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Businesses in 1934.
Memories from the Good Old Days
Back view of the depot in 1961. Payless Cashway's block building at left still stands but the depot is long gone.
To be auctioned - the sign from the Depot.
Click Here to view a close-up photo.
NOTE: These stories are separate from the History Book and are merely for everyone's entertainment so their accuracy need not be exact.
Memories of Long-Ago Early, Iowa
I can remember our milk and such being delivered daily to a box on the front step of the house,and mom sending me to the
clover farm store for coffee.
You had to grind it then as the canned, ground coffee was not out then. Funny now folks want to grind it again.
We got most of our clothes at Nellis clothing. And if you wanted a soda you had to go to the fountain at Sippel Sundries.
One year we had a blizzard/ice storm and lost power. The ice was so thick that it covered our steps. I could go out the front door and slide clear out across the street to Grandma Evan's driveway. Beth Evans had gas for cooking and would send over hot food for us from time to time. As kids we thought it was neat cause we got to roast hot dogs in the fire place in the basement.
They had movies in the community building and plays as well. Lots of things happened there, and a room downstairs for activities as well. In the back of the downstairs was a jail but we never saw anyone in it. "Digger" Hinde made a pond for us out in back in the creek and we spent a lot of time there - it even had a bridge to get across! Oscar Hooper raised pigeons and I spent a lot of time with him as well. Then there was the Degarmos who lived down the street. Mrs. Degarmo always had an after school snack if I dropped by, and I can't fail to mention Roy Stenhouse. He would let us hang out at his house and always made us popcorn (I haven't had better since by the way). He was so kind to us, I don't know how he tolerated us all.
On a hot evening the folks would take us to the dairy sweet for soft ice cream. You could get your bike tire fixed at Buds DX and eat there too. Then there was the out house that always seemed to find its way every year on Halloween I think, to the middle of the main intersection downtown, where the bank, drug store, and Chevy dealer was.
I think Early was the home base for Payless Cashway for years. There was also another restaurant by Nellis Clothing on the corner but I can't recall the name of it. They had a nickel pin ball in there and that was the first time I played one.
To be auctioned: Metal Check Holder
This metal check holder advertising the Early Saving Bank brings back memories of a simpler time. People did not carry checkbooks with them. When you went to town to shop and were ready to pay for your purchases either at the grocers, the feed store, shoe shop, dry goods or hardware store - you picked a tablet of blank checks out of the holder near the cash register. There was always an assortment of banks represented including neighboring towns.
Then you filled in the check with your name, amount, and date. There were no account numbers, no place for your address or phone number. Just the name of the bank in the upper left-hand corner.
By the time I graduated from High School, pre-printed checks with account numbers were common. However, I was put in an uncomfortable situation when I headed to the big city and found that they refused to accept my out-of-town checks. So I left the comfort of the Early Savings Bank to open up a checking account in the big city.
I had a little trouble convincing my parents and grandparents that when they came to the big city for a visit, they needed to bring cash as they would not be able to buy gas along the way with their out-of-town checks.
But I came back home and to the former Early Savings Bank - now known as Citizens First National Bank. It is now possible to pay bills from home via computer without even writing checks. Now a person with a bank card can go anywhere in the world and no one questions their identity as long as the little machine accepts their card. The next generation may not even remember paper checks.
Submitted by Marlys Waters
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Planting Corn with Check-row Planter
Today I thought back to a time when instead of big tractors and 24 row planters you would see a farmer driving 2 horses hitched to a 2-row planter. How times have changed for farmers. So here are my remembrances of planting in the '30s and '40s.
In the fall at corn picking time, Dad would keep back the best ears of corn to use as seed for the next spring. He would shell and store the corn where it would be safe from rodents and the weather.
In the spring after he had worked the field for planting (using horse drawn equipment) he would fill the boxes with the seed he had stored to begin planting.
