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Ah.....The Good Ol’ Days

September 11, 2011
By John Sheda
Growing up in Chelsea probably wasn’t any different than growing up in your home town. Each little town had a personality all it’s own. Chelsea was known for it’s Czech heritage. I remember as a kid, many of the Chelsea residents could speak fluent Boheme. Dad could to some degree and every now and then you could hear him speaking Czech on the phone. Me? Nah, I just learned a few of the naughty words. And I still know them. But this is a family newspaper so I shall keep those words and phrases to myself. You Czech people know exactly what words I’m talking about.

We lived right on Main Street. I went across the street and for fifty cents, got my hair cut about once a month or so. Always a butch. No muss, no fuss. We had two churches, the Methodist and the Catholic. I went to the Catholic school thus was a “Catholic-er” and one of my best friends went to the Public school, thus he must be a “Public-er.”

Every kid in town detassled in the summer. The most I ever got paid was one dollar an hour. Not bad for 1963!! There were no incentives, no raises, no extra money for working every day. A buck an hour. Take it or leave it. Detassling was fun in a crazy, weird sort of way. Hated the work but loved the girls who also detassled. Halter tops and short shorts, were just a couple of items that kept us boys interested in, ah, detassling. But despite that, it was awful hard work. But getting that check about a week after all the detassling was over was worth every drop of sweat. It was a great experience.

in 1960 or 61, Chelsea consolidated with Tama/Toledo and this was perhaps the beginning of the end for Chelsea. Nothing worse than losing your high school for a town to stop prospering. Seventh and eighth graders were bussed to both Chelsea and Montour, while the ninth and tenth graders were bussed to Toledo and the juniors and seniors were transported to Tama. I remember the bus leaving Chelsea and somewhere near the intersection of Hwys 212 & 30, our driver switched with the bus driver bringing the Tama/Toledo kids to Chelsea. And the bus drivers took no “guff” out of anyone. There was a simple rule......”You didn’t behave, you didn’t ride the bus.” Harrumph!

Having all the big town kids (Tama & Toledo) come to Junior High in Chelsea was quite a cultural shock for Chelsea. But for Lebedas Tastee-Freeze, it was a bonanza. During lunch time, that place was packed. The school was only a block or so away, so all the kids had time to run there and get a burger perhaps or an ice cream cone. I never got

over there much during lunch as I was stuck several blocks away at the Catholic school. In fact, when I did get the opportunity to get to the Tastee-Freeze, I felt like the stranger since I didn’t know any of these kids. I was a tad jealous of the Chelsea “Public-ers.”

These are just some random thoughts about my growing up in Chelsea. They may be similar to yours or perhaps not. I wish I would have taken notes back then. My memory is quite good but just a little bit short. But this is “The Way I See It.” Let me know how you saw things at jsheda@indytel.com or call me at 319-334-6723. Love to hear from you.

And I leave you with these two Bohemie phrases; “D’am si jedno pivo prosim” and if I saw you at the ZCBJ Hall, I might even ask you this.......”Smim prosit?” What would you say??? Have a great week.

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