Way Back When . . . Kenny Jones

By Marcie Klomp

There have been a lot of folks who have grown up in the Lime Springs area but Kenny Jones is one of the few to be able to say he grew up in town. And at age 93 he remembers “way back when!”

He grew up in a house that used to sit on property now owned by Brian Bakken in northeast Lime Springs, with his twin brothers and mother. His father died during a flu epidemic six months before he was born.

At that time, his grandmother came to live with them. In those days, living wasn’t as expensive as it is today, so the family was able to survive on very little. Six years later, his mother remarried.

Unlike kids today who are bored all the time, Jones said there was always something to do in town. “I was out every night, and us kids would ram around. It was different from in the country.”

He remembers rollerskating on the cement sidewalks (which were in better repair than they are today). But he spent most of his time at Old Town. “I about lived down at the river!” And there was a lot to do, including ice skating in the winter and swimming in the summer.

Jones let the writer in on a secret. “We swam with no clothes. There was an ice house by Richie Jones’ house and the girls would come down and check on us boys!” he recalled.

“There used to be houses all along the road going out to the river.” Most of them are gone—either moved to the “new town” of Lime Springs or torn or fallen down.

He and his friends would walk down there, or in the winter they’d hitch a ride on a sled. “The farmers came with their sleigh and horses and we’d catch a ride,” he said.

One of the chores Jones had was to mow the lawn. Back then, folks didn’t mow everything like they do today. They would just mow close to the house, although he did admit some lawns were kept better than others. “Nobody had money. They couldn’t hire anyone to do anything,” he added.

“Every day we’d go down to get meat for dinner at Ryce Jones’ meat market.” The family also shopped at Price & Williams’ store.

“There were a lot of stores at that time. Now we don’t have any,” he observed.

Ryce butchered his own meat at the slaughter house, just up the hill from Ryon Bros. “The government stopped that. Everything had to be inspected and there was too much red tape.”

Just past the slaughter house is Pleasant Hill Cemetery. Jones remembers how Decoration Day (Memorial Day) was a big day. “Andy Jensen cleaned up his truck and came and drove the kids up to the cemetery. There used to be a sidewalk that went there, too. Part of it is still there.” On July 4 the town had a parade many years.

Those were big events once a year, but the big event that took place every day was when the train came through. Folks would gather at the depot to see who or what was getting off in Lime Springs.

Curt Moore was the depot agent. He lived across from C US Bank and had three boys, who he had to keep busy. The family had a couple cows. In summer, the cows were kept on part of the Jones’ eight acres. “The boys would put a batch of feed down in the field and milk the cow right there. The cows were pretty tame.”

In the winter, the cows were kept in the barn on the Jim Thomas property. There was a pasture nearby at the time.

Jones said most everybody had a cow and chickens—just enough for their own use.

He attended both grade school and high school in Lime Springs. It was located at the site of the present school. He played basketball and kitten ball (a form of softball). There was no football during his years at LSHS. Jones graduated at age 16. Of the 14 graduates, there are two still living!

After graduation he worked at VanderBie Hardware and got paid the big buck! “Benny Davis and I worked from 7:00 in the morning until 6:00 at night. On Wednesday and Saturday nights, we worked until 11:00.

“At 11:00 we started shutting lights off, then people would start doing their shopping. They didn’t do it earlier. We got paid one dollar a day!”

His first car was a Model A. “Smoke came up through the floor boards,” Jones remembers. “It cost $75.00. I paid $50.00 down and paid the rest later.”

At the age of 20, the “city” boy was getting countrified. Jones rented a farm. It was quite the change since the farm didn’t have electricity or plumbing!

He rented for six years and then purchased the farm in York Township. He married his high school sweetheart, Genevieve Arneson, in 1940, and the couple raised a daughter who attended school in Harmony. Because of that, much of their business was transacted there.

He started out farming with an old tractor, but his step-dad got one, and the two worked together.

The Jones’ retired and moved into his present home in 1980. For 10 years the couple wintered in Texas.

Jones has seen a lot of changes over the years. The cost of things is the one that comes to mind first. He is surprised at the cost of land and crops. He purchased his farm for $125 per acre or about $20,000. “Now $20,000 gets you two acres!” He also remembers beans at $2.00 per bushel and corn at $1.50.

Just think how things will change in the next 90 or so years!

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2 Responses

  1. Marcie,
    I really enjoyed this article about Kenny Jones and his growing up in LS.
    Kenny graduated from LSHS about 2 years before I started grade school, so there are some things that he talked about that I don’t remember. I do remember his Mother, step-father and brother Albert when they lived in the last residence on the west side of north Merrill Street. W.R, Williams was one of their neighbors across the street.
    Growing up in small towns was a great life in the early 1900s. I am sure it is still good today but entirely different. Back then, as Kenny pointed out, there were many business places where you could purchase nearly anything that you needed, ie. 4 grocery stores, 4 gas stations, a drug store, a dentist, 2 Doctors, a hardware store, 2 produce houses (chickens and eggs), furniture store and funeral home, stockyards, grain elevator and on and on. And of course there were a pretty large number of youth, so we had a school with 8 elementary grades and a 4 year high school.
    Thanks for publishing this article.

    Burton (Bud) Nagel
    LSHS class of 1950

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