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East Peoria Times-Courier - East Peoria, IL
  • Tattle Tales by Noah: Ya Big Sissy

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  • He wore a bandaged turban over his head hiding a multitude of stitches after the fracas. It wasn’t much of a fight. Bob Smith mistakenly called Miles Hauter a “big sissy” and got slammed through a schoolhouse door.
     
    It was made of glass and I was only a few feet down the hall when it happened. They were classmates of mine and maybe in the second or third grade.
     
    Mister Ummel was our school janitor and he was first on the scene.
     
    Morton had but one grade school back in the ’30s and it’s where Jefferson now stands.
     
    Miles and Bob were both bright kids in the academics but feisty otherwise. Not “bullies”, mind you, but spirited more in the area of cat fights, and I rarely saw either on the playground at recess.
     
    Chris Hauter (Senior) owned a grain elevator across from Home Oil and I watched many a wagon load of corn and grain being ground into cow feed.
     
    The tussle with Miles left no doubt that calling him a “sissy” had a chilling effect on his demeanor.
     
    A farm boy living east of Morton was drafted in World War 2. He was an air traffic controller, a big responsibility guiding bombers on and off of airstrips.
     
    Also in WW2, a classmate was drafted and trained in meteorology. Another draftee fought in Korea as a rifleman.
     
    The threesome planned a trip to Ernie’s Resort on Star Lake in upper Minnesota. It was a popular haunt for Morton fishermen and these veterans departed after work. Walleye, bass, northerns and crappie jumping in the skillet.
     
    Who better to trust at the wheel than Louie, the “traffic controller,” after getting a full weather briefing from Lloyd, the weatherman.
     
    Rifleman Roy was to work the point to spot any lurking fuzz busters. Only Louie stayed awake but driving West instead of North.
     
    These three are still in Morton and ‘wrong way Louie’ says the story is a ‘stretch’ every time it’s told.
     
    Just how far Louie steered toward Joplin rather than Minneapolis is a mystery.
     
    Downtown Morton in the 1930s was two blocks long. No difference today except NOW you’ll find concrete walks and paved streets and (in the ’30s) it was dirt roads and ‘splintered’ boards for walkways.
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    The store fronts have been modernized and have changed names, but in the ‘depression’ we had four grocers fighting for the business of 1,200 people, namely the Krug’s Market, the Freidinger brothers, Atlantic & Pacific grocery and Grieder’s.
     
    Bread was bought at the bakery. The mark up on most products was minimal and milk was delivered by the local dairy so grocers had tough sledding.
     
    It makes one wonder how six families lived out of four pint-size stores, but they did have access to free vittles.
     
    Times were tough and the Pops of Morton scratched for every dime. Retailers were as happy as ‘two pigs in a poke,’ which is the wonderment of me. “My faith looks up to thee.”
     
    Dwellings of villagers ended six blocks in any direction from the downtown. The present Post Office location was open country. Going to the north of downtown you’d find Clarence Zimmerman on a milk stool and the same for George Geisel to the east.
     
    It was less than six blocks to find open country to the south of Morton.
     
    Is it any wonder why village merchants captured a hundred percent of the market?
     
    The schoolyard was also dubbed a ‘park’ to rest your weary bones, and recreation was simply a play on words.
     
    Back then, a weed was a pest pulled from the ground and when men ‘chewed’ it was either gum or food. Punchboards for the gambler could be found at the pool hall or the Home Oil. No cash won, only candy.
     
    Women wore garb below the knees as the goal was to NOT look sexy.
     
    You must be thinking “how dull” but we didn’t see it that way. It was fantastic to wake up every morning debt free.
     
    For starters, your coffee would brew more in harmony with your state of mind.
     
    What a wonderful life.

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