Wednesday, August 11, 2010

East Moline

The death of one of East Moline's legendary figures today got me thinking about the town that I spent many formative years in. There are five cities in the Quad Cities and for the most part, East Moline is the one left out. Yup, you have Davenport, Rock Island, Moline and...Bettendorf or East Moline? The consensus is Bettendorf, although years ago, Bettendorf was the little pip squeak, not considered part of the mix at all. What happened? In all honesty, East Moline was always considered "the other side of the tracks" along with, to a certain extent Rock Island. I think we had the largest amount of blacks and in East Moline's case, hispanics, too. Horrors! East Moline was a factory town, with John Deere, International Harvester, McLaughlin Body and other manufacturing places that at one time employed anyone who wanted to work. East Moline was considered a great place to move to if you wanted or needed a job. I actually met my first DJ there and I thought it was so cool to shake his hand. (I later worked with him KC which was a bizarre twist of fate). If you went to McKinley or Hoffman grade schools, the other kids in Glenview or UT knew one thing, the wrong side of the tracks in a town that was on the wrong side of the tracks. McKinley was the Campbell's Island kids and Hoffman was the projects. I went to Hillcrest, then McKinley (thanks mom and dad). The high school was huge. United Township High School. UTHS. That made us Panthers different, because all of the public high schools in the Quad Cities were named after their city. Not us. We're UNITED Township, mahfuggers!!! Take that, Moline! Except in the early part of the school year, when it got really hot and people noticed that we were all different and pointed it out with less than a political correctness. Every year it seemed at one time or another during the first couple of weeks at school, we'd "grab someone who looked different than us and go to the bottom of the pile" then just hang on. When the weather cooled, so did we. The high school was so big, it was housed in two campuses. The freshmen and sophomores occupied north campus ("the prison"), and the "big kids" went to South Campus, which was approximately three miles down the road. The teachers were as diverse as the students. Mr Diaz for American History and Miss Newborne for English. She was about twenty five, black and about six feet tall with legs... Man, it was hard to concentrate on anything she said. She was absolutely stunning, tall and slim. Gah. She wrote in my yearbook ..."to Randy, a guy who always underestimates himself..." Whoa. I "thought" about her a lot and she really took an interest in a kid that was just trying to fit in. One of my good friends was black, one was hispanic and the best kiss I had in high school was from Rosalie Martinez (God, what a wonderful full set of lips, she just swallowed my face....) Why was it called United Township? That's because we took kids from Silvis, Carbon Cliff, Green Rock, Colona, Hampton and other places. None of those destinations would make anyone's top ten on places to live. I also lived on Campbell's (cannibals) Island which was a haven for bad ass dudes who would just as soon whip you just to practice on someone. East Moline was not Bettendorf, that's for sure. We had a bit of a toughness and a bit of an attitude. It's a river town, for Pete's sake. My first marriage was to a girl from Silvis and my virginity was taken in a trailer for crap's sake by a woman older than me (That story is on it's way). That leads me back to my original point. Coach Talley died yesterday and anyone who was there at the time knew what an influence he was. He was the coach from 1964 to 1984. He was the John Wooden of UT. Second place in 1970, fourth in 79 and if a couple of the members of the 74 team hadn't gotten really stupid, he thought that team was his best. We were 28-3, ranked third in the state and right before the tournament, two guys got in trouble and we lost to an 16-11 team in the regionals. That team broke his heart. That was the cool thing about coach, it seemed his team were always ranked. One of the most famous residents of East Moline (Carbon Cliff) was Jude Cole, who has a few hits off his first album in the early nineties. He was taught how to play the guitar from a friend of mine Paul Durry. One of my ex-coworkers married a guy from East Moline, class of 84, exactly ten years behind, who hates going there. I get that. She doesn't know it the way I remember, a vibrant manufacturing town where the guys of my parents generation worked hard in the shops and drank hard. The women stayed at home and raised the kids the best way they could. I have nothing but fond memories of the place. It's a nice place to be from. But, for those of us who worked at (or went to) the Semri Drive In, went to Skateland every damn weekend, ate Franks Pizza, had Mexican food at Adolph's, went to shows at the Col Ballroom or RKO Theatre, had a Hungry Hobo, got ice cream at Whitey's, ate a Maid Rite,worked (or ate) at Harvey's Diner or bowled at Highland Park Bowl, it was, whatever else it was, home. With the passing of Coach Talley, my grip on home is loosened, however slightly.

HEY COACH, where's your crew cut?

His story, and a fine one it is...


jb said...

The Mrs. and I lived in the Quad Cities, Iowa side, for 11 years (1987-1998) and went back for the first time in several years recently. I'd forgotten how much I liked the place, and when it was time to leave, I was a little bit sorry to have to go. It has its own unique flavor--nowhere else I've ever been is anything like it.

Bonny said...

Thanks Randy for reminding me why I love living here! It's many things to many people - but to me, it's just HOME!! ~Bonny

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this article. I did attend Hoffman grade school in 1940-41 in Kindergarten. Then we moved and I went to Bowesburg, a new school in 1941.

I was hoping somebody on your blog could add information and pictures of the Hoffman school after the day in 1940 to 1945.



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