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Finding Small Town American Values In Charles City Iowa, 1959

Updated on October 10, 2013
My family in Iowa
My family in Iowa | Source
Our arrival in 1959
Our arrival in 1959 | Source
Dad and Uncle Les
Dad and Uncle Les | Source
Charles City, Iowa
Charles City, Iowa | Source
The suspension bridge across the Cedar River
The suspension bridge across the Cedar River | Source
After the tornado of 1968
After the tornado of 1968 | Source
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Charles City, IA 50616, USA
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The scene of our little story!

There are days when I’m convinced that I am stuck in the past. I spend a great deal of time thinking about the simpler days of the 50’s when I was a youngster, days that were so much more welcoming than the age we find ourselves in today. Is it healthy to do so? I see no harm in it, and perhaps by remembering how it once was, I can find focus for how it should be today and then move towards that goal.

Today I am on a quest. Today I intend to take a trip back in time. During my trip I will be your tour guide; hopefully through my words, you can gain an appreciation for that which is seemingly lost in America today. No, I am not speaking of hoop skirts and soda fountains, but rather a way of life that spoke of values long-since gone down the highway of memories. Is it possible that way of life has simply taken a detour? Turned right when it should have turned left? Maybe got held up at the convenience store and is running late? I certainly hope that is the case because it saddens me to think that it is gone forever.

Come with me now to America’s Hometown, Charles City, Iowa. The year is 1959 and it is a sunny, warm day in early August.

ENTERING TOWN

We are approaching on Highway 18 from the west. See the corn fields? They are everywhere! Aren’t they grand? The corn is taller than me, and as my dad drives our Buick past the corn fields I wave at a farmer on his tractor. He temporarily stops his tractor, lifts his John Deere hat and waves it at me as the dust settles over his nearly-bald head. He is smiling and why wouldn’t he? Look at the hundreds of acres of produce he has lovingly cared for all these months. The sun is beating down, there is a gentle breeze on the air, his corn is six feet tall and reaching for the sky, and all is right in his world. He is a farmer in the greatest farming country in the world; he works long hours but it’s honest work and he gets a good price for his crop.

Make no mistake about it, that man works hard. He is up every morning before dawn, and he shuts that tractor down at sunset, but during that time he works with his hands, works with the soil, continuing a tradition of hard work passed down from generation to generation in his family. They are humble people and yet proud; you can see the toil etched in his face, but you can also see the laugh lines around his eyes as he wipes the sweat from his brow. Yes, he is a farmer, and in America he is respected for his work ethic and self-dependence.

Dad says you won’t find better soil in the country, deposited after the great glaciers receded. It looks rich, a dark brown, full of life and promises of a bountiful year.

Hey, there is the city limit sign…yep, it says just what Dad said it would….”Welcome to Charles City: America’s Hometown!” I love that sign! America’s Hometown! That is so cool! We are coming into town now, turning left on N. Grand Ave. Dad wants us to see the downtown section first before heading over to Grandma’s house.

The streets are beautiful. White Oak and Hickory trees line the downtown streets, and the downtown stores are brick and mostly one story tall. There are townsfolk standing on the sidewalks talking to each other, and shopkeepers standing in the doorways greeting people as they stroll by. It seems like everyone knows everyone, and Dad waves out the window at someone he recognizes. He stops the car and shakes hands with an old gent. Mom and Dad grew up here during the Great Depression, and you can tell that the old man is happy to see us. They promise to catch up on old times soon and then we keep driving.

There are American flags hanging on every building. There is the VFW building, and the Elks Lodge, and a little park in the middle of town where kids are running around playing tag. It seems like nobody has a care in the world. There’s the hardware store; some guy is shoving 2x4’s into the back of his old pickup. The water tower stands vigil over the town, taller than the Oaks, and I have to say it is everything my parents told me it would be. A downright friendly town for sure!

GRANDMA AND GRANDPA ARE WAITING

We circle back to 2nd Ave, turn into a driveway, and there is Grandma in her petticoat, smoking a cigarette, a huge smile on her face. This is Dad’s mom, a woman who has seen the best and worst of life and has stood tall through it all. She looks older than her fifty-five years, but that smile lights up the yard as she hugs us all. She has never seen me; I was adopted ten years earlier in Tacoma, Washington, 1,500 miles away, another country to this hard-working woman. Folks in Charles City don’t do much traveling. Their lives are centered around work, church, and family, and most of the family is right here within walking distance.

She has a big meal waiting for us, and there in the living room is Grandpa, Aunt Vi (dad’s sister) and Uncle Ike. There is a whole bunch of hugging and kissing going on, and everyone wants to rub my head and tell me how much they love me. How could they love me I ask mom? They don’t even know me! Mom just smiles and says it is all about family, and one day I will understand.

