Hello Readers and Happy Wednesday!
Many of you have probably heard about the new phone application that is sweeping the nation, Pokémon Go. It seems millions of people are walking around outside playing this new game. However, this game is relatively recent, and got me thinking: What were the games that brought people outside before Pokémon, phones, and any electronics at all were invented?
I did some digging in our files, and found a few games that seemed to be popular in the past. First, there is the game of Horseshoes. The photo included is a picture called “Charles Challands and Friends Pitching Horseshoes”, and dates to 1934. Horseshoes was a simple, but difficult game. The goal was to throw a horseshoe from a distance and try to get it as close as you could to an upright stick in the ground. Then, you would get points based on how close you could get it! Of course, getting the horseshoe around the stick would earn you the most points, and was called a “ringer”. We have a few photos of this game, so it must have been a popular game around the 1930s and 40s.
Of course, that was not the only game that was played in the past. We have another photo dated to 1920 called “Women Appear to be Playing a Dice Game, Smoking Pipes”. As you can see in the picture, there are two women looking at the ground, and it appears that they are rolling dice. Unfortunately, there is little other information about this game. What is the goal? How do you win? Or, for that matter, are they actually rolling dice? Readers, if any of you know more about this dice game, please share so we can add the information to our system!
As you can see, before Pokémon Go there were plenty of other games. These games may not have swept the nation like Pokémon Go is doing, but they were still popular. It just goes to show that even without technology; people will find a way to have fun outside!
As some of you may know, here at Hometown Heritage we have hundreds of Oral Histories, somewhere around 600. Many of these histories contain stories of life in small town Iowa, but many of them also contain stories about the wars American have been through, from World War II to the present. Some of these stories describe how difficult it is during the war, what it was like to finally come home, and how some people felt the war had changed them. Some, however, contain humorous little stories about people finding a little happiness in dark times. Today, I’d like to share one with you all that I found to be rather entertaining!
This story comes to us from an interview with Dale Grow. It was during World War II, and Dale described what staying in the barracks was like. He said that “everything was blacked out. At night before it got dark you put the plywood up on all the windows and the lights had to be dimmed and all that kind of stuff you know and bed check Charlie would come over every night at nine o’clock see.” Charlie, according to Dale, was a plane that would check to see what they were doing. Clearly, the point was to make their barracks as undetectable as possible, so that the enemy could not find them in the dark. This is just a small portion of the story, however.
The real interesting part of Dale’s story is what would happen at night, and how one night Dale sneaked out to go see the cook. The cook’s name was Ben Eilers, and he was from Iowa. One night Dale went to visit him, and Ben was making apple pies. The surprising thing about these pies was that Ben was making them in square tins, so that they could be cut into squares for the commissioned officers. The rest of the story is as follows:
And he had just taken ‘em out of the oven. Oh my god Ben, we ain’t even had any fruit. And you had to get up in the morning and steal milk out of the carton. The milkman did bring some…we’d get a carton of milk but anyway…what have you had to eat? And I said well not…not too great. Not too great. And he went back in the cooler and come out with a steak and fixed me a steak to eat and fried some potatoes and stuff and I set there and ate it. When I got ready to leave to go back to the barracks of course it was dark...just black as all get out. But I could feel my way back to the barracks and he said now here…I don’t give a damn whether these officers have pie for dinner tomorrow or not. And he give me two tins of pie to take back. But there’s one stipulation…you gotta get the tins back here, tonight. Well when I got back to the barracks the blackout boards…had to take ‘em down so you could get a little air in so you could breath and I flipped the damn light switch on. The platoon sergeant was right at the door…oh he jumped up and give me hell. And I said sit down Bud, sit down. I got some pie here and he shut the lights off and we had a table in the middle of the barracks and I said nobody eats pie ‘til you get two people volunteers to take the pie tins back. Ben told me…we all liked Ben real good…Ben told me he had to have them back. Well he picked out two guys and they said they’d take ‘em back. That’s how we got our pie. Anyway he took ‘em back and we…we could say we had pie.
As you can see, Dale sneaked out to get his barracks some pie! Even the platoon sergeant was not as mad as you would think, having a soldier sneak off at night and get some pie that was not meant for them. It goes to show that sometimes it really is just the little things in life. Readers, do you have any good veteran’s stories, either of your own or someone else’s that you know? If you do, we would love to hear them. So, feel free to share them with us!
