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.""
Another half block and we're downtown. All two blocks of it. I will begin with Joe Musel's Gas Station. Then there is City Hall and the Fire Hall where Terry Chitty pushed the fire siren button. Boy, the volunteers had the fire trucks out, but couldn't find a fire.
Next is Con Shilhanek's Grocery Store (formerly Tony's Place). Next is al and Charlie Swalm's Drug Store. It is run by two old bachelors who played pro baseball in their youth. What a place for a kid! Hundreds of comic books and we could read all we wanted and we didn't have to buy any. The hook was we would buy candy and ice cream as we read.
You had to watch where you sat as Al trained crows. Al taught them to talk and catch balls and open bottles with peanuts inside. When Charlie tore the covers off the comic books they were supposed to burn them, but they sold them three for a nickel.
So while reading them we had to maintain a balance - read comics, but don't read all of them, because at three or a nickel, who wanted to buy used comic books you have already read?
Look at the walls - arrowheads by the hundreds, axes, scrapers, awls (Chelsea sits in the Iowa River Valley and is surrounded by hills where the Sac and Fox once roamed.) Charlie's Northern Pike with its big teeth is on the wall. What a sight for boys used to carp. And the baby mermaid. Is it real? We thought so.
We gotta push on so the next place is George Hepworth's Soda Fountain. I used to watch the big boys play pinball and think to myself how I would have it made when I got to high school and would be my own boss.
Next is Froning and Werners Elevator sitting next to the tracks so they could load the grain on boxcars. After corn-picking there would be a pile of corncobs probably 40 feet high. We thought it was a mountain and would make caves and roll down the cobs. Our parents made us stop because we had such caves and they thought we would be killed. Somewhere in that pile of cobs is a pair shoes that I lost..."How in the world could you lose a pair of shoes?" I must have heard that a hundred times.
...Watch for Part 3 in March