The planter was a 2-row. There was a wire with "buttons" on it that threaded through near the planter plates. The wire was as long as a field, with buttons every 38 to 42 inches, and was attached to a rod that would be pushed into the ground at each end of the field. The farmer threaded the wire through the planter and began. Each time a button went by the planter plates it would trip the opening and several kernals of corn would drop into a groove made by a shovel on the front of the planter. Then the wheels covered the seeds. The number of seeds that were dropped could be regulated by changing plates in the bottom of the seed hoppers
At the end of each row the farmer had to get off the planter and reset the rods holding the wire.
The reason for the buttons was that it planted the rows in an even grid so the farmer could cultivate the corn in both directions to keep the weeds under control (No herbicides were used.) It was customary to cultivate the corn, each way, at least twice during the growing season and your crop was doing alright if the corn was knee high by the fourth of July.
When the corn began to emerge we would go to the field with Dad and walk the rows and if there was a "hill" missing he would poke a hole with a broom handle and one of us would drop in 3 or 4 kernals and the next one covered them with dirt. It was an "unloved" job but Dad kept us entertained with stories.
Farming was a labor-intensive job back then but a 160-acre farm was the norm, not thousands of acres.
Submitted by woman who used to live in Sac County
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I don't think Grandma was ever without an apron unless she was headed for church.
Of course the apron had a special purpose, to keep her dress free of food stains but it was used for so many other things also.
Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron. From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled it carried out the hulls. In the fall the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.
She lifted hot pans from the stove and used her apron for a hot pad. Those big old aprons fanned many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove. On laundry day she carried clothes pins in the pockets to use to hang clothes on the line.
Tears were wiped from small faces with an apron corner. When she went to the mail box to get the mail, the pockets were used to carry the mail back to the house.
She used her apron to 'shoo' chickens out of the yard. She even gatherred eggs in the hen house and used her apron to carry them. When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.
When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds. Grandma always had a clean apron hanging on a hook in the kitchen so she could quickly change when the Preacher or other company came to the door. That apron was ideal hiding places for shy kids; and when the weather was cold, grandma wrapped it around her arms.
Grandma didn't change her dresses every day but she put on a clean apron every morning and it was part of her until after supper that night. When the dishes were washed and the floor swept, off cam the apron and she sat down with her crocheting or mending and relaxed while Grandpa read to her.
It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that "old-time apron" that served so many purposes.
"Grandma use to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughter's set theirs on the window sill to thaw."
Borrowed from Internet.
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The phone system in Early left a lot to be desired. The phone operator had an office in the upstairs of a building. All calls came to her and she plugged in to whomever the call was for. She could listen in to any conversation she wanted to. Farm phone numbers were rather like this - 24F3 - the 24 was the line number, F meant farm, and 3 was the ring (3 meant 3 shorts).
Many times the connection was not good so you gave your message to the operator and she repeated it to the person receiving the call. Personal messages were not personal. Long distance calls were a nightmare. But if you had an announcement to make you told the operator and she sent out a line ring and gave the announcement to everyone.
Submitted by a woman who grew up on a farm near Early.
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I remember what it was like before electricity. My grandfather lived on the Boyer River near Early and every winter (on the coldest days) he, my uncles, and father cut chunks of ice and stored them in the icehouse for summer use. Three households had to have ice so you know it was a long cold process. They cut it, loaded it on a drag pulled by horses, drug it into the icehouse, unloaded it and stored it very neatly.
The icehouse was double-walled and well insulated. The ice was laid on a thick layer of sawdust with spaces between the chunks. Then more sawdust was layered, more ice, etc.
Our icebox sat in the kitchen where the modern electric refrigerators sit now. There were different compartments as some foods (milk) needed to be kept colder and usually sat right below the ice compartment. Other foods (vegetables, eggs) were in the larger compartment. There was a drip-pan underneath that collected the water as the ice melted.
