Colon in the Roaring Twenties
By Raymond C. Meyer, Sr.: “The door was about to open on the “roaring Twenties” when the Meyer family moved into Colon. Many changes took place in the village during the decade, ending in the great depression.
There were no paved streets in Colon then. There were quite a lot of sidewalks. Most of these were put in by M. D. Lyon. He also built the Lyoness, the passenger boat that operated on Palmer Lake.
State Street was the first to be paved, around 1927 or ’28. Until that time the streets would get a yearly going-over with a grader; at least two teams on it; then the winter wagon would help to smooth the grading process before they were ready for the oil wagon. Thomas A. Sweet had a blacksmith shop on the northeast corner of the school yard. Many were the times we would stop in and watch the metals heated, shaped and quenched. After Mr. Sweet moved the building on Palmer Avenue by his home, he worked in the Anderson shop on the north side of State Street and east of the bridge. The Anderson brothers had a wagon and carriage shop upstairs with a long ramp that was good for sliding in the winter. Next to the bridge were a laundry and photographic studio. These buildings were removed about the time the present bridge was constructed. Just west of the bridge were the Lamberson home and the mill. Conrad Abraham Lamberson had property in Park township which he sold before buying the mill in Colon. They milled White Swan, Polar Bear and Lilly White flours. My grandfather made barrels in which the flour was shipped. The flume also furnished the power for the electric generating plant near Hobday’s Garage and battery shop. Donald says he played around this shop a lot. This plant also served Burr Oak, until Consumer Power bought them out. People by the name of Sievers had the plant. I remember the lights along the street that had to be fueled and lit at night. Andrew Bower was the first town marshal who I remember; he did this chore. On the two intersections there were lights that stood about four feet high with a sign, “No U Turn”. These lights were replaced with an almost flush light that was electric. One of the first plays that I saw in the opera house was Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The Kempton Komedy Kompany put on several plays. The Kemptons lived on N. Swan Street. And we saw the late and great Harry Blackstone put on his show in there. The last time I saw Mr. Blackstone was at the Hill Bank’s 75th anniversary celebration.
The “Air Line” was very busy this decade, as were dray and taxi services. John Ultz and Nick Myers were prominent in the early days. We heard a lot of Nick and his horsemanship. As the twenties progressed the auto and truck manufacturers changed the way people traveled. Some passenger trains were taken off and trucks did the dray work. Ellis Rathburn furnished a motorized taxi service. Harvey May then had a truck that served the dray line for several years. He sold to Wood & Son.
The first birthday party that my brother Ralph and I attended was for Hugh Godfrey. His sister, Louise, helped with all us kids. Hugh later had a nice little black and white pony, named Rosey. He had a nice carriage for her and we had pictures with my brothers and me and Hugh with this pony. Hugh was a good friend and lots of times walked the paper route with me. our class was so large that at one time we had several rows of double seats. Hugh was my partner in one of these. I had a nice talk with him at the Class of ‘33’s 50th reunion. The Lepley boys, Udell and Winfred, also had a black and white pony, and many times we would go out to the farm with them and have the time of our lives. Goodell & King had a barber show where the block addition now stands that houses Magic City Hardware. We left our daily Free Press there and they collected our payments. This building was moved on Mr. King’s property, now owned by Leonard Steininger. I lost a silver dollar while making hay on Mr. King’s property that was awarded to me for an essay that I wrote in the fifth grade. The last time I saw Mr. King he hadn’t found it.
Niendorfs had the corner drug store for many years, also a part of Magic City Hardware now. Mrs. Niendorf was a first cousin to my mother. Other businesses were E. G. Morgan, Mauer’s store, Carrie Adams (later Brast’s), Wilder’s Rexall store, G. S. Mitchell, Roy Bell, S. G. Hill, Elliott Mosher, Hartman’s Bakery, Bartholomews (which continued with Dale Baad and the Carpenter Brothers). Then there were Thram’s Harness shop and shoe repairing, Warren’s Bazaar, Moore & Son, Sol Wiles, Markham (funeral director), and M. C. Sevey, Ely & Meyers were located where the variety store is now; they sold to James DeBack, John’s father and with Sevey formed Colon Supply Co. The first gas pump that I can remember was located directly in front of Hartman’s Bakery. The first filling station, Gerald Snyder’s, was located where the Church of Christ now stands. Lamb Knit Goods Co. manufactured quality woolen goods that were shipped all over the United States. Reid, Murdock & Co. had a pickle factory north of the Tomlinson Lumber yard. Walter Dickenson sold his grocery and market to O. W. Curtis; Mrs. Curtis will be remembered for his “pet fish”.