We lived in Spencer, Iowa from 1977 through 1981. Our move after life on the Cascade farm in eastern Iowa. Spencer was one of our favorite places to live in nearly 50 years of marriage. We were devastated when we had to leave that quaint town. Color us shocked when we loved the big city of Davenport. These 2 cities were as different as night and day.
|Life in Spencer, 1979. Josh 4-1/2, Adam 4 months, Shannon 9…|
The reason for much of our love for Spencer was Hub’s sister Elly, her husband Dewey and their family. They were quite a bit older than us, almost like another set of parents-without judgment. We had more fun together. Antiquing, bowling league, shopping, family meals together at either of our houses. It was a wonderful 5 years and we didn’t want it to end. Wish it would have lasted longer.
|Elly and Dewey years after we moved farther east…|
I think Spencer’s population was 8 or 10 thousand at the time. We did much of our shopping downtown. Several blocks of various clothing, shoe, department, book & gift stores, pet stores that weren’t part of a chain. Close to The Lakes, it was darn near a perfect place to live but for the winters. Oftentimes the coldest spot in the lower 48, running neck & neck with International Falls, Minnesota. The winters were brutal. But we were young and dumb so blizzard conditions and 20, 30, 40 below zero never stopped us. Sometimes stopped our cars for a few days though.
|Shannon, Elly holding Adam, Dewey with Joshua in front, 1981…|
We were in our first decade of marriage, scraping by from paycheck to paycheck. Shannon was 8, Joshua, 4 and Adam was just on the horizon. We were living in a concrete block house a few blocks from downtown. The kids had friends in the neighborhood, and a creek in the back yard. We were blocks from a Super America gas station which made their own doughnuts. Almost every Sunday John took the kids and let them pick out doughnuts with sprinkles. I’m not a big doughnut fan but they were always fresh, often warm and pretty good. The kids thought it was a huge deal. The other spot which was quite popular with our little family was Godfather’s Pizza. A new franchise trying to compete with Pizza Hut.
|Breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day, Spencer 1981…|
Do you remember when grocery stores had special displays with arrangements of pots, pans, dishes, or silverware you could buy at bargain prices after you spent money in their store? There was a grocery store I frequented which was near highway 18 south and 71 junction. I think it was a Hy-Vee but not certain. They were starting a special sales event featuring silverware. And I was hurting bad in that department. I had a small amount of mismatched, bent out of shape, dime store junk. One day I walked in for groceries and feasted my eyes on this fancy display of flatware. Shiny, patterned, heavy, made in Japan. The good stuff. Butter dish, gravy ladle, soup spoons, salad forks, ice tea spoons, plus all the regular daily stuff folks actually used. I was giddy with anticipation. And full of new silverware lust.
For every 3 bucks I spent, I could buy 3 pieces of silverware for another dollar. On an average week of spending about 20 bucks, that would net me 18 pieces of brand new, fancy flatware for our home. For 3 bucks. I needed and wanted a lot of it. OK, I wanted it all. All of it. Every piece they offered. But there were several weeks when I truthfully didn’t have the extra 3 bucks to pay for my new table setting after groceries. We were definitely lacking any kind of discretionary fund in our tight budget. And I think there was a small catch. I could only buy their choice for the week. One week it would be forks, the next maybe spoons. And the accompanying pieces were higher priced which caused major problems and thoughts of despair. How to keep up with getting a complete set of 12, plus the serving spoons, gravy ladle and that cute little covered butter dish. I was worried.
|My Springtime gravy ladle…|
Eventually I did buy a pretty good sized set of Springtime silverware (made in Japan) and was pleased as punch with my humongous matching set. But you know how it goes when you have little kids. You turn your head for 2 seconds and the little stinkers are nabbing some spoons to help dig out a trench for the toy pay loader in the backyard. You ask one of them to clear the table and while they’re helping, 2 forks somehow land in the garbage, never to be seen again.
