A look at
Minonk's past

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Bank corner revisited

By Dave Uphoff

I am sure that many of the more recent residents of Minonk probably wonder what Minonk was like years ago after seeing those wonderful old photographs of downtown Minonk. I am not old enough to remember Minonk at its peak but I do have fond memories of downtown Minonk from the 50's.

In those days old Route 51 ran through Minonk. Can you imagine I-39 traffic going through downtown Minonk nowdays? Clearly, there wasn't as much traffic as there is now but there still was plenty of traffic from the outside world to trigger the curiousity of the young people who watched the world go by from bank corner.

Ah yes! Bank corner at Fifth and Chestnut. It was where many a young lad from Minonk received his education. Mind you, not anyone with any airs about him would hang around bank corner at night. It was only for those daring young men who would risk their social standing for the privilege of witnessing the nefarious activities emanating from the bank corner. This was the days before N.O.W. Any girl who would happen to loiter too long with the boys on bank corner would be branded a brazen hussy whose reputation would be soiled for life.

When a young lad started to hang out on the bank corner it was like the rites of passage. He was now a man and accordingly was allowed to hear the latest jokes, whistle at the girls going by, yell "Get a horse" at guys going by in their jalopies, and hear the latest rumors, especially the ones about the girls who were taboo from the bank corner.

The bank corner was also the place where one would likely receive his nickname. Through idle conversation and the ramblings of youth occasionally a nick name would be born and bestowed upon the subject of the conversation. This happened with one of my friends who use to admonish us for loitering on bank corner all the time. We eventually gave him the monicker of "Deacon" for his sermons.

Cruising was popular in those days as well. Many a guy would take his car with the swan hood ornament, lowering blocks, fender skirts, racoon tail hanging from the antenna and loud dual exhaust and slowly cruise between downtown and the curve north of town with his sweetie practically sitting on his lap. The boys on the corner would grudgingly nod their approval as the couple drove by wishing they were in the car instead.

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Route 51 traffic also provided entertainment. Once in awhile the local cop, "Heinz" Janssen would stop a speeder and we would sit and snicker at the poor sucker who got caught. One time a speeder went north through town and "Snow" Goliwas was on duty and immediately gave pursuit in his 1948 Ford. He proceeded to ride the clutch from bank corner all the way to Young's Garage before he popped the clutch into second, by which time the speeder was half way to Wenona.

In those days the trains were pulled by steam engines that would belch enormous plumes of black coal soot all over Main Street as they chugged through town. If the wind was from the east some guys would head into the Chocolate Shop or the Princess Sweet Shop so as not to smell up their clothes.

And then one day it happened. The bank building was remodeled and the steps were removed from bank corner and Minonk was never the same. It was like removing the roost from the chicken house or the perch from a cage. We were lost. We couldn't sit on the steps or the ledge next to the steps. The bank corner therapy sessions were gone. Many of us turned to drink, others wept in silence. Suddenly our youth was over. We had to go enter the real world.