Editor's Note: Chelsea native Tony Sheda, now of Wrenshall, Minn., submitted a reminiscence he wrote in the 1980s of his hometown - Chelsea, Iowa. The Tama News-Herald and Toledo Chronicle will serialize Tony's recollections leading up to Chelsea's Sesquicentennial set for July of this year with another part each month.
Tony says "I'm the son of Tony W. and grandson of Anton A. Sheda. (He's also a brother of News-Herald columnist John Sheda.) I wrote this in the early 1980s on my recollections of Chelsea, Iowa. Anyone who can add to this please do, as I have a "history of not the best memory.""
I was day dreaming the other day and thoughts went back into my childhood home and the town that I came from in Iowa. It was
a trip back into time that one wouldn't know existed - even after living through it. I can still see in my mind - hazy but there. If you want you can read on and I will give you a tour of my town as i remember it.
Coming into this town of 500 or so people we go by Blazek's Cafe and Bar with an outside dance hall. If it's Saturday night, a Bohemie band is playing polkas and waltzes. As you walk up most everybody will say "Yak-se masch, kluk" a Bohemian greeting us kids would giggle and make faces at those who were dancing.
Onward south to downtown Chelsea wee will be going by at least 3 whole blocks of residential district. We go past Bill Kupka and his woodworking shop. Bill also culls chickens. For a penny Bill will test to see if they are laying or not. If you can get your two fingers between the bones on the back that means the bones haven't fused together and the hen is still laying. Bill does this at all the farms surrounding Chelsea.
These farms would have to be seen to be believed. Much is written in the press about the family farm. The family farm would be 160 to 200 acres. A Farmal H or similar tractor a plow, a cultivator, mower etc. The livestock would consist of 50 to 200 chickens, 20 to 40 sheep, a few pigs, some cattle and one or two milk cows. It seemed there were always a few ducks or geese around, enough to make the sidewalk slippery. Picture this as a self-contained enterprise. It was a time when people thought ammonia was used to wash windows and fertilizer was cow manure. The land gave and the land received.
Well, back to town 3 blocks from Bill's we go over the creek and frogtown where there were a million frogs, 10 snapping turtles, 15 muskrats, 6 carp and 20 bullheads. At one time or the other I caught every one of these critters. This was an official count I took one day after swimming.
On the right side is Bill Henry's International Harvester dealership and garage. The whole building is on stilts as if it is constantly in danger of flooding.
Heading for downtown we go past the house where we once lived. Mt memories of this aren't much as I was very young, but I remember my dad turning into our drive with a ring of bologna hanging on the windshield post of the car he was driving. I remember making boats out of the Sunday newspaper and letting them go off the porch as the creek had overflowed and coming in our back door and going out our front door.
...Watch for Part 2 in February