By Roz Weis
By Roz Weis

     EIGHTY YEARS AGO: Santa is coming to Decorah in mid-December and the city is dressed in gala attire as merchants join in for a hearty welcome. There will be free movies for the kiddies and much more during the scheduled arrival of the jolly gent.

…Harlan Stee of Castalia, who is employed by the county highway department, and Frank Jones, who lives about half way between Decorah and Ossian on the gravel highway, had a rare and exciting experience of capturing a bald eagle the other morning. Stee was on his way to Decorah when he saw the eagle feasting on a chicken near the Ode farm. He drove his car to within 50 feet of the eagle. They captured the eagle and brought it to the Public Opinion office, where it was photographed by Bob Stoddard. The bird was then turned over to Dr. J. P. Schneberger of Ossian, who will care for it. The eagle had a wing span of seven feet.

…FRONT PAGE NEWS: M.J. Soukup, Decorah jeweler, who has been a patient at the local hospital for seven weeks, is reportedly feeling better and his fever is not so high.

…The 1940 licenses for autos and trucks for Winneshiek County went on sale at eight o’clock Dec. 1, 1939. J.T. Roseth of Decorah got No. 13 for the fourth year in a row. He is proprietor of the Bake-Rate Bakery here, and he reportedly has no misgivings about the No. 13 in any way.

…The annual meeting of the NE Iowa Buttermakers’ Association is at the Decorah Ice Cave Creamery this week. A banquet will follow at the Hotel Winneshiek. Prizes for the best butter will be awarded.

…Local readers may now simply dial 15 on their telephones to report important news to the newspaper. When you give a party, when one of the family is married, or when you come into possession of any information that you think might make a news item – just call the Public Opinion Office at 15.

…Students at Ridgeway Public School are working hard on the operetta “Tom Sawyer.” Three grade teachers, namely Irma Targeson, Rosetta Benson and Adelaide Anderson, are directing the entertainment.

…The Ridgerettes girls’ basketball team at Ridgeway won a big game over Chester the other evening. High score honors went to Junice Thompson. She had nine points. The Ridgeriders boys’ team lost their game to Chester. High score honors were shared by Marvin Thompson and Gerald Gunderson, who each made eight points.

…Following the trail of the stork from 1939: Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Hovden are the parents of a baby boy born Saturday, Dec. 2, 1939.

…A carrier pigeon dropped dead on the Will McConnel farm in Bluffton Township. Mrs. McConnell found the pigeon when its body was still warm. The aluminum band was marked “SHC” with the number “37” in small letters. No other information was available.

…Three baby girls were baptized at the Hesper Lutheran Church on Thanksgiving Day by the Rev. Havneros. The babies are Sybil Ardys, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Norval Burreson; Joyce Ilene, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Irvin Allen; and Melba Darlene, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Nygard.

…Miss Ruth Roberts, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Roberts, received her BA degree from Luther College and is listed in who’s who in American colleges and universities. 


EVENTY YEARS AGO: Jeanenne and Peachy Weis from Clarke College at Dubuque spent the Thanksgiving weekend with their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Al Weis of Decorah.

…Harry Grindeland of Decorah recently returned to Decorah after a five-months-long trip throughout Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. He returned with a pair of handmade skis, which were manufactured in Norway by the famous Norwegian ski jumper, Sigmud Ruud.

…G.F. Baker & Son will host an endurance walking contest here this week. Official distance is 9.2 miles from the “Y” in Conover to the Milwaukee Freight Depot in Decorah. Each contestant is to carry a 60-pound back of wheat. Last year’s record was made by Carl Aschim, who finished the contest in one hour and 40 minutes. So far, the list of competitive entrants includes Jerome Eslbernd, Pat Hjelle, Charles Gossman, Truman Engen, Gerald Gilbertson, Orin Gilbertson, Orville Gilbertson, Merlin Rilling, Stanley Frana and J.J. Smith. $50 will be awarded to each man who ties or beats the record!

