After 15 years and more than 113,000 miles, a North Dakota man has published a book with stories from every town in our state. We spoke with him to find out more about his mission behind the book.
“There’s a lot of unsung heroes in the state of North Dakota. There’s a lot of silence out there,” said Jim Puppe, author of Dakota Attitude.
Puppe is 75 years old and an advocate for Prisoners Of War. He worked for the Veteran Administration for 34 years. He knew after retirement his mission didn’t stop. So he traveled around North Dakota for 15 years, stopping at every town. 617 to be exact.
“I would ask people in that community, some of them were small towns, who in that town they respected, somebody with good human character,” said Puppe.
Each person he sat down with at the kitchen table. Their ages were anywhere from 60 to 105 years old. Puppe wanted to hear about their values and what it was like growing up on a farm. He said everyone can talk about the soil, but no one really knows the people who cultivated it.
“I lived in the state. I loved this state. I love the people. They’re special and I wanted to know what was on their minds,” said Puppe.
One of those stories was about Pauline Roll. Today, she’s 94 years old and she told Puppe she started having children at the age of 21. In fact, she had 21 children in 21 years.
“I don’t ever remember my mom ever not being pregnant. She always claimed she felt better when she was pregnant,” said Joe Roll, Pauline’s son.
Pauline is alive today and staying in a congregate facility and due to COVID-19 we were unable to speak with her, but we caught up with her son, Joe who says he’s the person he is today because of his mom.
“She relies on her faith a lot to get through hard times. She does have a very positive attitude,” said Joe.
Farmers, school teachers, prisoners of war — they all declare the resilient attitude of our great state. Puppe told us that about 35% of the people he interviewed over the last 15 years have died.
And because of this book, their legacy will live on.
You can find the book in downtown Bismarck at Ferguson Books or by clicking here.