During the 1930s, Electricity began being installed on the farms. One morning Mother told us as we left for school, that when we arrived home that afternoon we would have electricity. And sure enough, when we ran to the house we were greeted with a big white thing in the kitchen (new refrigerator) and glass things on the ceiling (light bulbs).
Besides the refrigerator, our next purchase was an electric iron for Mom. The farm life suddenly got easier!
Submitted by a woman who grew up on a farm near Early.
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Saturday Night in Early|
Mom never had any trouble on Saturdays getting us to do our chores. We knew that before we could go to town everything needed to be finished, plus our weekly bath and hair wash.
After Dad finished chores, ate a lite supper and "cleaned up," off to Early we would go. We shared the car with a couple of cases of eggs that Mom would "trade" for groceries.
Mom went to the grocery store to buy needed items and then she would visit with her friends. Usually they sat in cars and talked. Dad went to the barbershop for a shave and a haircut and then to the implement shop, and spent the evening takling farming and implements.
Us kids began by walking and observing what was happening and who was in town. Eventually a group would get together and maybe go to the movies or play games or listen to the band concert or visit the library or eat ice cream.
At the appointed hour we all met back at the car, loaded the car with groceries, chicken feed, and us. Mom had spent part of her time getting the right print feed sack so she could make us clothes out of the feed sacks.
We were quiet on the drive home remembering the fun of the evening. Us kids were usually asleep before we got a mile outside town.
Submitted by person who grew up on farm near Early
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Eli Haradon, Early Founder|
My Great Grandfather, Eli Haradon, started the town of Early 125 years ago. It began at the "Big Tree Corner" 3 miles south of where Early is today. Judge Early, from Sac City, had told Great Grandpa that there was a need for a blacksmith in that area. Great Grandpa built the blacksmith shop, a general store and a post office, possibly all in one building. Three years later the railroad went through three miles north and the town was moved there to take advantage of the rail line. Great Grandpa Haradon petitioned the government to retain the name of the town as Early. They ok'ed it and Great Grandpa became the postmaster.
My Grandpa stayed at the Big Tree Corner and began farming there. He built the farmstead just a short way north of the old town (where the big hog farm is today). Across the road north of the buildings was the cemetery. Most of the graves were dug up and moved to the Union Cemetery in the new town, but there are a few still located there.
The farm is where my father was born and raised, and it is the farm that I visited as often as I was allowed to. Many of my best memories have a basis of that farm. The Boyer River, the ice house, the tree houses we built, picking wild strawberries. Grandma's sugar cookies and fried apple pies, playing games and reading.
But back to my Great Grandpa, Eli Haradon. He had been a soldier during the Civil War. He was wounded and taken prisoner. Later he was traded for a Southern prisoner and because of his injury he was discharged and sent home. He was married three times; his first two wives died during childbirth. My Grandpa was the oldest child by his third wife.
I never met my Great Grandpa but he was a legend in our family so I heard many accounts of his life. We were always told that he was a fair and honest man and therefore it was an inherited trait that we all needed to continue in our lives. As I look at the lives of my 13 cousins, I believe we have all walked in his footsteps. I am the only cousin who lives close to Early.
My Great Grandfather's people came from England and settled in Vermont, traveled to Illinois and Kansas and then Iowa. It is much the same route many of the people in this area used to migratee here. I cannot claim relationship to any royalty or superior intellect, but I can claim relationship to honest, good, American Citizens, and the famous "13" have all contributed generously to the commities in which they live. I am proud of my heritage.
Submitted by great-granddaughter of Early founder Eli Haradon.
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School Bus - Bobsled Style|
Editor's Note: Switching from school bus on wagon wheels to bobsled runners needed to be quick to keep up with the changing weather. It is no surprise that the bus body was not securely fastened after the switch.
Donald Hartsell told of riding the school bus on bobsled runners when snow covered the roads. He talked about cracking the whip, and unloading the bus from the sled making the riders reload the bus on the sled. Even back then, "Boys must have been boys".
