By Roz Weis
By Roz Weis

    EIGHTY YEARS AGO:  The Decorah High School basketball players will play a hard schedule again this year. Durwin Bernatz, who played in a few games last year before he was injured, will definitely be available for the team this year. Also returning are Philip (Bud) Bernatz and Eddie Omdahl, Theodore Jacobson, Richard Dinger, John Hove, David Preus, Wendel McConnell, Charles Rosell and Bruce Mallum. Coaching the boys is Al Hancer.

…The proprietor of a local beer parlor who was arrested the other night for selling beer on Sunday has been found not guilty in the court of Justice of the Peace Cutting.

…The Threshermen will give a big free dance at Matter’s this Thursday night, and locals are invited to dance to your heart’s delight.

…FOR SALE: Like new player piano. Bench and rolls included. $38.52.

…Mrs. L.W. Buckton will head the Decorah Hospital Club Unit this next year.

…A new all-weather road to Bluffton should be ready in 1937. The new road follows the old road for a considerable distance, but eliminates two bad curves with a re-location near the Arthur Crane farm. Rapid progress is being made.

…The dreaded pneumonia and flu epidemic that has swept the Middle West is most serious locally according to all local physicians. It is reportedly the worst epidemic of its kind since war days of 1918. Patients are reminded to stay in bed and keep warm. “Don’t try to eat,” said one local doctor. Starve yourself for a few days. Don’t even eat a soft-boiled egg. Tea, toast and fruit juice is about all. Drink lots of water too.

…A sixty-two week cooperative plan of publishing the Decorah Public Opinion and the Decorah Journal on different days will have been completed. The Public Opinion will reach readers on Tuesday and the Journal is published on Thursdays.

…Two wild deer arrived in the Cresco area from Ledges State Park in the central Iowa community of Boone. It is anticipated that the deer also will travel to Winneshiek County and will run at large in dense timber areas. Farmers may see them on their premises and are requested to put out alfalfa hay, which is their favorite food. Everybody is asked to do all possible for THEIR PROTECTION. It is very unusual to spot deer in these parts.

…Ole Dotseth, who has operated the bakery business here in town for nearly 40 years, has made a deal for the sale of his bakery to a Waukon man.

…Mrs. Myrtle Springer has constructed a cinder block five-stall garage at the rear of the Springer Hotel. It is on a site where a large barn stood, which was recently destroyed by fire. All of the stalls will be for rent.

…Lawrence Welk, who has been billed as America’s foremost dance orchestra man, will play at Matter’s Ballroom on Dec. 29.

…Canoe Ridge Lutheran Church is hosting a lutefisk supper Dec. 28. Price is 25 cents.


EVENTY YEARS AGO: Guests at Hotel Winneshiek have been treated to an artistically decorated fireplace mantel featuring a lifelike reindeer with package-laden sled. It is the work of the hotel manager’s wife, Mrs. Bob Stone.

…A grand total of $100,000 was spent in care of patients at the local hospital this past year, according to an official report from the hospital. There were 341 births and 417 operations performed. Nearly 2,000 x-rays were taken. A grand total of 7,926 meals were served.

…The Vikings nipped Osage 36-31 in basketball action the other Friday night. It was a thrilling overtime win. Jack Hurlbut was high for Decorah with 11 points. Dick Haakenson had 12 points for the losing team.

…The souvenir Winneshiek County Centennial News edition appeared in the Decorah Public Opinion in late December, 1946. Histories of each local town appear in the keepsake edition.

…About 100 members of the Rod and Gun Club enjoyed a coon supper the other night at the community building. Clyde Alexander handled the preparations.


IXTY YEARS AGO: Following the trail of the stork from 1956: A son was born Dec. 14 to Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Hovden, Mabel, Minn.; a son was born Dec. 16 to Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Wangsness, Decorah; and a son was born Dec. 17 to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hemesath, Ossian.

