Thursday, January 27, 2022

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Once Upon A Time

From the Des Moines City Council minutes


100 years ago (July 1915):

Ordinance passed with a penalty for “powerful or dazzling headlights on motor vehicles on the public streets” to be “not less than $5.00 nor more than $100” and/or jail time “not more than 30 days.” ($5 is about $117 today; $100 about $2,350. Only one year earlier, in July 1914, a new ordinance required all vehicles on public roads operating “one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise” to have attached to the front “a lamp showing a white light visible in the direction towards which such vehicle is proceeding.” Someone did not want to be dazzled.)

Resolved to sell “the old Walnut Street Bridge to L. Levy for $1,000 cash and money…placed in bridge fund.” ($1,000 is about $23,500 today. 1915 City Directory lists nine “Junk Dealers,” with eight in East Des Moines near the river. One, Louis Levy, doing business at 213 East Second, which is now a parking lot south of Kamodo Klub, across from Salvation Army Store.)

Resolution approved that “on or after the 1st day August, 1915, all dogs running at large must be muzzled until Oct. 1, 1915, and that after Aug. 1 all dogs running at large and not muzzled shall be killed.”

A total of $8 is to be returned to the Lodge 143 of the Scandinavian Brotherhood of America since they were not permitted to use the Pavilion at Union Park last month because the Swedish Old Settlers Society was using it. (That $8 is about $188 now! Observant readers of last month’s minutes will remember the SOSS also took Union Park away from the Society of Swedish Brotherhood, which had to meet at Greenwood Park. Hmm…)


Revised ordinance regulating taxicabs and drivers. Some details: Drivers must wear a badge on cap stating name of person or company owning such taxicab. Each side of vehicle must have plain and legible letters the word “Taxicab.” Drivers must use designated stand locations for waiting. In addition, any proof of “immoral conduct on the part of the driver,” or if the driver allows “immoral conduct by any person or persons while being transported or hauled,” the drivers shall have their license suspended.


50 years ago (July 1965):

Pioneer Drive-In Theatre, Plantation Drive-In and Southeast Fourteenth Street Drive-In are all granted permission to hold fireworks display on July 4, or in case of rain, July 5.

Low bid of $1,525 accepted from Storey Kenworthy Co. to provide draperies for the “West Side Branch Library.” (About $11,500 in today’s monies, and that library is now Franklin.)

The President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, called upon everyone to provide jobs for the two million young Americans leaving school this month. Therefore, Council resolves “the Advisory Board for the Youth Opportunity Center be asked to perform the functions of a Mayor’s Task Force in promoting the employment of young people” in Des Moines. About 10,000 young adults, ages 16-21, looking for summer work. (Des Moines’ mayor was Charles F. Iles.)

Permission granted to D & D “66” Service Station at 2900 East University to use a public address system and have a “Merrie-Mixer Square Dance” on the drive at the station July 22. Cub Scout Pack 11, sponsored by Sheridan Park E.U.B. church, granted permission to have a fundraising carnival and street dance on the corner of East 44th Street and Morton July 23.

“River Hills Urban Renewal Plan” is modified and rewritten. Municipal Code Ordinance 7226 repeals and replaces more than 40 previous ordinances, establishes 15 zoning districts, clarifies the permitted activities in each type of district and updates 57 definitions of terms like “alley,” “cellar,” (seven kinds of) “dwelling,” “dog kennel,” “lot,” “street” and “yard.”


25 years ago (July 1990):

Council allows owners of “Easy Starts Restaurant” at 514 East Grand to change name to “Olympic Flame Restaurant.” (City Directory for 1989 lists name as “Easy Street Restaurant.” 1988 lists it as “Easy Starts.” 1987 lists it as “Leanne’s Restaurant.” 1986 has no listing for that address.)

Several locations allowed temporary permits to sell beer on streets and parking lots during the Des Moines Grand Prix July 13-15. Scooters Kitchen granted permission to close Clark Street from Second Avenue to Second Place on Sunday, July 15, for Children’s Convalescent Home fundraiser. Dozens of requests granted to people to allow them to close their streets for neighborhood block parties. Easter Seal Society/Camp Sunnyside and Jukebox Saturday Night allowed to close Third Street from Court to the alley north for “street dance — fundraiser.” Due to the constant requests from Jukebox Saturday Night to close Third Street, the Council directed the city manager to come back at the first meeting in August with a policy for closing this street. CV


Steve Nelson-Vaux is a retired Iowa farmer-turned-library explorer and vintage prospector digging Des Moines’ and S.E. Polk’s historical aether-ore.

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