Monday, November 19, 2012

My City Is Gone-Marion Iowa

Have you been to Marion Iowa recently?  It's a clusterfuck.

I grew up in Marion during my formative years.  Downtown used to have it all, Marion TV and Records, A Goodwill or a Salvation Army at one time or another, Town Square Bookstore, Ole's Ham And Egger and the trains went through town.  It really was a pretty place back then.  Plenty of memories.

Even after graduation I managed to hang another 12 years except a 5 month trial run in Chandler Arizona.  For Sunday nights I'd go out walking around the town, beginning at home and through downtown all the way to Thomas park and then around the Football stadium on the old Starry walk that led to a trail leading to 10th street, then to Marion Heights Shopping Center and then past the High school.  And then managing to walk on to Town's Edge Shopping Center across the highway to a stop at the old 24 hr Me Too before returning home via Longfellow School.  It's a big walk but took about 2 hours to complete.  I don't usually do it on a full time basis but did when I felt like it.  Always seemed to get pulled over by the Marion Cops either by the Football Stadium or on the Industrial Road to 35th Street.

The railroad was a fun adventure.  There was time I'd sneak thru the railyard of the old Milwaukee Road.  One night me and three other friends managed to hang in the old Katz Salvage (now Marion Iron Works) and somebody pulled the airbrake on a rail car and we all scrambled to get the hell out and not get caught. For a rare time I managed to scare over that ugly old green fence by 7th Avenue but my other friends weren't so lucky.  However Mr Johnson, the crusty old train detective caught me a couple times, alas I got into it with him one day in 1978,  A group of kids were further down the tracks, while I was close by the road to Coast To Coast and the fat fuck chased me over in his car to the Dairy Queen where I raised holy hell with him, about why didn't he go after the other group of kids deeper in the yard, perhaps he thought I was EZ pickings?  Fuck that and fuck him he had a crazy kid on his case and he never bothered me again.  Ah memories.

The last train went through town around 1985 and the rail yard was no more.  The old train route leading into Cedar Rapids, part of it has now been turned into part of a new walking trail although they fenced off the bridge over Indian Creek.  For the first time in 20 years this weekend I decided to trace my old walking route when I lived in town.  They tore down the 7th street Viaduct, located behind Country Kitchen.  Thomas Park used to have the old Swimming Pool that I used to go to when I was in high school, that's gone now but they have some new walking trails that go far into the new Menard's and places further into Cedar Rapids.  I'm sure it will all connect to the Sac N Fox trail but I probably be alive to see that take place.

Downtown Marion is a mess.  Sixth Avenue used to be a gravel road from the old post office out to where the old King's Ready Mix used to be, now they got that paved and put a stop light in front of the library as if the city of Marion thinks there's going to be more business coming their way.   The strip mall that they put in to replace the old buildings and places that used to be a big part of my life has been a fucking joke from day one.  Businesses that do come in there simply don't stay there very long except for Tomaso's Pizza and Huntington's Restaurant to which I refuse to eat at.  The recently new Marion mayor beat one of the Good Old Boys up there but had to contend with the same yahoos that pretty much messed up the town for their own projects.  I don't think much of the Marion Mayor either, he wouldn't allow us to use his garbage can to throw some things out one day, even if you offered a few bucks for the trouble, basically another in it for themselves fool stool.    Anyway, they been fucking up Marion 's Road to divert traffic from 7th to 6th Avenue but I don't see that working.

I'm still a part of that town even though I live out in the country. Best pizza place is Naso's and you have Villa's Patio a couple doors down for Mexican.  Pizza Ranch is where the old Union Hall is at and I can be found there from time to time.  But sad to say Legend Lanes, the old Marion Bowling alley to which I spent many a youth and quarters playing pinball will be the thing of the past, they got bought out by the Marion Committee to put up more parking space for the worthless CVS Drugstore that nobody goes in.  Town's Edge Motors, the inspiration for Town's Edge Rock and the Townedgers are long gone, so is May's Drugs and Fleetway too.  The only decent Hardee's closed up once and for all, then got torn down in favor of the CVS and a Credit Union.

Things are now history, the old baseball field behind Town's Edge Motors long gone, Chicago Northwestern Railroad got bought out by Union Pacific and they moved the trains down to that railway past the Nature Center to where I spend more time out there than on the old Marion walking trails.  Funny how I walk on the Thomas Park trail to the old train bridge that used to be all woods and great places to find old rusty beer cans to which I still have two of them.  People say that today is the best of times but I disagree that our childhood was anything but bland before the days of the internet and I and Smartphones.  I think we did very well with plenty of imagination and a sense of wonder.

But the new Marion, isn't my town anymore.  My town is gone.


TAD said...

Crabby: Boise, Idaho, where I grew up, is still there & when I was home in 2010 I had no trouble finding anything, it's still all laid-out basically the same, everything's pretty-much right where I left it. But it sure ain't Home anymore -- everything's 10X bigger & more crowded. Traffic's pretty bad, tho no1 yelled at me or ran me off the road -- which puts it a step above Washington, anyway....
I've lived in a couple places where they spent MILLIONS of $$$ to completely re-do Downtown to try & attract more business & tourists, & it NEVER works. If your town isn't a destination for $$$ right now, it never will be. But you can't convince the City Fathers of that -- they feel like they've got to DO SOMETHING, & it's never their own money they're spending, so Why Not give the old town a facelift?
I know how you feel -- when I was in Boise a couple years ago, it was really nice to be home. Really nice. But it's changed so much. Everything changes. That's why I do so many Nostalgia trips at my blog. Because the best of times for me was about 1978. And it's sad. But you gotta keep on keepin' on.
Nice piece, thanx 4 posting it.

R S Crabb said...

Thanks for reading Tad.

No matter where you go, your going to have more people and cars in it and Marion is no different. I used to remember years ago of the vacant Twixt Town Drive In which now sits the Half Priced Bookstore but that road was a small two lane off Collins. And the trains that went through town. Too bad those ain't still around.

Oh there's still towns that still look the same, Nevada IA comes to mind last time I went there and could tell you the location where my dad used to work at the old Derby and the theater that I used to go up there, gone as well. They still have the UP going through it, those tracks are the same ones that go through the Nature Center.

Biggest complaint about Marion is the corrupt fools that sign off on these beautifcation projects. I don't think it's going to bring new businesses in town, ones that did were the Wally World on the edge of town. Even the old timers don't think much of the new Marion. Guess you can call me one of them too.