Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

November 22, 2011

A trip back in time

Bill Bacus

Knoxville —  

To the editor: 
My wife, after a short while, talked me into going on the square to the Living Windows festivities. After walking around the square, elbow to elbow, stumbling to get around, it brought back memories of my younger - and I mean younger - days when I was growing up in Knoxville.  
We would come to town on Saturday night and the square would be full of people. It wouldn't be for a free cup of coffee or a cookie. It would be to do shopping. 
Maybe the kids needed a new pair of shoes. Our town had four or five places around the square to buy them. 
Or maybe you wanted a man’s suit or just a pair of jeans or shirts. There were six or more places to buy them. Ladies’ shops, we had them all over the square. 
Maybe you were looking for a place to buy groceries. We had three or four, maybe five, around the square. Stubby Wagner's United food store, Supply Store which is now known as the Hy Vee and several others, the names of which I can't remember. 
Maybe you were  looking for entertainment. We had two theaters and we hardly missed a week of seeing a good Western or any movie that sounded interesting. And there were dances at Redman’s Hall, which was located on the  third floor of the building on the northwest  corner of the square. 
There was square dancing every Saturday night. They had the greatest music and John Booth would call the square dancing. You could hear the music down on the square because the windows were open because there was no air conditioning. 
If you wanted a little nip, there were two taverns on what they called Whiskey Row and one on the north side of the square. And let’s not forget pool halls. There were two on Whiskey Row. I ran a pool room, as I like to call it, from 1965 to 1971 and spent some happy times with my son, Bill, and a lot of boys that I like to call my boys. There was no liquor in my establishment. 
There was a barber shop where Baker Drug was located which had 6 to 8 chairs and they were all busy on Saturday night.  I guess this is what we call progress. Wouldn't you like to see our square thriving like that once more?  
Bill Bacus