Nichols, Iowa Centennial Book
Nichols - Our Town - 1984

Nichols, Iowa Centennial Book 1884-1984, pages 98-100

Nichols Day Program, Saturday, June 26, 1982
Event to be: * at School - ** Downtown

7:30 a.m. “Run for Fun” Marathon Registration **
8:00 a.m. Mixed Slo-pitch Tournaments *
9:00 a.m. “Fun for Fun” Marathon **
        Nichols Day T-shirts by Girl Scouts **
        Register for free Cocker Spaniel puppy
9:00 a.m.-4 p.m. Arts & Crafts Show **
9:30 a.m. Ping Pong Ball Drop (at New Park)
9:45 a.m. Volleybal games (at New Park)
         Horse Shoe Pitch (at New Park)
10:00 a.m. St. Mary’s Food Stand (at Grain Bins)
11:00 a.m. Big Wheel Races for children at Bank **
        Beer Tent **
        Food Stand at Beer Tent **
         Nichols Day Souvenirs for sale at Beer Tent
        Food Stand by AIFS Students **
12:00 noon Parade Line-up at Bins with Judging complete by 12:30
1:00 p.m. Parade Begins
2:00 p.m. Bingo (at Fire Station) **
        Food Stand in Methodist Church Basement
2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Childrens Games *
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Cakewalk **
4:00 p.m. Bed Races (sponsored by Community Club) **
6:00 p.m. “Gryphon” Rock Band **
9:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. FREE Street Dance with **
         “Nashville Express” Band
10:30 p.m. NCDC Raffle Drawing **
         Free puppy drawing

