The 50's are often referred to as the "good old days".  Life was simple back then!  Wasn't our class lucky to have grown up in a small town?  



For the most part we were outdoor kids.  We played games in open fields, in friends' yards and even out in the streets.  When a car approached, we moved to the side of the street.  We would never have even thought of not moving and taunting a driver.

Kick the Can was one of our all time favorite games.  We played Hide and Seek, Captain May I, Red Light Green Light, Red Rover and other games out in the street.  How many of you remember playing "King of the Hill" on a giant mount of dirt?  The boys played baseball, flag foot ball and traded comic books with each other.  Comic book trading even became popular with many girls. 

Our houses had sidewalks out in front where we roller skated, played hop skotch, jumped rope, played marbles and jacks.  Do any of you remember winning a jacks or marbles tournament in elementary school?  We loved to ride our bikes all over town.  How many of you remember putting playing cards in your spokes?  We were so sure they made our bikes sound like motor cycles. 

We sat on friend's lawns at night and caught lightening bugs.  We took them home in a jar with holes poked in the lid.  We marveled at those bugs during the night, and took them outside and released them the next morning.


Kids who grew up in Nebraska proved to be very hardy.  Sledding was a winter sport that many of us loved.  Heartwell Park had many slopes that we raced down on our sleds.  Unfortunately the park also had lots of trees which we sometimes managed to run into. 

Ringland Rd. was the perfect place for sledding enthusiasts to fly down the hill.  A kid was placed at the bottom of the hill to watch for cars.  However, sometimes he got distracted & forgot he was supposed to be protecting his friends from cars.  Luckily, no fatalities occurred, but there were some close calls over the years! 

Other important winter activities were snowball fights, building snow men and forts and ice skating.  We had three ice skating ponds when we were in high school.   One was across the street from Prospect Park between 2nd and 3rd streets.  One was up by Crosier at 13th and Academy and one was down on the South side. 


Lib's Park - Photo Courtesy of Sharon Gergen

We had lots of fun during the summers.  We loved to go on picnics with our families and friends.  It was a real treat for all of us when we were allowed to go swimming.  How many of you remember swimming at Lib's Park?  Do you remember the huge redwood log we used to swim under in the pool?  The pool closed down about 1950 due to worn out pumps and aging equipment.  It was later  renovated and re-opened.  It closed down permanently and was demolished when the new water park opened in Hastings.

Hastings Aquacourt

Remember when the Aquacourt opened at Prospect Park on 5th & Laird?  The Aquacourt opened about 1952 or 1953.  We could swim there all day for only a quarter.  The Aquacourt closed when the new water park was built on west 2nd Street.


The City Auditorium

Once a year came the big event we had all been waiting for.  The Shrine Circus came to the city auditorium!  Remember how we all sat there in awe as we watched the high wire acts?  We were totally mesmerized by the animal acts and clowns.  How we hoped one of the clowns would come and talk to us.   Many of us went home with dreams of becoming a high wire artist.  We got some really cool prizes in our Cracker Jax boxes back then!  Remember seeing the animals in the street outside of the auditorium? 

The City Auditorium was originally built in 1924 at at total cost of $130.000.  The building has been completely restored and renovated over the years.  The auditorium can seat 1,700 people ( 800 on the main floor and 900 in the balcony.) It is located at W. 4th St. and N. Hastings Ave. and is known as The Event Center for South Central Nebraska.


Hatings Museum - Photo Courtesy of Sharon Gergen

Many of our school trips while we were in grade school were to the museum.  It was also a popular field trip for scout troops.  As older kids, we went there with our friends and spent hours browsing all of the displays.  Do you remember the general store, the old sod house, the bone room, the old fire engines and old cars?  Probably every one of you remembers the rattle snake and pushed the button that made it shake its tail so you could hear the rattle!   How many of you remember the admission price?  It was free until January 1, 1968!

Ground breaking ceremonies for the museum were on December 6, 1937.  The  Museum building was dedicated during Jubilleum Days on June 15, 1939.  The Hastings Museum was known as The House of Yesterday from 1941 to 1978.  The J.M. McDonald Planetarium which opened in 1968 was the first addition to the museum.  The most recent addition to the museum is the IMAX theater which closed on December 31, 2001.  The theater was the first of its kind in Nebraska and one of the few in the Great Plains region.   After six weeks of renovation and the addition of a new projection system, the Lied Super Screen Theatre opened to the public on February 12, 2002.


Remember running inside when your favorite radio show was about to start? Any of you remember listening to the The Shadow, Amos & Andy or Abbott & Costello?  Often times we would be happy to sit on the floor and listen to our local station, KHAS.  In the 1950's KRGI, Grand Island, came on the air and featured music.  We even had a high powered station in Del Rio, TX that we could listen to late at night. 

