Monday, July 18, 2011

Part 2: A sentimental journey

I was born in Iowa, and we lived there until I was in the third or fourth grade.  My parents were the local telephone operators in Villisca, Nodaway, and Guss; but the house at Guss is the one I remember best, and where we lived the longest.  
The GPS wanted us to travel north on I-29, but I had already planned on using 71, which is pretty much of a straight shot to where we were going.  Besides, portions of I-29 are under water in Iowa.  I wanted to take a little side trip to Guss; although I was very young, I have fond memories of the place and the people who lived there.  I've mentioned all this before, as well as the trip I took there in the mid-nineties with my nephew, his wife, and my mother.  
Guss, 1912 (found on the Internet)
Guss is not really a town at all, although it's listed on some maps.  Our GPS had never heard of it, so I crawled the Internet to find out how to get there.  The Methodist Church, which was just up the road from our house, is still alive and well; so when I found directions to that, I knew I had it made.  My confidence that we were on the right road was boosted when we saw this sign:  

  Gravel road, by the way.  

Here's what's left of Edgar Hampell's store.  

Here's how it looked in 1996, with my mom walking around the property.  Looking at this picture, I realize the house next door was abandoned at that time.  It is now inhabited.  

This is the inside of the store; the floor is mostly rotted away.  The counter with the cash register was on the left.  I had many a delicious hand-dipped ice cream cone there.  
Edgar, Blanche, and their son Gail lived next door to the store.  Blanche was a wonderful housekeeper and there was never anything out of place in her home.  

Whoever lives there now, they seemed like an unkept bunch, people of varying ages sitting out in the yard suffering from the heat.  

This is where the switchboard house once stood, the place I remember so well from my early childhood.  Only two things I recall are still there, so I cropped the above photo to show them better:  

The pump that was just outside the back porch, and the hill where the celler was (where you see bare dirt).   

The Methodist Church doesn't really look so different after all these years.  We attended the Church of Christ in Hepburn, but Mother let me go to vacation Bible school here, and we always went to their Christmas programs.  They also sponsored community plays in which my mother sometimes took part.  

In 1996 Mitchell's blacksmith shop was still standing; it was almost directly across the road from the switchboard house.  Now it's gone, and I couldn't even tell it had ever been there.  

Right next door to where the switchboard house used to be we saw this old house, occupied by some more free-spirit people (I didn't smell a meth lab, though).  I did not recall that there was a house so close to ours, but I called my sister this morning and she said yes, that was Mr. Maxwell's house.  I remember him and his house, I just didn't know he lived so close to us.

My next entry will be a walk around the Guss cemetery.  These little glimpses into my childhood are probably boring to most of my readers, but I promise that after I'm done with them and get back to the actual camping trip, you will be entertained.


madcobug said...

I enjoyed the trip into the past. It was entertainment to me. Thanks for sharing.

Margaret said...

It's always interesting, but poignant to revisit the past. Glad you had a chance to do so and I loved the photos. What does a meth lab smell like?

Marlene said...

I like checking out pics of old houses. I guess it brings back memories of the past. Altho the past wasn't so great. I once snagged a picture of an old motel from your sons blog (sorry) and I had it as a desktop pic for a long time. And now that I think of it, it went to picture heaven along with all the others when I lost my computer a few weeks ago. sniff sniff.

Hollie said...

Interesting how things change!

Paula said...

Not at all boring. We called the switchboard house in our town the telephone office. Wish I had a picture of it as I can remember exactly what it looked like and smell the cigar smell of the telephone booth. Have you ever noticed Methodist churches are almost always painted white?

Anonymous said...

more more more LOL

nroden said...

I was amazed at how quickly the store deteriorated since 1996. It makes life seem so temporary. Someone worked hard to build that store and to keep it open. Sometimes we think we're working on something permanent, that will leave a legacy, and it turns out that we were just getting by for the time.