Fun times

I ran across this article in the Rock County Star Herald the other day, found in the newspaper archives from 1892 by the president of the Rock County Historical Society:

“It gives the Herald much pleasure to announce that the committee in charge of the Fourth of July celebration to be held at this place have been fortunate enough to secure for that occasion Prof. A. L. Ward, of Sioux City, IA . , one of the most celebrated and daring aeronauts in the country, who is now under contract to be at Luverne at the time stated and make one of his famous balloon ascensions and parachute jumps. The balloon to be used on this occasion is in the neighborhood of thirty feet in height and is equipped for the performance of the most daring feats ever witnessed in the country.

On the way up Prof. Ward gives a thrilling performance on the trapeze and takes with him a trained dog which creates much amusement and interest in making a parachute descent of his own. After going as high as his balloon will carry him, Prof. Ward discharges a number of explosives and then jumps from his balloon with a parachute. The exhibition will be one of the thrilling interest and no one should fail to witness it.

By the direction of the committee the president was requested to extend an invitation to the fire department. Half rates will be given on all the railroads and efforts are being made to secure special trains.”

I wish Betty, the Historical Society President, had also included a follow-up review of Prof. Ward’s jump. I also wanted more information on the dog. We are seriously planning to move to Luverne in a couple of years. There still is an element of fun in town. This appears to be a long standing, historical trend.

What are some fun times you remember in the community in which you grew up or where you live now. What kind of celebration would you like to see in your community? Under what circumstances would you do a parachute jump?

48 thoughts on “Fun times”

  1. I wonder if this is Professor Ward? Different middle initial, but otherwise it seems so. This is from

    WARD, Warren Albert USA (1859-1906) K (SM)
    See APPENDIX-B/L. Professional Balloonist
    Nickname Bert.
    b: 1859 Iowa, Son of a carpenter,
    d: June 1906 Monroe, SD.
    p: Mercantile store owner in Kimball, SD before 1888; Professional smoke balloonist.
    f: First B-Ascent from Kemball, SD 1888; Successful 18 year career covered Iowa, Minnesota, and the Dakota Territories.
    l: Considered meticulous and absolutely fearless; His assistants were considered gentlemen at all times. ***Epic ascent 1906 at the Old Settlers Picnic in Monroe, SD. As the balloon ascended, his parachute became entangled in a telephone wire. The wires were separated from the pole insulators but remained intact. When Bert reached an altitude of about 70′, the unbroken wire jerked him from his restraints and he died on impact of a broken neck.
    r: W.A.Ward scrapbook, Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD; Kimball Graphic, 13 June 1906.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    Fun in LeMars, Iowa was often located at the school for marching band and football games where all other social action occurred around the game. Parades were big, too. Homecoming, Memorial Day, July 4th often featured a parade. We have an old picture featured in the local newspaper of my pregnant aunt with her two children and my brother and sister watching a parade. In 1969 the town had its Centennial that featured lots of fun activities all over town. One I remember well was the Men’s Beard Contest. I don’t know who won, but I remember the men growing beards for it all year. There was also a large parade that the band marched in on a hot day in wool uniforms (not fun).

    PS, Renee I am glad to hear you have settled on a retirement location that is within driving distance of Baboon Land! Is a date set yet?

    Liked by 3 people

  3. We moved around so much when I was a kid that I’m having trouble fixating on any “community fun”. However as an adult, I’m very fond of the Tangletown parade that we have every year on the Fourth. Kids with their bikes decorated up, dogs with bandannas and costumes. We follow the fire truck around Tangletown a bit and then have a big picnic at the park. Not sure what form that will take this year but hopefully more fun than last year.

    However I’m pretty sure I can say with confidence on the issue of parachute jumping that only if I was pretty sure that I would die unless I jumped, that I probably wouldn’t. Kind of the same thing for bungee jumping.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I forgot about the parachute jumping part of the question. The circumstances under which I would parachute jump would be if the plane were going to crash.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Rochester has several things over the summer. “Rochesterfest” is the big one. It used to be right downtown and we’d attend. Then it moved and then it moved again. Now it’s a few blocks away and I haven’t been there in years. Just random life changes and we haven’t gone.
    ‘Thursdays on First’ is a weekly ‘market’ on a couple blocks of First Ave. The night ends with a couple live concerts that can be pretty good; we’ve attended some of those. In the winter they do ‘Social Ice’, but it’s either -20° or 45° and the ice sculptures melt.
    Always fireworks on the 4th of July.

    Speaking of balloons:
    “Developed with John Akerman of the University of Minnesota and piloted by Jean Piccard in 1937 in Rochester, Minnesota, the first multi-celled balloon was called The Pleiades and was made of 98 latex rubber balloons. In a letter to Robert Gray of the Dewey and Almy Chemical Co. later published in Time magazine, Piccard describes how he broke balloons with a hunting knife and revolver to control his descent. A TNT charge released the cluster as he expected but sent burning excelsior down that destroyed the first Pleiades. He suggested to Gray that rock wool in place of excelsior would prevent similar accidents in the future.”

    Kelly, myself, and our son have all parachuted. It was pretty fun! Son and I went on 4th of July a few years ago. Tandem jumps meaning we’re strapped to the guy who knows what he’s doing and we’re just along for the ride. It was a long (20 minute) flight up in a rickety old airplane with – I kid you not- duct tape stuck on the nose.
    I was struck by how loud it was. And then when we get to the part we actually jump out, we had talked about that on the ground: put my foot here, put my other foot here, he’d push us out. And I can’t get my foot on the peg. And I’m trying and trying and he just pushed. And I was upside down looking at the plane and then we were falling. It was pretty cool. Next time (if I’m lucky enough to do it again) I’d want to free fall longer. The floating was almost boring. Kelly went the next year. We all got video’s of the trip.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. The origin is disputed. I like the “Giselle” explanation:

          The etymology of “wllies”, referring to uncomfortable, frightened, jittery feeling is unknown, but it may have originated as American slang.

