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Op-ed: I knew a different Mason City (by Peter Children)

I knew a different Mason City than what we now have. Growing up here I never really knew who ran the city’s day to day business, I was certainly aware of City Hall, that there were people who were in charge of making regulations and set policy that we all lived by. What I did know was that things ran smoothly, I cannot recall any controversial issues that consumed the population or that came close to what we have in this city now.

I went into business at an early age, I knew permits and licenses were a necessity, that inspections needed to take place; I went through whatever was required. There was corruption here, not that much but it did exist, mostly petty stuff, police payoffs were a part of the fabric of life. The drop off was the Red Wing Shoe Store. We had two active whore houses operating here, both were on South Federal just a few doors South from the corner of Second Street S.W. , the other directly across the street. While I knew both operators, I never once frequented either establishment. Don’t take that to mean I was never in a whore house because I was, I am not a prude, but not where I lived. I was in my early twenties in the Quad Cities with a group of friends when we decided to have a look; it was what it was. I never became a regular patron of those parlors of relaxation, I pretty much never had to pay on the outside so they presented no advantage to me.

Looking back I think those establishments prevented sexual assaults and outright rape in the cities that allowed them…no one got hurt.

There were after hour bars where we would go to eat after we closed the bar each night, they were open until about five in the morning; if you ran a bar they were almost indispensable as a place to have a drink and a steak after work. Even through Iowa was dry then, you could order any drink you wanted inside the club. There were one or two bar owners who complained but nothing ever came of it. The police always called to tell the owner when they would come so they could remove any evidence of liquor before hand; think Red Wing Shoe Store. It was more relaxed then, we had competent administrators running things here, they were not out to prove themselves, they ran the city the way it was suppose to run. If I could point out any one thing it was the prejudice that prevailed here during those years; there was no reason for it, there never was.

Today there is a sense of City Hall trying to make “end runs” around the population, there are divided camps in the city, factions that show a sharp divide mingled with arrogance and a unwillingness to cooperate; this is very unhealthy for everyone.

Its hard for me to recognize the city now; the majority of my close friends have died; fifty year friendships gone overnight leave giant holes in your life that can never be filled. I am more at home with the memories that I hold close than I am if I go outside the house, and without a doubt….better company.

Peter Children

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Posted on May 31, 2012. Filed under Watercooler.
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7 Responses to Op-ed: I knew a different Mason City (by Peter Children)

  1. Mary Lee-Anderson Reply Report comment

    June 2, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Once again, thank you Peter for your articles!

  2. Yawn Reply Report comment

    June 1, 2012 at 8:35 am

    To recap, Things are different now. Peter Doesn’t like them. Same story, different day.

  3. LVS Reply Report comment

    June 1, 2012 at 8:25 am

    After living through those time myself I remember a time when people had respect, both for other people and themselves. Even though most people didn’t make a lot of money they had pride in what they had and were honest about what they thought and did. Yes, there were some people who tried to take advantage of other folks but we didn’t have things like probation. If you committed a crime you went to jail and it was not fun. I knew some of the after hours bars and was a worked for a few. Some of the resturants had private clubs in the basement but you could get in if you knew the right people. There were more than two whore houses in town and Peter must have lived a sheltered life if he doesn’t know that. Most doubled a bars as well as whore houses. The two he talks about were run by the mob. Different times and different values. That was the key.

    • Peter Children Reply Report comment

      June 1, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      Of course I knew of other whore houses; Black Sal’s was on 4th street south near where MetalCraft is now, the Park Inn was another and there were some independant contractors as well; but the focus was downtown. You are right about jail, you commited a crime, you were locked up.

  4. Peter Children Reply Report comment

    June 1, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Reggie It wasn’t at all like that; you missed the point. It was a more gentier time.

  5. Watchdog Reply Report comment

    May 31, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    Those were much better times. It was controlled corruption in my view. Today corruption is everywhere and there is no control.

    Today City Hall if full of small minded corrupt players that don’t have a clue how the real world operates. They are more corrupt because they have no self-control.

    You would never find a mover or shaker drunk in public in the old days.

    Today’s players have no class!

  6. Reggie Reply Report comment

    May 31, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    So Peter, corruption,prostitution and illegal booze were the good ole days?Social media,like this site,is the bane AND the savior of democracy.Every little problem becomes a BIG problem but things that were swept under the rug in prior times are now brought to light.Little people,like you and I,have a voice.Sometimes, unfortunately too big of voice.