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King Tower is...gasp, closed

July 17, 2011
By John Sheda
TAMA NEWS-HERALD - During my High School years at South Tama, (64-69), there are so many things I remember about that nostalgic era. The Trojan Inn, The Tomahawk Shoppe, The Bowling Alley, The A&W, and The Minature Golf Course, (Ha, how many remember that?). And one by one these landmarks have come and gone. As has my youth!! I remember the old Sale Barn when it was located in the southern part of Tama. Heck, I even kinda remember some of the taverns. But I’m not gonna go there.

 But, but, but..........THE CLOSING OF THE KING TOWER CAFE is unthinkable. Unimaginable!   

I say, “re-re-route highway 30 back”.  I didn’t know much about this cafe before I left the gentle and quiet confines of Chelsea, but from the first moment that school bus passed King Tower in the fall of 1964. I knew that was the place people hung out. 

And through my high school days and beyond, it was THE PLACE TO BE, at some point on a Friday or Saturday night.  Preferably the later the better. 

Going there after a Trojan ball game, bowling, those great dances in Toledo, a night at the movies and even after an evening at the Office.........the gang always stopped at King Tower for a hamburger and fries and cherry coke. 

Sometimes we ordered breakfast instead.........nothing better than a couple eggs, hash browns, bacon or sausage and toast after a hard night, ah, er.................bowling!!!!

 And each booth had its very own little jute box. Flicking through the selections, putting in your quarter and listening to the Moody Blues sing, “Knights in White Satin” or the Association singing “Never My Love” or “Cherish.”  Then there was the 5th Dimension singing “Aquarius” and no night was complete without the Doors trying hard to “Light My Fire.”

 I don’t get back to the Chelsea, Tama, Toledo, Montour area too often but whenever Deb and I do, we almost always tried to stop in and get a burger, fries and coke at King Tower. 

Not late at night, mind you, more like three in the afternoon and no jutebox to play those classic tunes. But boy did it bring back the memories. Good memories too! Straight out of “Happy Days.”  Jim Hayek was the Fonze.  Me?  Ha.....probably Potsie!!! 

Truly, The King Tower Cafe will be missed. I hope readers will share some of their memories, either to me or through the paper. We’d love to hear your stories of great times at King Tower Cafe.

 Kudos to Dennis Lamb for his story about “Lob Chaloupek.” I throughly enjoyed it. That guy can write. And Denny was right, Lob was a few years before my time, thus I never knew him as one of the Chelsea Characters. But through Denny’s article, I feel as if i do now. Thanks, Denny.

 I never knew this lady, but she was a character in her own right. And she will surely be missed by all who knew her and by the Tama-Toledo community. 

Every year I read about the “Butter Cow” created by Norma “Duffy” Lyon.  The cow attended the Iowa State Fair each year and Norma was congratulated by Governors, Senators and all kinds of celebrities for her annual creations. 

The closest I ever got to knowing Norma was that I think I went to school with a couple of her kids. But to be honest, I was always proud when I read of her butter cows because growing up in this community, we all sort of got to shine in her glory. Even a guy who lived miles away. 

Thanks Norma for making a difference in this world. The word “unique” is so often over-used, but truly in this case it is not.  Norma “Duffy” Lyon was precious, special and unique. This old world needs more Normas. Rest in Peace. I’m sure the good Lord, said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”


Well, That’s The Way I See It. 

Email me at or what the heck, write a letter to the editor and let me know how you see it. Have a great week.

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