Marilynn Hoskinson has always kept us moving!

By CHUCK OFFENBURGER

JEFFERSON, Iowa, Dec. 21, 2018 — As all who know her will attest, Marilynn Hoskinson, even at 91 years old, is a dynamo. She always has been.

Student, cheerleader, wife, mother, grandmother, a 30-year banker with Home State Bank, singer, piano & organ player, painter, cross-stitcher, devoted reader, crossword puzzle addict, 4-time cancer survivor and outstanding volunteer leader for First Presbyterian Church, for the Jefferson B.P.O. DOES Drove #196, for the Greene County Iowa Historical Society and other groups.

“I have two words that are my key words for life,” she said in a recent chat in her Jefferson home. “They are ‘Keep moving!’

“You have to,” she continued. “You can’t just sit in a chair and piss & moan. I say this all the time: ‘Thank you, God, for all the things I can do, and I’ll keep doing them until I can’t.’ ”

Marilynn Hoskinson

O.K., I said, since you’re already fired up, will you please do that old favorite Grand Junction High School cheer of yours for me again? She reached back more than 80 years – “it actually came from cheerleaders one generation before me,” she said – and whooped it:

Ta-hick, ta-minnie,
Ta-zolly-zock,
Ta-boom, ta-larrie –
Yoo-hoo!

“And we waved at the opponents’ crowd when we yelled the ‘Yoo-hoo!’ ” she said. “They didn’t like us much.”

We salute her now because of her tremendous service to the historical society the past 25 years or so. She served a dozen years on the board of directors, and a decade of that as treasurer. She’s done programs for us on women’s hats, Spring Lake Park, Grand Junction history and, of course, the one-room country schools of an earlier era.

“Country schools have always been a favorite subject for me, probably at first because I attended one and I remember it so well,” she said.

That was out in the rural neighborhood around Spring Lake, from about 1931 to 1935, when her family moved into Grand Junction. That school, “Hardin No. 6,” was one of more than 70 rural schools operating in Greene County then. Young teacher Miss Liberty Maye Mattson had 20 students together in one room, with all eight grades represented. Hoskinson looks back on it now and is amazed at the challenge the teachers had, but what an advantage it was for students.

“I swear, for me it was like a Head Start program,” she reflected. “I learned so much by listening to the older kids recite their lessons.”

In the 1990s, the Minnihan family donated to Greene County the old “Bristol No. 7” school that was on their farm. The historic schoolhouse was moved to the county fairgrounds, and the fair board asked the historical society to do something worthwhile with it. The society has maintained the building, opening it for visiting individuals and groups, and having it open for display during the fair each summer.

For a dozen years, Hoskinson has dressed as a country school teacher and served as a “docent,” doing historical interpretations of what education was like when it was held in such one-room quarters.

“I decided that I’d bow out of that after this last summer’s fair,” she said. “It was time to turn it over to another generation.”

Becki Cunningham, a historical society board member from Paton, has volunteered in the school house with Hoskinson the last couple years to learn the stories that we can share on into the future.

What are Hoskinson’s views of history and the historical society, after all she’s contributed?

“Well, first, I love history,” she said. “If I’d have gone to college, I probably would’ve become a history teacher. And I love our historical society. I think it’s done a tremendous job.

Marilynn and Leon Hoskinson.

“My first concern about it, looking to the future, is that we need to get younger people involved, and that’s pretty doggoned tough to do today – in our organizations, our churches, in almost anything else. People are so busy!

“Some younger people probably don’t give a rip about local history right now, but when they’ve lived longer in a place, they start wondering why things are like they are, and who did what in the past. We need to try to keep them interested, and I think we’re doing that with new exhibits at the museum, new topics in our monthly programs, and doing more local history on TV.

“I’ve guided a lot of people through the museum over the years, and I notice that if you ask them what they’re interested in, you can almost always connect them with something in the museum. And then you build on that.”

Marilynn’s husband Leon Hoskinson, a farmer, died in 1997. Their daughters are Becky, a retired teacher in Mason City; Kathy, who is retired from the phone system in Waterloo, and Tracy, a retired early-learning teacher and medical insurance worker in Ogden. Marilyn has four grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

The author of this story, Chuck Offenburger, of Cooper, is a member of the board of directors of the Greene County Iowa Historical Society.  You can write him at chuck@Offenburger.com.

