More shared on Darst saga
Glimpses of Yesteryear
Wednesday, February 20, 2013 5:49 AM
Last week we began the story of LuVerne Darst Paine, a woman who grew up in Spring Valley. She recorded many memories of living here in the early 1900s, and we continue that saga today.
Items one could enjoy in the City Park on South Broadway and Church Street schoolhouse hill. For some reason on the old plat maps, the park and school were situated on ‘Church Square.’
In the spring of 1924, the George Darst family moved to Mr. Doyle's house (he was a bachelor) to rent part of the space. The house was high on the southwest corner of Section Avenue and Church Street, adjacent to the city park north of the Molstad School. The park boasted a grandstand where in the summer they could hear Wednesday night band concerts, or splash in the lovely fountain in the center of the park.
There was a steep bluff along Church Street, but the children loved the schoolhouse hill for sledding in the winter since they could slide through the park and all the way down the hill to the library. A machine gun was mounted on a concrete block they could climb on, "a memorial of some kind." The southeast part of town was known as Dogtown, and the school janitor, Mr. Jero, lived there. They heard he was paid $l00 a month and thought he must be rich.
In winter, work was hard to come by, but LuVerne's dad could shovel and haul manure for Tom Kirwin for $2 a day, and they could charge groceries at Beagle's store. In spring and summer they raised a large vegetable garden for food. The Ruud family, which lived on a farm, had seven daughters, the youngest, Onie, a friend to LuVerne. She recalled harvest time when women pooled their resources to serve big meals to the threshers; she and Onie were to "stay out of the way."
Mrs. Caflisch lived next door to the south; her husband operated a blacksmith shop downtown. As soon as LuVerne could read, her brother, Claude, took her to the library and showed her how to find books. It was a wonderful, warm, toasty place to read, as their home was so cold.
When the staple factory opened, her mother found work there, which made a huge difference - they could now buy coal and groceries. One spring LuVerne and a friend, Sylvia Turner, hiked out into the country to pick wildflowers and pussy willows. They came across a "hobo camp," which intrigued them; they checked it out and found many blankets and dishes, but they walked away fast, not wanting to be found near the camp.
Although the children had been baptized at the Methodist Church thanks to Mrs. Spencer, the United Brethren Church was only half a block away and was where all the neighbor kids attended. The pastor and his wife loved children and made it so much fun that they went there instead.
The city dammed up Spring Valley Creek to create Lake George, where they liked the swimming. LuVerne got so tanned, Mrs. Webster (the Websters had a grocery store) said about her, "... and I thought Mavis had the darkest neck in town!" When the lake froze over in the winter, they enjoyed skating there.
Claude was friends with Floyd Hillestead and he often "stayed over" to help Floyd with farm chores. Claude was about 12 when he worked for Mr. Mlinar at the theater, selling popcorn. He got 2 cents for every bag he sold, and was allowed to see all the movies for free. Mlinar gave him tickets for his mother and sisters to see "Ramona," which they loved, so she tells. Claude was also allowed to sell Wolverine Salve for extra cash, but their mother thought it was too much like begging and the girls were not allowed to do it.
LuVerne attended Spring Valley High School through her sophomore year. Depression years took a toll; her father became disabled due to arthritis in his hands and could not work so the parents moved to Rochester where her mother could find work. Her sister Devona went to live with Carother grandparents; Claude had left home at age 16 and was working in town and LuVerne went to live with uncle and aunt, Ernest and Ann Darst, in Superior, Wis., where she graduated from high school.
In 1942, LuVerne was working in Chicago when she met Robert Paine, who was soon drafted into the Army Air Corps. They married in September and then lived in Casper, Wyo. Robert Allan, Jr. (Pete) was born in 1943; and three more children were born to Bob and LuVerne - Paul John, Fred and Michael. LuVerne continued her life story, and it was her son, Pete, and niece, Claudia Darst Gassle, who visited Spring Valley this past year. Pete generously shared his mother's "Life Story," which will be added to the historical society files.
We encourage others to contribute genealogy or life stories to the society for future generations to ponder. Photographs are much valued; copies can be made and originals returned. In the adjacent photo, note the city park that was located north of the Molstad School overlooking downtown Spring Valley. We see the World War I naval gun that must have been donated to the scrap iron drives in World War II, the beautiful fountain, and the bandstand.
When considering class reunions, keep the society in mind for visits, history contributions and monetary gifts as well.
Blessings for the continuing year!