While times are constantly changing, Morgan County and Wartburg changes as well, only not as
fast. Growing up here, I remember walking to the local grocery stores and Tanner’s Drug Store for comic books, ice cream sodas, and one of the best, greasiest, hamburgers you could find. Walking in the store you were transferred even further back in time to the early 1900’s where the floors were dark and creaky. The ceilings were high with old beadboard architecture. The soda fountain (still there) was in constant use. No air conditioning, just open windows and fans. In town, there were “designated” spots in front of the stores or around the courthouse lawn, for the “old timers” to gather and spin yarns. Discussions generally ranged from who just passed on, to what some people were growing in the garden. Lots of history was discussed in these groups, as they were the ones who could remember past generations and would gladly tell anyone willing to listen about members of their own family in the past.
My grandfather, Daniel Bonifacius, was the editor and publisher of the Morgan County News from 1927 until 1960. He was a small, firey, German man. Always busy gathering news, items of interest, setting type on the old lithograph, printing the paper, folding, and delivering same. One man operation, but the paper was always accurate, and of the highest integrity and quality. He also would decorate one very large magnolia tree in his front yard in town, with the large multicolored Christmas lights, every year. This was the predecessor to lighting the town square. People would come from miles around to see the lighting. It was very special to me, because I knew when Grandpa was hanging the lights that Christmas wasn’t very far off.
I miss these times, but I am getting older. Now everyone communicates on tablets and cell phones. It’s nice to be able to make a trip downtown and have a “visit” with old friends. Times gone by do not mean they were not good times. Yes we did not have all of the modern conveniences we do today. We had something more valuable……community. Friends and relatives meet in passing on the street, or in the local store. Stopping to discuss the day’s activities, and making plans. Have a cold soda, ice cream, or sandwich in the local drug store café back then was a real treat. It was a somewhat slower time where we could take the time we wanted, or needed, to enjoy life. That to me is what a small, rural town embraces.
It’s good to be from Wartburg, Morgan County.
Roger B. Long (pictured with wife, Alberta)