Frumpfighter

Posts Tagged ‘Kanawha

When I was a kid, Easter was always a packed (yet wonderful) day. All of my grandparents lived in Kanawha, Iowa, about three hours from my hometown Williamsburg. We got there on Saturday because the sunrise service at my paternal grandmother’s Lutheran church started at 5:30 Easter morning.

My grandparents, Harold and Nettie Assink's house in Kanawha, Iowa.

My grandparents, Harold and Nettie Assink's house in Kanawha, Iowa.

There was a breakfast served by the church’s youth group who led the short service depicting the empty tomb from which Jesus had risen. After breakfast and visiting with my parents’ friends, we would go to my maternal grandparents’ house just a few blocks away and wait for the service at their Christian Reformed Church to begin at 9:30 a.m.

I do recall being rather sleepy many times during that service but the beautiful music and inspirational Easter message kept me awake. After that service and more visiting with friends and relatives, we went back to Grandma and Grandpa Assink’s house and prepared the Easter feast. And what a feast is was. Three or four courses. Salads. Desserts. Meat and potatoes.

Before the day was over, we headed to my Grandma Asbe’s on the farm and had another feast. It did not matter how much we ate earlier in the day, we all seemed up for more great home cooked food.  It truly was one of the most filling days of the year.

Things have obviously changed since I was a kid. Grandma Asbe died in 2000 and the farm was sold. Grandpa Assink died in 2004 but Grandma Assink stayed in the big yellow house on Main Street.

What my grandma's house looked like in the final stages of moving.

What my grandma's house looked like in the final stages of moving.

But the three-level house became just too big for her with the washer and dryer in the basement and the bedrooms and bathrooms on the third floor. So she made the decision to move into an apartment which could better suit her needs.

Last weekend was the monumental moving day. My parents and aunts and uncles from all over the country were there throughout most of the week, helping transfer 56 years of life in one house – 56 years. Three of my grandparents’ five daughters knew only that house as their parents’ and all of us grandkids knew no other.

My grandpa's hats, just as he left them, in an upstairs cabinet.

My grandpa's hats, just as he left them, in an upstairs cabinet.

I didn’t know how emotional I would be seeing it for the last time. In the past decade I didn’t go up there that often – once a year at most. I also knew it would be best for my grandmother to live in a single-level place close to some of her friends and family.

But when my brother and I walked in the house last Saturday, it was a jolt. Only the piano, dining room table and assorted boxes and piles of memories remained. Upstairs, I looked through the closets and built-in cabinets, snooping like I always did. In one cabinet sat my grandpa’s hats, untouched since before he died. In the basement grandpa’s woodworking bench remained as he left it. Grandma’s canning jars were lined up on the shelves, amazingly void of any dust.

Grandma Assink, always the character, enjoying pie in her new apartment.

Grandma Assink, always the character, enjoying pie in her new apartment.

As I walked through the house one last time, I thought of all those Easters and Christmases filled with love and laughter. My generation now has families and our kids are the same age we were while traipsing through grandma and grandpa’s house. I hope the people who end up buying the yellow house keep that family tradition alive. They have big shoes to fill. Just remember: the yellow house has been filled with children, music, food, love and laughter for more than 50 years. Please don’t let it be lonely for too long.

Advertisements

When I was a kid, I loved to look at my parents’ high school yearbooks. My dad graduated in 1963 and my mom in 1964 from Kanawha High School in north central Iowa.

The Jinx, as the KHS yearbook was called in those days, was filled with school pictures of boys with slick crew cuts and suits and girls with beehive hairdos. The candid shots revealed a clean-cut bunch who enjoyed football games and dances.

AP/The dance floor Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake as it looks today.

AP/The dance floor of the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake as it looks today.

One of their favorite destinations was the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, which was about 35 minutes from Kanawha. A group of teens would routinely head up to the popular dance hall on the weekends. My dad recalls how he and my mom made up for good at the Surf after one of their many high school boyfriend-girlfriend spats. He clearly remembers she was wearing a short red skirt that night.

AP/The poster commemorating the Winter Dance Party featuring Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson.

AP/A poster commemorating the Winter Dance Party featuring Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson.

He also remembers seeing such legends as Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash there. In 1959, my parents were a little young to join the crowd at the Winter Dance Party featuring Ritchie Valens, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Buddy Holly. But they do remember hearing about the plane crash near a corn field just outside Clear Lake that killed the three musicians as well as pilot Roger Peterson.

I always heard my parents talk about the dances at the Surf and didn’t quite understand why they were so special until my cousin’s wedding reception in February 2000. It wasn’t at the Surf, but at the ballroom in Duncan, a tiny town north of Kanawha. The hall was just beautiful with its hardwood dance floor. Outside it was a cold, desolate tundra on the vast Iowa plains. But inside it was alive with people of all ages dancing and having a great time.

I’ve been reading and watching with great interest about the activities in Clear Lake the past couple weeks, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the “day the music died.”  

Like I did while studying the pages of my parents’ yearbooks, I once again imagined what it was like to live in a simpler time. When I was a kid, I usually listened to my parents’ old albums – The Everly Brothers, The Mamas and the Papas and Peter, Paul and Mary.

Then albums were replaced by cassettes; cassettes by CDs; and CDs by downloads. In a time when technology makes it possible to socialize and keep entertained without ever stepping away from your computer, it’s comforting to know a ballroom in Iowa can still attract the attention and affection of people from all walks of life.


    follow me on Twitter

    Blog Stats

    • 55,664 hits

    Top Clicks

    • None
    December 2017
    M T W T F S S
    « Jun    
     123
    45678910
    11121314151617
    18192021222324
    25262728293031