Memories of Doon in the 1930's

Written by Howard Lawrence

Although Doon was a very small town (population 567) in the late 1930's it never the less played an important part in our lives. The following are some of the main things that stand out in my memory as I look back on those days.

First of all that old two-story wooden frame schoolhouse that stood across the street from the Anderson residence. Bud and I enrolled in the high school as respectively ninth and tenth graders. The high school classrooms were upstairs and the grade school downstairs. Mr. Fred Griner was principal and maintained good discipline despite his small stature. Other teachers were, Bill Myers, coach and history teacher, Miss Tatum, who taught music.

Mr. Griner taught math and physics in addition to his administrative duties. The study hall on the south end also served as a classroom and assembly. Since enrollment in the high school was very small almost everyone was involved in the activities. Bud and I sang in a mixed quartet with Margaret Scholten and Ethelene Bennett, were in the school plays, played on the basketball and six man football team. Others on the six-man football team were; Charles Iwen, Spec Anderson, "Hank" Levering, and Lawrence DeBondt.

Although we were usually on the short end of the score we all enjoyed participating in both sports. I remember Alvord was always tough in basketball and a good team could put a town on the map. I'll never forget that one year in the late 30's the Diagonal (population 500) basketball team won the state tournament against much larger high schools and instantly became famous.

The town hall situated where the firehouse is now was a beehive of activity. Basketball games-school plays ("Here Comes Charley") American Legion dances, basket socials and talent shows all took place in this cracker-box of a building. Basketball was a real adventure in this hall because there was almost no room along the sidelines for in bounding the ball, there was a stove in the corner, which had to be avoided, and the ceiling was quite low so you had to shoot low-arched shots. When we went to Rock Rapids to play in county tournaments their floor seemed like a huge amphitheatre.

In one talent show I remember Bud played a trombone solo-Lawrence DeBondt sang "Boo Hoo" and I nervously played a trumpet solo. The music for the dances was often provided by "Rich Ricke and His Cornshellers" of which Bud and I were members-and a good time was had by all.

Saturday night in Doon-what memories that brings to mind! This was the opportunity for farmers and their families to unwind from a hard week's work. The young bucks roamed the sidewalks eyeing the girls and often gathered at the pool hall for a game of "Snooker" or "Crazy Eight." Another favorite spot was the Corner Restaurant operated by Wally Fie and his wife. They always struck me as being quite debonair and were quite popular with the kids. The Hollanders got their kicks out of circling the block in their Model A Fords and generally making a nuisance of themselves and sometimes the town marshal had to assert what little authority he had to try to quiet things down. Some people would gather around the band stand in the park to hear the weekly concert by the Doon band-Bud Dewey, Speck Anderson, Joyce (Ray) Lawrence, myself and some others played in the band. One favorite of the audience was "Sliding Sam" featuring the trombones.

A store that was quite interesting to me was Ross' General Store on the corner where the bank now stands. It had everything in it from dry goods to rock candy, a typical old-fashioned general store. It was kind of fun to just wander around and look at things. We certainly didn't have much money to buy anything.

The Congregational Church was a very important part of our life in those days. On Sundays it certainly saw a lot of activity. We attended church service regularly. Went to Sunday School class, sang in the choir and in the evening attended the Pilgrim Fellowship meetings where we had a religion-oriented meeting followed by games like "Post Office", "Spin the Bottle" and "Musical Chairs." Talk about fun! Well, anyway it was a good place for boys and girls to meet and many a romance developed there. The church was much more of a drawing card for young people then because it didn't have to compete with TV and all the other distractions of today.

I remember Memorial Day as it was observed then in Doon. Veterans of WWI, including my dad, dressed up in their uniforms and paraded up Main Street toting their rifles and marching more or less in step. Some of them were good enough with a rifle to perform a complicated drill and of course they honored the dead with a volley of three shots, fired almost in unison.

I'll never forget "Slim" Lehman delivering mail in his model A Ford. He prided himself on always getting through with the mail no matter how deep the snow along his RFD route, which included our farm. His Ford had good clearance, which kept his car from getting hung up.

My high school graduation ceremony took place in the Christian Reformed Church at the south end of town. It was not a very stupendous affair as there were only ten in the graduation class. They were; Henry Levering, Margarite Scholten, Ethelene Bennett, Warren (Speck) Anderson, Henry Stalinga, Mildred Witt, Marie Kolthoff, Charles Iwen and Peter Van Den Oever.

The Dutch showed their good will and willingness to cooperate in letting us use their church for this occasion.



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