November 7, 1980 was a Friday. That date still means something to me. The election was over, and Al Olson had been elected governor. I had worked for him on his campaign.
On that Friday, I walked into the bar at the Town House in Bismarck. It was a favorite watering hole for politicos of all stripes back then. That night, as I walked in I saw a big table of Bud Wigen’s family and friends who were celebrating his election win. I had known Bud back when he was Insurance Commisioner, and when he had lost the 1976 election. He made a comeback. I got to know his wife Phyliss over the course of the campaign at any number of county fairs, rubber chicken dinners and other campaign functions, and liked them both.
That night, when I walked in, Bud noticed me, and called me over to the table where he proceeded to introduce me to those I didn’t know. One he introduced me to was his daughter, Joan.
She was a tall, fair skinned, raven haired woman, who had a definite Irish look about her. We exchanged some small talk at the bar until she left to rejoin her family for dinner. Little did I know, that her dad, Bud, had set in motion something that would change both of our lives.
Tonight, I stopped by what was the old Town House. It’s now called the Kelly Inn, and the bar where I met Joanie is no longer there. There is still a bar there, but it’s not the same.
In any event, it gave me some small pleasure to revisit the site on this date.