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June 17, 2023, 142nd Annual Kinderfest

"Hair raising fun"

Manning's Kinderfest has its beginnings in 1881 when members of the German Schuetzen Verein held a community event for the first time.
For years 1883 has been stated as the first Children's Day, but having researched Manning's history, it dates back to 1881 and while it wasn't called Kinderfest it was the precursor and in 1882 the celebration became solely about children and of course the King Shoot. So this would make 2023, the 142nd annual Children's Day. Only during WWI, WWII, and one year during the Covid pandemic was the event not held.

On April 11, 1879, the Manning Schuetzen Verein was incorporated under the state laws of Iowa. February 9, 1932, the Verein celebrated its golden anniversary.

February 9, 1882 Manning Schuetzen Verein constitution from the Herman Lamp collection

Front side - back side

Now the first building that housed the Verein was called Germania Hall - later the Opera House. It burned down in 1925 and a new brick building was built at the same location, later that year.

Germania Hall - later called Opera House
From the 1981 Manning Centennial history book
In 1884, the Schuetzen Verein sponsored the building of a "Vereinhaus", the first opera house in Manning. It was named The Germania Hall, and was located on the site of the present Fire Station. The wooden building was large enough to accommodate public dances, performances of traveling troupes, and home talent plays.

In the basement was a beer bar where keg beer at 5c a stein flowed freely. Built around the bar was a wooden, slatted platform on which the bar drinkers stood to keep their feet from getting wet from the foam blown off the top of the beer mugs.

Upstairs, on the east side of the hall, was a balcony with several small rooms in which were large double-sized beds. On dance nights the rooms were used for a baby-sitting service. A woman was hired by the Club to care for the children of the dancing parents below.

To attend one of these dances was a highlight on the social calendar. Husbands bought corsages for their wives. Frequently midnight suppers, prepared and served by hired cooks, were enjoyed by the dancers at small tables arranged under the balcony and in the basement.

On St. Patrick's Day in 1925, a dance was planned for the evening's entertainment. The janitor over-fired the coal burning furnace and at noon the building burst into flames and was destroyed in a very short time. However, the members of the Schuetzen Verein were active, community-minded men who immediately planned another opera house on the same site. This time it would be a fire-proof building.

Intersection of Elm Street and later Highway 141
As best I can tell, this picture was taken from the top of the original Milwaukee RR watering tower that would have once stood somewhere on what is the current location of the city park and Park Avenue. The building partially in view on the far right is the Germania Hall.

The house on the corner with picket fence on the south and east sides was once the home of Joachim Heinrich and Wiebke Schroeder after they retired from farming.
The next house to the north is where Claus & Clara (Ewoldt) Clausen and their children grew up, one of whom was Ila (Claussen) Rix - Mrs. Art.

Memory by Gerhardt Voge September 29, 2018: Leonard Farrell's mother, Emma (Sommerfeldt) Farrell lived in this home after the Schroeders.
In 1937, Twin Gables service station was built there by Albert Puck. It is assumed that Albert would have had the old house torn down.
Gerhardt also noted that Elm Street was called Scheiße "Shit" Street, because on Hog Day, the farmers that came from the west and south would drive down Elm Street from Iowa 46 (later Highway 141) with their wagons full of hogs to the various stockyards in north Manning for the railroads.

From the Leona (Schrum) Larson collection I scanned in 2013

To Mrs. D. Popp in Arcadia 1907

From Minnie Feldman - Germania Hall on the left side of this postcard.

Featured in the 1956 Diamond Jubilee issue of the Monitor
The Manning Schuetzen-Verein, organized February 9, 1882, held the distinction of being the oldest organization in Manning. It was founded when the town was about four months old.

Charter members were Chris Grube, H.D. Radeleff, Henry Hoffmann, Henry Grube, William Schoop, John Albert, John Hoffmann, Henry Vogt, and Carl Steffen. The first officers were William Schoop, president; John Albert, treasurer; Henry D. Radeleff, secretary.

After a few years of renting club rooms for meetings, it was decided to build a substantial hall for all entertainment and to offer the use of this hall to the public. The hall was built in 1884 and served the community as the main amusement center until it burned down March 17, 1925.

Modern Building
The entire membership then unanimously decided to erect a modern building for the benefit of the community and for the purpose of carrying out their previous program. The building was erected under the governing body of the Verein of that year; namely, Robert Kuhl, president; Henry Albert, vice president; A.J. Reinhold, secretary; J.P. Reinhold, treasurer; John Frahm, P.A. Martens and Rudolph Kuhl, trustees.

Approximate cost of the building was $24,000, the total value with site about $28,000. The dimensions are 60'x100', constructed of solid brick and steel reinforcement. The building long held the reputation of being one of the most magnificent club houses and dancing parlors in western Iowa.