The meal is over, our bags are in the bedrooms, and Uncle Ike wants to know if I want to go for a ride on his motor scooter. Is he kidding? A motor scooter? I am so excited! He starts it up and I stand in front of him and off we go down 2nd Ave. He says we are heading for the Cedar River. When we get there I see a wooden bridge hanging from cables and Uncle Ike heads right for that bridge. Yep, we go over it, a little scary, the river is below and the bridge is swaying and it is pretty exciting.

We head downtown; those big trees line every street, and although it is hot out the trees keep everything cool. Women are outside hanging laundry, men are working on their cars in the driveways, and kids are spraying each other with the hoses. Everyone waves at Uncle Ike, and they shout out his name, and more than once we stop so he can introduce me. They don’t talk to me like I’m a little kid; everyone shakes my hand and talks to me like I matter. I decide I really like the residents of Charles City.

DOWNTOWN AND BEYOND

We stop at the A & W and Uncle Ike buys us a root beer float and man does that ever taste good. Then it’s back on the scooter and he shows me the rest of the town. Everyone waving at my uncle, everyone wishing us a good day like they really mean it. Then back to Grandma’s house we go and more relatives have arrived. Uncle Les is there from St. Louis; he and his wife Wilma visited us in Tacoma so I know them. He picks me up and lifts me over his head and he’s laughing all the time. Uncle Don is there from Macon, Georgia, and Uncle Ike’s son Jimmy and his wife Lynn. She calls me Baby Doll and kisses my cheek and I think I’m in love.

There always seems to be food on the table. Fried chicken and potato salad, better than anything I’ve ever tasted, and there is a feeling of family here, and love….love is everywhere in that household, and it’s a nice feeling. This is my family; these are my people. I may be adopted but you would never know it because I feel like I belong. I am my father’s son, and this is his family, and by extension this is my family, and I like that…I like it a lot!

Uncle Les is a truck driver and he has great stories to tell during the week. Grandpa has worked at the tractor factory for twenty-five years. Aunt Vi works at the Dime Store, Uncle Don is a salesman and they all talk about their work with pride. They explain to me that it makes no difference what a person does for a job. It’s all about giving an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, and you can take pride in a job well-done no matter what you do for a living.

We stay up late into the night telling stories and laughing until we hurt. I fall asleep each night to the sound of crickets and before I went to sleep the lightning bugs put on a show just for me.

TIME IS TOO SHORT

The week goes by quickly. Much too quickly! I met a lot of great people. I met the minister, the police chief, the barber and loads of others. I played ball with the neighbor kids down at the ball field, and swam with them at the county park. By the end of the week it seemed like everyone in town was calling me by my name when I would pass by, and they all seemed sad when we were leaving.

We loaded up the car and said our goodbyes. Hugs and kisses, promises to write, words of love shared among people who truly cared about each other. We drove down those Oak-lined streets, back onto Highway 18, and headed west for home. The same farmer waved at us on the way out of town, tipping his hat and yelling to my dad to stay out of trouble. Dad laughed at that and told me he tipped over that farmer’s outhouse one summer night when he and his buddies were out having fun. The farmer didn’t seem to mind too much judging from his friendly smile as we drove on, leaving America’s Hometown in our rearview mirror.

NOW THERE ARE ONLY MEMORIES

They are all gone now. Grandma died six years after that visit. Grandpa followed her two years after that. Uncle Ike, Aunt Vi, and Uncle Les and Uncle Don, all dead. Dad died in 1969 and Mom in 2003. In fact, the city of Charles City was partially destroyed by a F 5 tornado back in 1968, so the scene I painted for you no longer exists.

The little kid who met his family during that long-ago summer is the only one left, but their memories are with me still. You see, they were my family. I was my father’s son, and they were his family, and by extension they were my family…. and I like that. I like that a lot.

2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      May I be the first of many wonderful comments about this hub. It makes you realize how different life is today. People were simpler and more trusting...today that is a rarity. I loved growing up during that time. I never worried about being abducted. I walked home from a friend's house after midnite never giving it a second thought. I walked to school with other kids at the age of 5. So much has changed. However we can only go back in our minds and savor a few moments of reliving happy times. Life is good today, but so different in many ways. Great hub and of course Vote UP.

