Way back when . . . Third in a series

Dale Reis reminisces about how things used to be while at his barber shop in Lime Springs.(Editor’s note: In preparation of Lime Springs’ Sesquicentennial in 2018, the Herald is asking residents to remember ‘Way back when . . .’)

Dale Reis has been barbering in Lime Springs for over 50 years—53 to be exact. He’s also lived in or near the town since he was knee high to a grasshopper, and he’s got some tales to tell about what it was like “Way back when . . .”

He has always been interested in hunting and fishing since he was a small boy growing up on the family farm two miles west and one mile north of Lime Springs. He isn’t sure how he got the itch since his father didn’t hunt or fish.

Maybe it was his mother, who he remembers helping him set traps (because he wasn’t strong enough). She would set the trap, and he would walk it nearly half-a-mile to the spring. “I never caught anything, though.”

Well that was then. Just a few years later, he gained some strength and could set his own traps. “The first thing I caught was a muskrat by the country school. I got $1.25 for it.” His best catch in those young days was when he was in sixth grade. “I caught a mink that was worth $27.00! I sent into Sears Roebuck and got a pair of boots and a plaid wool jacket with a zipper. I even had a little left over. I thought I was king!” Reis recalls. Skunks were $2.50.

The muskrat and mink were fall catches. In the summer he went after the dime bounty for gophers. “For a dime, you could get a couple bottles of pop in them days.”

He remembers attending school through eighth grade at the country school where the sub station is located east of town. There was one teacher for eight grades and the school had about 30 students each year. Going to grade school, children took their lunches. “If we wanted it warm in the winter, we set it by the stove to warm it up.”

Back in 1937, he said his dad got the farm for $5,000 with a $5.00 downpayment. The family farmed like the Amish.

“We didn’t have electricity until right after the second world war.”

Young Reis helped on the farm. “I remember when I wasn’t yet a teenager going to Lidtke Mill with a team of horses and steel wheel wagon to get feed. We’d probably have sacks of oats, and they would grind it. We would mix it with milk and feed the slop to the pigs. Herman Lidtke [the miller] made it a fun time. He was an interesting character with plenty of jokes, a jolly sort of guy.”

Reis’ dad farmed with horses, which put him closer to the ground, which allowed him to find an Indian spear head.

“Indians always interested me, and I wanted to find [artifacts] myself. I found my first in my early 20s when [son] Larry and I were walking across a field to go fishing. After that, I walked corn fields, taking three to four rows at a time. I started finding quite a few.” Many of his collection are displayed on the walls of his barbershop.

You can also find small game and fish that he has reserved through his taxidermy profession.

He observed how fishing and hunting have changed since his childhood. “Back then, there was so much more habitat, and the river was deeper. There were sloughs with long grass and brush. Now it is filled with sand and silt.” It seems odd, but Reis said he never saw a deer until 1948, but there were a lot of pheasants and rabbits. Habitats have changed for the small game.

Reis recalls going to Cresco on the train as a child to see his grandmother. He thought it cost a dime (the same as a gopher!). “It was an experience.”

He remembered when some classmates were in sixth or seventh grade. “They were hanging out by the tracks. When the train would go by, the engineer always had his head out the window. They threw a piece of coal and beaned him. He was knocked out until Bonair. They had railroad detectives here and they solved the crime.” He figured the boys were pretty scared after that.

Reis’ freshman year of 1947 was the first year there were buses to take the country kids to school. At the high school, there were hot lunches available. In 1951, he graduated with 18 others. “We had a class reunion in August and four or five of us have died.”

After high school, Reis worked for Harvey Moldt at the lumberyard in 1952, or so. “I shoveled coal from a railroad car that sat on the siding for $25. We put it in the coal sheds. One kind was briquettes which is compressed dust. It was a fine coal and regular lumps. When it was delivered, we had to wet it down so the dust wouldn’t fill their basement. The lumberyard had a metal chute to deliver it.”

“I heard tell when people were poor, the train would stop, and it took a long time to speed up. Some guys would throw coal off and then pick it up later.”

So ends another chapter in reminiscings of Lime Springs. Look for another issue next month.

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