The History Corner
Here we will be posting articles and photos that originally
appeared in the 'History Corner' section of The Plainview News.
7. 1958 - A Year Packed Full of Plainview Memories
This week’s photo shows Plainview’s main street about 1958, showing the familiar Cook’s Plainview Hardware on the left, with the hotel, minus its reconstructed balcony, center stage. The shadow of city hall dominates the street, while cars and people are unaware they are being captured on film for future historians to relish.
1958 began the move into the new elementary school building with 440 students moving books and desks and making the new space ‘home’. St. Joachims new school building opened around the same time in January with 34 religion classes instructing 412 pupils.
It was “Family Night” at the GEM theater where for one meager dollar the whole family could enjoy a night out (parents and unmarried children), and Friday night shopping was introduced, sponsored by the Plainview Commercial Club, ending the many years of Saturday night outings for area shoppers.
In May a “Clean Up Day at Carley” was held at Carley State Park and over 7000 trees (white and red pine, maple and oak) were planted.
The Plainview JC’s were organized with lawyer John McHardy as president. Later that fall the Mrs. JC’s would follow suit. Neil Lance was appointed Plainview’s official new Post Master just in time to see postal rates soar to 4 cents first class, 3 cents postals, and 7 cents for air mail.
The Minnesota State Centennial Train made its appearance in Wabasha, and on Tuesday, June 13th Plainview held its annual community picnic at Whitewater State Park.
In July the paper announced ‘Ladies Day’ at Dr. Galbe’s Swimming Pool, located on the north edge of the city. Coast to Coast stores remodeled their facility and it was noted that Gold Bond stamps were now offered in five Plainview stores, enabling Plainview lady shoppers to fill those coupon books even faster!
September 4th-7th was the annual “Fall Festival” held on Plainview streets and a time for everyone to come together and celebrate the fall season. Geo. Dickman and his wife Emma celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary, quite an accomplishment for any married couple.
And last but not least, the Farm Bureau was busy getting the fire number identification system in shape for rural residents.
There were other events in 1958 that could have been added to this article, but perhaps this is enough for now to mull over and enjoy. If you were a part of this era, take time and share your 1958 memories with someone, and enjoy the photos of Plainview’s main street making its own memories for this week’s readers.
Below is a small gallary of photos of mainstreet from 1958.
8. When the Movie Makers Came to Plainview
It was thirty years ago when filming crews invaded Plainview for two days to produce a promotional video of the area. It was spearheaded by the Plainview Economic Development Committee and part of the Star City Program. The video would highlight the town’s offerings and be made available to help promote the town to prospective business and industry.
Chick McKuen, a former WCCO anchorman, was hired to write the script ad narrate the production, and to prepare himself for the task, the man with the “gallop along voice” paid a visit to Plainview in April on a fact finding mission. It was a session of talking and listening for McKuen, and the small town Iowa boy went away with a good feel for the community after spending an enjoyable time probing and nudging and asking over and over again “Why do you like Plainview?”.
The crews from Master Video Productions based in Minneapolis arrived in August for two days of recording. Residents were urged to come to town for a chance to “star” in the Plainview film. The first day was dubbed “Movie Day in Plainview” by the local paper and the day was spent with location shots and interviews of individuals, wrapping up at a Lions Club meeting in the evening.
The crew returned on Sunday of Corn on the Cob to capture Plainview’s unique celebration and when taping was finished, Chick McKuen told the city “we’ve had a good day for filming and met some great people. The crew has captured the atmosphere and feeling of the town.”.
Shown in this week’s photo are the crew and McKuen setup in front of Boyd’s Barbershop. The filming strategy was usually the same: put the people in front of the camera and have McKuen off to the side asking questions. And as Lavern Boyd was put through the paces, facing the same question others had faced: “Why do you like Plainview?” McKuen finally go the “gem” of a reply he was looking for. Boyd put it this way: “Well you know if I walked the streets of the Twin Cities and said ‘Hi’ to everyone I saw like I do here… well they’d probably lock me up!” That got a chuckle from McKuen and summed up one more reason why people liked Plainview.
The video that was shot to promote the town has, thirty years later, taken on a new characteristic. Now it is a unique glimpse into Plainview’s past and a fantastic documentary of a segment of the town’s history. It may not have been a Hollywood production, but it captured the heart and soul of a small town, and it is now remembered as the time the movie makers came to Plainview!
