Les Kouba with sketch of bandstand

Hutchinson-born artist Les Kouba holds a sketch he created in late November 1996 of the Library Square bandstand that will be used to raise money for the Hutchinson Area Chamber of Commerce’s restoration project. According to Kouba, 60 years ago, his family rushed to finish chores early each Wednesday night during the summer so they could hurry into town, so his mother could get her favorite spot to listen to the weekly concert at Library Square.

125 YEARS AGO: 1896

For 36 hours, a steady rain fell and it is a circumstance that the oldest settler never before witnessed in Minnesota during the last week of November.

Oscar Smith of the Glencoe Register was, in spite of his modesty, a conspicuous figure at the Leap Year Ball. The seraphic smile and signs of ecstasy on Oscar’s dimpled face as he glides through the giddy mazes with a giddy maid whose heart temporarily if not longer beats in unison with his would attract attention anywhere. Oscar says he fell in love with every girl he danced with the other night, besides several married women.

The season for skating has not yet opened, and here comes the baseball managers with the announcements of their ball games for next year. And there is as much gossip in its way as to where the elusive pitcher or the comprehensive catcher will play next season as over the formation of the presidential cabinet. If the national epic ever will be written it will surely include some lines of bases and a fly leaf.

A scientific authority on physical development has recently given his idea of a theory for the perfect physical condition as follows: “Exercise moderately and temporarily for a short time at the same relative hour every day of your life.”

100 YEARS AGO: 1921

The firebug, who undoubtedly operated in this city two weeks ago, is at work again. Last Sunday evening occurred the most spectacular blaze perhaps ever witnessed in this city when the Powers Elevator on First Avenue Southeast burned to the ground. Like the other two fires, the blaze occurred quite late in the evening with the origin as yet unaccounted for. About 9:50 p.m. upon retiring for the night, Mrs. Paul Riesberg, who lives directly across the street from the elevator, noticed small flames near the driveway on the west side of the elevator. Mrs. Riesberg immediately turned in the alarm and by the time the fire department reached the place, the lower half of that side of the building was ablaze. Martin Paulson, for the past four years manager of the elevator, estimates the damages to be near $20,000, which is covered by insurance. This is the third fire in three weeks with its origin unaccounted for.

75 YEARS AGO: 1946

Zelenys will open their new modern, double-front Ben Franklin store to the public, with an opening celebration. The store, located on the same site on North Main Street for more than 60 years, has now been expanded to twice the frontage it had occupied in the past.

Hutchinson Jaycees have been invited to sponsor their choice of a Fire Queen to represent this community in the St. Paul Winter Carnival, Feb. 1-9.

The Hutchinson airport has been approved for a flight school, which will offer training leading to a private pilot’s license. The school will be operated under the G.I. training program, where the government pays the cost, and for others who wish to learn to fly. Bud Juul, who operates the airport, has received the necessary approval from the State Aeronautics Board and State Board of Education, and has signed the necessary papers to put the G.I training into effect.

50 YEARS AGO: 1971

Appointment of a new probate and juvenile judge for McLeod County was announced by Gov. Wendell Anderson. LeRoy Yost, a Winsted lawyer, will succeed Judge J.A. Morrison on Dec. 1. Yost, 32, who has been been associated in practice with Richard Genty at Winsted since early this year, automatically will become judge of the new county court system when it goes into operation Jan. 1, 1972.

25 YEARS AGO: 1996

McLeod Treatment Programs celebrated 20 years of helping children with an anniversary open house at Sheppard House in Hutchinson. MTP was created by the county as a private, nonprofit corporation providing group homes for children. “The founders wanted to keep the kids in the community,” said Jill Kloeckl, executive director. “It was designed for kids who needed placement, not a correctional setting. It began with mostly delinquency.”

Although the 1997 Hutchinson Area United Way campaign was set to close Nov. 1, local representatives are making one more push to close a $30,000 gap between what has been raised to date and the organization’s $167,000 goal. Joyce Cripps, president of the Hutchinson Area United Way, said that donations will be accepted during the next few days. “It’s important right now to get in as many donations as possible,” she said. “Because we have to notify our agencies what will be allocated for 1997 in December.”

Looking Back is a weekly column by Kay Johnson, arts and special projects editor, that highlights Hutchinson history. Photo submissions with captions are welcome. Contact the Leader by calling Johnson at 320-753-3641 or email johnson@hutchinsonleader.com.