Joyce's Park became Eagle Point Park. Clinton millionaires left much land to the people, in the north end and at Riverfront Park, which later became wonderful recreation legacies for our whole community. Once, however, a typical "date" for an immigrant boy was to take his lady love on a 14-mile round-trip trolley ride -- from South 14th Street, seven miles north to the most beautiful private park in the world -- for a picnic lunch. The sandwiches and potato salad never tasted better!
The park possessed sun-dappled paths, which Indians of old once traveled, and there were plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. Besides “the thousand step” path, one could descend hidden ravines and watch the river from a hundred cliff perspectives at various look-outs. Every game imaginable was played there … each stone wall traversed by countless fearless young daredevils.
Those were days when an "average guy” couldn’t afford a horse-and-buggy, yet he had several transportation options at his beck and call. He could walk, or he could take the trolley. He could go to Chicago on one of the many daily trains, easier than he could go downtown. The times were slow, but travel was comparatively fast.
Once automobiles took to the streets, it was either going to be the horse or "the horseless carriage" by the 1930’s. The "car," as it came to be called, won hands-down! The trolley car tracks were ripped up and the streets paved over, almost overnight. What a loss! That peaceful, idyllic life, punctuated by an occasional trolley bell “clang,” disappeared about 1937. Still, many folks clung to the old ways. Prior to the auto-age, people lived in their own little ethnic enclave with a neighborhood school, church, bank, bar, and grocery. They seldom visited “downtown,” although it flourished by being the "only game in town" for real shopping: for suits, dresses, haberdashery, cloaks, dry goods, hosiery, and millinery. (What are all those things?!)
These exotic goods of yesterday mystify children today. Franklin School closed in 1976, but the children were always calling the little rooms with the hooks at the end of their classroom a "coatroom" when, in actuality, they were "cloak”-rooms. I wonder when the last student actually wore a cloak to school?! -- Probably in 1909, when Lee Ough was one of the first students at that school. Later, Miss Ethel Holmes was principal, and Miss Bertha Bingham the kindergarten teacher. Children today chuckle when we tell them it was necessary back then for female teachers to be unmarried, and they definitely couldn't smoke or be seen near a bar or restaurant that served alcohol!
People, especially women, sometimes walked to town to visit one of Clinton's five department stores. Yes, we had five big stores once upon a time, and now they’re all gone. Is this progress?! "Downtown" was the hub of every community, whether it was Lyons or Clinton or others. In Clinton, Walgreen's used to be on the corner of the Lamb Block (Jacobsen Building), and Allen's Tearoom became a must-stop for women after going to
Greenfield’s, Mangel’s, or other nice dress shops. The men went to Martin Morris or Shull's or, in an earlier day, to The Hub in the Davis Block on the SW corner of 6th Avenue South and 2nd Street.
Milo John's Drugstore was a fixture on its corner at 5th Avenue So. and 3rd Street, and their malts were SO delicious! Also popular were “sodas," but I never could understand squirting water into a tall glass with ice cream! My sister clerked there for Pharmacist/Owner Lyman Wareham. He was such a wonderful man! I remember he took me to Iowa City in 1953 to watch St. Mary's and Clinton High in the State Basketball Tournament! Most parents then seemed “old” and some, like my dad, "wouldn't walk across the street to see”… whatever. Actually, my parents were just too tired-out and racked by angina and exhaustion to do any of those things. But Lyman and Ullanie Wareham were young parents, in their late 30's, and always "with it." In 1949, they had the first TV around. We used to watch test patterns for an hour before programs started at 6:00 p.m. -- Kukla, Fran, and Ollie; Captain Video; Music from the Looms of Mohawk, with Roberta Quinlan; and on Saturday night, "The Show of Shows" with Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, and Howard Morris.
Dad wouldn't “walk across the street” to see television either, until one came to our house. Then he quickly gave up his chair by the Motorola radio and stretched on the couch in the pitch dark to watch the Friday Night Fights. (I wanted to watch Jackie Gleason -- before The Honeymooners!) Probably my biggest TV disappointment was, "Lights Out!" I remember having nightmares after listening to Inner Sanctum on the radio, but when I first saw Frank Gallup do his supposedly eerie emcee work on that T.V. show -- well, it was like comparing Mr. Rederer's frosty malts to the soft-serve ice cream of today. Somehow, our nostalgic memories always seem to have the best taste. (Right, Tom?)