I have previously mentioned 2019 is a big year for the Beebe's as we will celebrate 50 years of marriage in July and 50 years in Forest City in August. It would be fair to say it's been quite a ride.
In this piece, I want to reflect back on initial impressions and our first few years here. Joan and I were married in her home town of Roseville, Michigan, on July 5, 1969, and at that time I had been living in Des Moines and working at an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Iowa.
We had not even unpacked all of our wedding gifts when the decision was made to move to Forest City, where I would join the newly formed law firm of Cooper, Sinnard and Beebe.
We looked for housing here and the Indian Springs townhouses were then under construction with a few of them in a completed or nearly completed state. We became one of the first four or five owners there purchasing the first unit on the east side with an address of 103 Sweetgrass Lane. The purchase price was about $19,500 but we had virtually no money at that time and borrowed the down payment from my father.
We could not have known it then but we were moving to Forest City at a very interesting and exciting time in the history of the community and Winnebago Industries. The downtown and outlying business districts were vibrant and as best I can recall there were four hardware stores, four grocery stores, a jewelry store, Reuben's Department Store, a Coast-to-Coast, several insurance agencies, a number of restaurants, many car dealerships, a large farm implement business, two drug stores, and on and on. The town had not yet felt the full "Sam Walton impact." There was then a K-Mart in Mason City (remember those blue light specials?) but the other chains had not yet appeared. The only out of town nice restaurant I recall going to at that time was the Holiday Motor Lodge in Clear Lake (remember George?).
We had not been here long when Gene Morris asked me to be a guest at the Lions Club where I will soon be a 50-year member. We joined Immanuel Lutheran Church and after Pastor Gangstead met us (or anyone else) the first time, he never forgot our names. I wasn't much of a golfer but soon learned golf was what the businessman in the community did on Thursday afternoon and still during an era when the majority of their wives were stay-at-home moms, the women golfed on Wednesday. When you arrived at the country club, there was a sleeve by the first hole tee off where you placed your ball and waited until it appeared at the bottom which suggested that you and your group could finally tee off. A fair amount of beer was consumed as golfers waited their turn.
At that time virtually all of the men who played golf went to the clubhouse after finishing their rounds where they had a few drinks, dinner and often times visited or played cards well into the night. It was a definite no-no for men to be seen at the golf course on a Wednesday or women on a Thursday. Thursdays were sometimes referred to as "holy day" which was apparently intended to mean the Almighty would not allow it to rain on that day.
This was an exciting time for Winnebago Industries. Winnebago was listed on the New York Stock Exchange on September 9, 1970, and little could I have imagined at that time I would be part of Winnebago groups helping to ring the closing bell on the New York Stock Exchange on the 35-year and 40-year anniversaries of that occasion in 2005 and 2010. The early 1970's were a crazy and tumultuous time for Winnebago which even resulted in an article about the company and the community in Playboy Magazine.
I will be talking more about that in future columns.