A trip back in time, to Christmas 1950, right here in Greene County

By MARY WEAVER

RIPPEY, Iowa, Dec. 15, 2018 – Let’s make a trip back to Christmastime, 68 years ago.  At that time, this writer knew that Santa Claus would be coming and delivering presents to our house on Christmas Eve.

I have vivid memories of visiting the Lauver Hardware store on Main Street of Rippey.  It was a two-story building, but the second floor was actually a balcony with railing similar to a picket fence. The floor only extended about six feet from the walls. At Christmas, the balcony had toys, lots of toys, which could be easily viewed from the first floor.

Mary Weaver ProfileI can recall scooters, pull wagons, tricycles, bicycles, large dolls with their eyes open as they were standing, along with huge soft furry teddy bears that peered down on me when I went in with my parents. 

That year Santa Claus brought me a record player. A one-speed turntable housed in a dark green lizard skin cover.  It could be closed like a suitcase with an ivory colored handle, and easily transported.  It was just like one I had seen at Lauver’s store.

For the adults, televisions were available, along with refrigerators, and automatic washers and dryers, and even a “deep freezer.”

It was a time of prosperity and joy for the 15,000 residents living in Greene County. World War II had ended five years earlier and though we were in the Korean conflict, at that time it was of minimal impact on most of the population.

The Jefferson Herald published on December 14, 1950, had 18 pages. There were numerous published letters to Santa Claus.  

Santa actually arrived in the area by airplane at the Jefferson Airport, and was transported to town in the police chief’s car. He was available to meet children at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Christmas trees were available at Smith’s Fruit Market, at a cost of 98 cents and up, according to their ad. The Greene County Treasurer listed 26 new car registrations, along with the name of the individual and the make of the automobile.

A 16-inch Westinghouse TV was available at Lyon Electric at a cost of $349.95, which in our 2018 dollars would be approximately $3,500.

Maybe one of the most unique listings was from C.H. Daubendiek, manager of the Jefferson Telephone Company.  In an add, he listed 200 names and phone numbers that had been added or changed since April. He suggested the ad be clipped and placed in your current phone book.

Social life and charitable giving were in place 68 years ago, and exemplified by an ad from the Beta Tau Delta sorority,  which was sponsoring a Dec. 20 ball with a live band.  Tickets to the event were $1 per person.

Movie goers were able to see “Annie Get your Gun” at the Iowa Theater in a continuous showing on Sunday afternoon.  A price was not printed in the ad, but a former attendee has told me movies were 10 cents.

Greene County residents had a joyous Christmas in 1950, and the Greene County Historical Society wishes another for all here in 2018.

You can comment on this story in the space below here, or write directly to the columnist by email at mweaver235@gmail.com. The author, who lives outside Rippey, is an active member of the Greene County Historical Society.

New president David John has Greene County roots as deep as you can get

By CHUCK OFFENBURGER

JEFFERSON, Iowa, Dec. 12, 2018 — David John, who was elected president of the Greene County Iowa Historical Society for 2019 at a meeting of the membership Dec. 7 , is about as deeply-rooted a Greene Countian as anyone around here today could be.

“My namesake and great-great-grandfather David John settled here with his family in 1856 and farmed west of Rippey,” said the current David John, 78, a retired school guidance counselor who lives outside Jefferson.

“They were one of about 150 families of settlers who moved in here between 1854 and 1856, probably from Missouri, Kentucky and Illinois,” John said. “I’m fairly sure my great-great-grandfather first stopped in Adel for a time, but then came on up here by river.”

It’s quite a heritage.

David John, newly-elected president of the Greene County Iowa Historical Society, shown here in the museum in Jefferson.

His great-grandfather John B. John was among the young men who were students at the early Brand School in our Washington Township. That’s the school from where instructor Azor Mills and all 30 students, including John B. John, marched off together for Civil War service.

