THEY RECALL AN OLDER DOON
by Dee Keegan
Most of what you are reading in this Doon history book has been gleaned from records, files and dusty old newspapers. But within our community there is a small group who were witnesses to that period of time that most of us can only read about.
One of the neatest assignments I had in working on this book was visiting with Alice Ray, Gertrude Nagel and Frances Keegan, and they were happy to share many fond memories of the 'Good Old Days' in Doon.
Alice Ray, 95, was born in Sioux Center, and came to Doon at the age of twelve with her parents, Johanna and Gerrit Klock, and brothers and sisters. They lived in what is now the Red Van Bemmel home. Alice graduated from Doon High School in 1914, and at a time when many did not attend high school, her class had seventeen graduates. Alice married Ralph Ray in 1923. They had four daughters. Ralph passed away in 1952. Alice taught country school before she was married and later owned and operated Doon Sundries with Alys Jacobsma for many years.
Gertrude Nagel, 86, and Frances Keegan, 84, are sisters, daughters of Jake and Elizabeth (Solon) Mann. Their mother came to Doon from Highland, Wisconsin at the age of 11, in 1895. Their father came from Harlan, Iowa, and was a well known contractor. Jake and Elizabeth had nine children, all born in Doon. Gertrude and Frances were both born in what is now the Randy Van Engen home.
Gertie graduated from Doon High School in 1924, attended six weeks of normal school training in Cedar Falls, and taught country school. She married Lou Laackmann in 1928 and they operated the Corner Cafe (about where the town blackboard is located.) They had five children. After selling the cafe they moved around the country for 23 years with a construction firm. After Lou's death in 1967 Gertie returned to make her home in Doon. She married Carl Nagel in 1976. He passed away in 1979.
Frances (who happens to be my mother-in-law, and one of the best cooks around), is the youngest of the ladies, but she has spent the most years in Doon, having lived here all 84 years of her life. She graduated from Doon High School in 1926, married John Keegan in 1929, and the couple had eight children. John worked for the railroad and died in 1970. For many years Frances cooked at Pete's Place in Doon.
......Frances and Gertie recall basketball games. Gertie was a forward and Frances a guard when they played games all over the county and went as far as Maurice. No school bus for these teams---Walt Levering and Arie Ver Hey put fresh straw in their cattle trucks, loaded up the teams, and away they went.
......Alice recalls that Sunday night was a busy time for the livery stable as the local young men rented horses and buggies and went courting.
......Frances fondly recalls going to dances, following Lawrence Welk on his dance circuit from Lester all the way to Pipestone. She remembers all the girls in Doon named Frances, named for the doctor who delivered them. Dr. F. E. Chalmers.
......more memories: Movies shown on the side of a building. Mrs. Robison's Millinery Store with the gorgeous display of hats in the windows (now the Howie Van Ginkel home). The Bonnie Doon Hotel, where a colored lady named Mrs. Morton, employed as a dishwasher, had a talking parrot, and where the dining room was cleared out on Saturday nights so the young people could wind up the Victrola and dance. Mrs. Jim Suddaby teaching young girls to mend during World War I (Jon Suddaby was an engineer on the "Bonnie Doon"---they lived in the Joe Keegan home). Gertie recalls her senior class taking the "Bonnie Doon" all the way to Lester for their senior skip day. They remember buying penny candy at Achatz store. Blizzards. Babies being born at home. Scarlet and typhoid fever and whooping cough. Hard times during the depression. When the C Ross home was one of 'the grandees' of Doon (now the Larry Boeve home.) School wardrobes consisting of two wool dresses, long underwear and long stockings, and hair was braided or pipe-curled. They remember when young people's idea of fun was horseback riding, a taffy pull or a sleigh ride.
These ladies, along with all those featured on our 'Golden Girl' page, represent a cross section of Doon. Some were born here, left and came back. Some moved here and stayed, and two were born here and never left. Their interests and hobbies are diverse, but they are linked with one common thread, their devotion to their families and church and their love for our town of Doon.
Everyone in Doon, no matter what their age may be, has their own special memories, but time and space only permits us these few.
We sincerely thank these grand ladies of Doon for taking us with them on their trip down memory lane, in what one of them referred to as a quieter and gentler time.
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