Letter to the Editor: What used to be and maybe could be again

To the Editor:

Although this letter started as a friendly tiff with our editor, I decided to go in a different direction and think of things that used to be and maybe could be again.   As an octogenarian (look it up on your phone), how many people remember the Downs Feed Yard, with the billboard-size Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus ad, or the VanGorder Junk Yard?

This, of course, was before the time of flat sidewalks and parking meters, where a penny bought 12 minutes and a nickel bought a whole hour. A ticket for overtime parking was 10 cents. The City was in the chips - proceeds reported weekly or monthly in the Republican Standard and Waukon Democrat - when the town filled up with shoppers every Saturday night, until the time was changed to Friday night shopping to accommodate store employees.

It was a time when Spring Avenue was a divided highway and there was a gas station on every corner, a tavern or two in every block, and at least five auto dealers downtown, namely Conner, Peyton and Howe Ford on Second Street NW, O.J. Moe Chevrolet and E. Johnson on Main, a Hudson dealer and a Nash dealer both on West Street, a DeSoto Plymouth on Spring Avenue and, in later years, a Kaiser Fraizer Dealer on Rossville Road, as well as machine dealers IH, Deere, CASE, Allis Chalmers, Massey Harris. How many people remember Kaveny Gift Shop or the Hub, or the Train Depot?

I had a list of over 100 businesses that are no longer present in this town and I know there were many more. It is time to bring back businesses to keep this town vibrant. The J.C. Penney’s store has been vacant more years than I can remember. I do remember Pete’s Popcorn Wagon, Pete’s Place under the stairs, Pete’s Paint and Paper, and Pete was also a Rexall druggist. We need more go-getters like Pete.

Who knows how many businesses were built  from the ground up by Ralph Sweeney? I also remember Jack Sprat, A. & P., Kroack Grocery, Equity, Hager Market (did this used to be Piggly Wiggly?), and let’s not forget Klingles Kandy Kitchen.

Kids from this area will grow up not knowing about dial phones, brick streets or flat sidewalks, thinking that sloping sidewalks and the leaning trees near the Wellness Center on 13th Street NW are just normal. These trees must have been planted on the day the plumb bob batteries failed.

Don’t call me anymore. Grab a scrap of paper, and get everyone into the conversation. No accusations, no lies, no politics.

If I thought I made a mistake, I may find out I was wrong.

Herb Larkin