Memories of small town life

The Aug. 6 edition of the Telegraph had a letter from Rock Falls written by a lady about memories. This prompted me to write a few memories of Steward (not to be confused with Seward, next to Rockford).

I grew up on a farm close proximity to Steward and had five siblings, four sisters and one brother. We attended Steward Grade and High School consisting in the 1940s of 100 to 130 students – no kindergarten then.

My dad was on the school board, and at that time a new gym was built. Among the small schools it was one of the nicest gyms around. Tournaments like basketball were held there most years because of its size. Single teachers roomed and boarded with people in town. Hot luncheons were unheard of, so everyone carried a lunchbox, or some called them lunch buckets. 

Telephones were the old-fashioned types with a crank and you’d get the operator. In the 1940s, dial phones were installed. This was a step up. On the old phones everyone could listen in on conversations. 

Businesses in town consisted of two grain elevators, farm implement store, Royal Blue grocery and another grocery, post office, tavern, one pump gas station and a garage. Another interesting place was the confectionary with round tables with metal oval backed chairs. You could buy penny gum and penny candy, and ice cream was 5 cents, maybe a dime for a big cone. I must not forget the Friday night free shows, screen outdoors and benches to sit on. I could go on; maybe I left out a business or two.

Steward had one Methodist Church. The actual building goes back to the 1800s. It was well attended for the size of the town. We all went there and took part in whatever was offered.