Lorimor: The Late Thirties and Forties

So, after a brief honeymoon to Chicago and Wisconsin, Kenneth and Marian returned to Lorimor, Iowa. Kenneth resumed his managerial duties at Easter's store on the main street in Lorimor.

As referenced from Wikipedia:

The population was 360 at the 2010 census (410 in 1940). Lorimor was founded by J.S. Lorimor who was given the honor of renaming the city, when the town grew after he gave land to the railroads as they traveled through town, in return for the railroad placing a water stop in the town. With the business from the Railroads, and his 2,000-acre (8.1 km²) farm of bluegrass seed, the town was quite successful in its early years.

The grocery store in Lorimor was one of several in this small town. At that time, most of the stock was behind the counter and customers had to ask for specific items that the clerks retrieved and added to the other selections. The following was taken from a book published for Lorimor's centennial:

The Easter family of Norwalk made a "great impression" on the Lorimor area during the "Great Depression" in 193 8 by opening a grocery store in Lorimor. It was the "good ole days" when they stayed open on Wednesday and Saturday nights. Many people had chickens in those years and brought eggs to town to trade for groceries. In the summertime the band played on Wednesday and Saturday nights. An amateur contest was held and prizes awarded contestants who came from all around the area plus local talent. Lester H. "Shorty" Steen was behind this promotion for getting a crowd to town for entertainment. Cars lined Main Street and several side streets and people were crowded as they visited with friends and neighbors up and down Main Street.
People brought in their eggs and left them in the store to be counted and candled and left their grocery list to be gathered by the clerks while they went to these events and to visit before coming back to "settle up." The grocery list was added up and the eggs were subtracted from that total ·or vice versa as some people brought enough eggs to pay for their groceries and have money left over. In the summertime the store stayed open as late as 1 A.M. Sunday morning
First employees of the Easters were: Kenneth Garrett, manager; Kate Cooper and John Tomas Grandfield (full-time). Part-time employees were needed for times during the week when the truck came Mondays and Thursdays bringing in supplies to stock the shelves and haul back the eggs to market.
Kenneth Garrett was manager from 1938 until December 1950. Virgil Criss was manager from December 1950 until April 1958.

Easter's Store, Lorimor, Iowa, ca. 1941 Left to right: Hart Jones; Virgil Criss; Marian Garrett; Kenneth Garrett

Easter's Store, Lorimor, Iowa, ca. 1941
Left to right: Hart Jones; Virgil Criss; Marian Garrett; Kenneth Garrett

Virgil and Janice Criss purchased Easter's Store on 1 May 1958 and managed it until he died in 1989. His son, Ed Criss, managed it for an additional year when it was sold. The building that housed the grocery store no longer exists, having been demolished after the roof collapsed about the year 2000.

1940 United States Federal Census, Lorimor, Union Co., Iowa:
Last name:    First name:    Relation:    Sex: Age: Born:
Garrett Kenneth Head M 28 Iowa
Marian Wife F 23 Wisconsin
Kenneth's occupation is listed as a manager of a grocery store, education level as three years of college and an annual income in 1939 of $780. Marian's level of education was also listed as three years of college. For comparison, yearly wages for a grade school teacher in the community ranged from $635-$810, school superintendent $1,360, and a lumberyard manager $1,574.
Family home, Lorimor, Iowa Photo taken about 1993

Family home, Lorimor, Iowa
Photo taken about 1993

The children of Kenneth and Marian were both born in the 40's, Kenneth L (MIO) on October 25th, 1942, in Osceola, Clarke Co., Iowa, and Craig Roger on June 28th, 1947, in Des Moines, Polk Co., Iowa. Of interest, until recently it was thought that Kenneth L was actually Kenneth Lester Garrett, Jr. However, the birth certificate clearly states just "Kenneth L. Garrett". Marian was surprised to find out about this and could not provide any additional information about the naming. Craig had the misfortune of being born on the night of inventory at the store, an almost sacred time for Kenneth in every store he managed. Marian would recount the timing of Craig's birth many times over the ensuing years.

Kenneth, Marian holding Craig Lorimor, Iowa, 1948

Kenneth, Marian holding Craig
Lorimor, Iowa, 1948

When first married, Kenneth and Marian lived in an upstairs apartment of the Edith Donner home, but they later purchased their first house at 505 Park Avenue in Lorimor just across the street from their apartment. Marian frequently remarked that this was her favorite house. It was also the largest house she would ever own.

