Thursday, November 1, 2012
Looking back.........men with hats.
A photo posted by a childhood classmate on her facebook post brought back many memories to me. She posted the photo, as she was related to three of the children and she is the younger girl in the photo riding the carnival ride. I am posting the photo as to what is going on in the background. The time period has to be around 1953 and the location is unknown to the owner of the photo. I suspect it is in one of the neighboring towns of Murray, Iowa. The possible towns could be Afton, Creston or Osceola.
I remember seeing steam engines when young as they traveled through Murray, Iowa. The tracks divided the town and to travel to the grocery store we would have to wait for the trains to pass by while the cars and trucks waited to cross. The dark smoke from burning coal was very visibile and the sulfur smell is a strong memory to me also. The coal car itself was filled to various degrees depending on the last time they had loaded up the coal for the train. The mechanics of the propelling of the wheels because of steam power is still a fascination to see.
The hobos riding along on top of the cars during the warm months made the watching of the train more enjoyable. My mother shared with me that it was common for the hobos to get off of the train and knock on doors for free food to eat. She said that when she and my dad had first married, they lived in a rented house close to the track in Murray. It was a bad place to live as the sound of the trains literally sounded like they were coming through the living room.
It was not a surprise to her to have someone knock on the door and politely ask for a plate of food. My mom would tell of finding cold boiled potatoes and bread for them to eat and they really like hot cups of coffee, which they would eat while sitting on the porch outside. Milk and spare desserts would make them very pleased.
One other distinct memory of the old trains was the one seeing them traveling down the tracks in the country. Highway 34 ran parallel to the track so one could see the engine puffing out its black and gray smoke, billowing out in cloud-like forms. The smoke stack left a trail behind it for a very long distance. The smoke trail would be different on windy days but the stretched trail along the top of the cars would make it seem like a magical thing.
One other observation from the photo is the dress of the people in the background. It was some sort of town celebration that was going on as the men were wearing dress slacks and white shirts, not the everyday jeans or bib overalls. The conversations seemed important as they ignored both the passing steam engine as well as the kids on the carnival ride. I really can't see how they could hear one another when the train was going by them. I can't imagine that the engine is parked there but it might be as you see people crossing the tracks with out worry on the left side of the photo.
On a different vien of thought, I found a postcard photo of a school building in Dexter, Iowa. This was not necessarily a common look of the schools built back then as most of them didn't have the decorative details as this one has. What I found interesting is that it must have been designed and built at the same time as the one in my school in Woodward, Iowa. The reason being that it is exactly the same building as the one I first taught here in Woodward back in 1976. I would declare that the same architect plan was used and maybe the same crew could have built the building.
As evidence to my belief of them being the same structure different locations is the drawing of the Woodward building. when it was first built. It was built in 1906 and torn down in 1993. This is the first time that I have ever seen another building in Iowa that was just like this one.
I didn't attend here, I was a teacher in this building starting in 1976. My room was in the area where the three back basement windows are on the right side.
As a footnote to the above drawing. I had few pictures of the real building while I was teaching in the building. Once the building was torn down, I created the drawing from a postcard similar to the one created of the Dexter building. The postcard was being sold at the Iowa Historical Building in Des Moines.
You have noticed that I am totally off theme. I do have some men with hats, standing and talking. I rarely keep my train on the track, so to speak. I was feeling guilty as I had not posted for a long time. With winter coming I will be forced to stay inside and my blogging should pick up to a more regular pace.
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