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 4 years ago

      Billy boy at ten in 59. grandma a strong lady at 55, from Charles City Iowa. Corn fields with no end... life as simple, but hearts and a helping hand did abound. Grandma knew of dust bowls and squeezing that money to feed the clan. Thi is so touchi9ng...that my hands just write with so much fun. Felt as though I wnet back in time. Billy you are where your parents came from. No wonder you have that heart of Gold. My blessing to you dear friend. I really went back in time. waiting in that corner for you, so we could buy us candy and that ice cream that you loved the most. Cheers my friend!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Bill, this was such a lovely trip down memory lane and loved hearing about when you got to meet your Father's and spend a whole week visiting with them. I wasn't born until 1977, but still my childhood was definitely simpler than the youth of today and most of my family (not my parents) too is now gone too. I could relate to this story and just wishing I could go back in time even for a day to spend time with my loved ones who are no longer with us now. Beautiful and so detailed, have voted and shared too.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      They'll always be with you, Bill. And you share their gifts of constant sharing! Thanks for telling us all about them! Beautifully done, and shared.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, we all lament those days gone by, but few are willing to hold onto the values and principles of that time....the friendship, the importance of hard work and family.....I don't get it but I'm going to do everything I can to bring it all back....thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Joseph, if you ever come out west we will go get a candy and ice cream together and talk as old friends do.

      Thank you my friend; I greatly appreciate who you are.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, you were born in the wrong era. You would have done quite well in the 50's with the values that you have. I am proud to call you friend and I appreciate you greatly.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michele, I was a lucky child, and because their memory is always with me, I am a lucky man.

      Thank you my dear and have a wonderful weekend.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      You had cool uncles and aunts. I like how they said that if you put in an honest day's work, it doesn't matter what you do for a living. You know, that's so true. It didn't used to be that we were so possessed with having the best job and the best car and the best house and the best clothes. I think in yesteryear, it used to be more about family. Times were definitely not perfect then - we still had wars and segregation and other things going on - but times were simpler. I didn't live back then, but I can definitely appreciate the simplicity and love of family. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks lil' Sis! We have, as a civilization, complicated life far beyond the necessary....there are some basic principles in life that should not be compromised. The principles don't change, but our willingness to live by them has changed over time. Life is too hectic now....too many distractions....and for what? it's like a dog chasing his tail....if he should happen to catch it, then what? Where is the gratification?

      I appreciate you Sis! Have a great weekend!

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 4 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      Beautiful memories and a trip through them. I could taste the root beer float at the A&W!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mark, they made great root beer floats for sure! I knew you would appreciate this one! Thanks buddy!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Oh billy I miss those days.. we were happy.. my hometown way back in North Carolina running barefoot .. going to the store and getting penny candy drinkig yahoos .. those were simplier days my friend.. great hub

      God bless you

      Debbie

    • dreamdamodar profile image

      Raman Kuppuswamy 4 years ago from Chennai, India

      Everyone of us turns nostalgic about good old days. A good hub.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 4 years ago from Iowa

      This is a wonderful hub. You've really captured the feeling of small-town Iowa. I will be sharing this. Thanks also for linking to my state fair hub.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb I was hoping you would see this hub; I was thinking of you when I wrote it. Glad you enjoyed and thank you for sharing.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      dreamdamodar, thank you Sir! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Debbie, I miss those days too...now they only seem to exist in my memory.

      God bless you as well my dear friend.

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Bill,

      Simply beautiful buddy! Thanks for taking us back in time where people lived much simpler! Everyone smiling and waving at each other, you being called by name, yeah those times are long gone for sure. But, guess what we can live like that now! Smiling and laughter are contagious. It only takes someone to start it. You have inspired me to revel in the simple things today. To laugh to smile, and to share it with everyone! Thanks Uncle Bill!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Josh, you are very welcome! We need for happiness in this world, and each of us can do our part. Spread the word Nephew!

    • profile image

      Starmom41 4 years ago

      very nice hub :)

      I appreciate it even more, though, because it's another example that what I've been told Iowa life was like in decades past was not true for Everybody- that there were people like yourself who had nice, solid lives and families.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Starmom, I was lucky for sure. There was much laughter and love in our family, and lessons I will never forget. Thank you for taking the time to visit and comment and have a wonderful weekend.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Thank you for taking me on this journey to simple times, family values, friendship and beautiful countryside. You painted a vivid picture of the landscape and life of that time. I saw everything you described. I felt the love, heard the crickets and witnessed the lightning bug show (I miss lightning bugs!)

      Beautiful write, my friend. Enjoy your weekend!

    • momster profile image

      momster 4 years ago

      This is an awesome memory. I know when I was younger, my parents would take family trips to see our relatives. Best times I had. I loved going in the summers. The berry trees were so full and I would spend hours picking and eating berries. I still do to this day. I love mulberries. Being a kid was great and simple with family that would always be waiting for visits. Thanks for sharing your memory. Voted up.

