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Memories of Readlyn

By Paul and Marillee Tiedt

In about the turn of the century
when the railroad was made,
when the grading was being done
and thetracks were being laid.

It was seen by the people
that they needed a gathering place.
With the horse and the mule,
it was a very slow pace.

So then in about
ninteen hundred and four,
some buildings sprang up
and soon there were more.

So as the storygoes,
a worker Lynn Reid, said then
"We'll reverse my name
and call it Readlyn".

A council was formed
and street plans laid.
So horses could be tied,
hitching posts were made.

And as it was then,
each town had a saloon.
And after a hard days work,
evening came none to soon.

A small stockyard was built
to ship cattle to go
to the great stockyard
in Chicago.

A building was moved in
for a blacksmith shop,
conveniently located
on a small lot.

And then came the bank
for people to borrow or invest,
made strong by the community
to become one of the best.

In the surrounding area,
much dairying was done.
Cows grazed on wild prairie grass
and enjoyed the warm sun.

The milk was hauled
to the creamery each day.
The horse and buggy
about knew the way.

A large poultry market
was also new on the block
for selling their old chickens
and then start a new flock.

More churches were built
to conquer the source,
by traveling the road
with a buggy and horse.

For it took a long time
and the distance was far,
for things weren't as convenient
as with a car.

Then a new post office
was number one on the list,
so everyone in the settlement
would never be missed.

More business places
soon began to settle down,
now making it a convenient
little country town.

Then the Model T Ford
came in about nineteen hundred and twenty,
bringing in the gas stations
and repair shops a plenty.

Down through the years
the town continued to thrive,
now being the size
to which it has arrived.

Now the population of the town
we will put in a large lump,
which is eight hundred and fifty-seven

* The Early Years

Read excerpts from William Mauer's writings, estimated to have been written in 1949. Includes the founding days of the Ohlendorf family.

* Early Entertainment

Picnics, hopping freights, sleigh riding, and more!

* Readlyn Public School

Read about the first school building built in 1905 to the first graduation class in 1937.

*What's in a Name?

Find out how Readlyn was named.

* Hollywood Visits!

In 1983, the movie "Country" was filmed largely in Readlyn. It is regarded as the classic film of the farm crisis of the 80's.

Do you Remember...

When you could mail two letters and a postcard for a nickel?

W hen the dresses worn were made from the feed sacks that feed was brought home from the feed mill in? (The women would go along to the feed store to help pick out which color and pattern of feed sacks they wanted!)

When the town businesses would give away dishes and pottery with their names on them?

When you used to sip cherry cokes at the soda fountain in Vic Happel's grocery store?

When you used to watch movies and go rollerskating in the community building that's now the Center Inn?


The Early Years

(Taken from the writings of William Mauer, estimated to have been written in 1949.)

By 1900, much of Iowa was still a vast prairie. People had settled on farms, and towns were scattered. The land had been divided into counties and townships. Bremer County has some of Iowa's riches farm lands, and the Maxfield township is a fertile spot in this county.

The Ohlendorfs were a family of German emigrant settlers who had come to the land of opportunity to find happiness. They picked a region about 1.5 miles west of the Wapsipinicon River in northeast Iowa to put up several buildings.

Trains were becoming a common means of transportation in the early twentieth century.Railroads connected many of the prospering towns. Two of Iowa's early towns in these farming districts were Waverly and Oelwien.These two towns were connected by railraod, but a shorter route was desired to give enterprising citizens a closermarket for thier products.

In 1903, a representative of the Townside Company came to the Ohlendorf home.He wanted to buy the Ohlendorf land in order to build a station for the Chicago Great Western railway line that was to connect Waverly and Oelwein. The Ohlendorfs sold their land to the Townside Company, and it was divided into lots.

The first of these lots was sold in March, 1904. All the Ohlendorf buildings were sold and torn down, except the house, which was converted into a hotel used mainly to house the railroad builders. Other businesses were constructed in place of the original Ohlendorf farm buildings, and lots were donated for the park and school yard.


What's in a Name?

A name was needed to distinguish this little town. Read was the name of the representative from the Townside Company that bought the land from the Ohlendorfs. Appreciating the generous compliance with their wishes, citizens living in the vicinity of Read's Line decided on Readlyn as the name of their town.


Early Entertainment

Entertainment was as important in early Readlyn as it is now. The Wapsipinicon River was a favorite picnic ground. Sometimes the whole town would get together and spend the day at the river. There was fishing for the men, swimming and playing games for the children, and gossiping for the women. A livery stable near the town's main street offered a means of transportation for those who had none.

Some of the town's youth could be found hopping freights in the summertime and sleigh riding in the winter. The gunny sack was always brought to warm cold hands and feet.

A wedding was a great event in Readlyn. A designated person rode to all the houses for miles around to inform all citizens of the news, and a two or three day celebration would follow.

During the summer, there were medicine shows by people who came to offer their remedies for anything from corns to rheumatism. Later these shows were replaced by Readlyn picnics, which showcased shows, rides and concessions. Later, movies were shown and dances and rollerskating were held in the halls.


Readlyn Public School

The first school building was built about 1905, for first through eighth grades. In 1915, another building was constructed. The grades were divided, and a second teacher was hired. From 1930 to 1936, ninth through twelfth grades were added. In 1935, the plan for a new building passed. It was constructed the same year, and the other buildings were sold.

The first graduation class of Readlyn Public School was in 1937. The following were part of this class: Mildred Pries, Dorothy Rommel, Florine Bruns, Yvonne Warneke, Milton Stumme, Lester Matthias, Arnold Huebner, Arlin Deterding and Clarence Schumacher.


Hollywood Visits!

Bremer County is the setting of "Country," the classic film of the farm crisis of the 1980s starring Jessica Lange and Sam Sheppard. Levi Knebel, a boy from a nearby town, had his film debut with his major role as the son of the starring couple."Country" was filmed largely in Readlyn in the summer of 1983, and was released for the public in October, 1984.

The primary farm setting is one mile south of the Bremer County line in Black Hawk County on a farm owned by Kenneth Fettkether. Many scenes were shot in Readlyn at the Farmer's Co-op, Meyer's Welding, Readlyn City Hall, Readlyn Savings Bank, and Center Inn. Many residents of Readlyn and the surrounding area played bit parts and served as extras.



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