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Summertime in Chelsea in the 60’s

The Way I See it

June 24, 2018
By John Sheda , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

School's out for summer! St. Joseph's Catholic School and the Chelsea Public School are officially closed for the summer months.

The town kids in Chelsea are free as birds. We've got the world by the tail and there's ball games to be played, cricks, creeks and rivers to explore, forts to be made and imaginations to run wild.

No cell phones, computers, Internet, smart phones, video games, cable TV or anything else that technology hasn't thought of yet. Heck, the only TV's we had were black and white, fuzzy and at least our picture in our home just seemed to roll up and down most of the time. Only three--Three Channels, 2, 7 & 9. Except for the educational channel, but who in their right mind watched that?

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John Sheda

Cartoons were only on Saturday mornings and Dr. Max & Mombo were on at 4 PM weekdays after school. But we had no time for either once summer was here! I also remember Marshal J on TV. Anyone remember him? And I did get the "Important Book" from Dr. Max. But enough of that. Summer's here!!

Mom & Dad are up. Every single day they get up at the crack of dawn. Mom brews the coffee and there they sit drinking their coffee and smoking their cigarettes. Dad smokes Luckies and Mom has her Viceroys. No meaningful socialization. Just sip on coffee and smoke another cigarette. After enough caffeine and nicotine gets into their system, they begin their day. It's now about 8:30 and I can hear the radio, KXEL or WMT, blaring throughout the house. Maybe some polka music, especially on Sunday mornings. Sundays were filled with the music of Leo Greco.

I jump out of bed, throw some cold water on my face, give the usual "good mornings" to the folks and then it's out the door and play, play, play.

"Hey," Dad yells, as the screen door slams behind me, "You better cut that &*^%^& grass today or you're in for it." "Ok Dad," I mutter, (without the least thought of mowing anything). We are the only people in Chelsea who still have an old push mower.

Everyone else has a power motor, but not us. Nope, Dad always picks up a used one at a sale and either the blade is too dull, the wheel won't turn or the handle is broken. Mowing our lawn, even though it was small, was a pain in the.....well you know!!

But once that screen door slams, I'm off till lunch time for sure. I'm on the bike and begin looking for my good ol' Chelsea friends. I know the Fetter kids are already up. Maybe we'll go swimming this afternoon. Mark Werner should be around by now. And Maholn Kaloupek, when he's done with his music lesson will be ready for the day.

Today will be a great day to get a baseball game going. Hope someone's got a good baseball to use. We lost Mahlon's good ball last week. The Trebons should be around as they live right next door to the school's diamond. Might even be able to get a couple of the Hepworths to join us. Chuckie Formanek my play too.

So it's a little baseball this morning and maybe either swimming this afternoon or exploring Otter Crick. And once evening gets here, we'll probably play tag, bicycle tag or Ghost & Goblins. What? You've never played Ghosts & Goblins? It's the best game right around sunset. Not sure how it got its' name but it's a little like tag but with that much more austere name. Then it's time to head home.

I popped in around lunch for a quick sandwich and Mom reminded me about the lawn. Drat! Then I popped back in again at supper time. We always ate at 5:30. Mmm..........Hamburgers and fried potatoes tonight! Mom makes the best fried potatoes. And vegetables.

Oh oh......Dad's home and no lawn mowed yet. So it's after supper and yup, there I am, mowing our little lawn. One wheel keeps getting stuck, the blade won't cut the grass, I'm all hot and sweaty and the Chelsea gang is getting ready for the evening of more fun. The mosquitoes are biting. How come they don't bite when I'm playing but when I'm mowing they attack me from all sides.

I get the front part done and yell at Dad, "Hey, Dad, I promise I'll get the back tomorrow. I promise." He yells something back at me, (probably have to confess that to the Priest), but assures me that tomorrow is my final chance to get it done.

So it's time to play again. Folks, Chelsea, Iowa in the late 50's & early 60's was the greatest place in the world. And guess what? Tomorrow night is "Band Concert" night. Can't wait for that! And what was your growing up like? Let me know at or call me at 319-327-4640. "Tag, you're it!:



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