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Peggy Lee in Fargo, ND Part 3

Posted by sambr 
Peggy Lee in Fargo, ND Part 3
November 02, 2018 11:20AM
[b]Third Fargo period[/b]
Peggy Lee's 1939 summer break in Grand Forks lasted for 3 months. She moved back to Fargo (for the third and last time) around the beginning of the new school year, early September, 1939. She started broadcasting her own weekly show again on WDAY on 14 September. For the first two weeks, the broadcast was on Thursday afternoon from 2:15 to 2:30 pm. It was then switched to the evening from 7:45 to 8 pm, staying on the same time slot until 2 November.
[[i]Grand Forks Herald: 27 Aug, 1939, 5 Sep, 1939[/i]]

[img]https://i.imgur.com/0woIuOM.jpg[/img]
[i]Advertisement in Fargo Forum of 14 September, 1939 (detail)[/i]

During November, there appears to have been only a single Peggy Lee show broadcast. At the beginning of December she returned to regular broadcasts, now on Sunday evenings in the 8:30 – 8:45 pm time slot, which continued to the end of the year. After the New Year, 1940, the remote broadcasts from the Powers Coffee Shop resumed, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, with Lloyd Collins at the Hammond. They had the 10:15 to 10:30 pm slot. The broadcasts continued mostly uninterrupted until Peggy Lee left Fargo in June.

[img]https://i.imgur.com/Onk00zX.jpg[/img]
[i]Advertisement in Fargo Forum of 2 January, 1940 (detail)[/i]

The Powers Coffee Shop was still featuring live music, but Peggy Lee did not immediately return to her employment there after the summer. Lloyd Collins, a student at North Dakota State College, had taken over the Hammond organ from Frank Norris some time during the summer. He played more than 5 hours daily for the 'luncheon, dinner and after-theater' patrons.

[img]https://i.imgur.com/o0mpxQJ.jpg[/img]
[i]Advertisement in Fargo Forum of 7 September, 1939[/i]

Peggy Lee went back to her job at the Powers Coffee Shop on 27 October, 1939, almost two months after returning to Fargo. She joined Lloyd Collins on the riser in the Coffee Shop six days a week for the dinner and post-theatre sessions, but not at lunchtime. She had Sundays off.

[img]https://i.imgur.com/TvHjHDi.jpg[/img]
[i]Advertisement in The Spectrum of 26 October, 1939[/i]

[img]https://i.imgur.com/Gb4SFAd.jpg[/img]
[i]Advertisement in Fargo Forum of 29 January, 1940[/i]

[img]https://i.imgur.com/ryyGiz4.jpg[/img]
[i]Peggy Lee and Lloyd Collins on the riser in the Powers Coffee Shop (1939-40)[/i]

The broadcasts of the ensemble performances by the entertainers employed by WDAY continued in the 1939 – 40 season. [i]Dinner Bell Time[/i] was still running around noontime. When Peggy Lee returned to WDAY at the beginning of September, the program had two consecutive time slots, from 12 to 12:30 pm. It later moved to slots 12:15 – 12:30 and 12:45 – 1 pm. Peggy Lee was not working at the Powers Coffee Shop during the luncheon hour so may have been part of the cast of [i]Dinner Bell Time[/i]. Lem Hawkins had left Fargo earlier in the year after a decade at WDAY. He returned to KMA in Shenandoah, Iowa, where he had been one of their first broadcasters. Many of the artists from the previous season were still in residence - Texas Ranger, Louise Murray Headland, Mary Lou, Jeanne Alm, Rudy Rudd and Ole Anderson. They had been joined by new partners, including Oscar Johnson (who led the orchestra). The station employed an orchestra of 10 or so musicians to provide backing for the artists.

[img]https://i.imgur.com/JJy393P.jpg[/img]
[i]WDAY Barn Dance Crew (prior to the introduction of Hayloft Jamboree)[/i]
[[i]Behind The Dial With WDAY, 1939[/i]]

WDAY had experimented with half-hour weekly evening programs that featured their stable of talent. Programs such as [i]Flying Arrow Ranch Bunkhouse Jamboree[/i] and [i]Rudy Sten & His Cowboys[/i] ran for short periods but were eventually cancelled. At the start of the 1939 - 40 season, they tried another version of the barn dance, and named it [i]Hayloft Jamboree[/i]. The name wasn't original; there were a few similarly named programs running at other stations across the country. The WDAY [i]Hayloft Jamboree[/i] premiered on 28 September, 1939 and was an immediate success. It was broadcast from the WDAY studios on the 8th floor of the Black Building but soon had to move to larger quarters at Town Hall, the performance space at the Gardner Hotel. After 3 months at the Gardner, the show was moved to the Fargo Theatre to accommodate the ever-increasing audiences.
[[i]Fargo Forum: 28 Sep, 1939
Billboard: 1 Feb, 1940[/i]]

In her memoir, Peggy Lee recalls playing [i]Freckle[d] Face Gertie[/i] in [i]Hayloft Jamboree[/i] but she dates the show to the period prior to her first trip to California (March, 1938). The character had appeared in the precursors to [i]Hayloft Jamboree[/i], even before Norma Egstrom joined WDAY.