          Some historians point to productions of the ballet “Giselle,” which debuted in Paris in the 1840s. In it, a young heroine falls in love with a man pretending to be someone else. In reality, he’s a scoundrel who’s already engaged to another woman. When the heroine discovers the betrayal during a passionate dance scene, she dies of a broken heart and joins the Queen of the Wilis, who is accompanied by a host of female spirits who have also been scorned. Together, these ghosts — known collectively as the Wilis — seek revenge upon men they encounter in the haunted woods by dancing them to death. To see the Wilis appear as apparitions on stage probably was enough to give viewers a little fright, something that eventually led to the common term “the willies”.

          There are a number of other possibilities for the origin of the term, though. Some suspect it was derived from early American name-calling. Children, it turns out, once called other children “willie-boy” instead of “sissy,” and the concept was eventually applied to having “the willies.”

          Other experts point to a Slavic sprite known as a vili or wili. Still another speculative explanation stems from the long woolen underwear worn by American frontiersmen. These undergarments, called “woolies,” were often scratchy and irritating to the skin. This may be why we associate a jittery, prickly, “goosebumps” feeling with “the willies.”

          Liked by 4 people

  5. Not much in the way of “organized” fun times in my hometown of St. Louis Park, but we did see the single best July 4th fireworks display I’ve personally witnessed to celebrate the Bicentennial in 1976. I think they finished with a huge American flag (or a map of the USA) floating across the fireworks field on wires I believe.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 3 people

  6. We lived in Storm Lake, IA, till I was 11, and one thing I remember was watching the July 4 fireworks from the far side of the lake – pretty to see the town lights in the background, and there were tons of fireflies. (Probably also mosquitos)

    I remember the h.s. football games, because my dad, a teacher, was in charge of the concession stand, and sometimes I got to be in the stand with him and a couple of h.s. girls… I don’t recall watching any football.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Luverne has Hot Dog Days, with Dachshund races. Luverne also had a very successful vaudeville theater. They do like their entertainment there.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Interesting that Prof. Ward was from Sioux City, IA, which is my mom’s home town. I remember being in Sioux City in maybe 1955 for their Centennial – that was a really big deal. My uncle had grown a beard, Grandma and my aunt Connie had made long “prairie” dresses for themselves and my Sioux City cousins. I remember that parade…


  9. Robbinsdale had Whiz Bang Days, named after Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang, the risqué humor magazine first published in Robbinsdale in 1919 and which, along with Sen-Sen, according to Professor Harold Hill (who was not a balloonist) was corrupting River City.

    Whiz Bang Days occurs on the weekend after the 4th of July, I think, and it’s been held since 1948. There is the de rigeur parade, which I don’t believe I ever witnessed- not being a fan of parades, and a small carnival that we used to take our kids to when they were young, and a pretty good fireworks show over Crystal Lake. We could see some of the fireworks from our house and that was good enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve always wanted to do a parachute jump somebody told me that you need to get your life insurance lined up before you do that because nobody will give you a life insurance after so I think I wanna jump anonymously but doing it in the balloon sounds kind of cool I’m not sure if that would be as much fun as getting up higher in an airplane the whole thing is how long you have from jump until you hit up the pull button

    As far as events the van Gogh exhibit in August or something I’m looking forward to hopefully they don’t have to do it outside in a park online concerts are wonderful although I don’t get to many of them because I feel guilty not given the 20 bucks to the artist would be nice if the state fair was made possible again wouldn’t it

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s what the tip jars are for. I’ve spent way more on music during the pandemic than I normally do, and don’t feel guilty at all.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I’m with Bill on the parachute jump. The plane would have to be on fire for me to jump.

    Renee, will you let us know if you hear anything more about Steve?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. From Steve and Molly about 10 hours ago. I didn’t see this until now.

    Sorry I haven’t been participating. I’m dealing with some health issues and have been hospitalized since Tuesday night. I will have surgery Friday morning at 11:30, lasting 2-3 hours. I’ll be following the Trail and will return when I can but may be unable to post.

    (Hello everyone – this is Molly, Steve’s daughter. He dictated the above to me, as it’s tricky to type on a laptop. He is comfortable, doing well but restive, hospitals not being the most relaxed or fun of places. He is at United in St. Paul and the team has been amazing. I will post on his behalf following surgery and want you all to know how grateful we are for your warm thoughts and support.)

    Liked by 5 people

  13. The latest from Molly:

    The surgery will be laparoscopic done by a robot to minimize the incision. And he will be hospitalized an additional 3-7 days to recover and might then go back to the Wellington where he will have home visits from nurses, although we’re working with Ramsey County to move him into the assisted living side of things. This whole thing actually helps because prior to this he might have been “too healthy, too independent” to qualify! So it’s a positive, provided that he heals. That’s the big concern.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Qingming Scene at the Su Causeway

    The pear blossoms are dancing in the gentle breeze,
    and here comes the Qingming Festival.

    Men and women, old and young,
    take a trip out of town to look for spring.

    When the wonderful music, songs and dances end at sunset,

    warblers sing and fly through thousands of willows trees.

    Liked by 1 person

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