Update: 9-25-15 The Town And Country Bowl was located in the basement of Town And Country Shopping Center and for part of the 70s it was unique for being a underground bowling alley. While I haven't found pictures of it in its heyday, somebody snapped this while they were tearing that bowling alley down for the new Fareway Store. Perhaps we'll come up with another My City Is Gone Series sometime in the future that will focus more around the Cedar Rapids area.
Now after 58 years and then some Irwin's in Downtown Marion is closing up shop forever (they closed December 30th of 2014). And that store was the link between the now and the past. With that, Irwins will join The Boston Store, Orphan Variety, Marion TV and Records, Sorg's Pharmacy, Box Kar Hobbies and so many stores into the past of Marion. The Good Old Days gone forever.The Antique Mall and stores across from the strip mall continues to be busy on the weekends and I've been known to go up to the one where Balster's used to be. A hoarder house full of old things long ago forgotten now takes up two floors. Another Antique showcase is where Boston Store used to be. Always a thrill of sorting through moldy old forty fives and albums I can be found up there once in a great while. The former Irwin will probably be a new Antique store in the making.
Used to be Marion was a great place to be growing up. Not so much anymore but Darren from My Space added some pictures that jogged the memories of downtown Marion. Before progress took it's personality away. In order to follow along, I advise you to follow from the website listed above.
The first pic is from 1968 thereabouts and this what Marion used to be. Main thoroughfare is to the left. Marion Shoe Shop, Bill's Tap, The Side Pocket bar-later on it would be the head shop Folks And Uncle Leonard, Town Square Book Store (a place where I spent many a time there), a appliance repair place, then Ole's Ham And Egger before you got to the train depot.
picture 11 Marion Shoe Shop, Bill's Tap, Salvation Army took over when the hippie shop folded, the empty lot is where Town's Square Bookstore caught on fire and it remained an open space. A appliance repair shop is next to the empty space that was Town's Square Books and Ole's further down. I'd say this picture is probably 1985 thereabouts.
Ole's Ham And Egger, where I used to spend many a time playing pinball, playing the jukebox and pissing off the old waitresses when they wouldn't give back my quarters when the pinball machine ate them. Some good memories here although I had some creepy old dude in a 68 green Chevy following me home one day in the mid 70s. Next to Ole's the old train station in the process of being torn down.
pictures 23, 24 Milwaukee Road Train Bridge over Indian Creek. A recent picture from Darren Ferreter, this area is behind the former Todd's Indian House (now a used car lot) and back in my wild youth, I used to hunt for beer cans back in this area to which I still have some rusty old Meister Brau and Falstaff cans in my collection. Used to be a big dam back here but the city tore that down. There's a walking trail in the area above the bridge but they have closed that off since you see it's not safe to cross, but perhaps in the future they may refurnish it so that we can use it someday.
The Milwaukee Road Bridge, and wooden damn over Indian Creek. Bridge in the background is the 8th Ave Bridge, long ago torn down. 1917.
Picture 17: 7th and 9th again, early 60s at least 1963 or 1964. Note the big Caddy and 59 Chevy Impala in background. They don't make them like that anymore.
7th avenue early 60s. Royal Inn, original location of Queen N Teen, Marion TV and Records (my second home), the Ben Franklin store and the uptown restaurant. Around 1971, Iowa banned beer signs outside on display, note the Falstaff sign far left side. The Ben Franklin name was changed to Orphan Variety, which still boasted one of the biggest candy sections in town. Plenty of sugar buzzes would come from this place. The apartments over the stores was something to behold. I seem to recall them being leaning over toward one side and the fear that someday those upstairs apartments would collapse. I think they went for like 200 a month back in the early 70s. Cockroaches included.
Between 7th and 10th, Dickie's Dry Cleaners, Dr Cameron J Hill, Podiatrist place (thanks for the info Cathy) , Mr. Bills Pizza Place, Stickney's Scoreboard and a Coast To Coast Hardware Store. Across the alley was the infamous Marion Theater that in 1971 turned into a XXX movie joint. Me and Scott Waters used to go by the back door and kick on it a few times before running away. We never did caught. This picture probably late 60s, before Coast To Coast moved further down 7th avenue and the Scoreboard expanded into the former hardware store area. And before Iowa banned having beer signs outside establishments around 1971 thereabouts.
Marion in the 1970s had plenty of trains going through town and sometimes the trains would have to stop in place for another to pass on through. Train 519 was one of two in town trains that would come through the switching yard from time to time. I think I spent most of my time at the junior high looking at the window to see passing trains go through town. Train 521 also was part of the Marion scene and I could tell what they were by the sound of the whistle. The fun of walking to school was hopefully have a stopped train in place so we can be late and get away with it. Which meant a few games of pinball at Ole's. Across the street from the UP caboose is the OK Lounge to where my band finally made it on stage on December 7, 1984. The old Marion Post Office was across the street from the OK. OK Lounge was torn down to make way for the Nancy Miller Public Library.
