Fremont County, Iowa

A Father’s Day Tribute
by Lois J. Whitehead
View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
June 13, 2015

I grew up in the 50’s and Father’s Day makes me think of life back then and how much my father was a part of it.

As a teenager I never dreamed I would someday write a tribute to my father for Father’s Day as at the time I thought his goal in life was to ruin mine. I was full of energy and wanted to go places and do things and most often his answer was “no” which I took as a maybe and kept on working on him.

It wasn’t until later that I realized how much he loved his children and wanted to protect us. I can see that now by the things we did together.

One summer I remember riding on the back of a big work horse when he took the team and mower to Sedgewick country school (just east of Hamburg) to mow the lawn while I played on the swings. I generally walked to this school during the school year passing only one house, that of Leta and Kenneth Smalley, where I took piano lessons. For a time we exchanged a pint of thick whipping cream (from our cows) each week for my lesson.

I liked going to the sale barn with my father, watching the animals, climbing the bleachers and listening to the auctioneer. He helped me make “play earrings” out of old buttons and string and placed them on my ears. I felt pretty. I went with him to Cary’s barber shop in Hamburg. It was in the basement on the corner with the flagpole and had a tile floor with a long row of seats where I would sit.

He taught me to hunt night crawlers. We’d go out in the back yard when it was good and dark. He held the flashlight and I grabbed the worms and put them in a can. I didn’t mind the slimy things and thought it was kind of fun.

We’d take these worms and go fishing often in the West Ditch just outside of Hamburg. He showed me the knots to use, baited my hook, sometimes tossed it out, and always took off any fish I caught. I liked to watch him skin them when we got home.

I also went with him to Nebraska City to a place by the river, I think it was called James Fish Market, where you could choose your fish from the cement tank. They would club it to kill it, then skin and wrap it in paper and then tie it with string. I remember the floor was always wet.

As a teenager, I occasionally got to go to the Colonial Theater in Hamburg. Other kids got to walk home especially in the summer when it was still light. Not me, I had to call my home, 34J, using the theater phone so my father could come and get me.

Probably the most surprising thing was that my Dad and I went shopping for my wedding dress. He gave me advice too. He said “Be sure you pick the right one because you are married for a long time.” Well I did pick the right one but I wasn’t married nearly long enough, my good husband died after 48 years.

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