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 4 years ago from Kentucky

      Bill -

      You mentioned once that you and I had traveled many a same path. It is remarkable how true that statement was.

      I remember the cornfields, growing up in the farmlands of Indiana. My grandparents farm was my backyard. On Sundays, she'd rush around like crazy, since the minister was sometimes long winded, fixin' fried chicken, maybe a roast or ham she'd left cookin' while at church, and so many vegetables and pastries that you couldn't sample them all. Afterwards, with one of my uncles sleeping on the floor in front of a TV that wasn't being watched, we'd all go outside, saddle up one of the ponies, and give the little ones rides around the yard. Life was much different then. Ooops, there goes my cell phone!

      Thanks for allowing me to join you in reminiscing, my friend! Great memories and great hub!

    • profile image

      kelleyward 4 years ago

      This is a great hub Bill! Reminds me of my grandparents who grew up in Texas and Arkansas. Also I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma that still has some of the images you painted here. Great hub. I sometimes long for the old days when time seemed to move much slower. Take care, Kelley

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I have only seen lightning bugs four or five times in my life but I thought they were soooo cool! Some day I'll see them again! Thank you my dear; have a great weekend yourself!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      momster, thank you for sharing your memory! I am returning to a simpler time in my own life. The hectic pace of life is being discarded, and I will end my days as I began them.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      rcrumple, you had me laughing with the cell phone...excellent little zinger!

      A appreciate you Sir! The cornfields held wonder for me; I loved walking through them, feeling like I was in my own secret world....listening to the wind rustle the stalks.....so very cool.

      Anyway, thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kelley, Bev and I are returning to these days. They are much more enjoyable and we are taking the steps necessary to turn back the clock. Wish us luck!

      Thank you kind lady; you are always appreciated.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Wonderful and touching hub of simpler times. We are all going 100 mph nowadays and not slowing down any to just enjoy the simple pleasures in life and each other and making a human connection. Moving from the city four years ago to this small town, I am getting that feeling again, as we have the VFW, the flags flowing, the little park in the center of town where children can play without fear and everyone knows everyone. I know you miss that small town and your family. God bless you. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      "This is my family; these are my people. I may be adopted but you would never know it because I feel like I belong. I am my father’s son, and this is his family, and by extension this is my family, and I like that…I like it a lot!"

      This brought tears to my eyes. I get it. I understand it. I know it. You are your father's on. This is your family. This is what family's do, embrace with love. The family nestled you into their nectar providing you with something substantial beyond fried chicken and potato salad.

      Their stories became your stories. Their holiday traditions became your holiday traditions. Their recipes became your meals. Their mannerisms, words of expression became yours. All of which pumps your blood with memories of an Americana family. The blood bleeds red, and on the very basic cellular level, one will see beyond DNA are the photographs and memories of what family is. The blood type is, you are your father's son.

      BEAUTIFUL! We need to stop making each other cry this week!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carly, I had no doubt that you would be affected by this hub. Tears are wonderful; I love my ability to cry now; for far too many years I did not allow it.

      Have a good cry on me my friend; I won't even charge you.

      Great comment by the way; you write wonderful comments when the subject matter moves you.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Just a beautiful hub with such a peace about it. Lovely. I was thinking of my father a lot when I read this. Luckily he is still here. Thank you for this hub on a quiet Saturday afternoon billybuc. Maybe I'll go call my dad.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, if that is your response then I am quite happy that I wrote this hub. :) Thank you my friend and have a great weekend.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 4 years ago

      Hi Billy, Thank you for letting me meet your family. I had a wonderful trip with you. I wish I could have stayed in your hometown a bit longer. It was a nice place to visit. And your last paragraphs brought tears to my eyes. Thank goodness for memories, even if that is all we have left.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Faith! I do miss my family and the way of life, but in three years I'll have that way of life again and I won't leave it this time. :) Blessings and peace to you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      toknowinfo, I hope those tears were good tears. :) Thank you for joining me on my little trip.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 4 years ago

      They were tears of sentiment.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lovely, toknowinfo! :)

    • susiebrown48 profile image

      susiebrown48 4 years ago from Clearwater, FL

      Loved this hub, it brought back memories of trips to Texas to see family when I was little. Beautifully written. Thank you

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well susiebrown, thank you! I'll take a compliment like that every day and twice on Sunday! :)

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 4 years ago from Mason City

      I remember the suspension bridge in Charles City. Me and my sister walked over it and it did seem kind of scary, but fun and exciting. In 1959 we lived in Elma, Iowa, which is not too far from Charles City. I enjoyed reading your hub about Charles City in 1959.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Gail....no way...you remember the bridge? How cool is that? I guess the original one got washed out in a flood a few years back, so now they have a new one.

