Hello readers and welcome back to the Hometown Heritage Blog!
Inflation has affected many products over the years, some more obvious than others. Gasoline is a good example with prices averaging around $2.30 per gallon today. In decades past, they were as low as $.05 a gallon. However, there are some products and services that you may not realize have been affected by inflation!
One such service is shown in today’s picture, barber services! This picture is of Jim Godown in his barbershop was taken in 1929. How much have the prices changed? You might be surprised to know! Back in 1929, around 100 years ago, a haircut was only $.25. According to an inflation calculator, if haircuts were the same price in 2017 it would only be $3.56! A shave was also significantly cheaper. In 1929, it was only $.10, which would only be $1.42 in 2017! Imagine walking into your local hair salon or barbershop and getting a haircut for less than the price of a meal at McDonalds. Of course, none of these numbers takes into account the rising costs of living expenses so it is unreasonable to think that we could return to the age of super cheap haircuts. The average price of a haircut in 2017 is $15, which means that at the 1929 price a single barber would have to do 5 times as many haircuts in a day just to make a living!
Of course, if prices had stayed the same, I imagine getting a bad haircut would not be as much of a letdown since it was so cheap (you get what you pay for, after all). Have you ever gotten a bad haircut? Let us know in the comments, and join us next week for another Hometown Heritage Blog!
Hello Readers and welcome back to the Hometown Heritage blog!
The McCreary Community Building is Perry’s place to be for swimming, exercising, and more. But did you know that it wasn’t always the place to be? In fact, it appears that there was a chance it might not even have been constructed!
As you can see in the picture, here in our collection we have a sign that reads, “Vote yes Perry Civic Recreation Center”. As we know now, the vote passed, but at the time, it looks like the decision was not easy! There must have been some people in Perry who did not like the idea of building a new Civic Recreation Center. Maybe they did not want to pay a new tax that was going to be implemented in order to build a new building? Perhaps someone thought that what Perry had already was good enough? In any case, someone felt the need to convince people in Perry that a new Recreation center was something Perry needed. Unfortunately, we do not know the date for this sign, so it might pre-date the McCreary Center by many years. If you remember seeing a sign like this, please let us know when! We are always looking to add more information to improve our collection.
Also, some of you may be wondering what was in Perry before the McCreary Center. If you are, come back next week and find out!
Good afternoon Readers!
Summer is in full swing, and July 4th is quickly approaching. Because of this, I thought that today we would look at what the holiday was like in Perry in years past!
For instance, the parade seems like it used to be much more ornate than what we have now. As you may know, now the parade is mostly a collection of floats, with a people walking around handing out candy to the kids. However, did you know that the Perry High School Marching Band used to participate in the parade? As you can see in the picture, the parade in 1969 included the old Perry High Band. This is quite a bit different then what it is like today. For starters, the uniforms are a lot different: simple black and white instead of the more elaborate blue and white uniforms of today. In addition, the band does not march in the parade anymore. As far as I know, they do not even start practicing until for marching band until August!
Going back another ten years, we discover another event that is missing from today’s 4th of July celebrations. In the second picture, you can see a group of girls who are in a room in the Hotel Pattee. These girls are the candidates, according to our records, for a 4th of July queen! It seems that the residents of Perry used to vote for a queen for the 4th and, I am assuming, a king as well. The girls in this photo are, starting from the left, Judy Hastie, Sheri Mullen, Phyllis Hall, Joyce Neal, and Bonnie Crouch. This fun tradition does not seem to be active anymore, and it makes me wonder why. Did the people of Perry simply stop choosing candidates? Or was the tradition ended for a specific reason? Readers, do you know what happened to this tradition? If you do, please tell us in the comments below!
In fact, if you have any memories of some lost 4th of July tradition, please share them with us, too, and have a good 4th of July weekend!
Good Afternoon Readers!
