Our first weekend in Fargo was packed with events for Pride Weekend. From a special roller derby bout to a block party culminating in a parade through downtown Fargo, the Mobile Team stayed busy trying to keep up with everything between interviews! Even busier than us was The Pride Collective. The Pride Collective organized all the events for Pride Weekend and also helped us invite members of the LGBTQ community and allies from the Fargo-Moorhead area to do a StoryCorps interview.
Nelson Richardson came to the MobileBooth during our second week in Fargo with his partner Denis Timm. The couple recently moved to Fargo, which for Nelson meant moving back home to the Midwest. Nelson grew up in Minnesota, spent a few of his teen years living in a monastery in California, and as a young man ended up living in New York City.
He met Denis there through a dating service called Brunch Buddies. Nelson explains: “You paid a fee and you got a list of six numbers.” The six numbers were from other men who had also signed up for the service. Nelson arranged dates with the first six numbers and didn’t find anyone he liked. During the second round of numbers, Nelson met Denis.
At the time Nelson lived in Manhattan and Denis lived in Brooklyn. Denis remembers arranging the date: “People that were in the ‘city’ would never come out to the boroughs, and I remember speaking on the phone and he agreed to come to Brooklyn and meet me at my job … It was a big plus for Nelson.”
Denis recalls one other thing in particular about their first date: Nelson’s shoes. “Those shoes were old, beat up – they looked like big clunky Uggs. And he had on nice dress pants and a decent shirt and he had these shoes on. It was like wearing a tuxedo with flip flops. It was just so incongruous, it was so weird. But that was Nelson. And Nelson is still weird.”
For Nelson, being weird was mainly a problem for him when he met new people. He describes himself as intensely shy. But in the end, Nelson found he couldn’t help himself around Denis: “One time we had a car trip and I said, ‘You know I do think I like you very much.’ But it was a very tentative statement … We had to give it time. And we did, and now it’s 24 plus years.”
StoryCorps advance coordinator Eliza and facilitator Anna drove to the State Fair in Minot, ND, after work yesterday. We saw the finest cows, goats, pigs, eggs, watermelons, and quilts in the whole state.
We rode a few of the rides in the midway and discovered that there comes a point in one’s life when getting whirled around upside down isn’t as fun as it used to be — we had reached that point.
As we stumbled off a ride called “the Zipper,” we had the happy surprise to run into a recent StoryCorps participant, Angeline, who had just finished riding the Zipper for the fifteenth time.
Marilyn Hudson, who works at the Three Tribes Museum in New Town, has been a wonderful host to StoryCorps while we’ve been here on the Fort Berthold Reservation. After work this evening, she took us for a horseback trail ride and picnic in the Little Missouri State Park. Thank you, Marilyn!
Two members of the German from Russia Society visited the booth today. The arrive dressed as their grandfathers might have when they came to North Dakota as homesteaders in the late nineteenth century.