Tag Archives: Wall Lake Iowa

Singer Andy Williams born in Siouxland, Wall Lake

16 May

 

I am always somewhat amazed but also delighted when I find a bit of nostalgia and history tidbits as I drive about Siouxland. One of those tidbits is the fact that the singer and entertainer Andy Williams was born in the small community of Wall Lake, roughly about 800 people. His birthplace and home for the first eight years of his life is now a restored show place in the community and maintained by the Wall Lake Historical Society.

An autographed photo of himself, Andy Williams, sits on an end table at the singer Andy Williams’ birthplace in Wall Lake, Iowa, Sunday July 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Members of the Wall Lake, IA, Historical Society Esther Bielema, seated, and Janice Determann, standing at the singer Andy Williams’ birthplace in Wall Lake, Iowa, Sunday July 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The day I visited the home I was greeted by a couple of enthusiastic members of the society and fans of Mr. Williams, Esther Bielema and Janice Determann. While the home is not filled from floor to ceiling with memorabilia, it is full of all sorts of historical items about the singer and his family and basically a shrine to a small town boy who made it big.

The birthplace of singer Andy Williams sits atop a hill overlooking downtown Wall Lake, Iowa, Friday, April 18, 2014. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Singer Andy Williams, left, with his parents Jay and Florence Williams appearing in one of his Christmas TV Specials on display at the singer’s birthplace in Wall Lake, Iowa, Sunday July 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Various photographs of singer Andy Williams adorn the walls of his birthplace in Wall Lake, Iowa, Sunday July 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The downstairs bedroom where Wall Lake Historical Society member Esther Bielema and others believe that singer Andy Williams was born in 1934 at his birthplace home in Wall Lake, Iowa, Sunday July 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I can remember growing up that my parents watched the Andy Williams’ Christmas Specials on TV and while I don’t believe they had any of his records, the songs he sang are well known and include such hits as “Moon River”, “Abraham, Martin and John”, “Days of Wine and Roses”, “Dear Heart”, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “Born Free”.

While there a woman from Des Moines stopped in and walked about the home in awe. For Bielema and Determann the joy of the grand opening when Williams and his wife attended along with other family must have been a thrill they still feel today. History comes alive in places like this mostly because of those who help visitors enjoy it. And one never knows where other historical facts may pop up, but it’s nice to know such gems are still around to find.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Brief Drive Through in Siouxland, Wall Lake

6 Nov

There are many small communities that exist and thrive in the Siouxland area. Possibly bigger in past glory days when the area was first getting underway with westward expansion. But these small towns still thrive and are home to residents of Siouxland.

in Wall Lake Iowa Iowa Friday, May 12, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And many times a person actually has to make the effort to get off the interstate or other major highway to drive through these communities to see what makes up their state. It’s true that larger cities have more people and populace, but a large number of people still call rural Iowa home and enjoy the smaller surroundings that make up their communities. Others may see a drive spot on the road, but one never really knows what exists without making an effort to see what is there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Former Railroad Days in Siouxland, Wall Lake

10 Aug

I have found driving around Siouxland that many small communities sprung up in the state’s early days, the late 1800’s and early 1900’s primarily founded on the railroad passing through the community as others continued their trek west and the country expanded. One of those communities is Wall Lake, with a population roughly around 800 people that was tallied in 2014.

With most small communities the railroad was a lifeline in and out. Fostering more growth, but inevitably taking away that growth once the railroad ceased its operation.

The former Chicago Northwestern railroad depot in Wall Lake Iowa Iowa Friday, May 12, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Esther Bielema, a local historian, explained that the railroad functioned in the Wall Lake area up until the 2000’s when after a flood and train tracks were damaged that the current ownerUnion Pacific did not do any repairs. Later local residents got together and refurbished the depot and turned it into a history outpost for the community informing visitors the railroad’s past presence locally.

Older photos displayed on a wall in the former Chicago Northwestern railroad depot in Wall Lake, Iowa, Sunday July 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photograph on a wall shows patrons of the later 1800’s in the now refurbished former Chicago Northwestern railroad depot in Wall Lake, Iowa, Sunday July 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Brian Bielema formerly worked for the railroad for 37 years and recounted a wealth of history and information about the depot and events a bygone era.

Former railroad man Brian Bielema sits in the now refurbished Chicago Northwestern depot in Wall Lake, Iowa, Sunday July 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The sad thing though is that small communities in Iowa will one day lose these historians and the history that accompanies the communities may be lost as others do not learn about the place they live and the history of its coming into existence. A dilemma faced by many smaller communities as younger people move away and the towns shrink.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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