9. 1973 - A Very Busy Year in Plainview
Covering the highlights of 1973 isn’t an easy task, but this week’s photo, taken that summer as several businesses along the south side of Broadway underwent a transformation with the addition of a nearly half block facelift, gives inspiration to wondering what else happened that year.
“Music Under the Big Top”, the school’s pop concert, under the direction of Don and Jan Fiskum, played to two full house audiences that year in February. Ownership of the local golf course, a mere five years old, went from the Elgin-Plainview Golf Corporation to George Mason. Along with new ownership came a name change from Windcrest to Piper Hills.
First National Bank (now Foresight Bank) bought the Kruger-Murphy building and made plans for the construction of a new facility. Alfred Schuchard retired and 51 ½ years in the sand and gravel business, selling to Marty DeVries. At the time, Schuchard was the oldest businessman in Plainview.
1973 was also the 5th anniversary of the nursing home that opened with its first patient June 26, 1968 and over the five-year period had over 250 admissions.
Bill Markus, recent high school graduate, undertook a 1,500 mile twenty-day bike tour through Canada. And Plainview, annual celebration, Corn Day, hosted a crowd of 2,000. The even included a horse show, garden tractor pull, and of course, a parade.
Nathan Langum, a 39-year businessman who came to the area in 1939 from South Dakota and engaged in the produce and show business over the many years of his career, sold out to Terry LaBare.
One of the hottest issues of the year caused a one-hour debate at a city council meeting. The topic: angle parking in Plainview. By 1973 the last block of angle parking in town, along 3rd St NW was down away with, citing overcrowded and dangerous conditions. The headlines declared “Angle Parking in Plainview Abolished”. It was the end of an era for area drivers.
Dutch Elm disease continued to spread through the city with four trees tagged for removal. In a few years, all the elm trees would disappear.
Jerry Eckstein was honored as State Athletic Director of the Year. Coming to Plainview in 1941, Jerry wore many ‘hats’ as he served his community over the many years.
1973 also saw the beginning of a Plainview Ambulance Service with Bill Wohlers as director. And after 30 years as a volunteer on the Plainview Fire Department, John Appel retired as Chief of the organization.
1973 was a busy year with many other noteworthy events happening that year, but for now, enjoy this week’s photo of a 1973 remodeling project and a few of the highlights from that year.
10. The History of the Plainview School
Plainview's first "graded school" was built in 1868. It contained 2 tons of nails and 500 lights of glass. Lumber was hauled from Wabasha by wagon. It was build for a total cost of $12,750. The bell for the tower was from an old abandoned steamboat. Stories have been told that you could sit in the bell tower and shake the whole building.
In 1903 a new building, costing $36,000 for the 100 x 66 foot structure, was built directly in front of the old building. Students could reach out the windows and almost touch the new building going up. When completed, the former building was sold at auction for $631 and torn down. Souvenir plates with photos of the buildings were sold by a local jeweler.
On Lincoln's birthday, February 29th, 1924, the Plainview school building was consumed by fire. It was discovered by the janitor when he tired to enter the building that morning. The only thing surviving the fire was a teacher's hand bell, which is on display at the history center. Faulty wiring was blamed for the blaze.
Built in 1924 at a cost of $160,000 the new 124 x 136 foot structure was of the Gothic style trimmed with Kasota stone containing over 9 tones of plaster mix. The building was finished one month ahead of schedule.
In 1957 after many rural school districts consolidated with Plainview, and addition was built to the west of the 1924 building with many houses moved to make way for the expansion. The high school gymnasium was actually constructed right in the middle of Liberty St (6th St), which had been closed for the expansion.
In 1970 a $13 million wrap around addition was added to address over crowding. The new addition contained eight elementary class rooms, and elementary gym, kitchen, locker rooms, science labs, music area, and shop complex.
In 1991 a bond for a $42 million elementary wing, multipurpose room, elevator and high school basement remodeling project passed by 63 votes. Four houses were cleared off the site before discovering soft soil conditions, forcing a delay of several months while sand and gravel were hauled onto the site. Classes moved into the building in March of 1994.
There have been other changes to the school besides the ones that we've listed, but we decided list the ones that resulted in massive changes that were visible to the outside public. We have included a number of photos to go along with the events and buildings.
11. Up, Up and Away! Plainview from the Air!
This week’s photo demands sharp eyes and a magnifying glass to get the full value of its details. Taken in 1986, some landmarks remain the same, but some, like the familiar water tower, the Shell gas station, and the “warehouse” behind the old Cook’s Hardware store have disappeared.
