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Friday, Nov. 21, 2014

Tom, Dick and ------ Jerry?

Monday, June 25, 2012

If you don't have a sense of humor, you probably don't have any sense at all.

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I had a nightmare one recent night. In a committee meeting I was sandwiched between the three Kurth boys as we discussed, and cussed, hog confinement regulations. When allied, the three of them were formidable opponents but in my nightmare they were arguing among themselves and I was caught in a very uncomfortable middle. Fortunately it was just a dream, but a very memorable one.

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Gene, Gene made a machine. Hank, Hank turned the crank. Joe, Joe made it go. Art, Art passed gas and blew the whole darn thing apart. (I altered the last sentence a bit!) It has been at least 70 years since I first heard that schoolyard rhyme.

I know the segue is feeble but I wanted to remind old-timers of that old verse, and brothers Tom, Dick and Jerry Kurth did make things happen.

That threesome might not fit the conventional entrepreneurial mold, but I can't think of a family with more ambition and capitalistic spirit. Retail, service, manufacturing, education, home building, you name it, they have 'been there, done that,' with, and for Le Mars.

Reminiscent of the best of characters in Horatio Alger's books, all three were entrepreneurs, and Tom, a respected retired educator (Earth Science for 32 years) continues the trend. Dick, a former teacher, is a retired clothing manufacturer, and the late Jerry was a clothier, manufacturer's rep, realtor and restaurateur, among other things. He was active in the C of C and athletics at every level. Charismatic, he had more talent 'in his little finger' than most of us have in total.

Sons of Joe and Orle Kurth, they grew up without a silver spoon, working in the small family business (Ideal Cleaners), and continued to work hard, and they worked smart. Talented and educated, they have launched many successful businesses, often doing two or more at a time. Jerry and Dick collaborated in the manufacturing operation as Tom and Jerry did in the development and building business.

Strong willed, I would guess they had some interesting 'discussions' as kids! Good athletes, Jerry especially, I'll bet they were a 'handful,' scuffling among themselves but bristling if others picked on a brother.

Tom was elected to the City Council in 1973, defeating incumbent Dr. W.E. Rozeboom, and serves on the Planning and Zoning Commission today. A few years later Jerry lost his city council race against incumbent Merlin Mohning by only one vote.

Short in stature, they sometimes wore a chip on their shoulder but always had a fire in the belly, and a finger on the trigger. They were never known for patience, but compared to the other two, Tom is laid-back!

You wouldn't associate Dick with the idiom, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar," -- I'm thinking he would say, "Who the heck wants flies?"

Dick's sharp, often accurate, public criticisms often lose some strength because they are, well -- sharp. Dick is the kind of guy you are not always sure you want with you, but you sure don't want him to be on the other side! I miss his letters to the editor.

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The grave of Mother Featherlegs, prostitute, and outlaw, is between Lusk and Jay Em Wyoming. On the old Cheyenne trail, ten miles of unpaved, rutty road, the grave is marked by a 3,500-pound pink granite slab, with a worn inscription, blocked by a metal pipe fence.

The inscription reads, "Her (sic) lies Mother Featherlegs. So called, as in her ruffled pantalettes she looked like a feather-legged chicken in a high wind. She was roadhouse ma'am. An outlaw confederate, she was murdered by "Dangerous Dick Davis the Terrapin" in 1879."

Mother Featherlegs pantalets -- or a reasonable facsimile thereof -- are now on display at the Stagecoach Museum in Lusk, Wyoming.

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You have (or not, city folk/young folk) heard of Woods Brothers, Minneapolis Moline, Case, and Rumely threshing machines, but how about the Alta?

From an 1893 Le Mars Sentinel; "The Pech Manufacturing Company of this city has taken the contract to build the Alta self feeding threshing machine attachment for the inventor. The proprietors of this valuable threshing machine attachment have orders for twenty machine to be got out at once.

Le Mars is glad to be able to do this class of work and the half dozen men to be employed is but the beginning of a larger manufacturing plant."

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Remember (this makes you feel better-right?) -- "The economy is in fine shape."

Don Paulin, 2carpenterdon@gmail.com, 7557 30th Av, Norwalk, IA 50211 - 515-201-7236

By Don Paulin
Been There, Done That