      Thank you for stopping by; it's so neat someone read this who actually has been there.

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 4 years ago from Mason City

      I sure do remember the bridge. It's a shame that the flood washed it away. I lived in Charles City for about a year with my mother and step-father, whose family was from Charles City and Cowell, Ia. It is pretty cool. I remember a grocery store there called Trowbridges (Years ago), and then it became Red Owl.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I wonder if you knew anyone with the last name O'Dowd....Holland....or Sharpe??? That is really neat, Gail! I never dreamed when I wrote this that someone actually would know Charles City.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Is this some kind of karma? This, though great as usual, is the 4th article (of 20) of this kind I've read so far and I have 9 to go. Just sharing "the weird".

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      That happens sometimes Mhatter; I had three articles on impotency in the span of two days about six months ago.

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 4 years ago from Mason City

      I don't recall those names. My mother remarried someone with the last name of Groesbeck. I remember going to the movie theatre and the library. I remember the Cedar River, too. I remember the tractor company "Oliver" and Hart Par. Its a small world sometimes.

    • T4an profile image

      T4an 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      Billy, I loved this hub! I feel like I was there with you. What a wonderful memory and such an amazing family you had. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      You made me cry. That's not easy to do by the way. I'm too busy wiping my nose to say anything else coherent or magical, so just know- it made me cry!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Just checking in on some of my comments yesterday and it is funny you said that I would have fit in the 1950s era, because I always felt a weird pull to that generation and time era even growing up when my dad would tell me stories of his youth and the 50's. So you truly said a mouthful and I do believe you do know me pretty well :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      gail, it is, indeed, a small world at times.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Theresa, thank you for riding along with me on the journey!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Julie, how remarkable.....Carly too....I wonder what it is about this hub that made you both cry? I think we know, or at least I suspect I know....the same reason I cried when I was reading it to Bev. Thanks buddy!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, I'm a little scary that way at time. There are a couple hubbers who I almost frighten....I have this weird extra sense that gives me pretty good insight at times. Thank you my dear lady!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This story took me back to a simple time, a small town in Il. Oil fields took the place of crops, wonderful neighbors, large family, good memories. Thank you for taking me on your journey back in time. I enjoyed meeting your family..

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruby, they enjoyed meeting you. They tell me that you are one of them and I believe that. :)

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      You are right as always, "remembering how it once was, I can find focus for how it should"... sometimes being grounded in our roots lets us go forward.

      I have a kinship to that feeling of how could they love me, I'm not their family but your Mom was right, "Mom just smiles and says it is all about family, and one day I will understand." Now we understand Billy and we are fortunate to be able to share that love the way it was shared with us.

      Brilliant hub. Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Awww, Mary, thank you! I try to live in the present but not forget the past...there are too many valuable lessons in the past that need to be remembered at all times. I'm glad you enjoyed this trip down Memory Lane!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      I also grew up in this time frame when family was the most important thing. We helped our neighbors if they needed it and we were proud to be Americans. My heart swelled with pride when we said the Pledge of Allegiance in school. Your hub was a wonderful trip down memory lane, because something important has been lost in our country. Thanks for this awesome hub.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pamela, there are times when I feel like I'm the only one who feels this way. There has been something lost in the nation, and we desperately need to find it again. Thank you my dear friend.

    • michiganman567 profile image

      michiganman567 4 years ago from Michigan

      It is before my time, but I am always fascinated with the history of the country. I think that everyone looks back at earlier times, and thinks about the way that things were. Many things were better in those days, but modern luxuries have improved our lives dramatically. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michigan, thanks for stopping by! It is very true that modern luxuries have improved our lives; I would just like to see a little more connection on a human level while we are enjoying the luxuries. :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      As my visit with the grandkids come to a close, I am reminded of the memories that will last beyond this time. Thanks for the inspiration.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dianna, it's always a pleasure! Have a wonderful weekend!

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      Sherri 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      That was a lovely trip down memory lane for me, too. In fact, you inspired me to do a little net surfing for photos of the town I lived in at the time. I found a book written by a woman I believe to be related to my sixth-grade music and homeroom teacher. I'm going to see if I can make a connection. Gee, Bill, you never know where a beautifully written piece will take you. :)

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sherri, there are times I feel like I'm stuck in the past, but then I realize that it is just a longing for a simpler time when values meant something. Good luck with your search and thank you!

