'This old post office window'

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There's only one thing better than spending a sunny afternoon watching David Watkins make his homemade ice cream—eating it in good company.

The mingling crowds gathered at the Dunn County Historical Museum did just that on Saturday as the center hosted its annual Cream Can Supper in Dunn Center.

"It's a little bit of a different process today than what you're seeing here," Watkins explained to eager guests watching in anticipation for their turn to savor the soft vanilla indulgence. "This is the old-fashioned kind, but it's best served soft because once it freezes—the magic's gone."

The schedule of events featured the grand opening of the new post office and bank exhibit building. The building was constructed in 1908 in Manning and first served as the Manning State Bank before becoming the First Bank of Dunn County. Renovations to the building took place over the winter of 2017-18. Today the building houses the new post office and bank exhibits, which saw a large crowd come from all over to visit.

Among the various exhibits harkening to the days of old were a select few visitors who shared their memories of working with the equipment now on display.

"Dad ran the mail route for 50 years, and we took over after he retired," Willard Gunwall, former mailman in Manning said. "In 2007 they closed us down, and I look around and see so many fond memories in this exhibit that remind me of those days."

Willard and his wife Denette Gunwall were sad to see the old Manning post office close after so many years, but were happy that the memories would live on in the museum's newest exhibit.

"As a child I would go with my dad to the post office; he'd grab his delivery, and we'd set out," Gunwall said. "Back then I would go out with Dad because I could hunt rabbits along his route, and back then they didn't really mind. Looking at this exhibit, I remembered some of those great conversations I had with my dad."

Not all memories being shared at the exhibit were fond, as Sharon Gjermundson detailed a harrowing robbery she experienced in August 1981 while working at the Marshall Store and Post Office.

"He told me to put all the money in the store and post office box in a bag," Gjermundson recalled of the robbery. "I just wanted to give him the money so he'd go, but I was so nervous when he demanded the money in the bag that I asked, 'paper or plastic.'"

The robber who held up the Marshall store placed Gjermundson in a storage closet before fleeing with about $100.

"I was so scared and prayed that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Gjermundson said. "Looking at this old post office window, those memories just came back to me. I think this new exhibit is fantastic for preserving our history."

The wonders, sounds and aromas that greeted visitors as they perused the main building of the Dunn County Historical Museum created an atmosphere unlike that found anywhere else. The museum houses living displays of a seamstress' shop, music room, kitchen, nursery, barber shop and even live entertainment provided by Marvin Entze who delighted the crowd with his trusty Banjitar.

This lesser-known instrument was reintroduced in the latter part of the 20th century and produces a unique sound that had some guests arguing whether it sounded more like a banjo or a guitar—but all agreed, it was beautiful.

"I was invited here to play today and have made it a habit of volunteering my time at various festivals and retirement homes to share my music with those who will hear it," Entze said. "I'm semi-retired and about 75 years old, so I don't want to work for too long or too hard—but pickin' my banjitar keeps me busy and happy."

Carey VanPelt, the activity director at Knife River Care Center in Beulah, escorted a group of seven residents to tour the historical center.

"One of our residents is from this area, and the group really wanted to come down and enjoy the exhibit, so we made sure to bring them out." VanPelt said. "They are really enjoying the post office and bank exhibit, homemade ice cream and music."

The Dunn County Historical Museum's newest additions provided guests with an opportunity to experience the way a bank and post office operated well before the days of ATM's and overnight mail. The new exhibit joins others at the site, including antique cameras; a railroad diorama consisting of an exact replica of Dunn Center done to scale; and a military display with uniforms, medals and many different articles pertaining to local servicemen and women's tours of duty.

For more information about the Dunn County Historical Museum visit their website at " target="_blank">www.dunncountymuseum.org.