Herald-Journal
Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, July 31, 2000

Fun-filled memories of the good ol' days

By OPAL "GRANDMA" HABISCH

Today, I am thinking of the good old days.

"What was so good about them?" you ask.

Well, back 65 years ago, when I was a young girl, life was much different.

We didn't have electric lights, just oil lamps. Television wasn't invented yet, we had a battery radio and we enjoyed listening to "Mert and Marge." We got our news by listening to the radio, as well.

As for the weather, Grandpa went outside and then, came in and said, "It will rain tonight." And it did.

We would save up our money so we could go to Swan Lake for the dance, where we danced until midnight for 50 cents each.

If you wanted something to drink at the dance, water was free, but pop you paid for. There were usually hot dogs, coffee, and pop available to eat. There wasn't any beer or liquor sold there (but there was a lot of homemade liquor, and it wasn't 2 percent ­ it was a whole lot more).

We got to the dance in an old car that had side curtains for windows. Our car was an old Ford. We would pick up as many kids as our car would hold. Everyone had someone sitting on their lap, and we would sing all the way.

The dance at Swan Lake was held in a pavilion, which is a building with openings on the sides where the windows would be. When the dance closed up at night or when it rained, big wooden doors would drop down over the openings. It still rained in a little, but it didn't make any difference to the dancers.

Sometimes we went to Silver Lake, to the city hall building, where there would be wedding dances that anyone was welcome to attend. And the really big thing was to go across the street for turtle soup.

There was also the Bohemian hall on Hwy. 7. The whole family would come, bringing pillows and blankets for their children. When the kids got tired, they just lay down on their pillows, mother would cover them up, and they would go right to sleep. The parents then could go back to dancing - there were no babysitters.

Everyone danced the polka. Often, there were dance contests. I won the polka dance contest a few times, and my Grandpa was a real "Fred Astaire."

When the first snow came, the car would be parked in a shed for the winter. The battery was stored behind the cook stove, and from then on, we went everywhere by horse and wagon or sled.

There weren't any dances at Swan Lake during the winter as the pavilion wasn't heated. Instead, there were house parties. The whole family went to the house party, and every family would bring something to eat, potluck. It was lots of fun.

Sometime, ask your grandpa and grandpa if they remember all of these fun things we used to do. They may even have some stories of their own to tell you.


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