John Andrist: Want To Avoid Poverty? Get Married


A Wall Street Journal story, “The poverty cure: Get married” caught my eye last week.

The thesis was that poverty is more closely tied to marriage than any other factor, including the quality of the school your children attend.

It was full of statistics, but what grabbed my eye is that 71 percent of African-American infants are born to unmarried women compared with 29 percent of white women.

The study revealed 66 percent of all black children are not living with married parents.

Furthermore, this represents a radical change in the last 40 years, so it shows that culture is a moving target in our brave new world.

Moreover the study revealed that cohabitation is not a replacement for marriage in the poverty study.

I can’t offer any conclusion or judgment, because I’m an old guy who never experienced a desire not to be married. So the tendency to stay single is a societal change I really don’t understand.

I was still in high school when I bit the dust. For me the early struggle was trying to get well enough established so I could afford to tie the knot with my redhead.

That happened a little bit short of my 20th birthday, and I’ve often said that if I knew then what I knew now I wouldn’t have waited so long.

Naturally I attribute this not to myself, but to the good fortune of having such a remarkable woman to share my life.

But the new poverty finding has to be sobering for today’s young persons if they have a strong ethic for wanting the best life possible.

Hot news of the day

I opened last Tuesday’s Fargo Forum to find the top half of the front page in color announcing the NDSU Bison football team is getting new green helmets.

That told me two things. First, our world has not fallen apart, and second, Fargo may be North Dakota’s largest city, but it is still a small town culture.

All the time I had come to believe choosing a new nickname for the UND Sioux was the burning issue of the day, the month, the year, and the decade.

Beautiful Bakken

In response to an item in my column last week lamenting that the media here in the Valley pretty much ignores positive news about the western part of the state, and the Bakken, a friend introduced me to a website called “Beautiful Bakken”.

It contains so many beautiful photos from the west that it made me homesick.

I guess to parody an old saying, you can get the boy out of the Bakken, but you can’t get the Bakken out of the boy.

And now there is one

I’m hoping to fly to Portland this weekend for the funeral of my sister, Marlys. It’s a strange feeling when you grow up in a large family, then reach the point when you are the only one left.

Four siblings. Four kinds of cancer. Marlys was the oldest and the only girl. We fought like cats and dogs when we were children, but grew up to love and admire one another.

Marlys waited into her late ‘30s before she married, but still managed to mother three sweet children that are still universal favorites in our extended clan.

Her husband was a quiet, patient rock for the family. We always thought it was a marriage made in heaven, because Marly was a people person and a big time talker like the rest of us in the family.

She must have spent twenty-five years of her life holding a telephone. Yet we loved her most because she was one of those people who kept the rest of us together by reporting what was happening to all the folks in her telephone book.

She had a hearty laugh and a genuine love you could take for granted.