Thursday, January 27, 2022

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Once Upon A Time

From the Des Moines City Council minutes


100 years ago (August 1915):

Ordinance No. 2396 passed “prohibiting circuses, menageries, caravans, shows or any other exhibition or performance of any kind whatsoever between the 25th day of August and the 3rd day of September…” subject to fine not less than $10 nor more than $100. ($10 then is about $236 today. It appears they did not want any shows between the State Fair and Labor Day celebrations. The Council was expected to participate in the Labor Day Parade and “report to West 8th and Locust at 9:30 a.m.”)

Mr. Fred Cook was “appointed fireman to fill the vacancy caused by the dismissal of George Rambo at Station No. 4.”

Resolved: The Superintendent of Department of Parks and Public Property is “to have the Engineer make soundings and prospectings to the building of a natatorium and skating rink at Greenwood Park.” Also, he was authorized to “sell to Steve Jones, the grader at Glendale Cemetery, together with piles of old lumber, at $55.” (Thus, planning begins for a swimming pool and $55 is about $1,300 today.)

On Aug. 13 the Council read communication from “John M. Boller [sic] saying that his house was subject to a raid for liquor by the police at 2:30 o’clock Sunday morning Aug. 8 and asking for an investigation by the City Council.” On Aug. 24, the Council found that “the search warrant was improperly issued, that the police officers who served the warrant having no knowledge of the defects in the information are not culpable for their part in the transaction, that on the whole a serious injustice was done to Mr. Bowler on account of which an apology of the City is due him.”



50 years ago (August 1965):

City traffic control ordinance amended to add section relating to “drag racing.” “No person shall engage in any motor vehicle speed contest or exhibition of speed on any street.” Such contest is defined as “one or more persons competing in speed in excess of the applicable speed limit.” Violation fine set at not more than $100 or more than 30 days. ($100 then, is about $757 today.)

Pidgeon’s Furniture and Appliance Store on Beaver granted 30 more days for their “lost lease sale.”

Communication read from Municipal Laborers Local Union and the Association of Professional Fire Fighters requesting a change to budget allowances so employees get four weeks of vacation after 15 years of continuous service, not the present 20 years.

City ordinance amended to add Chapter 59B creating the “Des Moines Low-Rent Housing Agency” and stating they “shall have and exercise all powers and duties which a low-rent housing agency may exercise under the Provisions of Chapter 403A of the 1962 Code of Iowa.”

“Communication from Harold G. Parry, convention chairman of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, Inc., requesting permission to decorate, with signs,” Locust Street, which was designated ‘Harmony Lane,’ in a proclamation by Mayor Charles Iles, in conjunction with their seven-state convention. Also requesting permission to have “a quaint type of train for giving rides to boys and girls who visit with their parents, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. from the Kirkwood Hotel to KRNT Theater; and “use one float by the local chapter for transporting a singing quartet during periods of the day.” Motion carried, permission granted. (Surprisingly the society still exists under the name Barbershop Harmony Society.)


25 years ago (August 1990):

A very busy month for neighborhood “Block Parties/Street Closing” requests, from across the city, with 26 approved by the Council. However, Council denied a street closing request from Jukebox Saturday Night, requesting “Jukebox utilize its beer garden for such activities.” (First time we observed such a denial.)

Amendment to zoning ordinance passed to allow Barbara’s Bake Shoppe, with a C-2 Classification as a “bakery,” to function without the necessity of having all preparation “on the premises” and specified its storage area cannot exceed 7,500 feet.

Renewed “Airport Use Agreements” with Ryan International Airlines, Skyway Airlines, Midway Airlines, Great Lakes Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Air Midwest Airlines, America West, Inc., Trans World Airlines, United Airlines and American Airlines. (There were 10 back then. Only seven exist now.)

Signed an “ ‘Irrevocable License for Use of Real Property’ with the United States of America for use of space at the Des Moines International Airport for the installation of an Automated Surface Observing System.” (Still used for observation of weather conditions and known as ASOS.) 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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