When Ottumwa had a social ladder, Isabel Hofmann was on the very top rung, and as such, was privy to information known only to those of her status. While giving a program on Ottumwa years ago, she shared the following three humorous incidents, omitting names and dates.
Two early Ottumwa attorneys who liked to hunt never went without their spiritual genie of the alcoholic kind to fortify them on this endeavor. On a duck-hunting trip, they crossed the river and, returning home in the dark, they walked a great distance and decided they were lost. They made the best of it, spent the night in the open and when they awoke the next morning, with the genie back in the bottle, they realized they had “spent most of the night walking around the race track at the old fair grounds in the West End.”
One of the lawyers, who figured in the above story, went quail hunting with a judge, who liked to imbibe also. (It isn’t made clear in Mrs. Hofmann’s account whether the two were living together, but it appears so.) They had a very successful hunting trip, returning home with their bags full. Upon their return, they placed the quail in that part which held the ice. (Remember, old ice boxes held ice to keep the contents cool.) The next morning, to their consternation and disbelief, the quail were gone from the icebox. It wasn’t until a few days later that an odor began to emanate from the parlor, and after their search for the source, they found the quail in the top of the upright piano!
This story concerns a well-known and respected lady of the community. The person of interest had purchased a sack of large gum drops in Hofmann Drug and then departed to await a bus. While chomping away on her gumdrops, she noticed her bus on the opposite corner, and as she was crossing the street, she realized it was not dignified to be chewing the candy as she walked, so she reached into her mouth and threw the gumdrops out.
As some people do when at home, she evidently didn’t wear her dentures, because when she took the candy out of her mouth, out went the dentures, too. She didn’t realize they were gone until she reached home. Not wanting to expend money for new ones, she placed an ad in the Courier and had a quick reply from a man in South Ottumwa. He noticed a dog at the crossing having a time with something, and when he went to investigate, he found the dog “with a fat, sticky gumdrop stuck to its teeth, and adhering to the gumdrop, a plate of false teeth.” The teeth and owner were soon re-united, and the teeth given a “thorough cleaning.”
Sue Parrish is a retired museum director and author of the book, “Days Gone By.”