Colfax and Mason City: The Sixties

The sixties were a time of graduations and marriages. Kenneth L. and Craig Roger graduated from Colfax High School in 1960 and 1965 respectively. This was followed by college graduations--Kenneth from Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, in 1964 and Craig from the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, in 1969.

The sixties also saw the marriage of Kenneth L. to Kathleen Rose Buysse on November 6th, 1965, in Tracy, Lyon Co., Minnesota, and Craig to Kendra Lou Jones on June 14th, 1969, in Colfax, Iowa.

Kenneth was hospitalized in Newton, Iowa, in the winter of 1963 because of a bowel blockage that was caused by a disorder called Hirschsprung's disease, a congenital disorder that can lead to bowel obstruction. He was transferred to Iowa City to the University Hospital for diagnosis. Kendra's father, Dr. Maynard Jones, made a house call before sending him by ambulance to Skiff Hospital in Newton. After treatment and discharge, Kenneth did not have any further problem with the disorder that escalated to require another hospitalization. Hirschsprung's disease can lead to toxic megacolon that can be life threatening if not treated.

Either at the end of the 1950s or early in the 1960s, Kenneth's mother Floye moved from her home in Des Moines to an apartment building in Colfax on Walnut Street just south of the downtown and across the street from the Presbyterian Church. The area is now a parking lot for the Baptist Church and the Presbyterian Church is now a photograph studio. Floye only lived in the apartment for several years before moving to an apartment on Colfax A venue South in Minneapolis. It was Floye who introduced Kenneth L. to his future wife Kathy who was also living in the same apartment building as Kenneth's grandmother.

In the early sixties, Kenneth was nearly transferred to Ottumwa, Wapello Co., Iowa, to manage one of two new Easter's stores opening in 1961. Kenneth was probably the senior manager working for Easter's stores at the time and a logical choice for reassignment, but Marian had tired of moving from place to place. The family had been living in their home on South Locust Street for only two or three years after having lived in two rentals the previous four years. Although the transfer probably would have resulted in a considerably larger salary for Kenneth and a larger home for the family, Marian's wishes ultimately won out and the family stayed in Colfax for a few more years.

Friends remembered from Colfax:

  • No close personal friends recalled, though they were friends with many.
25th Wedding Anniversary 4 September 1964

25th Wedding Anniversary
4 September 1964

I cannot recall any special events marking the 25th wedding anniversary. I would have been a senior in high school, and my brother Kenneth would have graduated from Iowa State University and would have been working for AT&T.

Left to right: Kenneth L; Kenneth Lester; Marian; Craig Garrett 219 S. Locust, Colfax, Iowa, probably May 1965

Left to right: Kenneth L; Kenneth Lester; Marian; Craig Garrett
219 S. Locust, Colfax, Iowa, probably May 1965

With Craig's graduation from high school, Kenneth (and Marian) agreed to move to Mason City*, Iowa, to be the manager of an Easter's Super Yalu to be built there. The store in Colfax had grossed about $6,000 a week at best, while the store in Mason City would bring in about $75,000 to $100,000 a week in the initial period of operation. The Mason City store was about 15,000 square feet initially, later adding an additional 10,000 square feet of space. The store would eventually have a pharmacy and a deli in it and operate 24 hours a day.

Easter's Supermarket, Mason City, Iowa

Easter's Supermarket, Mason City, Iowa

Kenneth could still do most of the jobs in the new store, but he had to delegate many of the tasks he alone performed in previous stores. There were many more persons who worked at the store to supervise, and it was probably not in Kenneth's nature to direct or correct someone as opposed to doing it himself.

In Mason City they moved into a rental house at 1918 Pennsylvania Avenue and lived there for four years until they bought a house at 1143 Crestmore Way. After moving to Mason City, Kenneth and Marian began to attend St. John's Episcopal Church in Mason City. Kenneth took instruction in the Episcopal faith and became a member of the church.

1143 Crestmore Way, Mason City, Iowa

1143 Crestmore Way, Mason City, Iowa

This was a three-bedroom home with living room, small dining room, bedrooms and bath, kitchen on the main floor with entrance to a one-car garage. One of the upstairs' bedrooms was used as a television room. The basement was at least partially finished with a large family room, area for double bed, and a workbench area. Firsts in this home included a washer, central air-conditioning, and an attached garage. The list price for the home was $22,900 in 1969.

Ken and Marian added an awning over the front window and a covered cement patio in back of the house.

The first grandchild, Karen Lynn was born on November 29th, 1969, in Mountain View, Santa Clara Co., California, to Ken and Kathy.

From Wikipedia about the history of Mason City:

The region around what would later be first called Shibboleth was a summer home to the Sioux and Winnebago natives. The town of Shibboleth was settled in 1853 by John Long, Joseph Hewitt and George Brentner where the waters of the Winnebago River and Calmus Creek come together. The town changed names several times, from Shibboleth, to Masonic Grove, to Masonville, and finally to what it is known today as Mason City. It is commonly referred to as the 'River City', as the city grew up centered on the Winnebago River. In 1854, John McMillin opened the first store and Dr. Silas Card opened the first medical practice in the area. The first schoolhouse was established in a log cabin by Lizzie Thompson in 1856. In 1857, the United States Post Office Department started service to the town. Mason City was named as the county seat in 1858.