1. Peace Sign
There is one main paved road that goes through Seaton. Go west 7 miles and you end up in Keithsburg. Go east 3 miles and you hit Rt. 94 which, if you turn north takes you to Aledo. The only time we went West was to go to the Tastee Freez or a softball game or go to college in Iowa. The population always hovered around 230-250. During the summers I worked for my uncle on his farm a few miles south-east of town. One summer Brian Currie and I painted a large Peace Sign on the first curve coming out of town. Brian was Jack Bertelson's hired kid, and I was my Uncle's, so we worked together once in a while. We used damn good paint because it stayed up for the longest time. Eventually my parents found out I had done it and every time we crossed that sign going to Aledo, it kind of got quiet. Man, I never thought they would ever put new tar and rock on that road.
2. Pop Bottle Rockets
Everyone knows what pop bottle rockets are. They are, simply, firecrackers stuck to a spindly piece of wood. The object is to stick it in a pop bottle (back when they had glass pop bottles) light the fuse and watch it go up and then bang. These were a staple for excitement starved kids in Seaton. And while our missions were never to vandalize, destroy or steal, we would, quite often, have fun with these little babies. Seaton had an agreement with the county that they would, periodically, cruise through town to display some semblance of law. It wasn't every night, but, but maybe 3 or 4 nights a week, if lucky. One night we decided to ambush the patrol car. A couple of us were on top of the bank, and other couple were over on the hardware store when the sheriff's car pulled in and circled the square. We let him have it with out pop bottle rockets. He couldn't determine where the fire was emanating from and, there were no cars or bikes around, so he took it for awhile, then left.
This incident is not to be confused with the time a few drunken Church League softballers moved picnic tables to both stop signs and declared Seaton Independence. Stan, the town constable, was pretty upset over that stunt. He came to the house and told me and my parents I needed to be in a home for juvenile delinquents. Funny, that's about where I did go right out of grad school, for 27 years.
3. I have related this story before in this blog, but perhaps it deserves a retelling. Our policy of no vandalism, destroy or steal was disregarded one time, that I remember. OK, maybe it happened twice, but I'll get to that. Buster Board was building a new brick house next to us. It was nearly finished with the new guttering and downspouts on and ready for Buster to move in. We really didn't have anything against Buster, he was OK. Ivan, Wombie Mark and I were down at the park after a softball game and decided to create some mayhem. If you put a cigarette into a fuse of a cherry bomb or M-80, you create an ability to light the cigarette and then the burning tobacco will eventually light the fuse. It gives you an ability to skedaddle away from the ensuing explosion. We placed about three or four M-80's with cigarettes to Buster's guttering facing our house. After lighting them, Ivan drove up tot he ball diamond to wait to see what would happen, while Mark and I simply went to bed. After what seemed like an excruciatingly long time, finally a loud "Ka-Boom". This was followed by two more, Ka-Boom...Ka-Boom. Mark and I could hear our Dad get out of bed, check to see where we were, sleeping soundly in our beds, then report to our mom, "Thank God its not our boys." We giggled for the next hour.
4. We all climbed the water tower in Seaton, some of us a few times. I recall maybe twice, maybe three times, but it wasn't very often, one of those things we did once, got a thrill, then did it a couple more until it no longer was a challenge. Dangerous antics but it had to be done.
5. Wombie Mark was hit in the mouth by a baseball when he was nine years old. The only dentist in the area who would work on him was a guy fresh out of dentistry school named Philip Sexton. I remember being in the car as we were heading to Monmouth to his office. Dr. Sexton became the family dentist for all of us, and all of our kids. There were no finer people in the profession. Dr. Sexton retired a few months ago. I talked to him a couple months ago and told me how much he enjoyed his patients in general and our family specifically.
6. That ball diamond up at the old school was the place most of us learned to play ball and we did it together till college and/or families broke us up. We won a couple of Church league Championships together and I used to have pictures of one of our celebrations. But I can't find them now, so they are, no doubt, lost forever. Randy Anderson, Ivan Ewing, Jeff Benson, Mike, Mark and Phil Blythe, Dave Meece, Jeff and Cole Carson, Gary Unsworth, Dean Feldman and Mark Henry. I played left field, Phil played center, and Mark was the catcher. I couldn't hit for anything, but I could chase down fly balls. I hit some singles every once in a while so at least I got them out of their positions.
Of course the fencing on the sides are newer, the place retains the same look as when we played. The lights are newer, too. In one of my wandering I procured an old light standard that was destined for the trash. I was able to get it running and remains in my possession.
The bleachers are new, too. People would bring their lawn chairs or, like my mother, sit in the cars and honk when one of us did well. Dad was our manager, and Doc Kingry was always willing to umpire. After games we'd meet at the park downtown and chat it up. Usually after an hour or so we'd head for home. Not always, but usually.
7. Seaton was right out of Our Town. We knew everyone and everyone knew us. A safe place before child abductions, and Mark and I would be released to explore, walk, bike and do whatever with each other or other kids with instructions to be home by such and such a time. I ran away once, but didn't get any further than down to the Frey's place at the end of the block. Evelyn gave me something to eat and drink, and discretely called my mother. After awhile I get bored and went back home. While walking around the Aledo Cemetery with Miss Maddy and Holly while up North ran into many tombstones of people we knew growing up. Dave Rader, Roy and Mabel, Chester Zentmire, among others.
8. We boys go our glimpse of our first dead person when our next door neighbor, Roy Rader, died and we were expected to make an appearance. I want to say he was lying on a bed and not in a coffin, but my memory might be off. We were only 7 or 8 and it was a strange sight indeed. For you folks keeping score, Roy was Uncle Ed's dad. Roy had one of those neat looking late 50's Dodges with the two-tone pink and black color schemes.
9. Down at the end of the block was Roy' garage. For awhile Bro Phil used one of the stalls to park his car. One way Mark and I had fun was to wait till he got back from a date or whatever. He's put the car in the garage, then he'd have a walk back to the house in the dark. We'd sneak up behind him and scare him and then have to run like the blazes because if he caught us he'd pretty well maul one of us. He could only chase one of us so at least half of the tag-team would go unscathed. The beauty of it was we never over did it. We'd let him get thinking we were over such juvenile antics, then spring the trap once more.
Seaton hasn't survived too well through the years. The bank and the post office is still there, but most everything else is gone. When I was growing up there, it had a restaurant, hardware store, for a time a newspaper, grain elevator, lumber yard, gas station, auto repair shop, veterinarian, 2 trucking companies, grocery store, and Masonic Lodge. Today there is a restaurant to go along with the bank. Our neighbors, Arminta McKelvie, Evelyn and Newt Frey, the Seaton's, the Kingry's, the Rader's, and Levine's are mostly all gone. Doris Seaton and Dorothy Levine are still with us, but there is no longer any Seaton in Seaton.
And while this may sound sad, I don't mean it to be. People age and die, and they move. It was a great place to grow up, with great parents, neighbors and lots of kids to chum around with. Wouldn't have traded places with any other kid living anywhere else. The above picture is of main street and as you can see, most of the buildings have been torn down.
These pictures also feature both stop signs in town as well. Next time you drive through, watch the skies, you never know who will be aiming at you with a pop bottle rocket. You can tell your kids you saw the spots where a little sleepy town seceded from the Union, for an hour and a half.