Some 40 years ago, I was operating a resort hotel in the south on a championship golf course.

My brothers from Morton were just learning to swing a club, so they wanted to pay me a visit and to bring other golfers along.

Some 40 years ago, I was operating a resort hotel in the south on a championship golf course.

My brothers from Morton were just learning to swing a club, so they wanted to pay me a visit and to bring other golfers along.

Chris Rassi was in that group, arriving with a son in his mid-30s who worked at Caterpillar, just as his dad was doing. The son was quiet and when I asked his name, he replied, ‘Just call me A.J.’”

Two days later, pop Rassi came to my office saying that he and A.J. checked out, so I was naturally concerned that something was wrong at home.

Chris Rassi shocked me when he said, ‘A.J. was homesick for his wife and missed being on the job at Caterpillar.’”

I thought this was to be odd behavior, but then I didn’t know A.J. Rassi

Years later, I heard that this same A.J. was named plant manager at a Caterpillar plant in Indiana, and it was then that I reflected on the man.

A.J. Rassi had simply prioritized his devotion to job and family,  and was was emotional about being away from home. 

Cream does rise at the top.

Back in the ‘30s, the Morton State Bank did less business than the pool hall, of course, that’s not true, but I’m making a point of just how hopeless things were during the depression years.

Krug’s market had a cash and carry policy on groceries, and George Krug once told my pop that he had more cash to collect than the loan officer at the bank.

Credit cards had not (yet) been invented, the bank had no money to loan, thus what you stashed in the pickle jar was your cash on hand.

I remember finding a quarter on the steps of the old post office, and no 10 year-old ran faster reaching their front door.

Had we known the value of silver (to be), we’d have saved every barber dime and exchanged every paperback for a silver dollar.

Now, we recklessly pay a buck for a Twinkie.

My aunt Clara lived on a 600-acre Ford County farm, and borrowed me in the summer months to pull weeds, help with the caning or do simple chores that popped in her mind.

She subbed me out to my uncle to help with the milking, slop the swine or gather oodles of eggs each day.

It all started when I was about 5, which was the Depression era, and I soon learned about life in the fast lane. We had a cannery on the back porch, and stored over four 400 quarts of meats, fruits and vegetables in her cellar hole. 

Once, she had me climb a cherry tree to pick from every branch, and then we plopped for boring hours removing a pit before packing.

At the end of the day, we displayed only a mere twelve quarts, resting in Kerr glass jars, which seemed silly to the hours of toil required. Every muscle in my body was on fire.

Why did church bells ring the afternoon of Aug. 14, 1945, was a question I had as I shot baskets behind my house.

My mom yelled that President Truman was on the radio saying Japan surrendered and the war was over.

My pop drove in and said Frank and Naomi Bauman had asked that they come celebrate, which was out of character for Apostolic Church people back then.

At the Baumans, my mom said the women fried hamburgers, and the men had a swig of Frank’s finest wine.

Albert Hohstadt asked this kid to walk to the corner of Main and Route 150, and, once there, we saw a line of jalopies backed up halfway to Deer Creek beeping and jumping with joy.

One carload yelled that everyone was heading to Peoria, and for us to jump on the front fenders and ride along, which we did.

It was a sight for sore eyes I’ll never forget.

The following morning my mom was alive with renewed hope say, ‘No more worry of a Western Union at our door. My boys are coming home.’”

 

— Submitted by Noah Zobrist