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Selz is Small, but That's Why People Like it

Lind, Bob. "Selz is Small, but That's why People Like it." Forum, 15 August 1993, sec. B & 3B.


The sounds of Summer in Selz: a flag flapping in the community park; a car on a gravel street; birds singing; long periods of no sound at all, interrupted by the harsh roar of Ruth Dosch's lawn mower.

Ruth came to Selz in 1967 because, she says, it was a good place to raise the two youngest of her six children.

Andrew Zeien at the former Selz schoolhouse, where he now lives with his family.

Selz is just north of Harvey, North Dakota. Population estimates vary from 60 to 75. It had a general store until 1969, a school until 1988. The store now houses a carpentry business and the school now is the home of the Zeien family.

Andrew Zeien, 13, attended school in this building until second grade. He says its "kind of fun" to live there.

Andrew says he likes Selz. "It's nice and quiet; not too much traffic," he says.

That's a fact. Selz, like many rural communities, struggles to exist. Its businesses are the carpenter's shop, a machine shop, a bar and the grain elevator where Jamey Weinmann works.

Weinmann and his wife Brenda live in a neat yellow and white house across the street from the baseball diamond now overgrown with grass. Brenda was the Selz postmaster until the post office closed four years ago; now she's the postmaster in Esmond, 17 miles away.

"I like this size town," Weinmann says. "It's not too busy. Grand Forks, Fargo, Bismarck, they're OK, but any bigger, it gets too fast. Here, you can walk to work."

Jamey Weinmann, right, lives near and takes care of the Selz Community Park.

Selz's residents include 10 children aged 14 and under. Three of them belong to the Weinmanns. The two oldest sometimes play on the merry-go-round and the slide in the park.

Their father looks after the park; he's paid out of a maintenance fund. Many of the park's facilities were donated by families and a homemaker's club.

The park contains playground equipment, two picnic tables in a shelter, a grill, a two-holer outhouse, the flag pole and a small flower garden. Pauline Ziegler voluntarily makes the garden her project.

Pauline's house is at the edge of town, down the street from St. Anthony Catholic Church, which was built in 1959.

Most of Selz's residents are Catholic and German. Lawrence Welk would have felt at home here; his German-Russian ancestors came from the village of Selz in Russia.

Ruth Dosch works with the flower and seashell display in her yard.

Ruth Dosch takes a breather from mowing her lawn. She worries about the flowers around her house. "We got too much rain," she says. "It's hurting them."

The rain is hurting the farmers around Selz, too; the fields are drenched.

With all the water, it's appropriate that Ruth Dosch has a display of seashells in her yard. Her daughter in North Carolina brings them to her.

She's impressed by her neighbors. One of them is Jamey Weinmann. "He does things for me and he won't take a thing for it," she says.

Another neighbor, Raymond Martel, cleared a dead tree off her yard and fixed her car "and he wouldn't take anything, either," she says.

"I had a chance to move to Harvey," she says. "But I couldn't have it any better than I've got it right here."

She cranks up the mower and its roar again cuts through the quiet of Selz.

Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Fargo, North Dakota.

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