Monday, October 12, 2015

My City Is Gone-Marion Revisited Again

An earlier blog celebrated the coming and goings of my town Marion Iowa.  Growing up in the 70s there was somewhat of a small town paradise that no longer exists today.  Thanks to the some of my friends, Ken Jones, Mark Prouty a few others have preserved their memories on various sites.  Once again I pick and choose some of what used to make Marion a great place to live back then.

If only things could be like that again. (David Ray photo credit) 

Mark Prouty is one of my best friends that I used to hang around with.  This house he used to lived in was one of the coolest old time houses in Marion, and they were next to the train tracks where the old Milwaukee Road used to go through town. They would relocated to seventh avenue and this house ended up being set on fire for training.  Sad day in history to see it go up in flames (Photo Courtesy of Mark Prouty).

The old Derby/Coastal Mart on 7th Avenue.  This is where my dad managed this gas station in the early 70s and where I would be employed in the summer of 1979.  Had great managers in Barry Tritle and Doug Kidd, but the third managed was a dick.  He fired me, and I moved over to the Union 76 a couple months later.  To which that third manager stopped in to leave town, he got fired for taking money out of the cash register.   Poetic justice served.

I have yet to see photos of the old Twixt Town Drive In, The theater of choice when we were growing up and to which you can see the screen about a half block away going back into Marion.  It later became a drive in to watch hardcore R rated movies in the early 70s but later on, went back to more family friendly movie shows.  I recall seeing Up In Smoke up there in late 1978.  Sad to say the drive in closed up shop in 1981 and sat idle for four years before an up and coming store called Best Buy came and bulldozed the drive in down around 1984.  Amazingly, the drive in never got tagged by spray can welding idiots.

The Armar Ballroom. Where big bands and teen idols used to play up till around 1976 with this got bulldozed down in favor of a new Barlow's Store and some place called Applegate's Landing, a place where I got employed as a busboy and then got demoted to Dishwasher. It was not the best of times for me.   Fun fact, where this was located, Marion and Cedar Rapids still had wide open spaces and wasn't connected yet.  There was a gravel road that went back up to what we called Suicide Hill, a place where many kids used to snowboard downhill.  Had a few friends that broke a leg or arm going down that hill.

Next: The Viaduct from 6th street to Seventh Avenue.  Back in the 70s, this was a bit more tighter to get through, almost a one lane road so to speak but they widen it.  Once the trains stopped running through town, it became basically a forgotten right of way.  It might have made a nice walking trail but the city council decided to take it and they did sometime around 2012.  The buildings in the background would be torn down for the next stupid idea, a roundabout to be built in that area.  Which reminds me, that John Nieland is running for mayor again, the voters need to tell him to take a hike.

City Cleaners, being torn down for that upcoming roundabout.  It may be time for me to change my place of residence.  Mark Prouty also took this shot.  His mom and brother lives across the street. 

Memorial Hall. The left side then; right side now.  If there's anything of good coming out of the changes of Marion it has to be the transformation of Memorial Hall into hopefully a up and coming art and music place for people to hang out.  The folks at Campbell Steele are part of this changing of this historic building.   For the most part downtown Marion is going under changes.  With the closure of Irwin's Clothing there is talk of making that affordable apartments or more antique stores.  While I hope to see some good of changes in Marion, I remain skeptical especially of the forthcoming election and who gets in.   Will this town ever return to the good old fashioned days again?  The answer and guess would be no but at least we have memories of what used to make this town fun to live in are still around.

Town's Edge Motors, or what used to be TE Motors.  Once a big part of selling Toyotas and snowmobiles out in the area, It ended being a used car dealership before it became an auto parts store. The building is up for sale but the reality is that this will be torn down in the near future for new buildings.  But I thought I better snap a few photos before it is torn down. 

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