         Nichols Day, Saturday, June 26 found me leaving the house at 7 a.m. because it was my responsibility to see that the tables needed for the cake walk, sponsored by the CWF of the Christian Church, were in place. It was cool and very cloudy with more than a hint of rain in the air. As I walked toward the car I glanced out across the soybean field north of the driveway and stopped dead in my tracks. Floating serenely about 30 inches above the beans was a large pink balloon. Despite a rather muddy field from rain the night before and delaying my departure, I retrieved the balloon and found a tag attached to the string with the address Zion Lutheran Church, Marengo, Illinois.
         “Well,” I thought, “maybe this is a good omen!”
         I hurried into town where a lot of people were already busy at preparations for the day’s activities.
         After locating the tables and getting them in place, I spent some time browsing among the arts and crafts exhibitors that had tables in the downtown park. This year the NCDC committee had expanded the rules enough to allow arts and crafts exhibitors from other communities to take part, as well as local people. There was a wide variety of items shown: ceramics, hand crafted items made of wood; macramé and hand woven items; lawn ornaments and others. I couldn’t help but notice that chickens are a hot item in the craft field this year. There were chicken baskets in different sizes, cloth covered stuffed chickens in all colors; and an unusual item I hadn’t seen before consisting of chicken wire stretched across a box-like frame and behind the wire a stuffed hen and eggs in a nest.
         The Run for Fun participants were busy getting registered; 180 signed up and all who pre-registered received a T-shirt and certificate. The winners in the various age groups received trophies.
         I noticed at the start of the race that, by coincidence the oldest entrant, 68 year old Madeleo Blake, Letts, white haired and with a white beard, was just a step ahead of the youngest entrant, Uby Martinez, age 7, a well built little boy with black, curly hair and snapping dark eyes. I talked with both of these runners after the race. Madeleo finished the race in 46 minutes 32 seconds. He said he felt good with that time and another, much younger participant spoke up and said, “Believe me, that is an excellent time.” Madeleo runs and jogs every day, even this past winter he never missed a day of running, although he said he didn’t run as far when the weather was severe. He takes part in running events all over this corner of the state, going as far as Galesburg, Illinois. He enjoys biking and has been on the RAGBRAI ride eight times. Before he became interested in biking and running, he did a lot of horseshoe pitching.
         Uby Martinez, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ignacio Martinez, Conesville, made it half way through the race and then dropped out. He has been in two other races this year and plans to enter several more. He started entering races when he was 5, and said his practicing consists of running home from the babysitter’s several times each week.
         The runners enjoyed almost ideal running conditions. It was cloudy and cool and almost no wind.
         A quick glance at my watch told me I should be at the new park for the ping pong drop; in fact, it was only because the plane was a little late that I made it in time.
         The mixed slo-pitch tournament had been under way since 8 a.m. As I sat in the park, the chatter on the ball diamond drifted across with an occasional yell of delight at a well placed hit.
         Children were playing on the swings and slides and one of the most popular attractions was the pitcher pujp. There was hardly a time a youngster wasn’t at the pump. I watched one little girl, about 5, completely intrigued with how the pump worked. She stationed herself so she was at eye level with the pump spout, then stretched her arm as far as she could to work the handle. Fortunately she couldn’t get enough leverage on the handle to get any water. When she decided that wasn’t going to work, she just started pumping water for the fun of it, watching it splash on the cement.
         We could hear the plane in the distance and the kids quickly deserted the pump and the play equipment. The plane, piloted by Brian Connell, came in very low from the south for a practice run, then circled the field and again swept low over the park and released the 500 ping pong balls right on target. There was a scramble of kids gathering up the balls to be turned in for a prize, sponsored by the Nichols Community Club. All but 21 of the 500 balls were turned in. One of the prizes was a black spider ring. I have a feeling somewhere in the community, some mother is going to about pass out when she sees a huge, glossy black spider in the drawer with her kids’ clothes, only to discover it is the prize he/she won in the ping pong ball drop.
         Back uptown for another Community Club sponsored event, the first year for the Big Wheel races. This was held on the driveway of the Farmers and Merchants Savings Bank, with the starting line at the north entrance and the finish line at the south exit. The entrants were divided into groups riding Big Wheels and those riding tricycles. The first race was for 3 and 4 year olds on Big Wheels; Mark Mills was the winner. The second race had to be divided into two heats of four participants each, age 5 and 6. Andy Christofferson won the first heat and Jody Albrecht won the second. In the run-off race Jody took the lead, kept low in the first turn, but Andy was gaining fast as they neared the finish line. However Jody was able to maintain her lead and crossed the finish line as the winner. Katina Kaalberg won the first of the tricycle races and in the last tricycle race there were just two participants. A disappointed Brett Green encountered mechanical problems with his vehicle and had to drop out of the race so Matt Green was the winner.
         The clouds that had been threatening a good part of the morning had cleared, the sun was shining and it was getting a little warm, a lovely June day in Iowa.
         I had planned to go directly to the grain bins where the parade was lining up and get a lunch at the food stand there sponsored by St. Mary’s Altar and Rosary Society. Justas I was starting out I saw Mr. and Mrs. Curtis James, West Liberty, and Alberta Kelly going into the restaurant, so I stopped there to talk with them. Alberta, a Nichols resident, has held open house at her home since the first Nichols Day in 1976. However, late last year Alberta suffered a fall that hospitalized her for several weeks and then necessitated her to live at Simpson Memorial Home in West liberty for the winter. It was good to see her at Nichols Day and she said they were going to her home and watch the parade from the front porch.
         Organized confusion reigned at the parade line up site. The St. Mary’s lunch stand had been doing a good business, although they said things had been a little slow early in the day but once parade entries started arriving they were busy. The theme of the parade this year was “Friends and Neighbors” and Hub Elder, West Liberty, despite the fact he also had suffered illness and a hip injury this winter, was once again in charge of the lineup procedure. Hub’svoice could be heard shouting instructions and as one o’clock neared, he was calling out, “Come on, folks, we want this to start on time, get in there.” The pre-judging had been completed earlier and Hub saw the parade got started right on time. Grand marshals Clarence “Whitey” Hillyer and his wife, Gladys, looking sharp in their red, white and blue outfits were in the convertible driven by Vic Mills.
         Neighboring communities were well represented with entries in the parade coming from West Liberty, Atalissa, Lone Tree, Columbus Junction, Conesville and Muscatine.