…From Santa’s Mailbag in 1956:

“Dear Santa, Please bring me a set of dishes for my kitchen. Thank you. Judy Sollien, Decorah. Iowa”

“Dear Santa, I am six years old and am in first grade at school. My teacher’s name is Mrs. Sexton. I would like a Roy Roger’s gun and holster set. Bring my brother Bradley a toy tractor. I’ll leave some cookies for you, also sugar for your reindeer. Thanks for what you brought me last year. Dwight Barth, Route 3, Decorah.”

…The Ridgeway High School homecoming is Dec. 18 at the school gym. A sock hop will be held in the gym after the basketball games.

…More from Santa’s Mailbag from 1956:

“Dear Santa, I am 8 years old and in third grade. I would like a mobile crane construction truck, also an electric diesel freight train with freight cars. I would also like a fielder’s glove. Please bring my three sisters some toys too. We will leave some cookies for you and some oats for your reindeer. Thank you for the gifts you gave me in the past year. Your friend, David Macal, Ridgeway.”

“Dear Santa Claus, My name is Donald Lundvedt. I have been a good boy this year. Dody and Momy said. So I would like a semi truck, toy wagon and a shirt. I am 8 years old in third grade. Love, Donald Lundvedt, Decorah”

…The top news story for 1956 was Martha Barsness of Decorah winning the Miss Iowa title. Miss Barsness is a Luther College student, and she won the title over in Clear Lake in late July. In a close second was the series of stories about young Stephen Lansing and his fight to overcome a serious heart defect. Residents of the county raised more than $1,900 dollars to help pay the cost of a heart operation. Young Stephen died on Oct. 11, 1956.

…Bowling winners in the annual DHS Christmas tourney sponsored by the Elks Lodge were Mary Donlon, Jeanne Aaby, Ramona Pierce, Ann Fuller, Pat Blegan, Dorothy KcKernan and Phyllis Bleckeberg.

…The Ace Hi Buddies will perform at the New Year’s Eve dance at Matter’s Ballroom. Pee Wee King is booked for a show on Jan. 10.

…The Decorah Kilties will start their silver anniversary marching season by marching in the presidential inaugural parade Jan. 21 in Washington, D.C. This is Ike’s inaugural Parade.


IFTY YEARS AGO: The Rev. Aldon H. Hovda and family will be welcomed to Decorah in mid January. He will be Decorah Lutheran Church’s new pastor. He and his wife have three sons, David, Craig and Richard; and three daughters: Mary, Deborah and Kristin.

…Georgie Ann Steine, the daughter of Mrs. Aulden Oxley of East Water Street and the late George Steine, was recently chosen winner of the glamour contest to determine the best-dressed girl student at the State College of Iowa in Cedar Falls. The Decorah girl modeled three outfits, a campus outfit, a dressy outfit and a cocktail costume – all from her own clothing collection.

…North Winneshiek’s wrestling squad topped a team from Decorah the other night, 24-18. Dan Sacquitne, Elton Borsheim and Tom Price were standouts for North Winn.

…Girls in the two ninth-grade homemaking classes at Decorah Junior High School held a Christmas tea honoring their mothers last week in the home economics room. The group was directed by Mrs. Fossum, their classroom instructor. Some of the girls participating were Debra Smith, June Sorenson, Pamela Exey, Mimi Grinna, Wanda Spilde and Connie Smith.

…NOTICE: In preparing checks for deposit (checks which had been written to Mabel’s Lunch or to Mabe’s Pizza between Dec. 12 and 18), it was discovered the checks were accidentally destroyed. Will anyone who wrote a check during this period of time please write a duplicate and drop it off with Mabel White. Thanks.

…Mrs. Anna Schissel was honored on he r80th birthday with a party in Festina. A birthday cake was baked and decorated by her daughter, Mrs. August Holthaus.

…Jim Stevens was featured in the newspaper with some of the 155 foxes he trapped over the last month and a half in Winneshiek and Howard counties. Most of the foxes he trapped were red. He has been offered $5 per pelt, but is hoping for a better price.

…St. Luke’s High School Chorus presented a Christmas concert last week. Accompanists at piano were Diane Luzum and Barbara Franzen. Organist was Nancy Kuennen. Narrators were Karen Klemmer and Duane Boeding.