In its first season, [i]Hayloft Jamboree[/i] was broadcast each Thursday evening from 9 to 9:30 pm, continuing to 25 April, 1940 when it was replaced by [i]Pleasure Time[/i], one of the Chesterfield cigarette-sponsored network programs from NBC.
[[i]Fargo Forum: 25 Apr, 1940, 2 May, 1940[/i]]

[img]https://i.imgur.com/kOWZv0T.jpg[/img]
[i]Advertisements in Fargo Forum of 28 September, 26 October and 2 November, 1939 (detail), and The Spectrum of 23 February, 1940[/i]

[img]https://i.imgur.com/NJLNlsK.jpg[/img]
[i]The stage of the Fargo Theatre in 2011[/i]

[i]Hayloft Jamboree[/i] returned for many seasons, taking a hiatus for the war years, and even making the transition to WDAY-TV. Like many radio stations in the early days of radio, WDAY acted as a talent agency and booked its artists into venues other than their own studios. The WDAY [i]Hayloft Jamboree[/i] played country fairs, parties, benefits and wherever their brand of entertainment was required.

Peggy Lee's last known engagement during her 1939 – 40 stay in Fargo was on 6 June, 1940 when one of her performances with Lloyd was broadcast on WDAY from the Powers Coffee Shop. As in 1939, the local colleges closed for the summer vacation at the end of May and the Coffee Shop lost a large percentage of its clientele. Peggy Lee moved to Minneapolis, but unlike in the previous year, she did not return to Fargo for the start of the new academic year in September.
[[i]Fargo Forum: 6 Jun, 1940[/i]]

Peggy Lee's motivation to move to Minneapolis was the opportunity to sing with the Sev Olsen orchestra, a regional band that played mainly in Minnesota. Olsen was Ken Kennedy's cousin (their mothers were sisters), so it is likely that Kennedy was instrumental in getting Peggy Lee her new job.

[b]Residence[/b]
According to the 1940 edition of [i]Polk's Fargo and Moorhead City Directory[/i], Norma Egstrom was living at Apartment 30, Hogan Apartments, 120 N 4th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues. She described her occupation as 'vocalist Powers Hotel.' She was listed as the tenant of the apartment, with her sisters Della and Marianne and brother Clair living with her. Her friend Oswald Hovde is listed as living in the basement at the Hogan Apartments. The [i]Sixteenth Census of the United States[/i], taken on 19 April, 1940 lists Peggy's eldest sister, Della, as the head of household, with Clair, Marianne, Norma, Paul Rudrud Jr (Della's son) and Ossie Hovde also in residence.

The Hogan apartment house no longer exists. The site and adjacent sites are occupied by the AT&T building.

The apartments were only a block north of the Northern Pacific railway line. The rooming house at 606 4th St N where Norma lived in 1937 – 38 was only a block north of the Great Northern line. Perhaps she couldn’t sleep without the sounds of the trains...

[b]The family breadwinner[/b]
The 1940 census entries for the Egstrom siblings living in the Hogan Apartments are revealing. Marianne and Norma are the only ones actively employed. Marianne is a receptionist in a doctor's office and had worked 24 hours in the previous week. She had not worked in 1939 and had no income that year. Norma is listed as a radio entertainer. She had worked 48 hours in the previous week. In 1939 she had worked all 52 weeks and earned a total of $1560. Neither Clair nor Della are working. Della does not list an occupation and had no income for 1939. Clair is listed as a grocery clerk, having worked 20 weeks in 1939 and earned a total of $150. The family friend, Ossie Hovde, who had also lived with the elder sisters in Hillsboro, is a telephone lineman but is not currently working. He worked for 36 weeks in 1939 and earned $540. So Norma and Marianne are supporting a household of 6.

[b]Powers Coffee Shop music post-Lee[/b]
As in prior years, the live music at the Coffee Shop was discontinued for the summer after Peggy Lee's departure for Minneapolis. Lloyd Collins returned to the Hammond organ in September, 1940 and entertained alone for a few months.

[img]https://i.imgur.com/ah4sgv9.jpg[/img]
[i]Advertisement in Fargo Forum of 27 September, 1940[/i]

Then in January, 1941 he was joined for 'Lullabies in Swing by petite Kay Doyle.' Lloyd and Kay continued at the Coffee Shop until the end of the academic year in May.
[[i]The Spectrum: 17 Jan, 1941, 16 May, 1941[/i]]

[img]https://i.imgur.com/8cYac6I.jpg[/img]
[i]Advertisement in The Spectrum of 17 January, 1941[/i]

Again, Lloyd Collins, still studying at NDAC, returned to the Coffee Shop in September, 1941. His partner on the riser was Jeanne Alm, 'WDAY's singing star,' who had been [i]Freckle Face Gertie[/i] prior to Peggy Lee's tenure in the part. Jeanne sang until January, 1942 and Lloyd continued alone with his 'silhouettes in rhythm' until at least March. He graduated from North Dakota State College in May, 1942 and went into the armed services. Initially, he was in officer training school in Fargo and played intermittently at the Powers Coffee Shop.
[[i]The Spectrum: multiple issues[/i]]

[img]https://i.imgur.com/2EjyYis.jpg[/img]
[i]Advertisement in The Spectrum of 19 September, 1941[/i]

[b]Acknowledgements[/b]
Thanks to Mary Beth Orn for getting me access to [i]The Wimbledon News[/i] at the Wimbledon Community Museum; to Wes Anderson at the Barnes County Historical Society Museum for access to his newspaper trove; to Kate Stevenson for the photograph of Peggy Lee and Lloyd Collins performing in the Powers Coffee Shop.
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