Submitted by his son, Richard Hartsell
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Edna (Pinkerton) Hirons married Lyle Hirons in 1933. Lyle had been one of the first to graduate from the new Early school building in 1918. Edna had been a teacher in the Early school. Edna and Lyle's farm north of early was designated a Century Farm in 1980.
Edna Hirons had her first poem published when a senior in high school. She attended Iowa State Teacher's College and taught school before her marriage to business man, Lyle Hirons. She had two daughters and eight grandchildren.
While a Presbyterian Sunday School worker, she wrote a column of prayer poems which were published in the Sioux City Journal and later in a book. Her books are Beyond The Plow, Prayer Poems, Wordsongs and Children's Chatter. She wrote and published two thousand Haiku or Seventeen Syllable sayings. She headed The House Of Poetry through which many poets were able to see their poems in books.
What We Give
Earth is so large and I so small
It seems to matter not at all
What deeds I do our course I take,
For tears will fall and hearts will break
And yet I know the part I play
Will surely touch someone some way,
And if it is for good I live
Then surely it is good I give
And if enough of good is sown
Into the hearts where grief is known,
Perhaps the world in which we live
May profit much by what we give.
Reprinted by permission from the Iowa Poetry Association
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Early Lumber Store
I can remember when that lumber store building was the Greenbay Lumber Co. Sanford Furrow bought out the Greenbay Co., and then used the building a short time before it was torn down. The building that stands there now was the Early Lumber Store and then later named Payless Cashway Lumber. I worked in the Early Lumber Store summer of 1941.
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The "Thin" Years
Preparing for the long Iowa winters meant preserving food as best we could. We had barrels of apples and pears,which were wrapped in paper, carrots, parsnips, home grown potatoes, onions and turnips covered with dirt and straw in a home made cave. The cave was dug down into the ground about four or five feet, then a frame was built over the top and the frame was covered with the dirt from the hole. The top was about 2 foot thick. The men made steps going down to the inside, then put in a door. It really made a good storage place as everything was kept cold but didn't freeze. The cave, as we called it, was like a second basement, only a lot cooler. Our regular basement was also filled with all kinds of canned fruit and vegetables, jellies and juices. We also had baskets of nuts - hazelnuts, butternuts, hickory nuts and walnuts.
Mom and Grandma put up sausage in a couple of crocks. First they fried the sausage they had ground and seasoned. Next, the grease was poured into the crock and the sausage was put in, then another pan of grease and more sausage, until the crock was filled and there was a couple inches of grease over the top. Then they put a lid over the top and this also went into the cave. When we wanted sausage, grandma would take off the lard until she came to a layer of the meat, which she would take out, lay on a pan, or skillet, and set in the oven to heat.
Mom and Grandma also made soap to wash our clothes. They used the old grease and lard and, to make the lye for the soap, they used the wood ashes from the stoves. The wood ashes were covered with water which turned it to lye which was mixed with the grease. Then the mixture was boiled for a while until it became thick. Grandma had special pans she poured the soap in, then she cut it in squares and let it set for two weeks to ''age'' until it was ready to use.
Our water came from a well, which had a square wooden pump. There was a square wooden platform built around the well. On one side was a trap door on hinges and along the side of the trap door were several hooks. Anything we wanted to keep cold, such as milk, butter, buttermilk and any thing else, which needed to be kept cold, was put in buckets with tight tops. A rope was tied to the handle and the bucket was lowered into the well. Good refrigeration! Oh yes, our milk came directly from a cow and she was milked twice a day. The milk was strained to remove any foreign matter, poured in big crocks and left to set so the cream would rise to the top. The cream was skimmed off and used for coffee or to put on cereal or fruit and some of it was allowed to sour a little then churned to make butter. The liquid left from the butter was buttermilk, which we drank or used in biscuits and pancakes.