Today I have another interesting story from out of our collection of Oral Histories. This story is about a darker time in Perry and America’s history: segregation. This story comes from the Oral History of Glen Theulen. It is about a high school dance that he attended and danced with an African American classmate, and the reactions of people at the dance:
“When I was in high school…I was a junior…we had a dance up on the old gym floor up here…the old high school. And the whites were not to dance with a black girl, never and vice versa. And so… So anyway why the…the dance goes on and so I went over and I said to Sophia White, I says come on Sophia let’s dance. Oh we can’t. I said come on, come on, let’s dance. And Sophia White is the sister to Roy White. Okay. Sophia was a year ahead of me…brilliant girl…and man we got on that floor and jitterbugged and I thought every teacher in that gymnasium was gonna have a heart attack and I’d forgotten about that but Kenny Appenzeller, kid from Perry…farmed outside of town here… When I first got home here in ’89 said you remember the night that you got old…got the…Sophia White on the floor? He says I thought the teacher was gonna have [unclear]. I thought she was gonna…and I said well I kinda remember that, yeah. And you know I just never…”
Unfortunately, we do not know what Kenny thought the teacher was going to have, as the translator for the script could not make out the words being said. However, as you can see, segregation was a real thing here in Perry. Even dancing together was not allowed, and from the sounds of it almost gave all the teachers heart attacks! Clearly, dancing with Sophie was completely unexpected, even if their jitterbugging was amazing. It is such a shame that a simple act of dancing with another person could lead to such awful words and hate. Thankfully, segregation no longer exists in our country today, and we have come a long way on discrimination. Do you, readers, have any stories about segregation? If you do, please feel free to share them with us!
Good morning readers!
It’s late January now, and I bet that many of you are probably tired of the snow. It has started melting a little bit now, but it will be back come next week, if we are to believe the weather forecasts. Fortunately for us, we are not on the east coast where places like West Virginia got somewhere around 42” of snow. Thankfully, we have a lot better ways of clearing snow now than we did in the past. Now we have all our fancy snow blowers, plows, and other devices. However, imagine what it must have been like in the past, without these contraptions! It must have been much more difficult.
Maybe the picture below can help you imagine what that would be like. The picture was taken in February 1961, and as you can see, the vehicle is rather stuck in the snow. According to our catalog, the truck belonged to Gene Hurd. He had been out during the day installing wiring in the town and came home during a blizzard, and his truck was stranded in the lane. Unfortunately, there was no easy way for him to dig it out since snow blowers were not easily available to the public. The first practical snow blower was prototyped in 1925 by Arthur Sicard, and most of these were big, car sized blowers. It was actually just during the beginning of the 1960’s that companies had started to introduce their own, smaller, human powered models. As evidenced by the picture, Gene definitely did not have one of these early snow blowers. In fact, it was not until the next morning that he even got his truck out of the snow and he had the help of Steve, age 12, and Dick, age 8, to accomplish his goal. It looks to have been a tough job too, as it seems like the entire car was covered with snow.
Although this seems like it must have been more difficult, in reality things really have not changed that much. For instance, people in New York and other places hit by the recent storm still have to dig their cars out, as snow blowers are difficult to maneuver around in tight places. It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same!
We all know that Perry used to be a small town, built up around the railroad. Many towns sprang up around the tracks of the railroad, are plenty of them survived until today. However, did you know that there used to be another town quite close to Perry, and that its name was Angus?
Angus was a coal-mining town that was about four miles northwest of Perry. It served as a terminal for the M. & St. L. Railroad, which was the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway. Now Angus used to be a thriving little town in the late 1800s. From what I have heard, it grew rapidly, even to the point where it used to be a bigger town than Perry (in the 1800s). A lot of this growth centered on the coal mine, as you may have guessed which I believe was the Mc Elheney Strip Mine. Of course, the entire town was not just about the mine. For example, one part of the town was called “Whisky Row”. All of the bars were in this part of town, and there are plenty of fun stories involved with it. My favorite that I have heard is about the law enforcement around these bars. Apparently Angus was a town that sat on the line between two counties, and Whiskey Row was right were this line was located. According to the stories, if someone got into trouble with the law at the bar, there was an easy way to get out of trouble. They could simply step to the other side of the bar, since it was in a different county, and had different jurisdiction! Now I am sure this did not work exactly as it sounds, but it is a fun little story.
