After years and years of research, I have finally found the one person who best epitomizes North Dakotans for the outside world.
It’s not Lawrence Welk, Josh Duhamel (Sorry, ladies.), Shadoe Stevens, Leslie Bibb (Call me!) or Angie Dickinson. Rather, it’s Father Aloysius Bittman of Mandaree, North Dakota, who was featured in a 1969 print ad for Volkswagen.
Don’t believe me? See for yourself.
After 30 Volkswagens, Father Bittman still believes.
In the beginning, Father Aloysius Bittman bought a bug.
That was in 1957 when he joined the staff of St. Anthony’s Indian Mission in Mandaree, North Dakota.
Since then, Father Bittman has gone a long way. In 30 Volkswagens.
Owning two or three at a time, the Bittman staff travels 600 miles per week in each. Over dirt and gravel roads and in temperatures that have been known to go to 55 below.
A couple of Volkswagens ago, Father Bittman’s ’65 broke through the Garrison Reservoir ice.
“It was a good time for praying,” he said.
Luckily, one 255 pound priest and one 1808 pound bug floated to safety. After the ice was chopped away and a quick oil change, the good father and his faithful companion were on their way.
He was a bit peeved about the oil change though.
“It set the Mission back $1.80,” complained Father Aloysius Bittman.
When I was a wee photo assistant in NYC back in the day I had the occasional opportunity to work with photographer David Langley who had shot some of those legendary VW ads 🙂
Nice! Were you a bulb boy?