Down in the Valley…

 

Rock Valley was a great little town when I was a kid. Tucked in the northwest corner of Iowa, near the borders of South Dakota and Minnesota. In the 1950’s and ’60’s, Rock Valley boasted a population of maybe 1,500. Home to the world’s best soil for farming (still is). There were a couple of manufacturers that employed quite a few townies, Kooima’s and Roorda’s. I was a townie and never appreciated our farmers, black dirt, magnificent crops or Iowa’s beautiful landscape until I moved away decades later.

Iowa’s pitch black dirt, ideal for growing crops…

A predominately Dutch community, the majority attended one of our many churches every Sunday. That town could have been picked clean between the hours of 9 am and noon on any given Sunday. Most offering 2 services on Sunday, however the Netherland’s Reformed had 3-a-day. Their afternoon service was in Dutch. It was a quiet, safe, somewhat isolated community. Two good sized cities, Sioux Falls and Sioux City were 45-60 miles away thus Rock Valley’s Main Street boasted businesses to supply our needs and was home to the one and only “stoplight,” the reason for my blog’s name.

 Businesses including grocery, hardware, appliance, department, bakery, dime, men’s and women’s clothing, restaurants, bowling alley, even a movie theater when I was a kid. Movies weren’t on the “approved entertainment list” in our house. Mom and Dad’s idea of entertainment was driving around town on hot summer nights, going slow enough just to stir up a breeze, talking about houses, or the people in the houses. Boring, but usually I’d tag along, laying down in the backseat of the car, watching the trees and sky, singing made-up songs. Often they would stop “near” the theater, never parking too close thus avoiding being mistaken for actually “being” at a movie. I was allowed to jump out of the moving car, (just kidding) run into the theater lobby and buy us treats making the boring ride bearable. Dad always got popcorn, Mom an ice cream sandwich, me usually candy.

 Downtown Rock Valley where our one stoplight kept the heavy flow of traffic moving-hahaha…

 Mom thought Dad was too strict on many child-rearing techniques, so often I was allowed to do things on the sly he had deemed off limits. It was a kind of parenting tug-of-war I don’t think they ever talked about. One time this really backfired. There I was, thinking I had gotten away with this forbidden night out. I was in 5th grade during one of Iowa’s 2 seasons of weather, winter. We were having a massive blizzard. Dad had come home for supper and had gone right back to work (overtime, yay) plowing the highways. There would be no school tomorrow. I “zhanicked” (Dutch word for whined, pleaded, begged) to sneak to the movies, a mere block away. No way Dad was coming home for another couple hours, snow was already past my knees. Had no clue what movie was playing, it didn’t matter. I finally wore her down, which was normal. Although Mom was super-attentive about most-things-Neese, this minor battle wasn’t worth squabbling over. Besides I needed to get a bit older before the real battles began. My teens. Me rebellious, her over-protective. Mom not wanting me to grow up even a little. She said go, practically shoved me out the door. Man, I should have stayed home that night.

 There were about 10 people at the movie (who goes out on a night like this?) and the movie was–wait for it– Mr. Sardonicus. Set in the 1890’s, this was a story about a dad, his son and daughter-in-law. Older man buys a lottery ticket, dies. They have his funeral and he’s buried. The son realizes a couple weeks later the winning ticket is in the suit pocket of his recently departed dad. Yikes. Well, you knew it was gonna happen and someone had to do it. Daughter-in-law forces her husband, the son, to dig up the corpse. Horrors of horrors, Sonny sees his dad’s stretched, decaying skull in this gross smile/grimace. His features immediately go into that same frozen, gross face. Holy moly, I was 11. I begged a class-mate, Dave Suter, who was also there to walk me home. By now the snow was hip deep. And the walk home seemed much longer than a block. Then I had to fib to Mom, telling her the movie was great, or I’d never be allowed to sneak out to another one. Though I have been a movie buff my whole life, I don’t think I’ve seen another horror movie. At least not intentionally. Proud to be a kept-strunt (Dutch equivalent of a chicken-shit)…

 
Brave superhero Dave Suter…

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Down in the Valley…

  1. Ha-ha Paul, it's like a pre-requisite for any spoiled child. There were many old Dutch words used for my behavior, some endearing, some not so much. And I earned every one of them. Thanks for commenting…

    Like

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