[Dixielandjazz] Peggy Lee's home in Wimbledon, North Dakota

Robert Ringwald rsr at ringwald.com
Fri Jun 3 10:52:56 PDT 2011

Peggy Lee's home in Wimbledon, North Dakota

Saving a Piece of History: Group Preserves Peggy Lee's Home
by Emma Murray
InForum (Fargo), June 2, 2011
WIMBLEDON, N.D. -- Before she was the singer, songwriter and actress known as Peggy
Lee, Norma Egstrom helped her father run the Midland Continental Railroad Depot here
from 1934-37.
Today, the very depot Lee worked in is the last remaining from the historical railroad
that intended to connect Winnipeg to Texas.
Due to financial constraints, only 67 miles of track were laid down from Edgeley
to Wimbledon.
Since the 1990s, residents of Wimbledon have been working to turn this piece of railroad
and musical history into the Midland Continental Depot Transportation Museum, according
to Mary Beth Orn, treasurer of Wimbledon's Depot Restoration Committee.
"My mother, who is deceased now, she was really the one pushing (this project) because
it was such a unique piece of history that we have here in Wimbledon," she says.
In July 2007, the money allocated to the project in Orn's mother's will got it rolling.
And Orn took on her mother's passion for the project, she said.
On Friday, Valley City will celebrate the singer with Peggy Lee Day. Orn hopes the
depot will fete Lee's life far beyond this week.
At first community members were a bit skeptical about the project, says Ginny Lulay,
the 87-year-old local historic consultant and a resident of Wimbledon.
"Once we got started, it just started rolling and rolling and (at first) everyone
laughed thinking it would never amount to anything and we fooled them," she says.
The restoration process started July 26, 2010, and is currently in its interpretation
phase -- the second of three phases needed to be finished before the grand opening.
Lulay, whose mother was the last acting depot agent before it closed in 1970, was
a seventh-grader when Lee, a high school student, moved into the depot.
With her firsthand knowledge of not only the depot but Peggy Lee's impact on the
Wimbledon community, Lulay has played a vital role in helping with the interpretation
process that will take museum-goers back to the late 1930s when Peggy Lee resided
at the depot.
Lulay even contributed some of her own Lee memorabilia she'd clipped from magazines
and newspapers over the years.
"Even before she got real famous I started saving everything thinking, 'Oh, Peggy
Lee!' and so I saved all the papers and stuff," Lulay says. "I always was really
excited about Peggy Lee. She just struck me and I saved everything."
But Lulay is not the only person contributing their memorabilia.
Lee's granddaughter Holly Foster-Wells of Los Angeles is also contributing Lee memorabilia.
"(Peggy Lee) was very proud of her North Dakota roots and she always wanted to help
give back to North Dakota in some way, and so we feel that way," Foster-Wells says.
"I do hope the people go out and support the museum, otherwise these buildings get
torn down and forgotten."
Orn says she believes the museum will do well as its uniqueness has not only national
and global appeal.
"We really feel that we want to share this special treasure that's unique to the
world," Orn says. "We've had someone from England contact us about it. These railroad
buffs are really interested."
With the restoration process nearing the third and final phase involving the restoration
of the Midland caboose, flatcar and car shed, the museum is set to be complete around
Orn says she looks forward to the positive impacts the museum will hold for Wimbledon.
"It will be an economic boost vital to just keeping Wimbledon alive through tourism,"
she says. "The community is excited."

What: Peggy Lee Day
When: Friday. Peggy Lee activities and displays held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Barnes
County Historical Museum will host Peggy Lee activities and displays. Myron Sommerfeld
and His Music (Orchestra) will play for the Peggy Lee Concert and Dance at the Valley
City Eagles Club from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Admission to the dance is $10.
Where: Barnes County Historical Museum and Eagles Club, Valley City
Info: KOVC 1490 AM will be playing Peggy Lee music all day. All dance proceeds go
to the Wimbledon Midland Continental Depot restoration. For more information, contact
Mary Beth Orn at 701-435-2875 or
mary_beth_orn at hotmail.com

--Bob Ringwald
Fulton Street Jazz Band
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