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      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      Thank you for letting us come along as you revisited a week of your childhood. You express it so well. I felt like I was walking down those streets, observing your family, waving hello to the residents of the small town. I lived in a small town in Missouri for two years in my early twenties. It was there that I learned to cook and to help elderly neighbors. A mature couple mentored me, and I learned lessons from them that I've carried with me my whole life. Those places you remember may be gone, but they'll forever remain alive in your heart.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Vespa, thank you so much! This was one of those that I actually felt good about when I was done with it....felt like I had done well. I'm glad you loved it.

      Have a great weekend!

      bill

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      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      Yes, it's a beautiful piece you should be proud of! Thank you, Bill. I hope you have a nice weekend too.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Vespa!

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      Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

      Bill, thanks for this wonderful walk down memory lane - both sets of my grandparents lived close so we often visited. I have happy memories of those times.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Julie, it was a wonderful time, a wonderful town, and a wonderful family. I was lucky! Thank you!

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      FrugalFatCouple 4 years ago from California

      Billy, I grew up in Rockford, Iowa not far from Charles City. (Hometown of Robert Waller - author of 'The Bridges of Madison County') It really IS Gods country! My 86 year old mother still buys her groceries at Fareway in Charles City. Do you remember the TROWBRIDGES (sp?) store? Where they would put the groceries on a conveyor belt and they would go outside and you could pull up to get them?

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Frugal, I swear, I had not thought of that store for fifty years....yes I remember it....it was the only time I had seen a conveyor belt for groceries....thank you for the memory.

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      molometer 4 years ago

      Hi Bill,

      Like you said. Maybe it got held up at the store. I traveled across America in 1979 and came across many towns similar to what you have lovingly described about Charles City. Iowa.

      It was still a great place then and I guess things must have changed somewhat since then.

      I still have fond memories of the USA and all those small towns along the old route 66.

      I would like to do that trip again one day. Shame if it has all gone.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Michael!

      So you took a drive along Route 66, eh? Great old road, but that is one byway that is disappearing. Major freeways have made much of that road obsolete and the towns are mostly dying along that road.

      There are a great many small towns that still maintain the old-fashioned values like the one I mentioned in this hub; I love to drive off in any direction and see if I can re-live some of that. I need to do that again soon.

      Thank you for the visit Michael; I hope you are well.

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      molometer 4 years ago

      Hi Bill,

      Things have been a little fraught lately. Linda had a bad week. But she is bouncing back.

      As I mentioned some of the best people I met in the US were in these small towns.

      People would stop and talk to me. Once they heard my accent. I was invited for tea (coffee) lol.

      A Brit in the mid west was a rarity way back then. There was no tourism as such.

      I traveled on the greyhound against everyone's advice and had a blast. I still have the old map.

      My maiden Aunt in New York nearly had kittens when I told her my plans. lol Great days.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michael, you may know this already, but no matter what part of the U.S. you visit, we all have a fascination with the British accent. For whatever reason we love the way you folk speak. :)

      Blessings to Linda; I hope things improve soon.

      bill

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      Donna Kay Bryan 4 years ago

      Thank you so much for this glimpse into your childhood. Your memories and photographs have stirred up memories of my own growing up in '60s Louisville. I miss those simple days. You have brought a smile to my face and a tear to my heart. God bless!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Donna! I so appreciate your visit, and I'm glad that this hub brought back some fond memories. I feel almost sorry for kids today who can't experience what we were able to. :)

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      David Aldous 4 years ago

      Been reading some of your posts about Charles City. My Grandfather and Grandmother, Charles and Susan Aldous had a Candy Store there. Mother's Candies, I believe it was,, must have been back in the 20's and 30's. I would love to have some old pictures of the place if anyone may have some. Also my dad, George Aldous started to work for Dr. Salsbury in the early 30's right after the company started. I think my brother was born there. I never knew my Grand Father but sure remember Grand Mother. Any info I can obtain would be fantastic. thank You All,, Have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      David, I just don't remember that much about specifics....I remember for sure the swinging bridge over the river....and the community swimming pool....and there was a swamp of some sort that you could rent row boats on. I can see main street in my mind but not the particulars. It's been so long ago. Some day I hope to go back there just to complete the circle.

      Thank you and Merry Christmas to you as well.

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      Gail Louise Stevenson 4 years ago from Mason City

      I remember the Charles Theatre in 1971 somewhere in there. I saw "House of Dark Shadows" there. That was along time ago.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I do remember the theater....and I remember the A&W clearly....and some big plant...maybe they made tractors???

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      FrugalFatCouple 4 years ago from California

      It was called the Oliver plant at one time.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Frugal, thank you! I had forgotten that, but now I remember clearly.

