|A time of
More than Johnson and Carvell, Dennis Lien sees the period as having shaped a large part of his life.
Lien, who works as director of Clay County Social Services, says his interests and the changes in society meshed when he chose social work, a field that blossomed at the time, for a career.
"I think that as I grow older and I look back at that era of my life, it was a formative era," he says.
Valuing people and having respect for others, diversity and the rights of individuals - "all of these things seem kind of cliche-ridden, but theyre part of my value system now."
Liens military experience also was important. A member of a Fergus Falls National Guard unit, Lien remembers a first sergeant telling a training group - which included Guard, Reserve and regular Army troops - that some of them were going to Vietnam, a place the sergeant and the troops had never heard of before.
Guard training exposed him to people he wouldnt have known if he stayed in his rural Minnesota community; his best friend and tentmate during training in Louisiana was a Hispanic man from Texas, he says.
Lien returned to Fergus Falls and eventually was in a Guard unit called for advanced training every weekend. "It really was in preparation for us to be shipped someplace, we didnt know where," he says.
Within a few weeks of being shipped out, in 1968 Lien was discharged from the Guard, which had too many members and had been ordered to make cuts. He was eight months shy of finishing his six-year stint.
He spent a year at Fergus Falls Junior College and then attended Moorhead State. Many of his friends at both schools were Vietnam veterans. "It was unbelievable some of the stories that (they) told about what was happening over there," he remembers.
The stories influenced his thoughts on the war. "I certainly held the view that the war was an unjust war at that point and had come 180 degrees from my early days in the Guard on that."
David Strauss was president of the Moorhead State College Student Senate before he graduated in 1973 and ran unsuccessfully for the Minnesota Legislature while a student.
He was moved less by what was going on around him than by what hed experienced growing up in Harvey and Valley City, he says.
"I think I certainly remember my motivations, because I think my motivations during the time that I was in college are very similar to my motivations today," says Strauss, who is now executive director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which rescues failed private pension plans.
"I think that the fact that Ive devoted my entire career to public service is very much rooted in my Catholic upbringing, my years of Catholic education," he says.
Strauss first job out of college was with the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. He ran Bill Guys 1974 Senate campaign in North Dakota and was executive director of North Dakota Democratic Party before working as chief of staff for the late Sen. Quentin Burdick.
Before his current post, he was Vice President Al Gores deputy chief of staff from 1994 to 1997.
Social justice and racial equality were important issues; Moorhead State, he remembers, developed a program for and incentives to attract minority students.
"I think there were a lot of issues at that time that motivated students to get involved in politics," he says.
While older than the others, Fargoan D.J. Guerrero remembers the late 1960s well - he was serving in Vietnam in the Marine Corps, which he joined in 1953.
News of antiwar protests was carried to the troops. "I was about 10 years older than the average kid, so they would come to me and were very upset about (protests)."
"It made an impact on the young guys," Guerrero says. "They were really upset."
He remembers only one fellow Marine who spoke against the motivations of the war. "They were too preoccupied with trying to stay alive to try to make a statement," he says.
A California native, Guerrero was discharged in Memphis and moved to Fargo to attend North Dakota State University. Hes now retired.
"I think, and I dont mean to be mean-spirited, but I think the people who were against the war, they skinned the wrong cat" by criticizing soldiers, not politicians, he says.
While the 1960s led to "giant strides" in racial and ethnic tolerance, Guerrero sees much more work to be done. "I think its changed, but I dont think its changed enough to make people comfortable."
But as talk about the ads grew, the newspapers staff decided to do a story, Carvell remembers.
The front-page article that followed lit the fuse of what became the Zip to Zap: "Located in the valley of the scenic Knife River, Zap (Zip 58580) has thrown open its arms to students. The beautiful burgs 250 residents welcome us to their shores. Shall we say no to this truly fine gesture of western hospitality? Of course not. On May 10, we and students like us from all over the Midwest will flock to Zap, the Lauderdale of the North ("where did you get your suntan, Miami?" "No, Knife River.")"
The story was picked up by The Associated Press and carried nationally. Students were expected from throughout the region and across the country.
