Written Memories of John Pease
by Arlene Hollenbeck
Marcus Historical SocietyI
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Thank you to Marsha Heaston, Granddaughter of Fred and Grace Knox for sharing these writings of John Pease.
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