Unfortunately, Angus was not to last. By the early 1920s, the town had started to die out. The reason why it started to die out it is simple: the mines started to close. Without the mines, Angus could not support itself, and many of the people moved to Perry. Now there is not much left to Angus, but there is a plaque marking its location. If you have time, do not hesitate to go look at the plaque, or come by Hometown Heritage to see some of the photos. We have a lot more photos than just what I have put here!
Today we are going to talk about something other than Perry, Iowa. Of course, we are not going to far, just down the road about 8 miles to a little town called Bouton!
Nowadays, Bouton is a quiet little town, if you can even call it a town. All it has is a post office, a bar, a fire department, and baseball field. Other than this, there a few churches, which mostly sit unused, and a magical little place called “Friendship Hall”. That is right; there is not even a gas station of any kind! The place is so small, you can literally stand at one end of town and see all the way to the other side (trust me, I know). However, did you know that Bouton was not always like this?
Way back around 1910, Bouton had a lot more to offer then it does now. For instance, did you know that Bouton once had a High School? The High School was a simple building with two stories with only a few rooms and was built around 1910. The classes were not very big, but that is typical in 1910. The high school even had a band that played in various parades. A high school is not the only thing that Bouton used to have. Bouton used to be a big enough town to hold parades, such as the Sauerkraut Days Parade that you can see pictured below (As to the activities of Sauerkraut Days, I can only imagine copious amounts of sauerkraut being devoured).
“Why did Bouton used to be so big?” you may be asking. Well, here is the answer: Trains. Bouton was a railroad town, where the town springs up around a train stop, to provide services and living spaces for the workers. Unfortunately, just as the trains left Perry, so the trains left Bouton. The trains left Bouton before they left Perry, but the result is clear: the town started to shrink. The last students to attend the high school, for example, attended in 1941-42. Eventually, the town shrunk down to what it is today. Thankfully, Perry has not taken the same route after the trains left, and has stayed vibrant. If you wish to know more about Bouton in the old days, please stop by and look at our collection!
To a lot of us, Perry seems like a small, innocent little town. However, Perry is not quite as innocent as it seems. There was once a time when Perry was a hub for things that were far from innocent. Let me tell you of a story of one such time.
The year was 1923 and a big group of people had gathered in Perry. Most of them were dressed in white, but not everyone belonged to the same group. The first group of people were Nurses and Sisters, who had come to oppose the second group. The second group, supposedly composed of mostly men, were members of the Ku Klux Klan. Charolette Kaster, who donated a photo of the event to us, also gave us a brief history of the event, as told by her grandmother. It is as follows: “The KKK came to Perry in about 1923. In addition to motivational speakers, there were a group of "thugs" from out-of-town who had come to organize Perry and promote their organization. Some in Perry resisted, and were threatened with burning of homes and businesses if they did not participate. The first meeting was a large crowd, many of whom were curiosity seekers rather than Klan followers. There were some number of men who donned the white robes and hats/masks, whether by belief or fear, only each knows for himself. There was to be a parade of the KKK during a holiday. As they lined up, these Sisters dressed in their uniforms stood forward and blocked the street. None of the Perry men would harm the Sisters, so they disbanded. They did meet later that night, burned a cross in someone's farm field, but nothing further came of it. It was the beginning of the end for the KKK in Perry.”
There are a few other stories about the KKK and the march that they held here in Perry. One quote, which we believe is from George Soumas, talks about how his father knew who people were in the march because he could recognize their shoes. According to other photos we have in our catalog, the KKK also had a building in town that they used for meetings and parties, according to the photo. We even have a Perry Chief article about the march, which you can come and see in the database here in the Town Craft building. The most interesting thing that we have in our archives from the dealings of the KKK here in Perry, however, is an actual outfit worn by a member, complete with the hood.
