My personal Pella Past was at the same time the Red Rock Dam was opened forty years ago at this time in 1969. My family and I were moving to a new home on Country Club Drive and to meet a requirement, we had to inhabit the house by July 1. Ed, my husband had taken a small load of furniture previous to that date and then had to return to Aplington, Iowa where he was teaching Drivers’ Education that summer. My two teenaged daughters were with me, Kristi and Carol, as we sort of ‘camped out’ in the new house. The yard was simply a patch of rather high weeds, there were no down spouts put up as yet and there were no window wells by the basement windows. The older of the two girls was terribly homesick and cried buckets of tears to accompany the deluge, which had started outdoors and before our eyes, the yard had turned into a sea of mud. I was not homesick at all but a bucket of tears also fell from my eyes.
Earlier in this scenario, the three of us had ventured out to the construction site and viewed it from a high road to the south, we photographed a placid scene of a still rather lazy river with an inactive dam dominating the center. We had read that in an eventual elapse of time, the lake would be formed over cavities of clusters of small albeit settled villages. We felt sorry for the people who had to leave their homes.
The story of Noah came to our minds as the rain continued and only three days later, the lake was very much in evidence, much sooner than had been predicted. Meanwhile, in the basement of the Kooi’s new residence, the trio of mother and daughters listened to a strange sound coming from the basement. The rain from the roof was cascading to earth unstopped by down spouts and the mud was pushing the basement windows open with clunking regularity. As Red Rock Lake formed, our basement became a bad dream as we stood at the top of the stairs watching some of the pieces of furnishings merrily floating about. It was one of the worst scenarios I could ever imagine!! Eventually, after days, the rains stopped and piles of ruined objects lined the streets. We had not been alone in the debacle. We had no cell phones in that year and knew not who to call for help for indeed we had no telephones as yet. That was my first historic event in this town and I was without a camera to record it.
My elder daughter was visiting me from Arizona recently and with her younger sister we remembered that 1969 date and wished Happy Birthday to the lake as the unusual weather pattern in Iowa reminded us of the time we had moved here. Yes, it was a mess and none of us recalled how we ever got it cleaned up. We enjoyed living in that house for almost 40 years, a friendly neighborhood that we still miss, a pleasantly landscaped outside and a cozy atmosphere inside.
Pella people did come to assist us we eventually recalled. Two high school girls came to try to relieve the homesickness and friends from our previous times in Pella at college, planned a swimming party for the kids who were in my youngest girls’ class at Pella High, the older one was to leave for school in Cedar Rapids.
Actually it is one of many memories created in this wonderful town among hundreds in my personal Pella Past. Thanks for the memories!
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