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!
Happy Wednesday readers!
I have a little update for all of you before we get to today’s topic. Do you all remember the photo of Rich Saemisch presenting couples at the 1976 prom? Well, thanks to some help from Kathy Lenz, we have figured out who they are! Two people in the front closest to Rich are Janice Godwin and David Wempe, and the couple in the back are David Hanson and Lynn Paulsen. Therefore, for those of you who were wondering, now you know!
Now for today’s topic. If you look around Perry today, many of you may think that it is a quiet little town. You may think that nothing much of national importance ever happens here. However, that has not always been the case. For instance, here is one story that got Perry quite a lot of national attention: the death of a Bonnie and Clyde gang member! The year was 1933, and Perry had a hospital called the Kings Daughters Hospital. On July 24, Marvin Barrow was admitted with four wounds: One .45 caliber bullet in the shoulder, two in the hip, and one in the forehead. He was in serious condition, and near death. He received these injuries during a gunfight near Dexfield Park, an area between Dexter and Redfield. During the escape after the gunfight, the gang had to ditch their cars. Unable to continue on foot due to his injuries, Marvin had to stay behind and his wife stayed with him. Bonnie and Clyde, along with another member got away from Iowa police. On July 25th, police question Marvin about a recent murder, and he apparently responded “unconcernedly.” Many officers from around the country came on the 25th, attempting to identify him for various crimes. On the 26th, Barrow’s mother came to the hospital, and Barrow, who had slipped into a coma, awakened briefly and was able to see his mother. It was discovered from his mother that his nickname was “Buck.” Unfortunately, Marvin “Buck” Barrow was to die on July 29th at the age of 31.
As you can see, Perry has had some interesting brushes with criminals. There are also stories about a man who faked his death for insurance money, someone who owned a bank and took all the money to flee to the Bahamas, and of course the KKK march that happened here. If you wish to know more about Marvin’s story, or about any of the other interesting stories, please do not hesitate to stop by!
Hello again readers,
Have you ever looked back on a picture, and realized that you have no idea who is actually in the picture? Perhaps you took it to capture a moment that you liked, perhaps it was at a social gathering where you did not know everyone, or maybe you just have forgotten some people that you once knew. Whatever the case maybe, you have somehow gotten a picture of people that you do not know any more. I hope that you have wrote down on the back the names of the people so that you could remember them. If you are less lucky, you might have the kind of situation that we have right now at Hometown Heritage.
Recently someone came in and asked us to identify two people in a picture that we have on rotation in the commons of the high school. The picture, as you can see below, is of Rich Saemisch introducing couples at the 1976 prom. However, there is little more information than that about this picture. We know that Rich is wearing a blue, red, and white suit (I will leave the decision about how fashionable that is to you), and that this was a 1976 prom. The couple were wearing very similar clothes too. Unfortunately, that is all we know about this photo. Little other description is given, aside from the fact that Mr. Saemisch is introducing couples.
This is where you come in, readers. Please take a careful look at this photo, and see if you can recognize either of the couples. If you do, please tell us! We searched high and low to see if we could find an answer. We checked the old newspapers, our database, and even the old Eclipse yearbooks, but could not find any more information. So please, if you recognize any of the couples in the picture, contact us with the information! We would greatly appreciate, and it would allow us to grow our database, be more informative, and answer the question of the person who came in asking.
Hello again Readers,
Welcome back to the Hometown Heritage blog! I hope that you all had a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Speaking of Christmas, I hope all of you took the time to take pictures during the holidays, because it is a perfect time to capture little moments of history.
Now, you may ask why this is the perfect time, and I will tell you. First, during Christmas, the whole family is gathered together, and if you take enough pictures, you can see them grow and change throughout the years. It is like recording your own personal family history. In the future, you can look back and remember when you were young, or how much your grand-kids have grown. Secondly, the pictures themselves reveal a lot about the past. Take, for instance, this picture of Doris and Gary Lewiston. This picture was taken around 1950, and you can learn a lot from it. You can learn about the kinds of clothes people liked to wear by looking at Doris and Gary. You can learn about the world by looking around the room (notice the old tube television) and by looking at the present Gary is playing with. Most of the time children will ask for what is popular at the time, so one can assume that model tanks and planes were popular in the 1950s. You can also learn that pets were just as nosy as ever when it came to new presents.
