Way back when . . . First in a series

Tressa Albert

(Editor’s note: The staff at Lime Springs Herald is doing some research for the 2018 Sesquicentennial of Lime Springs. Granted it is six years away, but time sneaks up on a person. The best stories are those that stand out in a person’s memory, so we are picking the brains of some of the oldsters around the area about early life in Lime Springs. Hopefully they will bring back memories to others as well. Give Marcie a call at 563-566-2687 or email evansppc@frontier net.net to share a story or picture.)

by Marcie Klomp

Tressa Albert has an amazing memory for someone who is 95-years-old.

She grew up a town kid, as her family, Curtis and Emma Tibbals with children Tressa, Effie, Frances, Edith and the twins Clarice and Curtis, lived above their business on Main Street. Curtis owned a restaurant with pool tables in the back (now KCDs). This was during the 1920s, Albert explained.

The business was open six days a week. Although her mother did most of the cooking, her father worked the stove. “Mother made homemade pie. And, one guy said we had the best t-bone steak you could eat for 50¢.”

The cooking talents have filtered down through the generations. Albert said all the girls in the family were good cooks and both her boys, John and Joe, “are wonderful cooks.”

It was a good business for the family. “I remember one Saturday at midnight hearing my father tell Mother ‘We had a good night. We took in $100.00’” At the time, it was probably a fortune.

Although Albert is mature today, there was a time when she got into some mischief. “When I was old enough, I got into things I shouldn’t—like the cash register. Grandpa would say, ‘I wouldn’t do that, Pet.’ He always called us his Pets.”





She thinks the back room held about four or five pool tables. “I used to set the balls up on the pool table.”

There was an inside stairway that led to their upstairs apartment, and “Uncle Charlie had a barber shop under the pool hall.”

The upstairs had a big coal and wood stove. Eighty years later, poor Tressa is still remembering how she had to carry wood up from the basement to their apartment—up both sets of stairs!

Before all the grain bins were erected, her mother enjoyed having a front row view of the depot and all the comings and goings associated with it from the back porch.

Next door west was the butcher shop (meat market, now Herald office). “It had a big ice house in back. They delivered ice to everyone.” She also remembers the pickle and the vinegar barrels. “The vinegar was in a big barrel. People brought a container and they pumped it out into the container.”

Next door east was Baerman’s jewelry store, where Mrs. Baerman had a millinery store. “Us kids were over there a lot. They were good friends of ours. He repaired watches and she had beautiful chinaware.”

Next to that was the hotel and later bakery. “I used to get a donut and they put a scoop of ice cream on it. I loved watching them shoot jelly into the bismarks.”

One night, when it was still a hotel, the fire whistle blew. The hotel was on fire and the flames were shooting across the window at Albert’s apartment. “We stayed at Curtis Moore’s.”

The Legion was next. That building used to be owned by Albert’s Uncle Charlie Tibbals. He and Grandpa Edward Tibbals lived upstairs. Dances were sometimes held in the downstairs.

Also along this stretch of Main Street was a shoe store at one time run by Gibb Moore.

And on the corner was Price & Williams Store. Going to Price’s store was always fun. The general store had everything from clothing to boots and shoes to yard goods to grocery items.

She thought Doctor Plummer had an office above the Price & Williams Store, but wasn’t positive.

She was sure there were three “hospitals” in town. One was at the Eddie Hughes house where she said surgeries were performed. Another was the maternity hospital which burned down (where Kenny Mensink lives). Another place women went to have babies was the Howard house (the old Valery Gebel house near Balk Lime & Ready Mix plant). The Howards also owned the bar (east of the Legion and west of the Clinic today) on Main Street. She remembers the Howard House quite well because she spent three days there when son John was born.

Across the street, in the empty lot of Johnson Comfort System, there was a barber shop, then a millinery shop and further down was the lumber yard.

In the lot just north of Johnson Comfort Systems was the theatre. “Phyllis Stevenson’s aunt played the piano during the silent movies.” She and others like her were the first sound tracks to movies. She would play scary music during scary moments and playful music during fun moments.

She recalls the Easter Fire of 1927. Although she was just 10 years old, she remembers being at church in Chester when the pastor told the congregation there was a big fire in Lime Springs and anyone who wanted to leave was able to do so. “My dad and grandpa both had businesses, so we left for Lime Springs in the car.”

When Tressa got married to Lorraine Albert in 1940, he gave her money to purchase a cedar chest from the furniture store (Curt Tienter’s General Store). Next door, toward the corner, was the bank (Lindstrom Funeral Chapel).

One of the most famous people to come from Lime Springs was W.C. Brown. He was president of the railroad and spent his summers in Lime Springs with his wife, since both grew up here. Tressa remembers the Browns had a Negro cook. “She walked to the butcher shop, and I made friends with her. She would hold my hand and walk me to their house.”

They would walk on the brick walkway from the west side of the meat market (Herald office) to the depot. Some of those bricks can still be seen today in the gravel at A&K. They would continue past the tracks to the Brown House (now Jason Dietz home).

The train was very special to those in the small towns along its route. In the late 1930s, Tressa recalls going to Cresco on the “Dinky,” an engine with a small car, that traveled between Austin, Minn. and Calmar. “We could get on the Dinky in the morning and for 50¢ go to Cresco and back. We had all day to shop.”

The inside of the depot had benches and Tressa recalls hearing the telegraph clicking in the background.

Some holiday memories include going to the church program, which each church had at Christmas. Her family always had a tree—one they chopped down from a ditch. Her dad would tell her of the hard times he lived through when all he received in his stocking was an orange.

It’s hard to imagine a Lime Springs such as what Tressa Albert has described, but it’s true. Learn more interesting facts in the next part in the series.


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