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Chuck Hinman: Saturday Night Live from Wymore, Nebraska

It's Just Me Again No. 137: Saturday nights were a big event for everyone. Weekly baths. Navy beans and cornbread for supper. A trip to towns, and regular sights - from seeing the guy with his muffler rigged to sound like train whistle to visiting the jam-packed stores downtown - remembered scenes from Wymore Nebraska like many remember in Columbia, Greensburg, Campbellsville, Liberty, Russell Springs and Jamestown, Burkesville, and Edmonton not that many decades ago.
The next earlier Chuck Hinman column: Chuck Hinman: Most Beneficial Subject taken in High School (Latin)

By Chuck Hinman

A fantastically popular social event that caught on in the 1930's should have been called "Saturday Night Live from Wymore, Nebraska." It was a product of the harsh economic times for farmers in the mid-west. It was a one night a week event when area farm families swarmed the town of Wymore, Nebraska, and relaxed from the never-ending plight of hard-times that had befallen them.


Wymore, population 2,680, was a railroad town. The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company had a division point in Wymore. They had a roundhouse for engine repair. People who worked for the railroad made good money and weren't too concerned about the weather or what bug was eating the corn. It was a prosperous, energetic town with a three-block-long business district. It was just right for a Saturday night party with the neighboring farm families who soon caught on and invaded the business district of Wymore on Saturday nights to do their weekly trading and socialize for a few hours. It wasn't rowdy but it was fun.

The Arley Hinman family, that's my family, lived eight miles east of Wymore on the road to Liberty. They were just one of the young farm families looking for a place to relax from the stress of the week. This is how I remember Saturday nights in those days.

First of all we got the chores done early. Saturday night suppers were always the same -- navy bean soup and cornbread that we ate on the run. Saturday night was bath time and we only had one bathroom and we knew when it was our turn. Saturday night activities were so looked forward to that no one threw a tantrum; everyone including Dad with all his worries was happy and working toward a common goal -- getting this show on the road!

And it wasn't just our family thing. Our good neighbors to the north, Albert and Zazle Hurtz and daughter June Peggy, were always the first to town on Saturday nights. Albert liked to talk and drink a little beer so he wanted to get a good seat at the only bar. Years ago Albert rigged their car's exhaust system with a special muffler and a switch on the dash so he could create a sound like a train whistle. It was awesome and he used it even late at night for orneriness. It was Albert's way of saying, "howdy, neighbor." I miss Albert and his crazy horn.

Proper dress for Saturday night was "farmer casual." Dad was the last to have his bath and join the family in the car. He brought the crate of eggs, the proceeds of which Mom would use to buy the groceries for the week. She had learned to be a juggler -- matching our needs with the milk and egg money.

It was still daylight when we pulled onto the main street. It was obvious we would be lucky if we got a good parking place so Mom could "watch people" from the car. We lucked out as only the second trip around the business district, someone pulled out of a choice parking spot and Dad grabbed it! We had already dropped our eggs off at Marshall's produce where they would be candled and Mom would have a small check with which to buy groceries during the evening.

The sun is down and there's as full moon. The stores are jam-packed with people. All of our family has split and gone their separate ways. Brother Bob and I stay together. We circled the entire business district time after time. Our record on a Saturday night is 17 times. I saw sister Jody and she had caught up with her girl friends to do their Saturday night thing -- probably leading a pack of boys! Some women friends of Mom's are sitting in our car and yakking up a storm as they watch people and probably talk about them! I saw Dad every trip around. He was sitting on the running board visiting with an old friend, Bernard Kier, of their Blue Springs days. One time he gave us a penny apiece to buy a pack of life savers. I got chocolate.

The streets are packed with people and cars. Greenwood Hall above Safeway has all their windows open and you can hear the oom-pah music of the polka band. It is very noisy.

It's almost 10 pm and I saw mom on a recent pass through town. She had bought her groceries and said she and Dad were ready to head for home. Bob and I begged to circle the streets two more times. Mom said that would be all right but for us to tell Jody, if we saw her, it was time to go home.

Mom as always had some extra money from grocery shopping and she squandered it in the Ben Franklin store for a dime's worth of corn candy -- our family's favorite candy.

As I drifted off to sleep I couldn't help thanking God for Saturday nights in Wymore.... what bad times are you talking about? zzzzzzz

Written by Chuck Hinman, written 19 February 2008


This story was posted on 2012-07-15 06:37:31
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