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      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Billy,

      What a beautiful picture you painted of Charles City, Iowa and your being introduced to it and many of your family members in the 1950s. I grew up in the same era and also have wonderful memories. In one sense...what you wrote could be said of small farming communities almost anywhere in the U.S. back in that time-frame. Thanks for sharing your memories of that special time. Up, interesting and beautiful votes. Also sharing! :)

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Peggy, you are absolutely correct. I could have been talking about thousands of towns during the 50's....such a simpler time to live. Not necessarily better, but certainly more black and white with clearly defined boundaries. :) Thank you my friend!

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      Pritchard 4 years ago

      Makes me long for those simpler days. Is this what it feels like to grow old? I know things were not perfect. I know there was awful things like discrimination and threats of the bomb dropping but I miss knowing my neighbors. Walking home from school, riding my bicycle everywhere without fear of being abducted. Sunday suppers eating real butter, whole milk and not worrying about gaining an ounce of weight. How could we when we roller skated at the local rink, played hide n seek and walked everywhere. Thanks for the memories.

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      Sheila Brown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Wonderful hub Billy! Life was much simpler then. Everything has become complicated these days. I still live in a fairly small town and it still has some of these traits. Most all of the "mom and pop" business are gone and that is really a shame. I still do business where people know me by name. The day I become a number to them is the day I stop doing business there. (Been there and done that!) I wish our morals, respect and pride in doing a good job at what ever it is, would go back in time. People don't care about each other like they used to either. It's really a shame. This is a wonderful hub! Voting up and awesome! :)

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Askme, one of my favorite memories was hearing the bottled milk delivered to our doorstep. Funny how something so simple could stand for so much. :) Thank you for adding to the memories.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      SG, thank you! I know things were not Disneyland all the time back then, but they most definitely were simpler, and people stood for something and had some sense of morals and principles. That, more than anything else, is what I decry in today's world.

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      Pritchard 4 years ago

      yes billybuc..I so agree. If we got in trouble at school, my parents did not sue the school for being intolerant of my bratty behavior. No they backed the school and the teacher. Apologizes were not only verbally given by me, but also in writing. Neighbors were free to discipline kids too. If we were walking down the street with friends and some said a cuss word, we would be severely reprimanded by any neighbor that over heard.

      I blame my generation for changing things. True change was needed in lots of areas of society but we've hit the the change button too drastically and now it is complete opposite of civility, keeping some things quiet and not for public announcements. Owning up to your fault in any situation and accepting blame, where blame is due.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Askme, I just got through having this conversation with another writer, and I blame our generation as well. Change....love.....tolerance....all wonderful goals...until you step off the cliff on the other side of the spectrum, and suddenly there is no blame, no accountability, no balance whatsoever. It's one of the reasons I'm no longer a teacher. Kids need to be accountable, and I was tired of arguing with parents about the little angels. :)

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      Ireno Alcala 4 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Well-detailed recollection of the late 50s. I'm fond of reading true account of those golden years.

      Thanks for sharing the memories, Sir Bill. :)

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Travel_man, my pleasure. I'm not sure if they were simpler times, or if it just seemed like it. :) thank you

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      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      Bill

      Hi and happy Sunday

      I love these walks down memory lane. They are so familiar even though we were far apart in our locations, this same kind of life was present back in my day too.

      Thanks for sharing this...a lovely read for a lovely Spring day.

      Angels and blessings to you and yours :) ps

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you PS! I enjoyed writing this look back, and I loved those days. I'm glad you did too. Have a great Sunday in Florida while we freeze our tush off here.

      Blessings and a hug from Olympia,

      bill

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      Sarra Garrett 3 years ago

      Thank you, Bill, for taking me on that journey of yester year. That was so beautiful. I grew up in the 60's in the mountains, but now am living among the farmers. What humble and hardworking people they are, not to mention proud. They still would give the shirt off their back to help their neighbor.

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      Marlene Bertrand 3 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Such wonderful memories you have shared. They take me back to a time that is so different from today. I think the last time I had an authentic A & W Root Beer was when I was a teenager in high school. Those were the good old days, weren't they? Maybe that's why we find such satisfaction in living the simple life.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michelle, that has been my experience as well. Give me a small town any old time; there you will find these same values alive and well.

      Thank you my friend.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Marlene, it's always nice to see you and yes, I believe that is why we find such satisfaction in the simple life. It's as close as we can come to recapturing those good days of our youth.