…A grand opening at the new D-X service station on the corner of River and Water Streets is being held this weekend, according to Charles Knorr, local company representative, and Burt Henning, the station operator. Free coffee and donuts are promised.

…Mrs. Fitz Schnuelle of Castalia received auto plate numbers one and two – the first license plates given out in Winneshiek County on Dec. 1, 1949 at the county treasurer’s office. Henry Nerlie of Decorah received licensed plate number three.


IXTY YEARS AGO: An architect’s drawing of the proposed shelter for the Decorah Ski Association has been published. The shelter is hoped to be constructed within the next year. In other ski news – the name “Nor-Ski-Runs” has been chosen for the new ski area in Decorah. The winning name was submitted in a contest by George Knudson, 616 Center St. He derived his submission from thinking of the Decorah Ski group’s area as Northeast Iowa’s finest skiing facilities; runs of all types.

…Robert Reinhart, the son of Orvin Reinhart of Ridgeway, has earned his degree in agricultural engineering at Iowa State University.

…A good second half insured the Decorah Vikings basketball team with a victory over New Hampton the other night, 55-47. New Hampton had its finger on the panic button several times in the first half, threatening to move away from the Vikings. But free-throw shooting kept the Vikings in range. Stars for Decorah were Jeff Hansen, Duane Peterson, Jim Webb, Dave Cronin, Jan Haugen and Tom Winger.

…Following the trail of the stork from 1959: A girl was born Nov. 24 to Mr. and Mrs. John Wangsness, Decorah; a girl was born Nov. 30 to Mr. and Mrs. George Solheim, Ossian; a boy was born Dec. 1 to Mr. and Mrs. Godlove Busta, Fort Atkinson; a girl was born Dec. 1 to Mr. and Mrs. Carl Svenson, Decorah; and a girl was born Dec. 1 to Mr. and Mrs. Walter Nesheim, Decorah


IFTY YEARS AGO: THIS IS BIG NEWS. A spectacular cave has been discovered in Winneshiek County. College geologists from the University of Iowa have explored the passages in scuba gear, with help from George Knudson, Luther College chemistry professor and chairman of the State Preserves Board. He says, “it is massive and unique because cave formations are still living and growing due to 100 percent humidity inside the cave. It is mighty colorful.” The cave is in the hills north of Bluffton. The colorful formations are reported to include stalactites 20 feet long and massive frozen waterfalls of flowstone along the walls. Rooms in the cave are disclosed to be as high as 30 feet and up to 50 feet wide. Domes were discovered up to 150 feet high, with one so high the explorers could not see the top by light of their carbide lamps.

…Annexing in the City of Decorah to expand from the valley into the surrounding hills was approved by 61 percent of the 1,406 Decorah residents who visited the polls last week. The area includes Minowa Heights and Ridge Road areas – a total of 1,100 acres in all.

…Following the trail of the stork from 1969: A daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Meyer, Ossian; a daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. Norbert Gossling, Waucoma; and a son was born to Mr. and Mrs. David Berg, Decorah.

…The Glenwood Future Homemakers 4-H Club held their meeting at the church last week. Brenda Westby gave a talk titled “What Makes Me – Me?” Ardys Sorum gave a presentation on “Buying Cookware.” Lunch was served by Dawn Teslow and her mom.

…The Decorah Viking wrestling team slipped past Oelwein the other night, 23-20. Bruce Sacquitne, Larry Hart, Dave Muether, Bill Varner and Paul Cote posted victories.

…John Michael Juve of Route 4, Decorah has returned home after a tour of duty in Vietnam of more than a year. He arrived home on Thanksgiving Day. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Juve.


ORTY YEARS AGO: The new president at Oneota Golf and Country Club is Lowell Erdman, local engineer. Silvercrest Golf and Country Club members elected Clark Mikkelson, local insurance man, as the new president.