TVs began to appear in some homes in Hastings around 1950.  For the most part we were absolutely intrigued by the newest addition to our homes.  Initially reception was terrible, but we could sit there for hours looking through the "snow" trying to figure out exactly what was happening on the screen. The first station available to us was WOWTV in Omaha.  KETV (channel 7) in Omaha had their grand opening about 1951.  Channel 13 at Kearney - Holdrege came on the air about 1953.  Around 1955, Hastings finally had it's own station - KHASTV.  Soon antennas began to appear on roofs through out Hastings.  In 1967, KHAS-TV became one of the first stations in Nebraska to broadcast in color.


Going to the movies was a huge treat when we were kids.  The Rivoli, Strand and State were the 3 theatres in Hastings when we were growing up.  In the early 1950's the State theatre burned leaving us with only 2 theatres. 

How many of you remember the cost of a child's ticket in 1950?  Do any of you remember fibbing about your age so you could get in for the child's price.  Any of you remember the embarrassment of getting caught fibbing and having to pay the full price?  Well, it's hard to believe but the cost of a child's ticket in 1950 was 12 cents.

Now here is a question that will test your memories.  Do you remember what was along the west side of The Rivoli across from the concessions on Easter weekend?  All kids who went to the movies the Saturday before Easter were given a baby chicken.  Remember how cute those baby chicks were - all dyed pretty pastel colors?



When the drive-in-theatre opened in Hastings, our excitement was insurmountable!  It was open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.  When we were younger, we would beg our parents to take us to a movie.  Thursday night was Family night or as we called it "Buck Night" which meant the cost was $1.00 per car.  Of course as we grew older, we didn't want to get caught at the drive-in with our parents.  If we saw anyone we knew, we would slide down in our seats - Heaven forbid any of our friends would see us!

Fisher Rainbow Fountain

When we were kids we begged our parents to take us to Highland Park and drive around Fisher Fountain.  We were so intrigued with the colored water patterns.  We were just sure it was the most beautiful thing we had ever seen!   Fisher Rainbow Fountain, is illuminated by spotlights and programmed to present a continuous display of dancing waters.

Even while we were dating, Fisher Fountain remained a popular attraction for many of us. Fisher Rainbow Fountain is the largest water fountain between Chicago and Denver.


Heartwell Park


Heartwell Park was a big part of many of our lives.  In the summertime we fished for crawdads in the creek.  Remember our sophisticated fishing gear?  We tied a rock to a piece of string with a piece of bacon tied below the rock.  How many of you remember taking home your prized catch in a coffee can?  Or better yet, how many of you remember how bad they smelled if you forgot to take them back to the creek?

As we sat on the edge of the creek what fun it was to dare a friend to jump across the creek.  Of course, they often did not make it and fell shrieking into the creek.  Big time worry then set in as we tried to figure out exactly how to explain the wet and muddy clothes to our moms.

And then there was the wading pool for the little kids to play in.  The bigger boys loved to sneak up to the pool and put crawdads in it.  When the little kids saw them, they screamed with fear and their mothers were furious!

Remember the bridge across the lake that led to the island?  No longer can we view the initials we carved in that gate many years ago.  It is long gone and with it went some of our memories. 

We loved to feed the ducks and thought it great fun to try to catch one.  Sometimes we even took one home to show our parents.  We were always sent marching right back to the lake with the duck.  For some reason, our parents were never fond of the turtles we used to drag home either.

We spent our winters ice skating on the lake.  We played Pump Pump - Pull Away, Marco Polo and other games together.  Remember the old shack with the pot bellied stove?  When we couldn't stand to get any colder, we went in there to get warm.  We sat on the old wooden benches and put our mittens on the stove.  The smell of those mittens will remain in our memories forever!

Duncan Field

Many of the boys in in our class spent their summers playing Legion Baseball.  The girls spent a lot time during the summers at Duncan Field  watching their brothers or friends play baseball. 

Duncan Field was built in 1941 on the corner of South Street and Elm.  It was originally named Pershing Field and renamed Duncan Field in 1948 shortly after the death of Donald Duncan.   Ducan Field is the current home for Hasting's College and American Legion games.


Pastime Bowling Alley - Photo Courtesy of Sharon Gergen


How many of you remember bowling at the Pastime Bowling Alley when it was located on the southwest corner of 2nd & Kansas?  Remember it was the above the General Supply Store.  We bowled there on Saturdays for 45 cents a line.  In the late 1950's a new Pastime Bowling Alley was built on North Baltimore Ave.  That building burned down in the early 1970's.

We even had a roller skating rink when we were kids.  Hasting's Roller Rink - it set back from the highway just a little back from Dalton's Cafe.  Remember it had a large crystal ball that went round and round in the light and cast a glitter.



Perhaps one of the biggest events that came to Hastings every year was the Adams County Fair out on Baltimore Avenue.  Remember all of those games we played at the midway?  We plunked down 10 cents/game or 25 cents/3 games trying to win the BIG prize.  How many of you remember the 4H exhibitions and the cotton candy?  When we were younger it was cool to go with our parents and talk them into riding the rides with us. 