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      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      Bill, this post really does have all the warm memories in it that you carry-- and they are wonderful--how about a hub on the down side of life in a small town, esp back then--if you didn't conform to the "wasp" kinds of norms in many towns--you were an outsider and had to contend with being shunned--so if you were gay, or black, or Russian--or any of those--life could be difficult--

      Just my 2 cents on small town life

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Audrey, and you are correct....it's just that I never saw that side of it. I spent so little time in Charles City, and I was so young, that I wasn't aware of what I am sure was happening behind closed doors. :)

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      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      I grew up on the other side of the state - but a lot is very familiar! Thanks for sharing!! ;-)

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DrBill, just one more reason for me to like you. Iowa...Missouri....great places to grow up. Solid values.....thank you once again.

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      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Bill, you have stirred such memories in me, from so long ago, my grandpa grew corn, but cotton was what he grew to make a living (Mama and the Prowler) hub is a picture of me in the cotton patch.

      Yes it was a simple time, and I miss those days.

      Thank you my friend for sharing those memories with us.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Shyron, you found one of my favorite hubs because of those memories. One day I will live on a farm in the country and then I will be at peace. Thank you for appreciating this one.

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      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      This looks and sounds so familiar... I grew up in Coon Rapids, Iowa. Looks and sounds much the same. Also, as Deputy Commissioner of the Iowa Department of Social Services, in my little grey VW bug, I personally visited all 99 Iowa counties over an eighteen month period in the early 1970s as we reorganized the "welfare" delivery system under a new law. Visited every county seat at least once. Ah, the memories... ;-)

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dr. Bill, I knew you were good people, but you just proved it. I'd move to Iowa tomorrow, but I'm afraid my wife isn't as enamored on it as I am.

      Thanks for stopping by my friend.

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      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      It is really a great place "to be from!" - in my view... ;-)

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      No doubt Dr. Bill!

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      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 years ago from Philippines

      Life was so much simpler then. People connected personally rather than online, and you knew every bit of your neighborhood and had wonderful things to do, instead of staying in playing video games. As a child I lived in Los Angeles and every afternoon the neighborhood children would play hide and seek, kick the can, and sometimes we'd play indoor board games like monopoly. I wonder how our children will look back on their childhood memories, and what kind of nostalgia they will associate with it -- smells, touch, sights, the losing if breath from running. Only time will tell.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mona, that is a beautiful reflection. I wonder, indeed, what today's kids will remember of their youth. I, for one, am happy I grew up when I did. Great memories. Thank you!

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      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      How delightful to ride down that street with you and your uncle and remember the old days when people mattered. It brought back the sound of the ice cream truck, getting sprayed with the hose, playing hide-n-seek until dark, catching fire-flies in an old glass jar. Thanks for the lovely trip down memory lane, Bill.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Peg! So many good memories, and they all lead me to wonder why we can't recapture them.

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      Don A. Hoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Billybuc. I was born in Des Moines but the family moved to Minneapolis when I was six. I have lived in several places in Iowa since, Forest City, Quad Cities, Iowa City. People in neighboring states like to make fun of Iowa, but they are not that much different. basically they are folks with roots in agriculture.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dahoglund, all the more reason for me to follow you. :) Any friend of Iowa is a friend of mine. Thanks for following and being here.

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      FitnezzJim 2 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

      This brings back memories of traveling between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids in the 60's, before the interstate was there. My grandfather worked at the University and my uncle was up in C.R. Last I was there, things had changed, and it was clear I had been away far too long. The tractors in the fields were so big I mistook them for some kind of army tanks. Not good when your family owns farms.

      Tanks for the memories.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      FitnezzJim, thanks for the visit and for sharing your memories. I'm sad to see the family farms disappearing in this country. Feels like a huge chunk of our heritage is going with them.

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      stella vadakin 19 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Billybuc, This was a great story of a simpler time, when people were not in a big hurry. People took the time to know their neighbors and helped each other out. I can remember all that you wrote, but I do not see any of it coming back again. I have them in my mind and heart.

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      Bill Holland 19 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Lady, I suspect you are right. I doubt we'll be seeing any of it coming back...I hope I'm wrong.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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      Randa Awn Handler 15 months ago from USA

      We all need to remember simpler times! Thanks for sharing!

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      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You are very welcome, Randa! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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      Graham Lee 9 months ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Bill. Absolutely the very best writing around. I was there with you all the way. A wonderful story with a sad ending. One question though; what is a root beer float? We don't have it/them over in the uk.

      Graham.

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      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Graham, I thank you so very much for your kindness. This one was special to me and I'm glad that came through in the words. As for a root beer float, it's simply vanilla ice cream in a tall glass with root beer....two or three scoops of ice cream and fill the rest of the glass with root beer....so very tasty!

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      Graham Lee 9 months ago from Lancashire. England.

      Thanks Bill it sounds delicious.

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      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It really is, Graham, and always reminds me of my childhood.

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