Both Kenneth and Marian were active in the Lorimor community. Kenneth was one of the first club members of the Lion's Club of Lorimor that was started on Jun 18, 1940. A photo from this era shows several hundred persons attending a Lion's Club banquet in a school gymnasium typical of those built by the WP A. Also recognizable in this photo are Kenneth's parents and Ralph and Bertha Saxton.

The business community was thriving at the time with several car dealerships, a movie theater, banks, newspaper, a number of grocery stores, etc.

For the centennial book referenced above, Marian wrote, "I can recall Lyle McCall driving his cattle through town to the railroad station where they would be loaded into cattle cars, the carnival setup on Main Street, and the many wonderful residents there. We have fond memories of our life in Lorimor."

Marilyn Stafford (1930- ) wrote in a letter that accompanied the Lorimor's 1986 centennial book, "Your mother dressed the burns on my brother's arms after he was injured by the rollers at Capital City Woolen Mills in Des Moines . .. My brother's name was Marvis Booth (1927- 1993) ... "

Marian worked at the hospital in Winterset, which presents an interesting question of how she got there from Lorimor as she did not learn to drive until 1954. As illustrated by Marilyn Stafford's letter, she also cared for citizens of the Lorimor community changing bandages and administering ' shots' as needed. Today she would have been labeled a ' visiting nurse' and received payment for her services. I am sure that her services were done gratis for the good of the Lorimor community at the time. She would occasionally speak with pride of her providing nursing care to others.

Friends remembered from Lorimor:

  • Vernie (1919-1987) and Lorene (1923-1987) Corsbie (Lorene was a daughter of Ralph and Bertha Saxton)
  • Virgil (1922-1989) and Janice (1925-1967) Criss Raymond (1895-1 957) and Goldie* (1909-2005) Eldridge
  • John (1920-2007) and Helen (1920-2006) Grandfield
  • William (1895-1981) and Lillian (1893-1986) Means
  • Ralph (1899-1962) and Bertha**(1899-1963) Saxton

*I visited Goldie when she lived alone in a house in Winterset, Iowa, probably in the early 2000s. In Lorimor, Marian had attended her husband Raymond when he was ill. Goldie probably worked at Easter's in Lorimor. She had remarried and her last name had changed to Livingston. She did not have children.

**Bertha remained friends with Kenneth and Marian and even visited them in Colfax.

Goldie Livingston, left, and Marian Kreie Garrett Goldie's house in Winterset, Iowa, undated

Goldie Livingston, left, and Marian Kreie Garrett
Goldie's house in Winterset, Iowa, undated

Lorimor storefront, probably November 1993 Kenneth managed the Easter's store at this location, November 1938 to November 1950

Lorimor storefront, probably November 1993
Kenneth managed the Easter's store at this location, November 1938 to November 1950

World War II: Kenneth

During World War II, Kenneth had several different classifications for being drafted. He completed registration for the draft on October 16th, 1940. His various draft classifications probably reflect the changing times and were as follows:

5/27/1941    3
11/25/1942    3A
10/1/1943    2A
411/1944    2A
2/10/1945    1A

On March 6th, 1945, he received a letter from the Selective Service notifying him of his appointment as a leader to take a contingent of men by train from Creston, Iowa, to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for induction into the Armed Forces. There were 26 men listed as registrants for induction. Upon review of military records, only four could be definitely identified with induction into the armed forces related to this time period. The oldest member of the contingent was 36 and the youngest was 18. Kenneth was 33-years-old at the time and was the only one listed as being from Lorimor. Most of the group were either from Creston or Truro.

Apparently, Kenneth took the group to Fort Leavenworth, but he failed his induction physical and was sent back to Lorimor. Whether he came back individually or as part of a group is unknown. He was given a meal voucher not to exceed $1.00 to be used on the railroad or anyeating house'.

The war was over about six months later. I do not know why he failed his physical or why he was rated as a '3' initially. His order number was listed as 777 on his draft registration cards throughout.

Kenneth kept gasoline ration cards for a 1938 Ford 4-door Deluxe, dated November 13, 1942. Kenneth and Marian each had war ration books 1 and 2 as well as a ration coupon for five pounds of sugar.

I cannot recall either Kenneth or Marian talking about World War II or any war for that matter.