I encourage all of you to take as many photos as you can around the holidays. You will be preserving not only your own family memories, but also little snapshots of what life was like in the past. It does not just have to be the Christmas holidays either, any holiday or birthday or big event holds in it a little piece of history. All you have to do is capture it.
Today we are going to talk about some of the items that I have accessioned into our system recently. Unfortunately, most of it appears to be junk, and for good reason. People found all of these items in the bottom of the dumbwaiter shaft during the renovation of Hotel Pattee in the mid ninetees!
If you look at the pictures below, you may understand why I think a lot of this appears to be junk. There are things such as a smashed up pumpkin Halloween decoration, blocks of wood, lids to various cans and even a ball of twine. Some of the objects even look nasty. For instance, one bottle has what looks like some tar along the inside. Another bottle has a small amount of orange liquid, probably just some rusty water or something. In case you are worried, both bottles are sealed and neither of them were dangerous. They just look disgusting.
However, the renovators also found some interesting items in the bottom of that dumb waiter. There is a gavel from the International Rotary club, which is of some interest to us as it is a piece of Rotary Club history. The renovators also found two keys in the bottom of the shaft. These keys are very interesting: they have no labels, and are unmarked, so I have no idea what doors they open. Maybe they open some secret rooms in the Hotel! Most likely, however, they belong to doors that no longer exist due to the renovation.
Two final remarks about these items. First, if you seem anything in the pictures that you think has value, please let me know! Many of these items are a mystery, so I would greatly appreciate any help identifying them and their value. Finally, and perhaps the biggest mystery of all, is how these items got to the bottom of a dumbwaiter shaft in the first place. Who was putting these things into a dumbwaiter? I am fairly certain knobs for drawers and other things should not go into a dumb waiter, but I could be wrong. Since it has been awhile since the Hotel renovation, we may never know the answer.
Today is another short blog post, but we wanted to get the word out to all of you about an event coming up this month.
Hometown Heritage and the Perry Historic Preservation Commission are pleased to invite you to the unveiling of a new relief for the Wall of Witnesses in Perry, Iowa. The new relief depicts Michael Kanealy, who was not only the owner and operator of Michael’s Pub for 25 years, but also a longtime supporter and promoter of Perry. The Perry Historic Preservation Commission chose to honor Mike after receiving numerous nominations earlier this year, and Newton artist Rick Stewart created the relief. The unveiling and a short program will take place on Friday, December 18th in the gallery of the Town Craft Building at 4:30 pm. There will be light refreshments, and the event is free and open to the public.
I hope to see you all there to honor Mike at this special event.
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!
Maybe some of you thought this day would never come, but here it is: The Return of the Chicken! (Dramatic music plays in the background) Do you all remember when we discussed the Shoulder Chicken? Well, it seems that taking pictures with a chicken was more than just a fluke; it may be a trend. To illustrate, I have found two more pictures from around the time of the Shoulder Chicken, which is about 1918.
First is a picture of George Dickey (Brickey), taken in 1908, with what is technically a rooster, but a rooster still counts as a chicken. As you can see, somehow they have gotten not only George, a young child, to stand still for the camera, but also the rooster! In addition, George is either a small boy or that is a big rooster, since the rooster comes up almost to his chin. Correct me if I am wrong, but I did not think that rooster and chickens could get that big. Either way, the real question of this photo is why they are putting a rooster in it in the first place. Is it a prize-winning rooster? Does George just really like this rooster? We may never know, since system has no description of the picture aside from the title.
The next picture is a picture of a Knee Chicken, or at least, that is what I’m calling it. The title of the photo, which dates to around 1915, is “E. L. Towne with Rooster”, but again a rooster counts as a chicken, and Knee Chicken sounds much more interesting. As you can see, this photo is highly similar to the Shoulder Chicken, except the rooster is obviously on his knee. However, we know a little bit more about this rooster than about the others. There are a few words on the back of the picture: “Tru Type S.C. Red Ck'l Bred and Owned by E.L. Towne Jamaica, IA”. From what I can understand, this means that E. L. Towne was from Jamaica, and his rooster is a true type red cockle bred, but I have no idea what that means. Perhaps one of you readers could enlighten me?
Still, as you can see there is more than just one picture of someone posing with his or her rooster/chicken. It seems more and more likely that this was some kind of trend. Perhaps we should all start taking pictures with our chickens!