When we became teenagers we loved going to the fair with our friends and dared them to ride every ride.  Remember the Fun House with all the mirrors that would make us look really fat or skinny?  And then there were the scantily clad women standing outside the tent that featured "Girlie Shows."  They tried their best to lure the men into the tent to see their show.  Rumor had it that some of the boys our age tried to sneak in underneath the tent!




Slumber parties were a big part of the girls' lives.  Remember how excited we were when we received an invitation to a friend's slumber party?  We played 45 records, and stayed up half the night giggling and talking until we finally fell asleep.


All teenagers love to eat and we had lots of cool places in Hastings we liked to frequent.  How many of you remember the name of the ice cream store located in the little green house at 9th & Colorado?  It was Walters and was purchased by Bob Garey who relocated it at 203 West 9th and renamed it Bob Garey's Ice Cream Store.  It's hard to believe now, but we could get a double dip soft chocolate cone for a nickle!

Remember the small dime store where we could get ice cream?  Hesteds on 2nd Street had a small soda fountain along the wall past the comic books.  If we had a little extra money in our pockets, we could buy a banana split for a quarter.

And then there was Jones Drug store which was located on 2nd street across the street from Woolworth's and Kresge's.  We used to buy cherry cokes, green rivers and french fries there.   And of course some of the best malts in town were at Hulsker's Drug Store. 


Whirla' Whip - Photo Courtesy of Sharon Gergen


One of our favorite hang outs was at 1008 South Burlington - Whirla' Whip which was famous for their "In A Tub" ice cream.  We loved going there and being served by car hops while we sat in our cars.  Kids often cruised the big gravel parking lot just to check out who was there.

Another of our favorite places was A & W which was located several blocks south of Duncan Field on Elm Street.  We could buy a mug of root beer for five cents.  Their coney island hot dogs were a big hit with many of us.  A lot of kids frequented Johnny's Drive Inn which was across the street from Duncan Field.


Ok Cafe - Photo Courtesy of Garry Lutz

Perhaps our favorite hang out was the OK Cafe
  located at 1622 North St. Joseph.  The cafe was open 24 hours/day and some of us logged many hours tucked away in one of their booths.  None of us has most likely forgotten the taste of their famous homemade cinnamon rolls!



Crusin was popular during the fifties throughout all of the US.  And, Hastings kids loved it too!   How many of you remember the official cruising strips?  Kids cruised up and down Burlington Avenue from Highway 6 to the High School.  2nd Street from Burlington to Minnesota, north to 3rd and then back to Burlington Ave. and then started all over again.  

All of you guys in our class surely remember where some very important events took place!  Remember 12th Street where drag racing took place?  How many of you remember 7 Hills Road which was out in the country?  7 Hills Road was south of town and many a car was rolled there.  In fact two of the guys from our class admit to rolling a 48 Chevy 5 times on that road!

YMCA - Photo Courtesy of Sharon Gergen


All of you most likely remember the old YMCA located at 4th & Lincoln.  As kids we loved swimming in the indoor pool.  When we were teenagers going to the Y Canteen on Friday and Saturday nights was the "in" thing to do.  Anyone remember the cost of admission?  It cost us a whopping 10 cents to get in!  Dancing was in the gym, the boys were usually on one side of the gym and the girls on the other.  Do you remember the other name of the Canteen - it was The Tiger Hawk Den.

Remember the 2nd floor - we could buy candy and pop, and play ping pong  up there.  How many of you remember the booth on the 2nd floor that overlooked the gym?  That is where they played the records that we danced to.


Masonic Temple

The Masonic Temple will always hold a special place in the hearts of some of us!  Some of the guys in our class belonged to Demolays and some of gals to Job's Daughters.  Some of our parents were Masons, Shriners and Eastern Stars.

We will always remember the fabulous banquets we attended!  Do you remember the hours we invested decorating for the banquets and dances? Any of you gals remember hoping a special Demolay would invite you to one of their dances?

How many of you remember the name of the Masonic Temple? It is Tehama Temple which was granted a charter in 1917.  The Masonic Temples is still located at 411 North Hastings Street.


What fun we all had at the school dances!  Remember the slow dance, bunny hop, the shag and the jitter bug?  Do any of you gals remember who you asked to the Sadie Hawkins dances?  The sock hops were great fun too.  Who could ever forget the fabulous decorations at the Valentine and Homecoming dances?  Probably the dances we remember the most were the Junior and Senior Proms.  The girls shopped for hours to find the perfect dress and shoes to wear.  Many corsages from those dances were dried and then pressed into many of our scrapbooks. 

In 1950 the population of Hastings was 20,211.  The 2000 census lists the population of Hastings as 24,064.

We hope this page has brought back some happy memories for all of you!




Page Created: 3/21/08
Page Updated 11/09/19