Archived Story

Cardinal Charlie: Ladies covered ankles, ears for dusty dance dates

Published 8:40pm Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Some more from B.C. Hibbard’s articles.

Some of the games school kids played years ago were scrub ball, two old cats, prisoners goal, tin tin, county sixty and a game played with pins called pick or po.

(Games this writer has never heard of in his kids game-playing days.)

His book mentioned stockyards. I suppose they were in Marcellus, and it brought to mind the ones we had in Dowagiac. They were north of the deport, by the old freight office.

The cattle were kept in pens and, if I remember, there was a ramp that led up to the cattle car on the train tracks. Maybe some old farmer could correct me if I’m wrong.

In the olden days there were spittoons in pool halls, barber shops and near the old coal stove in the country stoves where the men sat around having their conversations and telling tall tales.

Entertainment was a simple thing in years past.

Can you imagine, years ago women’s ankles and ears were not supposed to be seen or talked about?

In the good old days, if a man didn’t have a horse and buggy he could go to the livery stables and rent a horse and rig to take his girl to the dance.

I wonder how many old farmers used to come to town with throats full of dust and would stop in and get the “saloon’s” prescription, which was good at clearing dust out of a man’s throat (ha-ha).

As I’ve mentioned in one of my columns, we kids used to hook on to the rear bumpers of cars in the ’30s with our sleds in the winter.

Mr. Hibbard mentioned that kids did the same thing years ago, not on cars, but on horse-drawn sleighs. And sometimes there would be several hooked together in tandem.

In my old newspaper reading I found this story. A business had a terrible problem with mice, until the mice got into a drawer that had some Ex-Lax. Guess what? They had no more mice problem. I never thought of Ex-Lax being a mouse killer, but sure do know what it does when one takes it.

He told of the old days how they used steam to run their threshing outfits. They used to get their water from a lake or a stream for their boiler, as it was soft water and didn’t gum up the boiler as hard water from a well does.

Speaking of water, I wonder who used to drive the old water wagon that they used to wet down the old gravel streets here in Dowagiac in the days before my time.

In the 1930s, I remember they used to spread some kind of  white pellets on our unpaved roads, and we were told not to walk on it barefoot.

“Cardinal Charlie” Gill writes a nostalgic weekly column about growing up in the Grand Old City. Email him at

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