Summertime in Fonda, 1965

by John Tischer on August 24, 2010 · 0 comments

The summers in Fonda, Iowa were great. In the summer of 1965, the Beatles were still the group you liked to listen to, muscle cars were becoming more prominent—the Mustangs, GTO’s and Chevy Supersports were all really fast, and the war in Viet Nam was not that prevalent yet on our nightly TV screens. Yet in November of 1965, Colonel Hal Moore and the 7th Cav will tangle with the NVA in the Ia Drang Valley. 170 US troops will be killed as well as 1800 NVA regulars. Gas for regular was 19 cents a gallon and ethel was 24 cents a gallon. We would all get in the car throw in a dollar apiece and have enough gas for the night.

While every building in Fonda had a business in it, it was, like many other small towns, an agriculturally based community and how well the merchants did hinged on how well the farmers did. Unlike today, if you wanted a job in the summer you could work. Most of my friends lived on farms and worked there and we would walk beans, detassle corn, and put up hay in the summer. I also worked at the local grocery store and had a paper route.

Fonda had a nice swimming pool, we had band concerts on Saturday evenings, and one of my favorite places was the golf course. Fonda’s golf course opened up in 1964. I had only played golf a couple of times with my father in Sioux City, so playing golf was something new to me. Some of the better players in Fonda at that time were Mark Kelley, Bill Evans, Kelly Boettcher, Gary Boettcher, and Terry Smith. Par on the course was 35. Many of the men who played golf at that time belonged to the club over in Newell. Newell at that time had sand greens and they really weren’t much fun to play on. Fonda had beautiful big grass greens when it opened and was a much better course to play.

One of the great things we did at the golf course was league golf. You had two man teams and every Monday night you had a team competition. The team captains would pick their teams at the beginning of the league season, and you would go out and play based upon your handicap. I was on the team with Gary Boettcher and truly enjoyed the competition.

I remember one evening I was in a match against Kelly Boettcher. Kelly was a very good player. However, I had to give him a stroke. The seventh hole in Fonda is a long par three and the number one handicap hole. As we were standing on the tee, Kelly asked me if I thought he could get there as there was a wind in our face. There was also a group in front of us putting out on the hole. I told him I wasn’t sure. He told me he didn’t think he could, so he hit the ball. He hit it quite well, and as it hit the ground it started to roll and up onto the green it went, hit Larry Calkins in the foot and rolled right into the hole for a hole in one!!!!! I obviously lost the hole and the match. It was the first hole in one for Kelly and he would always remind me of it years later when I saw him. Kelly was a wonderful man who I liked very much.

There were also other good matches with Bill Evans. Bill beat me on the last hole one night by making about a 50 foot side winder putt that only Bill could make. It is funny the things you remember—years later, I do remember that putt. I also remember playing Dale Garlock who owned the local newspaper. I beat Dale handily one night and his next column was how he got beat by a 15 year old kid and how he bowed to youth. I still have the article. I also remember Allen Blume. Allen was the local barber at that time. We all would get our haircuts and Allen would make fun of us because we all liked to play golf. He could not understand how anyone could go out and chase a little ball and have any fun. He called golf “pasture pool.” Ironically, Allen did take up the game of golf and got hooked on it. In the winter he would hit balls in his garage to keep his game sharp, as he would say. Allen became a very good golfer and I still see him occasionally when I go home and visit the course.

I also remember playing basketball at Mahaney’s. Mahaney’s was the local funeral parlor so there was plenty of room there, nice big garage and a hoop. At nights we would play pick-up games until late into the evenings. There would always be anywhere from 6 to 10 of us and we always had great games and just alot of fun. If your parents wanted you, you were easy to find.

At the end of the summer we had a Labor Day Celebration, held down by the baseball park. There was a small carnival and the big event was always the tractor pull. There was always plenty of food to eat, beer to drink, tractors to watch and great looking girls at the ball park. In the evening there would sometimes be a talent show for local talent to sing and dance, and the ball park was usually full.

Summer was over, school was about to begin again. Sophomores this year.

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