TRAVELING IN THE 1930s
By Nadine Elwers
Earlier in an Attic, Nadine talked about her friendship
with Ogda Anderson. This article continues with the
challenges of travel to pay a visit.
This story would not be complete if I did not include
a description of how complicated a trip of only a
few miles in rural southwest Iowa could be in 1935.
First, the agreement had to be made in person and
the date and time established. We had no telephone
and neither did the Andersons. It was understood that
the visit could not happen if the weather did not
cooperate. When the dirt roads turned into mud, we
Iowa soil is particularly unforgiving when it turns
to mud. One Iowa farmer said "It's forty feet
Our Model A car had running boards and a box-like
container on them held spare parts and tools for changing
to a spare tire when needed, but there was no antidote
for being mired in mud.
From our farm location west of Waubonsie State Park,
a trip to Shenandoah was an all-day excursion reserved
for Jubilee Days or late summer trips for school supplies.
One year our car broke down and we had to stay overnight
in one of the cabins near the Sheridan Avenue and
Highway 59 intersection.
There was only one bed for the adults. We had brought
along kids who were relatives. I slept on the floor
with them and my sister, never dreaming that Shenandoah
would later become my hometown.
Travel improved when Highway 2 was extended from Highway
275 to Nebraska, through Waubonsie State Park. The
drainage ditch west of the Bluff Road was also built
at the same time when I was living there. I remember
my great grandmother Augusta Spiegel had a farm, which
the new Highway 2 bisected, and she was not very pleased.
But it did make travel easier.
Great grandmother Speigel's house is still there.
When you are going west from the park and come down
from the hills, cross the Bluff Road, then the ditch,
it is the first house on the left. My whole family
lived within a mile of her house. I was born in a
house a half a mile from hers in 1931 and lived there
until I started second grade in Central School in
Shenandoah, leaving Sunnyside country school (the
one now open for visitors at the Fremont County Historical
Society Museum complex), the school my mother and
grandmother had attended before me.
But the twists and turns of life and fate put me in
Fremont County again when my mother married Arthur
Kohler, whose farm was across the road from Page County
in the Fremont County area known as the Summit community
south of Shenandoah.
Those were the good old days but I certainly do not
miss the mud that plagued our travels.