Way Back When—Corwin Goodman

Corwin and Anita Goodman

(Editor’s note: After a busy summer, the popular series, “Way back when . . .” is being brought back.)

By Marcie Klomp

Corwin Goodman didn’t necessarily walk to school uphill both ways but “way back when” he and his twin sisters did walk one-and-a-half miles to the country school Chester #7.

“It wasn’t much of a road,” Goodman recalled, of the route to school, especially during winter. “Ben Watson came with the caterpillar, and he couldn’t even go down the road, so he made a path in the field. And forget about cars in winter. We used horses and [sleds].”

Even in the cold of winter the Goodmans walked to school. “We walked on top of the snow, which was sometimes above the telephone poles!” Goodman related.

He commented today school is delayed or cancelled due to fog or snow. Back in the day, students went to school every day. He recalled one storm. “Dad harnessed the horses and us kids got under the blanket.” He drove to neighbor Charlie Anderlik’s farm. Charlie sat up front with Paul, and his children, Harold and Marian, climbed under the blanket with the Goodmans.

It was hard to see in the storm, and Corwin could hear the men saying they didn’t know where they were at. It must have been frightening, squinting through the swirling snow knowing their precious cargo had faith their fathers would find their way.

Finally Corwin heard, “There’s the [Anderlik] grove.” They had made a circle and didn’t know it. That was one day the kids didn’t go to school!

Earlier this year, a couple young boys could be seen playing. One boy laid on a creeper [the device used to wheel under a car] and was being pulled by the other boy on a bike. It looked dangerous, but no more than what kids did “way back when.”

Corwin remembers him and his sisters getting skis in 1937. As luck would have it there wasn’t any snow . . . or hills. The next year, there was plenty of snow, so the siblings took Jennie the mule out. “We had a trip rope on each side to pull us and the third one would ride the mule.” One sister didn’t stop in time and her ski hit the back of the mule and broke. “Then she only had one ski,” Corwin smiled.

That called to mind one Christmas when his sisters each got a Bible for Christmas and he didn’t get anything. “I was feeling bad and Dad asked if I wanted to go hunting.” You can imagine the grumbling going on in the young Goodman’s mind.

At the time, the family just had a 16 gauge shotgun. Then his dad brought out a .22 bold-action rifle!

Nowadays kids look forward to age 14 when they can get their permit. When Corwin was growing up, kids looked forward to being able to see over the steering wheel.

“There were no driver’s licenses. When I was 10-years old, we’d take the back seat out of the car and we’d put the cream in the back of the car and I’d drive to town.” At the time he was already nearing six-foot tall. “In fact, we used to put veal calves back there and take them to the sales barn.”

Growing up on a farm, it was a treat to go into town. He remembers going to concerts in town during the summer. At Christmas, a large Christmas tree was set up in the middle. Corwin remembers riding on the back of Junior Anderlik’s Indian motorcycle. As they were riding by the tree Junior lost control, “and we slid under the tree!”

Corwin never went skinny dipping at Lidtke Mill, but admitted to a much “cooler” way of skinny floating. He and his friends would play in the creek at the Vrieze [Lee Ruggeberg] place and lay on the ice berg naked and float to the next one and jump off. They floated to the next bridge at the Hollis Jones place.

The family mostly shopped at Tom Price’s store since they both attended the Presbyterian Church in Lime Springs. The store had grocery and clothing. “We got all our shoes there.”

At the Leader Store, another grocery store, there were punch boards, a form of gambling.

The biggest treat of all was when his dad came home from town. “Tom Price always gave Dad a little sack of candy for the kids.” One day, Paul brought home a whole bushel of candy! A candy truck had overturned, dumping its sweet contents on the ground. Some nearby pigs were making pigs of themselves.

Mr. Goodman saw his opportunity and dumped out his bushel basket that was full of apples into the back seat and started collecting as much candy as he could. “At that time, charcoal gum had just come out and half the basket was full of charcoal gum!”

The family also shopped in Chester at Hank Stevensen’s hardware. “If he didn’t have it, he’d get it,” Corwin said. He remembers attending funerals at the Catholic Church, which is the now Roger Reicks home. “The congregation was more than the church could hold so they built a new one [St. Stephen’s Catholic Church].

He attended one year of high school, but in that one year, 1940, he helped build the football field that was located where Spring Apartments are now. “We made the goal posts out of wood in Manual Training.” They also marked off the field.

Twenty years later he helped carry stuff out of the high school when it burned in March 1960.

When he was 16, Goodmans and some friends were ice skating when his mother called them inside and told them Pearl Harbor had been attacked. After that, many folks went to the Lime Springs Theatre to get pictures of the war, which were run before the feature. A few years later, Corwin joined the Marines for two years.

Corwin remembers roller skating at the rink in Brown Park with his first wife, Carolyn. They had three children, Allen, Michael and Marie. After she passed, he married Anita. They celebrated their 50th anniversary last year. The couple had two children, Brian and Doris. All the children were raised just across the field from where Corwin grew up and just west of Hayden Prairie. In 1964 he paid $150 per acre. Brian and his family now live there.

In his mind’s eye, Corwin can see Hayden Prairie as it once was—”a nice, clean hay field. Now it’s going to weed and brush.”

Corwin said Bill Armstrong bailed hay in the prairie. Then it was given/sold by England heirs to the State of Iowa as a state preserve. “I was there when people came and said no plow had touched the ground. But it did. If there was a fire, they’d plow around it to put it out.”

He also worked for Armstrong at the stock yards and in the fields. He farmed 1,000 acres.

Things have changed a lot since Corwin was a young lad growing up on the prairie. One thing he misses may seem strange, but he misses the built in garbage disposal they had on the farm—namely the hogs! “You had some watermelon rinds and you’d just throw them to the hogs,” he laughed. He probably doesn’t miss milking cows by hand. All in all, he reflects, it was a good life, “way back when.”

 

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