Jerry Adams grew up in Sioux City during a time when parents didn’t worry about their kids being outside for long hours and when entertainment was as simple as walking the bank of the Missouri River with a few good friends.
“We played in the neighborhood,” he explains. “In the winter they would flood the park so we could go ice skating. At Riverside Park there was a rollercoaster, pool and stock car racing.”
Anyone who grew up in the 1940s will tell you that they walked to and from school. and Adams is no exception. He walked a mile and a half every day during his elementary years. He says class sizes were smaller and that students learned the basics — subtraction, addition and division without calculators. Distractions from iPads, computers or televisions weren’t an issue.
“I remember the first black and white TV in Sioux City,” he recalls. “We knew a family in the neighborhood, and we would sneak up to their window and watch it from outside.”
As the years progressed, Adams found himself enamored by “The Ed Sullivan Show” and old Westerns like “The Lone Ranger.” He fondly remembers Henry Aldrich and “The Aldrich Family” radio show. His taste in music included Tommy Dorsey and the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
Adams was busy in high school. He played in the band and was on the swim team. For extra money he picked berries, had a paper route, worked at a golf club and in a printing store.
“In the printing store you just had your individual keys with the ABC’s on it,” he says. “It was all manual, they were called linotype machines.”
Adams and his three sisters were expected to complete chores at home and were responsible for getting places without personal transportation. They rode a transit bus to high school because most teenagers didn’t own cars.
If Adams and his buddies knew someone with a car, they’d track them down for entertainment. The group would pile in and drive around for hours, with no particular destination in mind; just a bunch of friends and the open road.
Adams graduated high school in 1955. He admits to never “going steady” with anyone until he met his late wife Joan in 1957.
“I was in the Air Force in Kansas City,” he recalls. “I had just spent 18 months in the Philippines so I was skinny and tan.”
The couple married in 1959 and were husband and wife for 51 years before she passed. They moved to Windsor Heights in 1973 with their four young children. The kids attended St. Theresa School and Dowling High School. Adams says the couple strived to raise them in an environment where they could learn from experiences.
Joan was a stay-at-home mom until the early 1970s, active in both the church and schools, while Adams continued in the labor force. He worked for the National Weather Service for 33 years. He recalls many storms, but will never forget Palm Sunday in 1965 when tornados tore through Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. He continued to work part-time packing clothes and loading trucks for a local distribution center after retiring in 1992.
As most Windsor Heights residents know, the population has remained close to the same for years. The town is enclosed, which doesn’t leave much opportunity for expansion, and is one of the reasons Adams loves the area.
Of course, he’s seen plenty of changes in Windsor Heights since his family arrived. He recalls the old Bakers Cafeteria in Sherwood Forest, where his daughter was employed, and the first Mustards restaurant on the south side of 66th and University. He remembers when Lions Park ran from University to the back of City Hall.
Adams can easily name a series of businesses that have come and gone over the years: the Standard Oil gas stations, the Safeway store, Harder’s Drugstore, Downs Super Valu and Rolee Photography.
The Hy-Vee on University was an exciting addition to the community 12 years ago. Today, the Apple Valley Shopping Center and Wal-Mart occupy an area that was once open land at risk for flooding.
“At 73rd and University they were once not allowed to build there because it was a flood plain,” Adams explains. “Now they’ve improved that.”
Colby Park also used to flood occasionally when it was open land. The community building, pavilion and trail in the park are now exciting luxuries that Adams enjoys. He adores his home and has no plans to leave the area anytime soon.
“The people of Windsor Heights are great people, the firefighters, the police officers, everyone,” he says.
The feeling is mutual. Windsor Heights is extremely grateful for Adams’ contributions to the community.
In addition to his 37-year involvement and leadership in the Windsor Heights Lions Club, Adams once filled the role of Windsor Heights Foundation president, has served on a variety of special events committees for the city, was entered into the Wall of Honor for his 41-year commitment to volunteering at the Drake Relays and was named Windsor Heights Citizen of the Year in 2003.
Hard work equals great rewards
When Mark Arends was a child the most accessible science, geographic or historical information was sought out through encyclopedias and non-fiction library books. Today, his two sons are in college and find that the Internet gives them the best information in the fastest manner.
Arends spent the majority of his childhood in Marshalltown, competing as a swimmer. He didn’t have a cell phone or satellite TV. Xbox and PlayStation didn’t exist. Instead, Arends played board games.
“I was limited to seven or eight television channels,” he recalls. “My boys can watch hundreds of domestic or foreign shows on the TV, iPods, iPhones or tablets. They can talk face to face over Skype and play electronic games with friends or total strangers with their headsets from inside their homes.”
Arends recalls spending many summers at swim meets throughout Iowa. If he wasn’t at a meet, he was still at the pool.
His parents were always quick to volunteer within the community and instilled this trait in their children. The family often travelled to Minnesota to work on his grandparent’s farm.
“We would help with chores, tend to the livestock and work in the garden and apple orchard with my grandmother,” Arends recalls. “This is where I gained an appreciation for hard work that brought rewards such as fresh meat, milk, eggs, vegetables and fruit.”
Arends was introverted in school; he didn’t like to be in front of the class or the center of attention. He was a varsity swimmer in high school and could be found socializing with the academic or concert band kids and the athletes. For fun, he would watch movies with friends at the local drive-in or listen to music by Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Who, The Steve Miller Band, Simon and Garfunkel or Fleetwood Mac.
His favorite childhood television shows were “The Jetsons,” “Jonny Quest,” “Lassie,” and “Rocky and Bullwinkle.” As a teenager he stayed up late to tune into “Saturday Night Live” and loved to watch “Hee Haw,” “Monty Python,” “Baretta” and “Wide World of Sports.”
Arends says his dad had a no-nonsense, analytical and hard-working personality. His mother was creative and enjoyed art.
“I attribute my personality traits to my mother and father,” he says. “My quietness is like my father. Keep your head down, go to work and don’t make waves. From my mother I learned that there is beauty in nature and I think this is where my enjoyment of photography comes from.”
Arends married his wife Barbara in 1987. The couple embraced an instructive parenting style, similar to their own individual upbringings.
“We wanted each son to make decisions on their own based on what they were taught as to what is right and wrong,” Arends explains. “Or course, we had some hard and fast rules that we believed the boys needed to obey, but were relaxed on some things also.”
The Arends family lived in Missouri prior to their move to Windsor Heights in 2000. Their boys attended Hillis Elementary, Merrill Middle School and Roosevelt High School.
Arends is an active member and current president of the Windsor Heights Lions Club and has volunteered and contributed to several city events, committees, activities and projects. He appreciates Windsor Heights’ quiet nature, cultural and age diversity and its safety. He has embraced the changes he’s seen within the area throughout the years.
“When we first moved there didn’t seem to be as many families with young children as I now see around the city,” he says. “Also there appears to be more individuals and families from various heritages which translates to more changes and growth.”