The residents of Zap readied for the invasion. Beer and Zapburgers were stockpiled.
"We thought, well, well put ourselves on the map here," remembers Norman Fuchs, who was mayor of Zap in 1969.
The day-long affair was set for a Saturday. But it was over before it started, as people streamed in Friday night, drank copiously, trashed a bar when the price of beer doubled and set a bonfire on Main Street, fueling it with lumber from an abandoned building.
Partiers trashed this bar when the price of beer was doubled. Forum File Photo
"There were Vietnam veterans, fuzzy-cheeked teen-agers, fraternity men, athletes, long hairs and a minority of girls," reporter Rod Deckert wrote in The Forum May 11, 1969. "Virtually all the students were drinking and a majority were drunk."
The partiers were awakened early Saturday by Fuchs voice on a bullhorn, withdrawing their invitation.
Then 500 National Guard troops - some of whom were former classmates of the partiers - cleared out the town.
Many students left without trouble. About 500 moved to nearby Hazen and Beulah, some raising havoc, before settling in a Bismarck park, where the Zip to Zap petered out.
Newspapers and networks carried the story across the county; the militarys Stars and Stripes and the former Soviet Unions Pravda ran articles about it.
In hindsight, the Zip to Zap was fated to fail, Carvell says, given the numbers of people involved.
"Anyone who stops to think about this can see it was destined to be one of the great fiascoes of our time," says Carvell, who now serves as district director for Sen. Byron Dorgan.
Fuchs thinks no more than 300 of the 3,000 who came to Zap were troublemakers.
"Physically there was a lot of damage," he remembers. "There were several businesses that had to be demolished."
Carvell remembers being embarassed by what happened.
"I was really appalled when I left that day," he says. "Im now caught up in a great disaster I had a role in making.
"So I shrank back to Mott with my tail between my legs and didnt come out of my house for a couple days."
But the town rebuilt, placing a new city hall on the lot where revelers took lumber from the abandoned building, Fuchs says.
"Emotionally, I thought we fared quite well," he says. "The people here were quite strong and most people supported what we tried to do."
Some residents are planning a 30th anniversary celebration May 8, says Terry Barden, who is the chairman of the event.
While the 20th and 25th anniversary celebrations passed without trouble, "we do have a lot of people who are still in town who were here at that time who are a little leery of it," Barden says.
|A glorious run:
Metropolitan bank exceeds its expectations
By Jonathan Knutson
For years "Metro" was one of the biggest success stories in Fargo-Moorhead.
Fargo-based Metropolitan Federal Bank, commonly known as Metro, wheeled and dealed in the 1980s and early 1990s to become a regional banking giant. At its financial pinnacle, the company had assets of $8 billion, operated more than 200 offices in nine states and employed 300 people in Fargo-Moorhead.
All that ended in 1995 when Metropolitan was purchased and absorbed by Minneapolis-based First Bank, now known as U.S. Bank. Metropolitan banks were converted to the U.S. Bank banner.
But Metropolitan had a glorious run - one that surprised even its top executives.
"We expected to grow. But to have grown as we did, well, that's something nobody could have expected," said Norman Jones, Metropolitan's longtime president and the man responsible for much of its growth.
For most of its history Metropolitan was a modest one-town savings and loan institution - at one point "the smallest thrift in North Dakota," as Jones put it.
Metropolitan was founded in 1926 in Fargo. Martin Jones, grandfather of Norman Jones, was the founder and one of the organizers. Maurice Jones, Martin's son and Norman's father, became president in 1953.
Norman Jones joined the bank full time in 1952 and became president in 1967.
Under his leadership, Metropolitan began to grow more rapidly. Banking analysts praised Jones' good reputation in the banking industry and among regulators.
The company's growth accelerated in the 1980s, primarily because Metropolitan purchased failed thrifts from the federal government. The government - anxious to rid itself of the thrifts - typically offered them at attractive prices.
Critics said the deals were too sweet. Metropolitan executives said the critics were exaggerating and that they were bitter because their own bids for those troubled thrifts failed.
In any case, Metropolitan grew by leaps and bounds through acquisitions.