On April 11, 1879, the organization was incorporated under the state laws of Iowa. February 9, 1932, the Verein celebrated its golden anniversary. The group dissolved a few years ago.

Handheld fan from the Audrey (Cramer) Olsen collection.
I've never seen any inside pictures of the Germania Hall but with the high celing in this picture, it may be more likely than not that this is a picture of the stage...but it could be a promotional photo from the band and printed on the fan.

Wedding invitation - married January 15, 1908
From the Iola (Taylor) Stammer collection

Postcard to August Wunder 1907
Manning Schuetzen-Verein

Funeral for John Louis Louisfield October 21, 1907

Translation by Dennis Barten
As our member Louis Louisfield has died, you are requested to take part in the burial which will take place on Monday, the 21st October, at 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon.
You are requested to arrive promptly in the Vereins-Halle by 1:30 o'clock in the afternoon.

Fred Miller, Secretary

It is amazing at how many different types of activities that were held in the Germania Hall (Opera House), and the community broadly supported those events.

August Wunder invitation

After the Germania hall burned down in March 1925, a new brick building was built in its place...so now I'll show some pictures and information about this next Schuetzen Hall.

The following news item is taken from the November 26, 1926, issue of the Manning Monitor:

"NEW $35,000 OPERA HOUSE TO OPEN ON WEDNESDAY, DEC. 2" BUILDING THEN COMPLETED WILL BE ONE OF THE FINEST HALLS IN THE STATE ...This fine building is an ornament to the town and the members deserve congratulations for their community spirit in erecting this magnificent structure. Being a club house, it is a question whether another building equal in size and artful architecture, built by a social organization, can be located in the state of Iowa today.

The dimensions of the building are 60x100 feet, basement the same size, main or dancing floor 60x60 feet, stage 20x40 feet and a balcony 20x60 feet, which has underneath the cloak and janitor room and a ticket office, all of which have splendid oak finish woodwork. A modern heating plant has been installed which is perfectly capable of heating the large building most comfortably.

The steel window frames have the capacity of opening to either side, causing perfect ventilation, qualifying the building for all entertainments in the different seasons. The outside walls are special selected, attractive colored, weather resisting pressed brick, which are lined and trimmed on top, on the corners, door frames or whatever suitable with white cement blocks. An $800 drop curtain with curtains of other sceneries of the latest models adorn the stage. Dressing rooms are under the stage and easily accessible from both sides of the stage. In brief, this magnificent structure is the pride of the community and its owners have a most beautiful home of which they can be justly proud."

For the opening dances December 2 and 3 two famous orchestras "Pete's Peerless Players" and "Cato's Vagabonds" were engaged to furnish the music.

A contest was held to name the new building. Ethel Lee, wife of Superintendent Amos Lee, won the prize by naming it the O-C-O-LA, after the OCO (Omaha Cut Off) road that skirted the east edge of Manning. However, the name never caught on, and the old-timers continued calling it The Schuetzen Hall.

Its popularity as a dance hall was unequaled in the area. Regularly scheduled were such big name dance bands as the Lawrence Welk Orchestra, Ted Fiorita's Band, Herbie Kay with famous singer Dorothy Lamour, Cato's Vagabonds, and Manning's own Pete Kuhl's Peerless Players. The Club prospered, the beautiful structure served its purpose well, and members of the community spoke of it with pride.

Among the most popular dances were the Masquerade Balls. Many people spent months designing their costumes, while others rented them from a huge stock kept by Mrs. Henry Thompson in a corner of the cloak room at the Opera House. The dance was a family affair. At midnight, masks were removed, prizes awarded for the best costume, and a big lunch was offered. The children were either sent home with older brothers and sisters or tucked among the coats in the balcony, while their parents danced till the wee hours of the morning.

But astonishing changes were in the wings. Radio and television were well on the way to take first place in the entertainment world. Attendance at the dances dwindled. It became increasingly more difficult for the managers of the Club to keep the hall operating on a profitable basis. There was little-money for necessary repair and slowly the building began to deteriorate. Eventually the Club, having incurred a debt of $10,000, sought buyers. Finally, the Fire Department, saddened at the deterioration, voted to issue bonds to pay off the mortgage and assume responsibility.

With new supervision came new life. Dances were resumed. An innovation was the battle dances, two orchestras playing for one dance. The musical battles became popular and were a big help in paying off the mortgage. Other activities such as Thanksgiving feather parties, poultry shows, trade fairs, Children's Day activities, theatricals, home talent plays, wedding dances, graduation ceremonies, and firemen banquets all helped to alleviate the weight of the debt.

But time marched on. New churches had their own large halls, more modern, comfortable, and convenient for the weddings, banquets, and entertainments. Dances were no longer profitable. The younger generation had no further use for the old hall. For a few years it stood empty. In 1960 it was converted into Junior High classrooms until the new school building was finished. In 1965 it became a warehouse for the Russco Manufacturing Company.