There was a lot going in 1986. A mandatory seat belt law went into effect, dictating drivers, front seat passengers, and children under the age of 11 in the back seat be buckled in. 911 swung into the full service county wide and the shuttle accident was fresh on people’s minds.
There was plenty going on in local news as well. The Miller-Harrington and Peoples agencies merged, forming the new Greenwood Agency, headquarting themselves in their new office space in the former Cook’s Hardware Building. Schad & Zabel became partners with their business on Broadway, and Randy Doughty, from Winthrop, joined the Plainview police force.
There were some farewells too. Ray Blowers retired from city employment after 29 years. From 1957 until 1970, he was a one-man city crew, plowing streets and doing whatever had to be done, doing his part to make Plainview a great place to live.
Haimes Chevrolet closed after nearly 40 years in the car business. Don Haimes sold out because of health concerns and declining sales, leaving Plainview without any care dealerships for the first time since the turn of the century.
Marian Elgin retired from Hillcrest Nursing home after nearly 40 years in nursing. Many remember her working in Dr. Mahle’s office for 19 years. She was a familiar and caring face to those needing assistance over the years.
Frances Buringa was named “Mom of the Year” in the second annual event sponsored by local merchants, and Mead Klavetter, 13-year-old son of Bob and Julie Klavetter, received the Eagle Scout award. He was the first scout in almost 20 years to do so.
And then there was Plainview’s first and last bank robbery.
Custodian Stanley Wood was over powered at night and the thief made off with several bags of quarters, each containing nearly $600 dollars weighing more than the villain bargained for. He ended up stashing some of the loot under a rhubarb patch in a nearby neighbor’s garden. A police stakeout captured the culprit the next night, and all of the money, about $1,800 worth, was returned, making the motto “crime doesn’t pay” a reality for the would be robber.
It wasn’t that long ago, but 1986 was a busy and interesting year full of some forgotten memories. There were many more events that year, but these are enough to get you started in searching out the details from the week’s photo taken up in the air.
12. Theaters, Water Towers, and Aeroplanes – an Interesting Plainview Story
The captivating photo of Plainview would have gone undated except for one small clue on the marquee of the GEM Theater. The words “Golddigger” and “Broadway” stand out clearly, advertising the upcoming movie.
A lot of “digging” uncovered the desired information. For on Monday, and Tuesday, June 22, 23, and 24, 1930 the show “The Gold Diggers of Broadway” was the feature film at the GEM, with “Nuff Sed”, a comedy, “Heading South” and Paramount News all featured with shows Sunday at 2:30, 6:45, and 8:45 and Monday and Tuesday shows at 8:00. Prices were 10 and 40 cents for matinee and 20 and 50 cents for night shows.
And do you know what the patrons were probably talking about while waiting for the feature to begin? Read this excerpt from the Plainview NEWS and find out:
“Aviators will have no trouble getting their bearings over Plainview in the future. The Village Council has replaced the old weather vane on top of the water tower with an aviation wind indicator, a cloth bag, which fills and flows with the wind. It indicates to some extent the strength of the wind and adapts itself readily to the wind’s direction. Its color is yellow to make it easily discernible.
On the roof of the tank, yellow stripes are painted and lettered N and S to indicate the north and south direction. At the base of the indicator staff they have placed a 250-watt electric light to show the direction stripes and wind indicator at night. On the sides of the take ‘Plainview’ is painted in large letters. The action is advocated by aviation interests and as Plainview is not far off two of the main air routes the directions may save some planes considerable time. There have already been occasions this spring when planes had to do considerable flying over the city to get their bearings.”
The airplane craze was flooding the town with the sale of tickets for a giveaway Curtis-Kobin cabin aeroplane worth $4000 at the upcoming 10th Annual First District Legion Convention to be held in Plainview in the end of June. Money raised from the sale of tickets would benefit disabled and needy veterans and their families.
Max Conrad, of Winona flying fame, was on hand for the convention giving free rides and doing stunts. Thousands attended the Plainview sponsored event and at the end of the festivities, the anticipated drawing was held.
Thomas Benson, a farmer living four miles south of Rushford and ex-serviceman, was the winner. Whether he ever flew over the Plainview water tower to check it out is unknown. In fact, there is probably a very good story out there about Mr. Benson and his aeroplane.
But for now, we’ll have to be satisfied with this photo of Plainview and “The Gold Diggers of Broadway” and the story of the aeroplane craze and Plainview’s water tower in 1930.
Sorry for the low quality picture. We were unable to locate the original.