In 1992 alone, for example, the company acquired, or announced plans to acquire, the following:
1. Eureka Savings Bank in Eureka, Kan., which operated 10 branches.
2. American Charter Federal Savings and Loan in Lincoln, Neb., which operated 27 offices in 17 communities.
3. Western Financial Corp. of Overland Park, Kan., whose subsidiary, Columbia Savings Association, operated 24 branches.
4. Home Owners Savings Bank of Fergus Falls, Minn.
Metropolitan's growth was rewarded handsomely by the stock market.
The company's stock rose a sizzling 183.2 percent in 1991. A $1,000 investment in Metropolitan stock at the beginning of 1991 was worth $2,832 at the end of the year.
From 1983 to 1991, the company's stock rose at an annualized rate of 37 percent. An investment of $1,000 in Metropolitan stock in 1983 was worth about $6,800 at the end of 1991.
Metropolitan stock was widely held in the Fargo-Moorhead area, local brokers say, so its success helped a lot of local investors.
"There were quite a number of investors of average means who bought our stock," Jones said. "They ended up doing very, very well, and that was gratifying."
The company's growth caused some Fargo-Moorhead residents to fear Metropolitan would move its headquarters - and hundreds of jobs - from Fargo to Minneapolis.
In fact, the corporate headquarters of Metropolitan Financial Corp., the parent of Metropolitan Federal Bank, were moved to Minneapolis in late 1990. The move affected only a small number of employees in the corporation's mortgage and real estate subsidiaries. The staff and headquarters of Metropolitan Federal, the corporation's banking subsidiary, remained in Fargo.
Metropolitan's success was noticed by other banking companies, particularly ones that wanted to grow by acquisition.
In mid-1994 U.S. Bank announced it was buying Metropolitan. At the time, U.S. Bank had assets of $26.5 billion, more than three times Metropolitan's assets.
Jones said U.S. Bank's offer was simply too attractive for Metropolitan's board of directors to pass up. The First Bank offer raised the value of Metropolitan stock by roughly 50 percent.
"We felt a responsibility to shareholders to accept the offer," he said.
Some people apparently believed Jones had at least 51 percent of Metropolitan shares and could have blocked the sales.
Actually, Jones said, he owned less than 2 percent and couldn't have blocked it.
So Metropolitan - which had swallowed up so many banks - was itself swallowed up.
Now, four years after the sale was completed, Jones said he's still convinced it was for the best.
He acknowledged the sale had one major downside. "We had wonderful employees and some of them struggled (to find new jobs). That bothered us," he said.
However, most of the former Metropolitan employees ended up with positions at U.S. Bank or other banking companies, Jones said.
After the sale was completed, he noted, U.S. Bank opened a service center in Fargo that employs about 1,500 people. Local political and economic development leaders say Jones lobbied U.S. Bank behind the scenes to establish the center here.
Jones, 68, remained with U.S. Bank as chairman of its trust division after the merger was completed.
He later left U.S. Bank and subsequently has spent much of his time serving on the boards of directors of numerous charities and corporations.
Jones suffered a mild heart attack about a year ago. He said his heart suffered very little damage and that he feels fine.
Jones still has his hand in banking. In 1996 he helped organize Metro Community Bank in Minneapolis.
Metro Community Bank, which has two Twin Cities locations, is being sold to Lutheran Brotherhood, a financial services organizations for Lutherans nationwide.
The banking company will be renamed LB Bank and cater to both Lutherans and non-Lutherans. Jones will serve as an adviser.
Jones said the plan is to establish a slew of LB Bank offices in the Upper Midwest.
"Some day we may see an office in Fargo," he said.
Metropolitan is gone, but it's hardly forgotten in Fargo-Moorhead. Hundreds of former employees and thousands of former patrons still live here.
How would Jones like "Metro" to be remembered?
"For having excellent employees who cared about their work," he said. "For helping a great many people become homeowners. And for helping many average investors do very, very well."
Jones made a point of thanking Metropolitan's former customers and praised them as honest and financially responsible.
"They created a wonderful atmosphere for us to operate in," he said. "We were very fortunate."
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