In 1975 the Fire Department decided repair bills were too numerous. They offered it, mortgage free, to the voters. It was refused. At last the Firemen, seeking a site for a new fire station, voted, reluctantly, to raze the old hall to make room for the new. After 50 years of service, the once "beautiful magnificent structure" had come to the end of the line.

As the old building came tumbling down, many old-timers watching spoke fondly of "The Schuetzen Hall", and the memories stirring were pleasant ones.

Additional information as recalled by Dave Kusel: Wade "Bud" Mohr and also Ronald Colling offered to purchase the building but they were turned down.

The concrete engraved sign on the upper north wall, is currently in the John Ohde garden.
John and his brother Bill, retrieved it when the building was being razed in 1975.

Just look at the AMAZING design and brick work!!!!!
You don't see buildings built like this today.
This structure was only 50 years old when it was torn down.
Again, another historic building that should have never been torn down...

I always thought it was fun to see the top of the Firemen's Hall roof - just a vivid memory I have.

Concrete ramp on the northeast corner that was used to gain access to the dance floor area.

On back written: "Last day of high school" - class of 1934

Back: Bill Ohde, Albert Boock, Harlyn Hinz, Launetta Murphy
Front: Marjorie Martens, Bob Petersen, Bernice Dethlefs
Classes were held in the basement and also upper level at times from the 1930s through 1973.
Manning Campus ended when the new high school was built, at the present location, in 1972-73

1937 Schuetzen Verein report

1937 Children's Day - view of the "Opera doors" on the south wall which allowed air to move across the stage.

Back: Esther (Jensen) Popp, Ann (Frahm) Popp
Front: Marilyn (Popp) Nelson, Robert Popp

Looking southeast along Elm Street

Calvin Stammer, Clifford Stammer, Eugene Koester
The ride background right was the "Round Up" which was a favorite of Nancy (Stoberl) Stammer.

Bob Hoffmann, Phil Knaack - Children's Day King Shoot in the basement of the Firemen's Hall.

Rides on the east side - during Children's Day 1965
I just noticed this: Christine (Sonksen) & her husband George Mohr in the background.
Karl Rutz is probably in the front car.
I also can't believe it but I remember the man in the hat from the carnival, who drove the train.

Children's Day dance where the King & Queen and the the first 6 places would dance...later on the adults would dance.
Leo Daeges band provided the live music on the stage. Photos taken from the balcony on the north end of the building.

June 6, 1950 - if you can ID anyone please e-mail me.

This crystal ball was the third one made.
When the building was torn down it was hauled out to the Dammann dump west of Manning.
My uncle Melvin Kusel just happened to drive out there that day and saw it. He came to me to get help so we picked up the ball and pieces that broke off and then put it up in my grandma Kusel's barn under a big blanket where it sat for decades. When Merlyn Irlbeck started his Forgotten Corner Museum, Mel gave it to Merlyn who repaired it. The mirrors were from women's compacts.

The plans are that this crystal ball is to be hung out at the Heritage Park, since Merlyn's museum has closed.

1956 Diamond Jubilee celebration

Labert "Bud" Stahl, LaVerne Olsen serving drinks on the east end of the balcony.

Hubert & Amelia Lamp, Minnie & Bill Jensen

Charter event of the Manning Rotary

Bill Ohde standing on the stage - shortly before this hall was torn down.


Note the huge steel girders that supported the roof and the multiple brick layers in the wall.
When I mentioned this building to a person years ago - that it should have been preserved - their comment was the building was not structurally sound.
I also heard the same thing from othe people about the Doud Milling Company - the excavator had a tough time knocking it down.

In the right background is the Twin Gables where Caseys was first located.
The Twin Gables was another architecturally amazing structure that once stood in Manning...built by Albert Puck

Now I will cover briefly the Three Mile House - 3 miles north of 141 on West Street.
A few years ago a minute book was found in the Manning Library and apparently no one knew what it was about but thought it belonged to the Five Mile House.
Once I looked at it I realized right away, to my amazement, that it was part of the Three Mile House history and immediately scanned it for preservation.
I told them that this needed to stay in the Manning Library, especially since in the final minutes, it stated that all monies from the sale of the property were to be given to the Manning Library...so hopefully that record book is still in the Manning Library.

Here are 3 items of history I scanned that give a little idea about that Verein.

The ribbon and medallion is from the Three Mile House even though it says Hayes Township.
I'm guessing that the medal was made by the same company that made medals for the Five Mile House and the wrong Township was printed on it.

1916 William Ohde - father of William F. Ohde

1914 invitation

Esteemed Rifle-Club Member,
By resolution the General Assembly of the Three-Mile-House-Rifle-Club will take place on Sunday the 14th January 1912.
Julius Rix, Secretary