Way back when . . .

Mildred Stevenson recalls growing up in rural Lime Springs and attending country school.

(Editor’s note: In preparation of Lime Springs’ Sesquicentennial in 2018, the Herald is asking residents to remember ‘Way back when . . .’)

Mildred Stevenson has a different perspective than young folks when talking about Aladdin lamps. She remembers way back when “We thought they were the brightest light at the time. Electricity was definitely a change for the better!”

She was born near Saratoga and remembers the family looked at the farm just outside of Lime Springs on Pearl Harbor Day. “We had a car radio at that time.”

Much of Stevenson’s recollections center around school as she graduated from Lime Springs High School in 1947, went to Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls for two years and then taught school for the next 37 or so years.

She and her five brothers attended grade school at the one-room school two miles east of Lime Springs at the electric sub station. The family would walk one-and-a-half miles to school. There was just one teacher for all the grades and 15-20 students. Gassers also lived in that area.

She remembers, “Back then, the teacher would stay with a farmer not far from the school.” She said on Lucile Jones’ farm was where one of the teachers lived.

One of the favorite jobs of the students was to walk to a nearby farm to bring water to the schoolhouse. “It got us out of school for a while and if you were lucky, somebody who lived there might give you a treat . . . whatever they were baking for the day.”


Another treat was when mothers would bring some Spanish rice for everyone. “Then we’d have a hot meal.”

The Stevensons didn’t get a reprieve when they went to school in Lime Springs. It was still about a mile-and-a-half of walking.

She recalled how everyone had to take Latin. “Mrs. Owen was the Latin teacher. I remember during a test, Joyce Jones had her book open in her desk and she’d bring it out to look at it!”

While Stevenson never had a favorite class, she did have a least favorite, or maybe it didn’t like her. “I got better grades in music when I didn’t go than when I did! I was not good at music,” she joked.

Her life wasn’t just devoted to school. As the only girl, Stevenson would help out around the house and leave the outside chores to her brothers.

One of the favorite things for families to do on Saturdays was make a trip into town. But the Stevenson family was a little different. They didn’t go to Lime Springs, they went to Riceville. “My mother had relatives in Riceville, and we went there to stores to shop.” They also sat on the street and watched the people go by.

“Maybe we’d get an ice cream cone. It seems silly now, but it was good back then.”

As for Main Street Lime Springs, she recalls, “All the stores had something in them. There was the drug store and Mrs. Van Rhee had clothes and there were several taverns.”

On Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was called then, a parade, beginning with the band, would start at the school and walk to Pleasant Hill Cemetery. She noted there was a sidewalk going to the cemetery in those days. Then, as today, there was music and a speaker. Now the program is held indoors at the Community Center, with a short ceremony at Pleasant Hill.

Another special time was the Easter sunrise service that was held at Hogs Back, just east of Old Town. The youth held the service. She doesn’t remember why it was held at Hogs Back, but it was a tradition.

Stevenson is always up for remembering the “good ole days.” Anyone wishing to reminisce with her can do so at her residence at Cresco Care Center.



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