Besides John as president, the other newly-elected are Margaret Hamilton, of Jefferson, programs director; Joyce Ausberger, of Jefferson, secretary; Becki Cunningham, of Paton, returns as treasurer, and Dale Hanaman, of Rippey, past-president.

David John spent his early years in Bagley, where his father was a mechanic for the local farm implement dealer. By David’s fourth grade year, the family moved to Osceola in south central Iowa where his father worked for a larger implement dealer. David graduated from high school there in 1958. He worked construction and hauled grain until 1963 when he was drafted into the Army. He was trained as a military truck driver, and served two years active duty in Missouri and Texas, then two more years in the Army Reserves in Ames.

Using the “GI Bill,” he started his college work in January, 1966, at Boone Junior College. After three semesters, he transferred to the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, where he eventually graduated with a degree in social studies with an emphasis in political science.

It was at UNI that David met Carol Norgren, of Rippey, a 1965 graduate of East Greene High School, who was studying library science in college.

After graduating and marrying, they began their education careers in eastern Iowa, Carol as a school librarian and David teaching government and economics at the high school level. David also earned his master’s degree from the University of Iowa in K-12 guidance counseling.

From ’72 to ’79, the Johns served a school district in Burlington, Ill.

But they maintained strong ties back in Iowa. Early participants in the adult bicycling boom of the 1970s, they rode three of the earliest RAGBRAIs. And even though they were living in Illinois, they subscribed to the Des Moines Register “so we could get the ads for teaching jobs,” David said.

In 1979, when they read that the Jefferson Community Schools were advertising for a high school librarian and an elementary-level guidance counselor, they jumped at the opportunities. They got the jobs and finished their careers here, David retiring in 2001 and Carol in 2002. During their time in the schools here, David served as resident of the Jefferson Education Association for several terms.

The Johns have traveled extensively, visiting 49 of the United States, missing only Hawaii, and to all the provinces of Canada. They’ve continued bicycling, too, and have ridden their Bacchetta recumbents in Florida, Ohio, Minnesota, Colorado, Wisconsin and Idaho besides Iowa.

“I’ve always loved history, and my favorite reading has been historical biographies,” David said. “Even though my family has a lot of history around here, I wasn’t as interested in local history until more recent years. We didn’t get involved in the historical society organization, but we have been attending a lot of the programs and have been getting more interested all the time.”

After being asked to consider the presidency of the historical society, he said he’s been reading Tom Morain’s acclaimed 1988 history of Greene County, “Prairie Grass Roots,” and has been fascinated by it. That covers from white settlement of the area in the 1850s until the 1930s.

John said one think he wants to work on is “to tie Greene County history more into the high school history classes here.”  Another goal – “get more people involved in the historical society.”

At Dec. 7 meeting, new officers, newsletter, 2019 programs & holiday music

JEFFERSON, Iowa, Dec. 3, 2018 — The Greene County Iowa Historical Society will close its programming for 2018 with the annual holiday-themed lunch and meeting on Friday, Dec. 7, at the Greenewood Center in Jefferson.

The annual election of officers will be held, and a newsletter covering 2018 and 2019 activities will be distributed — and that will include the schedule of monthly and special programs to be held in ’19.

Nominees for 2019 officers are David John, of Jefferson, as president; Margaret Hamilton, of Jefferson, programs director; Joyce Ausberger, of Jefferson, secretary; Becki Cunningham, of Paton, treasurer, and Dale Hanaman, of Rippey, past-president. Nominations will be accepted from the membership at the meeting, too.

A special feature will be musical entertainment by Greene County High School band members, led by director Wes Anderson.

The lunch requires RSVPs by midday on Wednesday, Dec. 5, with members calling their community contacts, while the public can make reservations with vice-president Nancy Hanaman at (515) 436-7684. Lunch is $8 for members and $10 for non-members.

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    There have been three courthouses built where the Greene County Courthouse stands today.  Ground was broken on the current courthouse in November of 1915, the cornerstone was set in May 1916 and the new building was dedicated in October of 1917. The centennial celebration of the courthouse is already underway, with events being planned by the “Courthouse 100” committee, with support from the Greene County Historical Society.  You can learn more about the courthouse history and the celebration plans on the Facebook page “Courthouse 100: Greene County, Iowa.”

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