Ethel Baltus came to Laona in 1922. She taught high school business courses. She got $135 a month, being the highest paid teacher in the school. The high school was located was located where it is now. The grade school was behind the high school.
Mr. Robinson came the first year Ethel came, which was in 1921. Mr. Robinson was the principal. The high school had about 25 teachers. She taught the 7th and 8th grade penmanship. If women teachers got married, they couldn’t teach anymore. There was one male teacher at the time. His name was Mr. Carlson. The male teachers could get married.
The kids had to walk to school. Kids living around the Stark's Settlement area were brought in by their parents. Town kids walked. If there was a bad snowstorm, the kids simply did not come to school. Some people weren’t able to get in to school or work, so they stayed home while those that were able to went.
There was a snow plow, an old tractor. It would take a week to get the roads cleared, so the tractor was tractor was always clearing roads. Drifts by the Grumann Settlement, north of town, had to be blasted open by dynamite.
Lower Town had a hotel, grocery stores, and taverns. Years and years ago, Laona was called “Snyder”. The train would stop by the depot in Lower Town and by the company store. Very few people in Laona had cars.
The first hospital was located next to Collin’s tavern. Dr. Elliott, a cousin of Ethel’s, ran the hospital. Connor’s built the present hospital and it got the name of Ovitz Hospital because Dr. Ovitz was there at the time. Isel Ward was the first nurse in the Ovitz Hospital. Dr. Clark worked for Dr. Ovitz. Later, Dr. Carroll and Dr. Castaldo came.
All clothes were bought at Connor’s Store. No one was allowed to order out of catalogs because the orders would be intercepted in the mail and not sent to the houses.
Two company boarding houses were run by a man named Gunther. They were located next to the old bank. One was for sleeping and one was for eating. If a man didn’t keep working or he walked off the job, Connors wouldn’t give him back his suitcase.
Back then they had a sawmill, a planning mill, and a flooring mill. Now there is a chair factory and a sawdust outfit. Ethel worked at the chair factory for 37 years, as a secretary.
Food was kept in ice boxes. Baldy Lawrence used to deliver the ice. He took the ice out of Silver Lake and cut it up.
Ethel’s house was heated first by wood, then oil, and then coal. They had a space heater that sat on the floor and a wood stove in the kitchen for cooking.
There was dancing for entertainment. A dance hall was across from the Club House. It was owned by Mallows. Listles owned the “Wigwam”, a dance hall down the road from Silver Lake.
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