Submitted by woman whose childhood was spend in Northwest Iowa
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State of Affairs in 1940
I especially remember the summer of 1940. There was much to-do about the coming presidential election. Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat, was running for president of the United States for a third term. He was a very popular president, having done a lot through his New Deal and other policies to help bring the country out of the depression years of the Thirties. The issue in this election was to keep the United States out of the war that was raging in Europe against Hitler.
Borrowed from Reminisce magazine.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, the thirty-second President of the United States (1933-1945)
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The Depression Years
May 5, 1930 was one of the Depression years due to the crash of the stock market. During this time many people could not find a decent wage job.
Thinking about Dad's unemployment helps me to remember him speaking about President Franklin Roosevelt's wonderful WPA program that put people to work . Dad got a job under the new program digging ditches. He swore Roosevelt put food on the table for the poor.
Then when I was in the sixth grade, Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese in December, 1941. I remember going to school and our teacher tried to explain to us about the U.S. going to war. She was crying and everyone seemed to be upset. School was dismissed early that Monday.
It wasn't long after the war started until rationing came into effect. Sugar, shoes, gas, canned goods, meat and, I believe, cigarettes all had to have a ration stamp when purchased. Due to the war, many food items became scarce as the government had to clothe and feed our Armed Forces. I remember standing at the door and showing people where the gymnasium was as they filed in to sign up for the ration stamps. Ration stamps were issued according to the size of the family.
My years in High School were all War Years and I remember the huge scrap drives we students would have. School officials allowed the students to go out into the neighborhoods and ask for any kind of metal pan, scrap iron, etc. to be used for the war effort. Housewives always had plenty of scrap for us to collect. We piled everything right on the front lawn of the school and the pile would be just huge.
It was a chance to get out of school and we worked hard at it. The scrap would be picked up by trucks and transported to some location for distribution and then recycled somewhere for the Armed Forces use. An old daybed was given to us for the scrap pile. We picked some green apples to eat and shared one cigarette as a dare and got sick and took turns laying down on that daybed while the others in the group carried us! That was a big secret among us!
Because of the war, rationing was in effect while I worked at the grocery store. It didn't matter how much money people had, if they didn't have their ration coins or stamps they could not purchase any rationed items. There was a formula used to know how many points to charge people for meats and canned goods. Meats required red fiberboard type coins and canned goods blue. Sugar required little paper stamps.
It was a challenge to make the ration stamps last to purchase food until the next stamps were issued. I think we received the stamps in the mail monthly, or they might have had to be picked up at some specified location. Shoes were also rationed, as well as gas for the car. Lots of black market was going on at that time. (Some people would hoard scarce supplies; they were willing to sell you the item without a ration stamp but at a very high price!)
We used to have to hide jello, cigarettes, coffee, sugar and certain candy bars, etc. When the regular customer paid their bill, they could purchase a rationed item if they had the ration stamps. We never had enough rationed supplies for the public. I was pressured many times to allow someone to make a purchase without having a ration stamp. The law was firm, and if caught selling anything without collecting the ration stamp, it meant jail time.
When the war ended, I remember my boss telling me to take all the cartons of cigarettes out of the back room and dump them on the front window shelf for all to see from the outside. We were mobbed that day and did a great business!!
Because of the war, mothers would hang stars in their windows. Blue for each son in the service, silver if a son was overseas. If killed in action, the star was gold. Many, many homes had these flags hanging in their front windows.
Submitted by daughter of woman who lived in a larger town in Iowa
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I was a local farmgirl in the late 1950s who raised chickens throughout my later school years and sold the eggs in Early for my spending money. Each Saturday Mom and I loaded the carton in the trunk of the car and headed to Early to sell the eggs. The boxes with dividers were furnished by the Grocery Store and I think they held 24 dozen, not hard to fill with 200 prolific chickens. Mom would get a few groceries while I got my money. She also stopped in the meat market side of the store to get some fresh-cut meat while I ran to the feed store to pick up feed supplement.
The grocer paid in cash, the market rate for the full carton of eggs. Later they would "candle" the eggs in their backroom before they were put out in individual dozen-cartons for sale. That is where they view them, one at a time, over a bright light to catch any that might have blood spots inside or other imperfections not visible from outside.
