When dad got home from his naval service in 1946, with the GI Bill he attended Quincy College. After graduating, they moved to Waterloo. We lived with my grandparents (Ralph and Edna Happekotte) in a house in Sherwood Park owned by Art Stitz. When he found out there were more people living in the house, he decided to up the rent. Grandpa and Grandma decided they would move- no leases back then! So, they moved to 150 Greenwood Ave. For those who know the Park back then, that is where the Don Davis family lived later on. Mom, dad, and I moved in with her best friend, Gloria and Bill Duschen, who lived up by Edison School. Gloria had been mom’s best friend in junior and senior high school and served as mom’s maid of honor. We were actually there only a couple of months before moving to another house in Sherwood Park; it was owned by Vic and Nell Morrice. It was on the river and the house in front of it on road is where my grandparents lived. Mom said in her notes that dad swore he would never live in the Park. But after a couple of floods, he became a true “river rat”. He would sit on the front porch and shoot at bottles and cans as they floated by. Probably the most vivid memory I have of that house was the day when mom was away shopping and dad had just finished icing a chocolate cake. It was sitting on the kitchen table. A storm came up rather suddenly and I remember standing at the door looking out at the storm. Suddenly, a large tree near our driveway came crashing through the kitchen roof ruining the cake.... and of course, the roof!
|Black's Dept. Store|
Mom had worked at Black’s Department Store in downtown Waterloo. She started out in Black’s post office wrapping packages and selling stamps. She eventually was promoted to run the record department- that is, record albums. That department was located on the mezzanine. She worked there until becoming pregnant with Tom. Tom was born in December of 1952; so she probably worked there until early in 1951. Dad had worked as an assistant manager at the Paramount Theater and then went to work for Sears when it was downtown on 4th Street about across from where the YMCA building is. An opening came up at Waterloo Corrugated Box Co. This is where his Quincy roots helped. The owners of the box company were John Ewers and Jim McLaughlin, both from Keokuk, Ia. When they found out dad was from Quincy, they took a liking to him and eventually made him a sampler maker. He worked there from 1952 until his death in 1978. The box company had been sold to Mead Corporation along the way, but he endeared himself to the company bigwigs who came in to Waterloo ever so often. I’m sure they loved his sense of humor and practical jokes of which they were the victims at times. One of the funniest jokes I remember him playing on the bigwigs was the time he went out to pick them up at the Waterloo Airport. You have to understand that our airport is probably five minutes at most away from the box factory. Instead of driving them straight to the box factory, he took them out through Cedar Falls, out past Crossroads Mall, and back through downtown Waterloo, then on to the box factory. These out-of-towners, who had never been to Waterloo before were quite impressed at how large Waterloo was; they had no idea they were being driven in a quite round about manner. The next day when it came time to leave the box factory for the airport, it was getting to be close to the time of departure. The bigwigs were getting a little worried about making their flight. I can only imagine the look on their faces when they got in the car and dad zipped out to the airport in five minutes!
After Tim was born in 1954, the family moved to 164 Greenwood Ave.; again for those who know the Park, that was the house that Ruth and Jim Trimble later lived in. It was definitely larger, and that was needed because the family was expanding. There were four kids at that time: Tom, Cindy, Tim, and me. That house was just two down from Aunt Mary and Uncle Bob’s, grandpa’s sister and brother-in-law. Probably the most vivid memory of our time there was the day dad took us kids out to the sandbar in front of our house. Generally, playing in the river was a big no-no. A lot of that had to do with grandma. Her family back in Quincy had taken in a boy and essentially raised him; I’m sure he was considered a brother to them. He drowned in a city pool in Quincy. So, the name “Russell” was invoked many a time as we lived on the river. But I diverse; what happened next is now funny to recall, but not so back then. After coming in from the sandbar, later on we noticed Tom wasn’t around. We scoured the house and every place outside. The neighbors got involved in the search. We started to conclude that he may have had so much fun on the sandbar that maybe he went back out. The thought was frightening I imagine especially to grandma. But, alas, someone found him sleeping under a bed!
The next blog will conclude mom’s part of the story and our family background. Then it will be on to some of the genealogical findings.