This is a new section and the second part of "Growing Up In Spencer. In the last section Part 1 I touched on the Standard Gasoline Station just North of the fire station on the other side of the alley and Sewing Machine Store. I said it was run and managed by a man called Stew Mackey. My love of baseball was expanded when I found out that Stew was one of the pitchers for the local semi-pro baseball team "The Spencer Cardinals". The Spencer Cardinal's baseball stadium was build under the direction of a man named John Hart. John also managed the Ford motor company also directly across from the Standard Gasoline Station on Main street. The Spencer Cardinal Baseball stadium was located where Highway 71 and 18 intersected at the far South end of Grand Avenue in Spencer.
My memories of the stadium go pretty deep. One of my playmate friend's dad owned and ran the concession stand at the ball park. Since he knew me pretty well and I was always hanging around the ballpark and playing baseball with his son Jamie, He approached me to work for him selling popcorn and peanuts to the spectators at the games. Dick West was his name. I jumped at the chance and before you knew it I was a boy selling popcorn and peanuts. I was given a percentage of the sales after my initial supply was accounted for. I would get about $5.00 worth of popcorn and peanuts then at the end of the game I subtracted my earnings from the $5.00 to see how much I had made. I don't recall how much I made at each game but I recall it was a dollar or more.
This was all a lot of fun plus I got to be at every game for free and get to watch a lot of each game as I sold my wares.
I remember most of the teams the they played were from the Northwest Iowa area towns like Storm Lake, Estherville, Carroll and about 3 others.
I played Little League baseball for Spencer Little League and one of the greatest thrills was the game we got to play during the intermission during the 7th inning stretch.
They adjusted the distance between the bases and the pitcher and catcher to make it more like the ball fields that we played on as Little Leaguers. One side line that I will probably go into more detail in later Blogs about Spencer was the visit by Babe Ruth in the fall of 1948 just shortly before the Babe died of throat cancer. John Hart the man responsible for helping get the Spencer Cardinals organized and stadium built was very prevalent in getting Ruth to visit Spencer.
One of the main reasons I was able to see Babe Ruth was because I was allowed to ride on Dad's fire truck that parked in the infield of the Grandstand area where all the races were held. A fire truck was suppose to be present in case of a fire to the autos that were racing. This particular day was the day that Babe Ruth was to tour the fair grounds and was driven in a convertible provided by John Hart of the Ford motor company there in Spencer.
I sat in the fire truck and observed the Babe as they drove him around the track in front of the Grandstand. It was an event I will never forget.
Another thing about the clay county fair I will not forget was my mother's participation as a sewing machine demonstrator for Gil and Mary from the Spencer Sewing Machine shop. (the small business in the building just across the alley and north of the fire station.) The had a booth in the "Varied Industries" building there at the fair. Mom first demonstrated the domestic sewing machines then switched to the new "PFAFF" sewing machine that came into the picture a few weeks after she started working for them. It was an amazing machine. It was way ahead of anything else at that time. She would sew through yard sticks, tin can lids and all sorts of crazy tricks to get people's attention. And it did just that. Eventually Mom was given the opportunity to purchase a "PFAFF" and pay for it with the money she made from using it to help the local sporting goods store owner decorate athletic uniforms and caps. This sewing talent was soon viewed by
others and soon she was using the "zig-zag" sewing feature to letter shirts and uniforms for clothing stores in Spencer. One of her first jobs was to letter the backs of the Spencer firemen's shirts with "Spencer Fire Department" with each of their names over the pocket of the shirt. These shirts were a fantastic example of her work and resulted in her getting many shirt lettering sewing jobs.
She continued demonstrating sewing machines for Gil and Mary as long as I can remember. I recall that there would be many ladies and some men standing around where she was operating the "PFAFF" with their eyes fixed on the work she was doing on the machine. From this demonstrating she was responsible for lots of sewing machines being sold. Not all that were sold were "PFAFF's" because they were very expensive at that time.
We still lived in rhe apartment above the fire station where Mom, with the help of my Aunt Imajean, lettered not only shirts, but athletic uniforms, towels and many other items. Her business began to receive attention from not only Spencer businesses but many of the town around Spencer also found out about her talent and lettering business. I was about seven years old at that time and remember the devastating news when it came that we were going to leave the fire station and move to another place. Dad told me that Mom was going to have a new baby and the fire station was no place for children to grow-up and play. I ,of course, didn't agree but there wasn't too much I could do about it. In my next Blog, "Growing Up in Spencer Part 1c", I will start with our move to a new town and how I adjusted to the move. See you next time!