This weekend Chelsea is celebrating its' 150th birthday. Chelsea is a resilient little town, surviving annual floods for most of those years. Thirty years ago or so, the town kind of divided; some opting to go to higher ground and others staying put. Either way, Chelsea has survived and today celebrates 150 years. Congratulations to all "Chelseaites" or "Chelseans." You should be proud!! Deb (Veit) Sheda and I were talking about growing up in and around Chelsea the other night and although we both shared many of the same memories, she also had some different ones. Heck, after all, she grew up in the country, went to the Methodist Church and was a "girl." And me? I was a town-kid, Catholic-er all the way and well, a "boy." Here are some of our shared memories:
We both love those Band Concert nights. Deb was just thrilled to get into the thriving town and I was lookin' forward to running the streets. Everyone would begin backing their cars diagonally on Main Street in order to get the most out of the "Bohemie Polkas." A lady named "Pop-Corn Annie" sold popcorn and sometimes even we HAD to do so. It was fierce competition. It was a great time.
Deb remembers those softball games played by our very own men's fast-pitch teams. I remember these too and the Chelsea ball diamond with the night lights a-blaring was truly a sight to behold. Everyone in town showed up, it seemed. How many remember some of those players from way back when? Jim Fergueson, the Kaufmans, Waterburys, Richard Formanek, Jim Kesl, and even my brother Larry were all part of the team. Who am I missing?????
Deb and I both remember the Floods! She from the country NOT being able to enter town and me from inside the town just playing in that dirty ol' water.
We both fondly remember the first Centennial. 1964. One hundred years of being a town. The Ferris Wheel was right outside our house on Main Street. We were located perfectly and it was one of the best three or four days of my life. It really was. Deb enjoyed all the excitement too.
Now here are some of Deb's very own memories:
She remembers her days as a "third-grader" at the Chelsea Public School. Why? Because she was named, "The Third-Grade May-Pole Queen." See, I knew I married a queen. Ok, does anyone out there in Tama News-Herald land remember the "may-pole?" Not me! Haruumph! Boys about to become men DO NOT REMEMBER MAY-POLE!!
Deb loved when the Tama-Toledo kids came to Chelsea for Junior High-School. She got to meet a lot of new friends. I never heard this before but apparently Deb and three of her friends, Diana, Linda and Judy formed a singing group called "The Pastels." Not sure how long this group lasted or if any of the other three ladies remember it but who knows, they could have taken off like the Supremes.
I don't remember too much about this, but she remembers stories about the gypsies coming into town. Deb was not allowed to come to town during these times because it was believed that they loved to steal kids. I remember the gypsies a little bit and as far as I can remember, all the Chelsea boys and girls remained intact.
Does anyone remember the "giant strikes" at the public school playground. I remember them but never knew their name. Deb loved to swing on these during recess in those elementary grades. Probably a little too dangerous for today's playgrounds!!
Now get this; Deb told me that she remembers riding the School Bus back in the day AND getting to sit right next to the driver, (hmmm, Dick or Dave?), and being able to run the school bus' stop sign! Now that can't possible be true--or can it?
And finally Deb remembers that out in the country, every now and then a storm would brew up and the next thing you know, the electricity would shut off. Not for just a few minutes, but for hours. She loved this time because the candles would all be lit up and pretty soon, headlights could be seen coming down her folk's driveway. You see, it was a great time for all the neighbors to get together, discuss the problem of no electricity and then just sit and enjoy each other's company. Yep, it was a more peaceful time, wasn't it?
Finally, as this column is getting quite lengthy, I went to St. Joseph's Catholic School. I think, thirteen kids in my class; Jim & John, two Toms, Delbert, Jean, Becky, Kathy, Lindi, Marlene, Susie and me. I am missing someone, but who???? Dang!
Well, if you know who it was that was in our class, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, call me at 319-327-4640 or catch up with me this weekend in Chelsea as we help celelbrate the 150th birthday of this great little town. Be Blest!!
Kudos to all who have worked so hard to put this celebration on. Thanks a million!!