…Jane Brooks, that modern apparel store at 421 West Water Street, has a new shipment of Calvin Klein skirts. Priced to be competitive.

…A poem by Jeffrey Skeate of Decorah has been published in CSS Publications. Five judges were on the panel selecting his winning poetry.

…A baby girl was born Nov. 27 to Mr. and Mrs. Lyle Bodensteiner at the Decorah Hospital. Her name is Nicole Mandy.

…The Armory Dining Room at 421 West Water Street is offering a Sunday prime rib special - $6.59 for prime rib and all the trimmings. The Landmark Inn six miles east of Waukon has a special menu. Ribeye steak dinners for $4.95; walleye pike dinner for $6.50; and fried chicken dinners for $4.50. Dinners include full salad bar, homemade bran muffins, and choice of potato.

…The Decorah Sophomore Girls’ Basketball team dropped a 48-42 game to New Hampton last week, with a devastating final period in which the Vikings could score only two points. Jill Fjelstul led the local team in scoring with 30 points, followed by Grace Beard with 6, Karen Hacker with four and Lisa Madrigal, two points.


HIRTY YEARS AGO: About 100 parents and children made their wood reindeer figures in the annual workshop sponsored by the Decorah Park-Rec Department and Izaak Walton League. Hammering on their figures recently were Justin Jaeger, age 8; and Daniel Burns, age 5; and Kevin Johnson, age 3.

…Taking top honors at a speech invitational in Clear Lake recently were these South Winn speech students: Mike Elsbernd, Janice Praska, Andrea Poshusta, Shanda Klimesh, Jane Praska, Renee Hageman, Mary Hemesath, Jodi Balik, Jill Amundson, Terry Norton, Rich Elsbernd, Marianne Shaw, Rhonda Humpal, Sue Hauber and Laura Elsbernd.

...Little elves rehearsing for their upcoming Christmas program at St. Benedict Catholic School are Kelly Moen, Andrea Kerndt, Julie Huinker, Jessie Dotzler, Alan Zahasky, Sarah Roney and Erin Bouska. 

…Decorah School Board President Jon Hart has earned a Better Boardsmanship Award from the Iowa Association of School Boards.

…Dan Hotvedt of Mabel, Minn., earned the Winneshiek County Farm Bureau award of recognition at the Iowa Farm Bureau annual meeting in Des Moines.


WENTY YEARS AGO: Organizers in nearby Ossian are gearing up for the town’s Sesquicentennial Celebration next summer. A grand parade, carnival amusements, community breakfast, street dances and more are part of the event, planned June 2-4, 2000.

…Effective next week, Chris Meyer will be taking over the Café Deluxe business in downtown Decorah. Curley from Curley’s in Calmar has joined the Café team as one of the chefs.

…Decorah High School girls’ basketball team has a new coach for only the second time in its 23-year history. Randy Iverson took over for Jim Schreffler, who announced his retirement last spring. Returning letter winners on the team this season are Jenny Anderson, Nicole Humpal, Barb Newhouse, Alex Cook, Jessie Moe, Tara Huinker and Teri Olson.


EN YEARS AGO: The sweet sounds of Christmas will ring out at the 50th annual Hesper Christmas Cantata this month at the Hesper Friends Church. Marvin Cooper of Decorah has directed the cantata each year since it began. Concert proceeds this year are earmarked for the Decorah Free Clinic.

…Chris Wanless led the Decorah Viking basketball team with a game-high 27 points in a big game with Cedar Falls at home last Saturday.

…Decorah High School students appearing at the All-State Music Fest in Ames recently included Kayla Burggraf, Rebecca Eastwood, Michael Eastwood, Kaia Miller, Sarah Hammel, Gabriel Smith, Allison Fretheim, Kasi Misseldine, Jonathon Winter and Aaron Merzenich.

…The play “The Wind in the Willows” is being presented next month by the New Minowa Players. Cast is set and rehearsals are under way. The play is directed by Sheryl Scheffert.