Dakota Datebook

Ole the Green Man

Thursday, December 4, 2003

On this date in 1914, it was reported that while in Grand Forks, Ole Evenson from Starkweather painted his entire body a bright emerald green. Nobody understood why he did it, as reported in the following newspaper story:

When a Swede deliberately takes a can of green paint, and with a brush proceeds to decorate his anatomy from head to foot with a liberal coat of the same, he is either drunk, crazy or booze has left a lasting impression of some hilarious old time, with a Mick for a partner and the 17th of March still fresh in his memory.

No one knows just what prompted Ole Evenson of Starkweather, North Dakota to adopt the color scheme he had about completed in the rear room of a poolroom in Grand Forks a few days ago; enough to say Ole is some artist and does his work thoroughly. The authorities are of the opinion that he will come out of it, and that it is a case of booze – but he will never look the same again, until the winds and rains have put in a twelve-month on the face.

Ole must keep away from the cows, or he will be picked up by some inquisitive and hungry bovine as a new specimen of alfalfa or the head of a bloom-the-year-around cabbage. He’s a sight.

When officer Aldahl strolled into the poolroom about 2 o’clock, he heard the sounds of idiotic laughter emanating from the rear room. The officer investigated, and on opening the door his eyes met as odd a sight as a bluecoat ever gazed upon. In the center of the room with a brush of good proportions in one hand and a pail of paint in the other, stood Ole. Only his eyes – glittering like two holes in green blanket through a coat of paint so green that the heart of an Irishman would swell with pride and the thoughts of St. Patrick’s Day in the morning – had escaped the brush.

He was busy at his task and had about completed a once over of his anatomy from head to foot when Aldahl happened in. “What to — here you mutt, what’s the game?” asked the officer. Ole grinned and made another splash at his half-exposed body with a brush ‘not made of camel hair,’ and there were no ‘three leagues of canvas’ covering his anatomy either.

“Put down that brush!” ordered the officer, but Ole was in the painting business, and his artistic fervor mounting to the very realming of fame. The officer grasped the Swede’s shoulder with a powerful hand and, after some trouble, wrenched the brush away from him, but he was daubed with a pint and his temper decidedly ruffled he was led to the city bastille through the back door route.

After his clothing had been partially replaced, Ole was given a change in exercise from painting to scrubbing his manly form. But there are still traces of Old Erin’s color on his person, and with a snow bank for a background he will look like a big bed of horseradish breaking through in the spring.

Reports have it that Everson came to the city in an auto, and efforts to locate his machine have failed. The police have thus far failed to get anything out of the man, as he is still a premium example of just what real “Squirrel” whiskey can do to a man in a short space of time.

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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