Ginther's on 10th. Don't recall seeing this building although it's more down from where Box Car Hobbies used to be at but they bulldozed this place down to put up a drug store in the mid 70s. They later moved over to the strip mall area on East Post Road. The Marion Theater was across the street.
Missing Picture: Box Kar Hobbies: used to be the place to go when you were a kid. They had a big track up in the back room so you can play race cars, and had a huge selection of Train collectibles that I used to have but gave most of them to my best friend Steve Willard. Next door was the Danish Maid Store, a Barbershop, after that I'm guessing there was a women's store, a jewelery store and I think a Goodwill store or perhaps a record store that started up but didn't last too long there. Next to the barbershop which has closed down, was the new location of Bill's Tap since the great city of Marion booted everybody out of the original location to put up that hideous strip mall which took away the heart and soul of Marion and basically my childhood years. Box Kar has moved from place to place around the Cedar Rapids/Marion area and is now based out of Town And Country. Final thought: Box Kar also sold beer cans in the 70s (with no beer of course). Bought a few of them out there.
New Pic: David Ray found an old picture of the 8th Avenue Bridge over Indian Creek in the early 1900s. Marion would have been a beautiful place to live back then it seems. (Photo credit: David Ray)
A fond lookback.....
A short history of my growing up years and after careful thinking and planning, I decided to leave the last names of former high school sweethearts out for the sake of common courtesy and basically they're part of a long and forgotten past. A past that sometimes reminded me that things were not all bad and sometimes I did managed to walk home a good looking classmate.
Now since this gets viewed a lot: Marion continues to go into the toilet with plans for two roundabouts as Mayor Snooks continues to turn the town I used to know into a town that I don't want to know anymore. The sad fact of places that I used to work at, The old Marion Apco on 584 7th Avenue and the old Derby at 501 7th Avenue plus the old Marion 76 down the road are ancient memories. The sound of King's Concrete is now gone as well as the trains that used to go through town. I suppose it all for the best, not that my childhood meant that much but I remember a lot of things and old girlfriends that I used to walk home from school. Hard to fathom that I used to walk Cheryl home, a block and half from Longfellow but it was true for a while at least in grade school that we were together (to what they call Puppy Love) I didn't like junior high all that much nor High School for that matter, too many asshole bullies and stuck up girls that wouldn't give you the time of day unless they were trying to make their boyfriends jealous. I'll never know the reason why Janice decided to chase me around American Studies class along with co conspirator Sue in my Sophmore year, having her to jump on my lap one day in class on a dare. Perhaps I should have taken her on right there and then, we both had our moments of what could have been. Or had I asked her out or vice versa, but in the end, the only time I did take somebody out was Penny and that got messed up, since I had to work at Applegate's on Homecoming night and they wouldn't let me have that off. Somebody had to do the dishwashing I guess even though that job sucked from day one. But then again, I never seem to pick the right steady at any time during those formative years. But then again my sanctuary was the record store, girlfriends just got in the way, unless they were the cook at Applegate's taking glee as they dropped off their dirty dishes in the tub and snickering all the way as I try to clean the damn things. Maybe the good old days weren't so great after all.
But the streets are decaying despite the roundabout on 29th looking fine considering its out there in nowhere's land. The wide open spaces out by what used to be the four way stop at 151 and 13 is now a Wal Mart, a Casey's two trailer courts of varying degree, an Audi's and plenty of stop lights along the way. I long for the days of going to DX to pick up those NFL trading stamps that they had in 1972 and bothering the dudes up at DX for more stamps. Oh I tried out for Football but couldn't handle the practices and finding myself being demoted to the D squad and even further had I stuck it out. I wasn't good at sports, Barker ran circles around me when we played basketball and in baseball, the only year I tried out, I ended up with a zero batting average. It didn't help when my grandparents both died that year either. But basically i sucked at sports.
The only thing that I was good at was buy records and 45s and that got me through the years of growing up in Marion, although downtown Marion had everything I needed. A used book store, Marion TV and Records and Ole's Ham And Egger that had the greatest selection of music in the jukeboxes, some of the 45s I still have today. And the Boston Store, all like Irwins' which closed December of 2014 and the Marion Bowling Alley that closed earlier that year are history. All gone but not forgotten in pictures.
So I remember the pictures and the good times and the bad times as well. The skinny dreamer who peddled Penny Saver's for a lousy penny a paper but it paid me enough to buy music. And to go bike riding with my best friends, without a care in the world before discovering girls and having things change before our very eyes. But between grades 4 through 6 were the best of times, and it a shame it didn't last forever.
Truly, my city is gone.