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Marcus Memories

Written Memories of John Pease

by Arlene Hollenbeck

Marcus Historical Society

I recently received a portion of the written memories of John Pease.  Mr. Pease was the Marcus High School principal until 1942 at which time he decided to retire and later moved to California.  Following are his memories of Marcus Main street when he lived in Marcus.

There was Fred’s Place, a soda fountain and sandwich business, located in a defunct bank.  It was presided over by Fred Knox and his wife Grace.  Practically everyone turned up there sometime during the day, to have a cup of coffee, a coke, a sandwich and to meet the people and hear what was going on in town.  Fred was one of the last people I ever knew , who truly understood how to make an ice cream soda.   He also knew how to concoct a Black Cow and any number of soda fountain delicacies.  I think he had been a street car conductor,  and I am sure he was a soda jerk when he was much younger.  Our son Jack, as a small boy remarked that, when he grew up he wanted to run a store like Fred’s Place.
On the corner, across the street from Fred’s place, was the Farmers State Bank, with Otto Strampe presiding, and where Ray Jayne was one of the tellers, maybe a cashier.  This is where I often had to go a few days before payday to borrow, and sign a note for, twenty-five dollars to cover checks that would reach the bank before my paycheck could.  When pay day arrived, I would repay the loan, with fifty cents  interest, and hope I could make it until the next payday without having to do it again.  I seldom did.

On the corner,  diagonally across from Fred's, was another former bank  building, occupied by Billy Gund.  Billy, along with his sisters, Minnie and Cora, had inherited a large number of farms and considerable wealth from a pioneer father, who got much of it by lending sums of money to pioneer farmer’s and homesteaders. The story was told of the elder Gund,  that he would loan a hard-up farmer twenty five dollars and require him to bring in the pump from his well for security. I don't think Billy himself ever greatly increased his wealth by wise investments, but he didn't lose any of it either.  Billy married, or more likely, was married by, a former school teacher named Ethel.  Ethel was a member of the school board all the years we were in Marcus. She was a childless woman who succeeded in intimidating most of the teachers as well as our superintendent. She outlived Billy, and was eventually killed in the mid-air explosion of an airliner.  Much of the Gund wealth was left, in Ethel’s will, to build a splendid library for Marcus. It was Billy Gund, by the way, who loaned me the hundred and fifty dollars in 1935, that enabled me to go to the University of Iowa for credits to get a secondary Principal's certificate. He charged me no interest.

While we lived in Marcus, the post office was, in the same ex-bank building as Fred's Place, and Dr. Mike Joynt had an office upstairs in that same building.  Across the street on the south side, was the Chevrolet garage, operated by Joe Ament. It was there that we bought our very first new car, the 1937 Chevrolet. Joe was unique, in that he served in both world wars. Across the street east from the garage was the Coop Oil Company, which I believe is still there. West from the garage was a restaurant, operated by Herman Lage, during the last several years we were in Marcus.   Herman had graduated from what had been an ice cream and candy store, mostly for kids, to a full fledged restaurant. On the corner west of Lage's was a store that I remember as Nagle’s.  I think it was mostly a women's ready to wear place. South of that on the east side of the street was a movie theatre, where I was not present on a bank night when my name was called for the prize.  I think it was a hundred dollars. Maybe it was only fifty, but think what that would have meant, when my annual salary was  probably about fifteen hundred dollars.

North of the bank, on the west side of the street, was Flanagan 's pool hall, a drug store, operated for most of those years by the Satterlee brothers and the office of the independent telephone company.  I am unable to remember much of what was on the east side of the street, except that the Browmniller Brothers operated a trucking business out of a building at the north end of the block, and Olson and Appel had an International Harvester store near there.

South from the Gund building, on the west side, there was another drug store for a while,  a hardware, a couple of grocery stores, Ray Neiman's Jewelry, and Marie Loomis candy store.  There was also, at one time a barber shop operated by "Shorty" Daniels .One of the grocery stores was that of Roman Treinen, where we were in hock much of the time, in the first three or four years for meat and groceries ordered by phone and delivered to our home.

The businesses south of the theatre do not come easily to my memory. There was another hardware that may have been a Gamble Store.   Was it run by Louis Collins?  Anyway. I think that was where we bought our first refrigerator, the Crosley that out ran it’s guarantee by thirty days and quit.
One block north of the main intersection was railroad street, where  there was the Coop Elevator, managed by Ralph Scott for several years.  The Dorr Elevator and Feed Mill,  where I had a brief career in the grain and feed business.  Then there were a couple of lumber yards, one managed by Roger Leavitt.  I think Roger Jr. and John have done better with the business than Roger Sr. did. There was a bowling alley, where I had more success than I ever did at any other athletic activity. This business was run for most of those years by Rex and Lil Rosberg.

Evans Brothers Clothing Store was located in the middle of the block on the west side of the street, south of the main intersection. It was a men's clothing store, selling suits, shirts, shoes, and most items of clothing for dress or work. The proprietors were a couple of Catholic gentlemen named Jude and Gibb Evans, who loved a political argument. They were very likely to take opposing sides in an argument, and each try to get bystanders to side with himself.  The store was a convenient place to stop on any cold winter day, to absorb some of the warmth from the stove at the back of the store, and to engage in conversation, whatever the topic of the day might be. It was also a place where a poor school teacher might purchase an out of fashion suit for a very reduced price. I am certain the Evans boys had me in mind when they would save one of these from going to the second hand clothing dealer. They would bring it out and offer it to me for ten dollars.  This was a great help, when it was still necessary for a teacher to wear a suit and tie in the class room.  I believe teachers dress more informally now.

While these paragraphs do not cover the total list of people and places I should remember, they should prove to any old timer into whose hands they might accidentally fall, that I once lived in Marcus, albeit a long time ago. They is also enough to totally bore anyone other than an old timer.

Thank you to Marsha Heaston, Granddaughter of Fred and Grace Knox for sharing these writings of John Pease.

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