         The Kaaba Temple Shriners were present. They always add a lot of fun to the parade with their funny cars and the routines they go through. The MahassanWheelers, Davenport, riding the old fashioned high front wheeled bicycles, were in the parade, along with numerous other bikes, mopeds, etc. interspersed throughout the lineup.
         St. Mary’s Catholic Church float carried out the “Friends and Neighbors” theme by depicting a goup of neighbors gossiping, no, no, visiting over a picket fence. The Nichols Community Club float showed the scene of an old fashioned ice cream social.
         There was the Sawdust Saloon Queen and her court using the theme from the song “They Get Better Looking at Closin’ Time,” featuring a Dolly Parton type without quite so much blond hair, however, and several other “ladies.”
         The Hatfield-McCoy float had a cardboard replica of an outhouse, complete with half moon in the door hanging by one hinge. They started out with an old fashioned wash tub set on a stump, but just as they turned out of the gate at the starting point, they lost the washtub and couldn’t stop to retrieve it.
         Another float, pulled by an old Farmall tractor , had an old walking plow and several people dressed in old fashioned costumes with a sign that stated, “We may be an antique and we may be slow but we get there!”
         Santa and his reindeer were with us again this year and Santa bore a surprising resemblance to Mandeleo Blake.
         The band, sponsored by the Farmer’s and Merchant’s Savings Bank of Lone Tree, won the BAMM award given by the Apropos Club. They played throughout the parade and then for a time at the intersection near the downtown park. This group, spur of the moment named “Von Crawford and His Hot Licks,” was made up of Von Crawford, organizer, Nichols; Keith Crawford, Sharrard, Illinois; Bill Crawford, Lone Tree; Raymond Lorack, Lone Tree; Gayle Kaalberg, West Liberty; and Lyle Beaver and another fellow from Iowa City who played trombone. It was great to have some band music, one of the key ingredients missing from the Nichols Day parade the last couple of years.
         There was another group from the Apropos Club calling themselves the Unknown Band that marched in the parade, playing kazoos and a drum, and strangely dressed. Judy Costas, the drummer, was dressed as a character from the book “Pippie Longstocking;” Jan Fuhrmeister wore a dress of the flapper era; Kathy Chown wore a paper sack over her head, apparently not wanting to be identified with this band; and Mary Carter wore a graduate’s cap and gown.
         It was now time for the afternoon activities to get started. Since I was involved with the CWF sponsored cake walk at the band shell I didn’t get to see a lot of the other afternoon activities. We had 73 cakes donated and had a regular assembly line going, carrying cakes from Rockwell’s front porch over to the band shell. We had all the cakes walked for by four o’clock and quickly cleared the band shell so the rock band could get equipment set up.
         One of the most popular events is the bed races sponsored by the Nichols Community Club. By the time we were through with the cake walk, it was hard to find a good spot to view the bed races. There were sic men’s teams competing and two women’s teams. First place winners received a $20 cash prize and the second place winners received $10.
         I took another swing down by the new park. The slo-pitch tournament was still going on but the volleyball tournament and horseshoe pitching competition, sponsored by the Apropos was all over. The children’s games, also sponsored by Apropos Junior Federated Club, was over, too. Even the brightly colored tents that had been erected over the game area were taken down. There had been carnival-type games, clown face painting done by Sue Grosjean, and a refreshment table of popcorn, snow-cones, cold drinks and balloons. There were 100 children participating, ranging in age from toddlers to elementary age. Shawn Grosjean, Nichols, won the drawing for a stuffed animal known as the “Nichols Buffalo.” Apropos would like to thank Farmers and Merchants Bank, Lone Tree, and Central State Bank, Muscatine, for their help in sponsoring the games. Pat Christofferson was chairman of the Nichols Day children’s games and Carol Kaalberg, Sue Grosjean and Lisa Elder were on the committee.
         I stopped by the Methodist Church snack stand in front of John Porter’s and was their last customer before they closed down. Being thirsty, I had a cup of lemonade.
         I then went uptown, stopped at the fire station but was too late to get in on a bingo game, sponsored by St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Luckily the Methodit women were serving lunch in the church basement so I had a sandwich and some homemade pie. I would have liked to linger over a second cup of coffee but I knew I was late for the start of the rock band “Gryphon,” entertaining in the park. As I went to get my lawn chair out of the car I saw the Gryphons were not yet performing although they were playing some recorded music. I inquired why and was told they were having trouble with some of their equipment.
         It was a mellow time of the evening, and people were, for various reasons, feeling mellow. Many wise enough to bring lawn chairs were sitting in the park visiting, others were sprawled on the grass resting, many just standing around. I sat for a while but since they had quit playing records and we were subjected to innumerable repetitions of testing, one two (gee, couldn’t they vary that some and surprise us with testing, ten, twelve, or testing, A, B, C?), I got bored and walked around. Most of the craft booth people had packed up their items and left, the NCDC booth was still open as they had some souvenir items left they still hoped to sell. The Grange dunking booth was being dismantled. From the amount of water splashed around, it looked like they had a successful day. I stopped by the AIFS food stand, they had changed location from the south edge of the park to the north. They were somewhat disappointed with their business and thought the change might perk up sales. The beer tent, which had done a lively business all day, was still going strong.
         I went back and sat down and at 7:20 p.m., after some urging from a NCDC member, the Gryphon band started playing. They still were not pleased with their sound equipment but the music sounded good to me.
         As darkness gathered I left the park and went over to listen to the Nashville Express just beginning to play for the street dance. I had not been along Ijem Avenue since early in the afternoon and was surprised to see along a street most used to pick ups parallel parked, a half block of motorcycles, mostly Harley Davidsons, black and lots of chrome, all neatly line up, angle parked, along half of the block. Besides the motorcycles a good crowd lined the street on both sides watching the dancers. At 10:30 p.m., when the band took a break, the raffle prize drawing was conducted. Both winners were from Davenport; Rose Geiger won the mini-vacation to Five Seasons in Cedar Rapids and Jena Woods won the Cocker Spaniel puppy.
         You know this is an election year and several candidates were in the parade: Jan Toarrence, candidate for state representative, Jack Rife for state senator, and Bill Gluba, running for congress, were “working” the crowd lining the street watching the dancers.
         I thought back some 15 hours earlier when I had first noticed the pink balloon floating above the bean field. I couldn’t help but wonder if a few people might not have a glimpse of the proverbial pink elephant along with a splitting headache the next morning. Nevertheless, the good omen had been fulfilled – another successful Nichols Day.
         Chairman Steve Salemink and secretary-treasurer Judy Costas put in a lot of hard work and the community wants to thank them. They, in turn, want to thank all those who helped make the day such a success. When I went through town Sunday morning I was impressed how much clean-up had been accomplished and a lot of work went into that.

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