Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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The Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
Sunday, May 15, 2011
by Richard Johnson

Meservey: A great little town

MESERVEY -- For years, Watermelon Day was the big annual celebration in Meservey.

"We could have all we wanted," said Ruth WADDINGHAM, 94, a 1934 graduate of the former Meservey High School. "They cut us slices and we just ate it," she said.

That was when Meservey had a Chevy garage, a hotel, at least three implement dealers, a stockyard, a hatchery, two grocery stores, a hardware store, a pool hall, a telephone office and a roller rink - and you could buy candy at Mel SMITH'S counter in the Post Office.

There are just a few businesses left in the city of about 252 in southwest Cerro Gordo County.

There's nowhere to fuel up or get groceries, to the dismay of Meservey native Sylvia RAEKER, 90.

"We need a gas station and a convenience store," she said. "I think it would work. Just can't make it too big."

Hope is hard to squash.

And there's plenty of it here as residents prepare for the city's 125th birthday party on Saturday and Sunday, July 2-3.

There will be twice as many fireworks as normal on July 2 in Meservey, which is known for its annual Independence Day fireworks display.

"A lot of people come to the fireworks from all over. Best around," Mayor Richard MILLER said.

"It's our home," Ruth WADDINGHAM said. "Our only home."

"Great little town," Sylvia RAEKER said.

  Brothers George and Karl KAUS of Hampton bought and platted prairie land in 1886. They paid less than $4 an acre for the area, named Kausville, according to a city history at www.meserve.org/stories.htm.

Stillman T. MESERVEY of Fort Dodge promoted the Mason City & Fort Dodge Railroad Co., established in 1888, a year after the city was re-platted as Meservey in his honor.

Meservey was incorporated in 1893. Still, a weathered Kausville Café sign remains atop a boarded-up business on First Street.

Long-timers love that history.

Ruth WADDINGHAM'S eyes sparkle as she recalls Saturday evening music sessions back in the day.

There was a band: Ruth on saxophone and her late husband, Wayne, on drums. They earned 50-cents each to play on a hayrack.

"Just a Meservey bunch they got together," Ruth said.

Sylvia RAEKER played in the stockyard and on the fire escape at the old Meservey school.

Tramps camped in the stockyard and often ate breakfast at Sylvia's house.

"My dad never turned anybody away," she said.

She also remembers a visit by men believed to be part of John DILLINGER'S infamous gang.

"My husband (Robert) put gas in their car," she said. "Robert noticed guns in the backseat."

~ ~ ~ ~

Donna's Lounge is still going strong (try the prime rib on Friday nights).

So are the MaxYield Cooperative, First Security State Bank, the Meservey Public Library and DCKR Horse Racing/SCHMALE Feed & Commodities, among other businesses in Meservey.

The American Legion and Legion Auxiliary post presents the big July Fourth fireworks program along with the Meservey Fire Department.

Nate PALS, 78, a former firefighter and City Councilman, leads the Meservey Area Promotional Organization (MAPO).

Sylvia RAEKER is president of the senior citizens' Golden Years Club, which meets the first and third Tuesdays of each month at the Legion hall.

"I'm retired but I'm on 101 things," she said. "That's what happens when you're retired. But it's fun. I enjoy it."

Why Meservey?

  • Home of William SCHMALE American Legion Post and Auxiliary Unit No. 171.

  • Home of DCKR Horse Racing. Owner Vern SCHMALE owns and raises thoroughbred horses that race at Prairie Meadows near Altoona. His horse Good and Gold was voted 3-year-old Filly of the Year in 2008 by the Iowa Thoroughbred Association.

  • Former home of the Meservey High School Rockets and Rockettes. The 6-on-6 girls basketball team reached the state tournament in 1950, 1957 and 1958.

  • Al DORENKAMP, an All-American linebacker for Central College's 1975 NCAA Div. III champion football team, was raised on a farm 3 1/2 miles from Meservey and attended the former Meservey-Thornton High School. He's in his 13th year as Central's athletic director. "I really value my upbringing and roots in the Meservey-Thornton area," DORENKAMP said.

    Some points of interest

  • Allbee Construction.
  • American Legion Post No. 171
  • Bonners Farmers Livestock Market, Inc.
  • DCKR Horse Racing and SCHMALE Feed & Commodities.
  • Donna's Lounge.
  • First Reformed Church.
  • First Security Bank & Trust.
  • FrontierNet Internet service.
  • KOEHLER Electronics.
  • LAUEN & Son Construction Co.
  • LTC Resources.
  • MaxYield Cooperative.
  • Meservey Cemetery.
  • Meservey City Hall and Fire Department.
  • Meservey Public Library.
  • Meservey Schoolhouse Park.
  • Needle & Thread Designs.
  • RETZ GRARUP Funeral Home.
  • Salem Methodist Church.
  • U.S. Post Office.
    Quasquicentennial schedule of events
    The schedule of events for Meservey's quasquicentennial celebration, Saturday and Sunday, July 2-3:

    Saturday, JULY 2

  • Early-morning 5K run.
  • 10 a.m., parade.
  • Sand co-ed volleyball, 3-on-3 basketball, cribbage, and bean bag-toss tournaments.
  • 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Pork Producers lunch; bagpipe music by the Turlach Ur Pipe Band of Grinnell; cloggers; the Spin Cycles unicyclists of Kanawha; entertainment by the FISCHER Family; kids' santioned pedal tractor-pull; kids' carnival games and relay races; car show; Jim JAYES, professional puppeteer and magician; young dance performers; music by Cabin Fever.
  • 5 to 8:30 p.m., kids' rides on the Smiley Face Train; music by Remix; ox feed dinner (roast beef cooked in a hole).
  • 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., music by Lost Highway.
  • Raffle: for a 42-inch big-screen TV, quilt, and carved wooden duck.
  • Dusk, fireworks.


  • 9 a.m., church service in Meservey Schoolhouse Park.
  • 10:30 a.m., pancake breakfast.
    NOTE: A reunion of persons who graduated from Meservey High through 1962 is Friday, July 1 at the First Reformed Church fellowship hall. A social hour is from 5 to 6 p.m., followed by a catered dinner.

    - See meserveyia.com or send email to meservey parade2011@gmail.com for more information.

    Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2011



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