The grocery store was always full of people and I often had to wait in line to get paid. Yet, the grocer always had a smile and a friendly word. Everyone knew everyone so Mom usually had to be tugged a little to get her out of the store and headed back home. It was towards the end of the era of bustling small town grocers.
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Main Street, Early offered a stop for Greyhound buses for many years. Folks could purchase their
tickets at the drugstore and wait in the comfort of the business until the bus arrived. It was a
cheap and quick way to make travel connections all over the United States. This was the heyday
of public buses which had stops in most all towns in the early 1950s since trains were
discontinuing their passenger cars.
The buses were accomodating to people who might ask to be let out between stops if their home just happened to be near the traveled highway. One elderly man had been to Sioux City to spend a couple of days with his wife who was hospitalized there. It was winter and the snow was blowing. The man got a little confused outside Early on which country corner he lived because of the blowing snow and asked to be let out a mile short of the right corner. By then the bus was
already down the road. So there he was, walking in the blowing snow carrying his suitcase.
But this is small-town USA. And everybody knows everybody. He didn't walk far before a car
came along, recognized him, and gave him a warm ride to his home. You wonder in these days
with terrorists everywhere and strangers living next door if he would have been so lucky to catch
a quick, safe ride home.
Submitted by son of person who gave the old man a ride many years ago.
Submitted by Coni James|
A little house with three bedrooms
and one car on the street,
a mower that you had to push
to make the grass look neat.
In the kitchen on the wall
we only had one phone,
And no need for recording things,
someone was always home.
We only had a living room
Where we would congregate,
Unless it was at mealtime
in the kitchen where we ate.
We had no need for family rooms
or extra rooms to dine,
When meeting as a family
Those two rooms would work out fime
We only had one TV set,
and channels maybe two,
But always there was one of them
with something worth the view.
For snacks we had potato chips
that tasted like a chip,
And if you wanted flavor
there was Lipton's onion dip.
Store-bought snacks were rare
because my mother liked to cook,
And nothing can compare
to snacks in Betty Crocker's book.
Weekends were for family trips
or staying home to play,
We all did things together--
even go to church to pray.
When we did our weekend trips
depending on the weather,
No one stayed at home
because we liked to be together.
Sometimes we would separate
to do things on our own,
But we knew where the others were
without our own cell phone.
Then there were the movies
with your favorite movie star,
And nothing can compare to
watching movies in your car.
Then there were the picnics
at the peak of summer season,
Pack a lunch and find some trees
and never need a reason.
Get a baseball game together
with all the friends you know,
Have real action playing ball--
and no game video.
Remember when the doctor
used to be the family friend,
And didn't need insurance
or a lawyer to defend?
The way that he took care of you
or what he had to do,
Because he took an oath and strived
to do the best for you.
Remember going to the store
and shopping casually,
And when you went to pay for it
you used your own money?
Nothing that you had to swipe
or punch in some amount,
Remember when the cashier person
had to really count?
The milkman used to go
from door to door,
And it was just a few cents more
than going to the store.
The mailman knew each house by name
and knew where it was sent;
There were not loads of mail
addressed to "present occupant."
There was a time when just one glance
was all that it would take,
And you would know the kind of car,
the model and the make.
They didn't look like turtles
trying to squeeze out every mile;
They were streamlined, white walls, fins,
and really had some style.
One time the music that you played
whenever you would jive,
Was from a vinyl, big-holed record
called a forty-five.
The record player had a post
to keep them all in line,
And then the records would drop down
and play one at a time.
And why would boys put baseball cards
between bicycle spokes?
And for a nickle, red machines
had little bottled cokes.
This life seemed so much easier
and slower in some ways,
I love the new technology
but I sure do miss those days.
So time moves on and so do we,
and nothing stays the same,
But I sure love to reminisce
and walk down memory lane.