Mildred Monke remembers life in Regent's earliest daysThe Regent Centennial Celebration is an opportunity to imagine what life was like when the city was founded.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
The Regent Centennial Celebration is an opportunity to imagine what life was like when the city was founded.
Mildred Monke, 98, doesn’t have to imagine those days — she lived them.
“’Little House on the Prairie’ always appealed to me because it was a picture of what I did when I was young,” she said from her apartment at Hawks Point.
She has a memory of helping her father plow. While her father worked with a team of four horses, she followed behind with two horses and a one-blade plow. She had two younger brothers, but they both died at an early age. The family homesteaded 14 miles north of Regent.
“I was born in 1912 and didn’t get very far,” she remembers. “Even mother, when she came here to North Dakota — it was a year before she ever got to town for the first time.”
She remembers traveling with a team of horses, then later with a Model T Ford.
“We got to town, I’d say once in a coon’s age. That meant maybe every four or five months,” she said. “I remember being very scared and shy. We thought that was the greatest thing in the world to buy an ice cream cone, but money was so scare, Dad even said ‘no’ to ice cream cones. We were all poor alike, we didn’t know any better.”
She remembers walking into Junger’s hardware store and Christopher’s merchandise store, later known as Kristy’s, for their supplies.
“They had everything — even a little section where you could buy women’s hats and dresses and such. My mother and my aunt delighted to snoop around and see what they could afford,” she said.
Monke’s dresses were sewn by her mother; and more than once, she used the flower sacks with the pretty designs on them as fabric.
“The girls didn’t wear jeans. We’d have been horrified,” she said.
Monke remembers selling their cream at Regent’s creamery, and relying on their garden for vegetables.
“Dad would buy what else we needed — flour, sugar, other things,” she said. “In the fall, if we were lucky enough to have money, Mother would buy a crate of peaches and she’d can them for the winter.”
She remembers Regent’s physician, Dr. Hill, as the family’s good friend.
“I had appendicitis and he got me over that,” she said. “My mother had a very bad accident — a horse kicked her in the jaw and Dr. Hill sewed her up.”
Education was important in the Monke home. Mildred walked to a country school 2½ miles away, or would cut across the prairie to make the trip shorter.
“I loved it. I would say I’d have been deprived, had I not had the opportunity to attend,” she said.
She enrolled at Regent High School, staying at the Bradshaw rooming house.
“Mother and father would get me for the weekend and take me home,” she said. “I loved it. I had lots of friends in Regent. Of course, I was always glad to get home, too.”
Reunion organizers believe Monke is the oldest living Regent graduate, having graduated with the class of 1931.
“History and geography were always my favorite subjects,” she said.
But Monke had a problem with grammar because the country school teacher couldn’t give individual work to the students.
“So when I went to high school in Regent, Miss Brooks said, ‘If you’re willing to stay after school, I’ll help you with your grammar and English.’ She was a wonderful person,” said Monke.
She remembers the students participated in games such as baseball or basketball.
“I think we had more parties and the high school was good about having entertainment,” she said.
Her interest in geography opened the doors to a glimpse of what the world was like outside of Regent. She attended college for several years before seeing an item in the Lutheran Standard, advertising for missionaries.
She was accepted as a missionary to India, serving from 1938 until she came home for good in1961.
Monke enjoys living at Hawks Point in Dickinson, but noted, “At my age, it gets a little boring.”
She’s content to listen to talking books. Most recently, the autobiography she wrote titled “From North Dakota to India” was set to voice. It helps her go back to her years on the prairie.
“I loved the freedom of the prairie,” she said. “I loved the fact that you could climb on a windmill and see the whole country — the new little flowers popping up and the little animals that were born. I loved the farm.”
Memories such as Monke’s are documented in a newly published Centennial book compiled by Marlene Kouba, who farms near Regent.
“It’s 432 pages and has a hard cover with gold print,” said Kouba.
Titled “Regent Reflections,” the book contains stories and pictures submitted by area families and businesses.
She started the effort in February of 2008, and recruited Carole Witte of Regent to serve as proofreader.
While Kouba is a graduate of Mott High School, all of her children graduated from Regent High School.
She assisted with compiling the 75th anniversary book and felt an update would be appreciated.
“I had the experience and the time to do it on my own leisure,” she said. “I’ve always had an interest in writing. There’s a lot of genealogy information in this book.”
The stories go back to great-great-grandparents.
“I’ve always appreciated the novelty of what they went through — their own unique methods of dealing with hardships,” she said.
Kouba is waiting for the printer to ship the books — believing they will arrive in time for the celebration. She ordered 1,000 volumes that will be available at the centennial headquarters in Regent. They will be sold for $50 plus postage. For more information, call Kouba at 701-563-4560.