala, Ecuador and Costa Rica. At 70, he continues to work with Spanish-speaking ministries within the southwest United States.

“If he had not inspired me to proceed my research, pushed me to hold onto my values and check out for a greater life, I in all probability would have continued on within the beer-drinking development business.

“I turned his hero. However I did it principally for him. I’m tremendously indebted to my brother.”

Another photograph

In his mid-40s, Lloyd was working at a development website at some point when he fell 25 ft to a concrete surface, Douglas stated. The fall broken his spinal column, and he was in pain a lot of the rest of his life.

Within the packet of pictures that help to elucidate who he was, the place he got here from and who he turned, there is a picture of Lloyd mendacity in a hospital bed, in all probability just after the accident.

He died on Might eight, 1995, in Union Hospital in Mayville, on the age of 66.

He was buried in Immanuel Cemetery, rural Buxton.

He is remembered.


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