So 25 years later my Springtime flatware (made in Japan) is looking rather meager in the drawer. I just couldn’t see buying something different. How could I grasp a fork if I wasn’t comfortable with a new pattern texture to which I’d grown so accustomed? Could I even bring an offensive shaped spoon up to my mouth? No, didn’t think I could. I stuck my head in the sand and ignored how few pieces were left in the drawer.
|My official Springtime butter spreader knife. Never use it, but I had to have it…|
Living around Muskegon got me hooked on estate sales. Wonderful things really. As a rule pretty classy stuff, everything is marked, and the sale lasts 2 or 3 days. The prices were slashed 30% on the morning of the second day, half price during the last afternoon. There was always a line waiting to get in when they first opened. Never me though. I went opening day to look, but after the first 3 hour feeding frenzy, fresh corpses still littering the floor. Those in line early for the sale are crazy. This is the way I viewed the sale: if the item I was coveting was still available when it was either 30 or 50% off, it was meant to be. Otherwise I wasn’t supposed to have it. Period. Bought much of my Waterford collection at estate sales. Some antique furniture but our big collecting years were a thing of the past for the most part.
|My Springtime sugar spoon. This I use everyday…|
About 10 years ago I was perusing an estate sale of somewhat lower quality. I could jog my way through in a hurry if nothing was catching my eye. Nothing to see here folks, keep moving. Yeah, it was that kind of sale. I tried to be thorough, zipping from room to room, willing something, anything to be worth a second glance. Down to the basement (always last), a room that originally was used to store coal, rested a box. Inside the cardboard box was a set of flatware, still in thin plastic wraps. Oh. My. Goodness. Springtime silverware (made in Japan). Tons of it. I was dumbfounded. Wary. Suspicious. Peeked over my shoulder to make sure no one was going to stop me or grab the box out of my hands. Made my way back upstairs, clutching the heavy box. Hubs was shopping in another room and when he spotted me didn’t know what to think at my dumbass grin from ear to ear.
|My 2 serving spoons. They aren’t even shaped the same way…|
I can’t tell you what I paid for the whole lot but it was a pittance. Maybe ten bucks. It wasn’t a complete set but a nice amount of the basics, plus the serving spoons, which turned out to be the biggest surprise of all. My closed serving spoon has served me well. Forty years this spoon has attended to my every need whatever I mixed, stirred, boiled, hacked to pieces, beat or served with pride. When I got home from my glorious estate sale shopping spree, I threw all the plastic wraps away and tossed the whole lot in a sink of hot soapy water. Upon rinsing the set I noticed a huge difference between my 40 year old serving spoon and the sparkly new one. The new one was much heavier and almost twice as thick near the tip of the spoon. What?
|Never realized how strong I really am…|
I have literally beat the livin’ shit out of my spoon. Huh. It’s paper thin in comparison to the new, clunky, chunky ton-o-spoon. Where has all that spoon matter disappeared? Have I been eating bits of spoon with my spoon?
I know the main culprit has been Fudge and Penuche. Each batch of candy I’ve beaten for the last 40 years has devoured most of my favorite spoon. It’s like disintegrating. But what can I do? I hate the new one, all thick, fat and hard to handle. I can’t beat a batch of Fudge with that enormous heavy scoop. I’d need a forklift.
|Newbie on the left, candy beater unparalleled on the right…|
Every time I need a big spoon I dig around the serving piece section of my drawer until I lay my hands on the familiar feel of my favorite, wafer thin spoon. Ah, there it is. Ready to beat some boiling hot candy into submission and turn it into another success story? Me too. We’re friends, my old spoon and I. We’ve been through a lot together and I’m not ready to give her up or give up on her. I’m not certain which one of us will bend, break or give up first. I’m definitely not ready to give up making fudge, or try to break in her Amazon sized big sister. Skinny spoon still seems up to the task. I like spooning with her. We fit. I hope we both have a few more years of making candy together…
|My poor spoon. Who knew I literally beat the shit out of it?|