As you can see, Perry is not quite the innocent town that it may appear. There are plenty of other stories about the KKK’s dealings in Perry, but you will have to go out and discover them for yourself.
Hello again Readers,
I apologize for the shorter post today, but I unfortunately have some bad news for all of you. Although we had planned to have an event tomorrow, July 16, unforeseen circumstances have arisen. Mr. Autry has had a serious health issue arise which has required us to reschedule his presentation. He will now be presenting from his book on August 20, 2015, at the same place and time (7:00pm at La Poste in Perry, Iowa). Here at Hometown Heritage, our thoughts are with Mr. Autry hoping for his full recovery. We have contacted as many people as we can about this change, but it we would appreciate it very much if you, the readers, could also spread the word about the postponing of this event to anyone you know that was planning to attend. Further information will also be sent along closer to August 20th.
However, not all the events on Thursday night are being postponed. Musician and artist Chad Elliot will still be providing excellent music that night. We invite everyone to attend this Thursday evening for that portion of the evening’s activities. We also hope to see all of you when August 20th arrives, to welcome Jim Autry to La Poste and to Perry.
Thank you all so very much for your support and understanding.
Welcome to the Hometown Heritage (the branded name used by Fullhart Carnegie Charitable Trust) blog! My name is Jared Bloom, and I am the new intern here at Hometown Heritage. Since this is my first appearance on the blog, it seemed appropriate that I should introduce myself to you all, and tell you a little about who I am, what my goals are, and why I am with Hometown Heritage.
Let me start by saying a little more about myself. I graduated from the Perry High School in 2011, and I spent most of my childhood here as well, so I have many fond memories of our little town. I can remember the summer days of Friday Fest, with its stands of local products, live music, inflatable rides and more. I can remember when Shopko was still Pamida, and when Alco was still open for business. Even though some of these things have changed, there are plenty of familiar faces and places here in Perry, so the town feels like home. After High School, I chose to attend Iowa State University, and found that I was extremely interested in history. After spending four years there, I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in History. During my time in the History department, I found that I was quite interested in Classical history (which generally involves the ancient Greeks and Romans). As part of this, I learned a little bit of Latin (how to write and read it at least), and spent 3 weeks in Italy in May of 2014. I went to see all the major landmarks like the Colosseum, and we even had a trip down to Pompeii. I also saw many of the minor landmarks (a cat sanctuary called the Largo di Torre Argentina comes to mind), and even managed to miss a bus and get lost for a while. The trip was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
Looking toward the future, as a recent college graduate many opportunities have come knocking on my door and questioned what I was doing or where I was going. Often the response was “I haven’t thought about it yet” or “I’ll just go with the flow”, but eventually I had to sit down and think more seriously about the idea. As I did, a loose plan started to form in my head. After talking with a few professors and professionals, I decided that I am interested in working in a Museum setting, either as something like a Curator, or in a collections/preservation sort of role. I discovered that for me, this meant getting some good experience in the right kind of setting, and then going to a graduate school for a degree in Museum Studies. This is the part where Hometown Heritage enters into my plans.
Hometown Heritage is providing me with a wonderful opportunity to earn the kind of experience that I am looking for, and much more. I get to work not only with the kind of software that many museums use, but I also have the opportunity to earn some event managing experience, as there are various events coming up in this area that I am excited to have a hand in. However, experience is not the only reason I am here at Hometown Heritage. There is also the fact that this town, although not the first place I have memories of, is still my hometown, and it holds a special place in my heart. There is also plenty of history here in this town, even if it is not Classical History. I am aware of Hometown Heritage having one of the most extensive collections in the central U.S. for a small town. Within this collection, all of the stories that are told, the old photos and documents, the vintage collectables and works of art, and even the loose odds and ends have within them a special piece of this town’s history that I believe is worth preserving.
Preserving Perry’s history is a multifaceted job. Whether it be using our museum software, upcoming events, or simply digging through the mountains of boxes in our vault and backroom, I look forward to discovering new and exciting stories and experiences that I can share, with the rest of you, on this blog.