…Two Weis guys turned in the high scores at the weekly bowling league last week. Tom Weis bowled a 217 and Tip Weis bowled a 214. The brothers were followed closely in top scoring position by Hubie Leseth, 213.

…In a 3-3 vote of the Decorah City Council, a bid from Latham Furniture and Home Décor to buy the city-owned former Fareway Grocery store on Water Street was rejected.

…CD rates are holding steady at 6.25 percent at local banks.

…There was an open house at the new law enforcement center in Decorah last week.

…Following the trail of the stork from December, 1996: A girl was born Dec.17 to Michelle and Marvin Martinek of Cresco.

…Subject matter in the 1997 Decorah High School Art Club Calendars includes the Clarksville Diner, Day Spring and other local sites, which have figured in Decorah’s history.

…Anthony’s, a department store, may be returning to Decorah in the coming months.


ORTY YEARS AGO: The Decorah Kilties performed a total of 28 times during the past Bicentennial Year.

…A 4-H banquet was held recently in the St. Benedict’s gymnasium. Serving were members of the school cook staff, Mrs. Bunny Schroeder and Mrs. Imogene Macal, assisted by Mrs. Janann Malanaphy, Mrs. Rosemary Holland and Mrs. Doris Malek.

…Sister Mary Brian recently took the first and second grade students at St. Benedict’s School to Christmas carol for shut-ins of this area.

…Decorah’s ninth grade wrestling squad performed well in a recent meet over Waukon. Winners were Jim Bappe, Marty Faldet, Gavin Hjerleid, Mike Baker, Rusty Samuuelson, Steve Iverson, Terry Barth, Kevin Barth, Dennis Hovey, John Doba, Brad Wicks and Dan Rosel. These boys are certainly ninth grade stars.

…New Year’s Eve means the Decorah Liquor Store will open one hour early (at 10 a.m.) and close one hour early (at 6 p.m.) Happy New Year.


HIRTY YEARS AGO: There is a new hot spot for accidents in Decorah. Twenty motor vehicle collisions have been reported this calendar year at the intersection of U.S. Highway 9 and Short Street.

…Jim Walden from Washington State University in Pullman, Wash., has announced he is accepting the head football coaching job at Iowa State University in Ames.

…Vinny Testaverde, the University of Miami’s fine quarterback, has won the Heisman Trophy.

…Mike Donahey, grant writer for Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission, has given another update on the proposed new $49,000 recycling center in Decorah. It will be operated by Spectrum Industries.


WENTY YEARS AGO: Officials at North Winneshiek School in rural Decorah are considering all-day kindergarten next academic year. Classes would be held all-day, every day of the week.

…A first-of-its-kind ostrich processing plant in the state has opened right here in Decorah.

…Gary Svenson of Decorah has been named to the Iowa State Fair Hall of Fame.

…Eun Hee’s Fine Gifts in downtown Ossian is holding a going-out-of-business sale.

…Another round of sealed bids from would-be buyers of the city-owned Fareway building on Water Street will be accepted through early January. This is the second bid opening after the council rejected another bid earlier this month.


EN YEARS AGO: Elwood and Bonnie Syverson will be honored at an open house in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary at The Oaks in Decorah on Dec. 30.

…Bill Musser has been named director of development for Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum here.

…The Decorah Public Library will soon take over the operation of the public-access television channel.

…Cresco’s Norman Borlaug will soon receive the nation’s highest honor – The Congressional Gold Medal, from President George Bush. The medal is the nation’s highest civilian honor.

…Art Club calendars for 2007 are now on sale at local businesses. Among the artists contributing this year are Mallory Broderick, Jenny Riley, Peter Kraus, Elsa McCargar and Lawton Mizer.

…Among the top news stories of 2006 was the big story from earlier in the year when the Decorah High School girls’ basketball team qualified for the state tourney in Des Moines. Another news highlight from the year 2006 was the opening of the new middle school in Decorah. These stories and more were featured in the Year in Review section of the newspaper.