DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — A Tribute To Wayne Lubenow

A third and final passage from the late Arch Monroe’s book “The Lighter Side of the Law.” It’s his tribute to his friend, Wayne Lubenow.

“Out of the ‘Roughrider Country,’ which brought our nation Maxwell Anderson, Louis L’Amour and Lawrence Welk, comes Lubenow. He’s the Will Rogers, Damon Runyon and Art Buchwald of the prairies. His column appears in a wide range of weeklies in the upper Midwest, and his freelance work has been carried in business, travel and tourist publications nationwide.

“His police reporting is unsurpassed. Law enforcement officers check with him regularly just to see how things are going. Little things count in his favor, too. He guided a triple (AAA) tour of Hawaii last summer. It was so successful they are thinking of dropping one of the A’s. In the ‘I’m not appreciated department,’ he compares his hometown welcome after World War II to Adolph Hitler’s arrival at a bar mitzvah.

“Nevertheless, a day without Lube now is like a day without sunshine on Dakotaland. He’s been a constant inspiration to me ― like the day he said, ‘Why don’t you shove off and write a book or something,’ so here we have ‘something.'”

“Lubenow asked me, ‘Where did you get the “Monroe House” bit’ (the name of Arch’s post office box). I told him I just picked it at random.”

Here is my own personal memory of Wayne Lubenow, who died in 1991.

He was a Navy veteran of World War II whose ship was sunk by the Japanese. The trauma left him with a slight vocal stammer. I was once with him at a cocktail party on a pontoon boat at Lake Metigoshe. The driver suddenly gunned the engine, pushing the craft’s bow under water. Wayne, fully dressed, instantly dove into the lake, shouting something like “Weh, weh, weh!”

After he had swum back to the boat, I asked,“What were you yelling, Wayne?”

“Women and children first!” he replied.

Everyone laughed. But I wasn’t the only one who understood that, for just a few seconds, Wayne Lubenow had been back on that torpedoed warship.

2 thoughts on “DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — A Tribute To Wayne Lubenow”

  • Barbara La Valleur March 9, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    Always remember walking by Wayne’s desk where there was a slight – or strong – smell of alcohol; enjoyed reading his columns and articles filled with wit & sarcasm.

  • Larry Gauper March 9, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    Excellent piece on Lubenow, Dave! He was the first item in the Forum I looked at every morning, barring any really big news on the front page. He was the “Mike Royko” of Fargo. Those were the days when Don Dresser and the late Earl Williams dominated the morning radio market and Wayne would often include “Earl’s punch line of the day” in his column. And one never knew what Wayne would write. When Earl married Sharon and arrived back from their honeymoon, Wayne asked: “How was the honeymoon, Earl?” Williams, who recalled what coaches told him after a big game, “Ah, I haven’t seen the films yet.” Lubenow printed that in his column the next day. When Wayne left the Forum, the newspaper’s readers suffered a huge loss. God bless his memory.


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