Why Yankton?

Because it is just so damn cool!

I have lived in many places, big cities, small towns and traveled to many places around the world, and I will admit I love downtown Yankton the most.

It’s got a colorful history. It makes me smile just thinking people would say what they thought years ago, and even print it in the newspaper.

I love the small town shops, pubs, and even the people. People that are gossip mongers sometimes, but who doesn’t like the real people? Yeah sometimes I hear things about us and go where did they get that? I try to analyze how the rumor went that way. Which sometimes is fun playing detective, in a sense.

I love the in your face honesty of it all. You go to Facebook and see them bitching about this and that. Especially the bitching about our community.. Now you may think that’s strange BUT if you really want to fix something or make it better you have know the problem, right? AND sometimes the issue they talk about really isn’t there, they just haven’t thought about it in the right way. I do try to help them see a different perspective by posting my opinion, which sometimes ends going in a direction I never thought it would, if you know what I mean!

I love the cool things people sell in their shops. Some they made like Rivercity Relics, some are bought elsewhere, some are just there, Somethings are from the neighbor’s garages or barns that the shop owners saw and thought someone might buy it and they could make a buck or two. These things I cherish the most. Why? The knowledge that comes with it. You look at a piece of rusty (junk) and say what in the world is that? Usually the shop owners have done their research and will not only tell you what it is, but what they used it for a hundred years ago.. Now is that cool or what?

The housing isn’t anything to walk away from either. Imagine living in a historic place within a walk of a pub, a river, water plaza, bike paths, huge walking bridge, or fun eating places like Checkers. (Yes they really have checkers to play).

Did I mention Yankton was the first Capitol of Dakota Territory, before there were states?   So chances are the place you might live was a whore house.

Yeah remember the series Deadwood? They talked a LOT about Yankton in a very colorful way. Many times calling the inhabitants C suckers. Well from what I read they might have been right. They were a little on the seedy side, in fact many considerably so.

One story told about a man named Walter Burleigh. Walter Burleigh worked hard to get Abraham Lincoln elected. He thought for sure he would get an Ambassadorship to a foreign country. His dream job.

However the now President Lincoln gave him the job of coming to Yankton to help divide Dakota Territory into states and oversea things here.

Walter cried to the President, “If you send me there I’ll either starve or have to steal to live”

President Lincoln looked at him and said “Well, if I am any judge of character you won’t starve.”

And he didn’t. He was called the Friendly Fleecier. Food and supplies would come up the river bound for the Indian Reservation miles ahead (the only highway here at the time) stop in Yankton and leave empty. A dollar could buy much with Walter and he used those dollars in many ways.

Yankton is into high speed internet though, speeding through it to find Amazon, EBay and the rest, cheap is good, finding tons of things is fine, but it doesn’t compete with the creative stuff at ma and pa places or walking into a crazy old bar like the Walnut.

The Walnut isn’t on Walnut street, how that is no one knows, it’s on the corner of 3rd (main) and Douglas. The natives call it the dead animal bar as the owner used to hunt big game, stuff them and mount them on the wall. It boasts an old back bar that I am not sure how old it is, but it really looks old.

Old timers and new guys can be found sitting at tables playing cards, drinking beers and tilting back a wee bit too much on their chairs.

As you walk in the door, they’ll look you up and down, and shout “Hey” if they know you, if not they just go back to their cards or drinking or gossiping.

There is still some of that slightly seediness going on here in a place called the Cock A Too. Strippers adorn the stage, but that’s way down on the end on 3rd. To the East for those of you might want to know.

Across from us is an Irish Bar called O’Malley’s. O’Malley’s is green not green eating, Green Color. It’s a must go during St Pats Day.

Years ago O’Malley’s was owned by a race car enthusiast. Then it was an Irish race car bar. It was really something to see.

There is many other pubs and places to drink, we even have our own brewery here, Ben’s Bar brews up concoctions that I hear are really good. That’s only a ½ block from O’Malley’s.

Did I mention that bars are on one side of the street only here? A hundred years ago or so, they actually had a law that made that so. That way the ladies and children could walk on one side without having to worry about being harassed. For us I love sitting in our big windows on a good Saturday night watching some drunk grab a hold of the store fronts trying to walk from bar to bar..   


So remember your parents or grandparents telling you about the coffee shops? Want to find out ANYTHING and you go to a coffee shop.Walk in one and you could smell the food being made. What an aroma..Many were a little run down, wooden chairs, tippy tables, mismatched plates, tableware, but wonderful homemade food…. Most we’re run by older people. My Dad used to say these were the best. They cared more about the food then the squeak of an old chair. There used to be tons of them in downtown Yankton, now many replaced with Facebook for telling tales and finding out the nitty gritty but no coffee or donuts, or rolls..kinda sad, Anyway many don’t know you can still find some called now coffee groups..Sounds a bit classier..OR just go to a retail store..

The store clerk or owners knows everything!! Supposedly.. Not a big store just a ma and pa one. Don’t know why, maybe they have more time on their hands to look around or visit. Some will tell you it’s part of their job to talk to customers get a feel for who they are.. OR it could be they are just gossipers. But for now let’s say it’s the first 

For Christmas this year we bought gift certificates from the local stores. So I go into Lisa Fashion and Party.. Haven’t been there for long time, mostly as I always thought she hated me, so wanted to avoid that at all costs. You know what I’m talking about when you go to a place and you get that evil eye and fake smile..nah I’m good, but I went in anyway.

The outside of the building had just been rehabbed  in part by a new facade easement program put in place by the City of Yankton.. Love the outside, except for the wagon wheel looking things, but just my opinion. Its an older single story building that was replaced by the historic one that burned down years ago. About 2 doors to the West of the Walnut Bar. Since the Walnut opens very early…you could always grab a drink before you go shopping..

I was greeted very nicely when I entered Lisa’s. so nice I wondered if she knew who I was. Cindy is a nice person, around 40ish, I don’t tell age well so she could be 80 for all I know, and yes she knows a lot about a lot. I heard about someone falling on the ice on the sidewalk, a girl who started one day at a retail store…worked out well for weeks, then just said “oh I am not coming back, not my kind of place” 

We talked about clothing costs and returns. ( I used to import and looking to go back so the discussion was very informative for me)

She had great clothes to my surprise, I always thought she had nothing but grandma clothes.You know the ones, funky prints, waisted ties, about to the middle of the calf leg length. Bought a few gift certificates and on my way.

Years ago there was a shop called Donna Mae’s Lingerie, “The Ultimate in Intimate” was her slogan.. She sold bras, nighties and underwear. AND had a special back room. I walked back there once and not my cup of tea.. But many girls talked about the rabbit and so forth. Even the conversation was not my cup of tea.

I did love to talk to Donna,, She hung out with my aunt when they were teenagers. Both worked at Wallbaum Drug Store. Both had Bee Hive hair. How they got it that high, I have no idea. How their hair didn’t fall out or break off because of to much ratting and hair spray I didn’t know either. 

Below is a picture of my aunt after she ratted her hair less. Don’t have one of Donna Mae’s but they looked kinda the same until later years. But then I could be Sigmund saying all women this age in this time of mankind looked the same. Don’t know.

Donna was always dressed to the 9’s, Wore her makeup, had her hair done,,,ALWAYS!! She had the sexist voice. She did radio ads that would say”Come to Donna Mae’s the Ultimate in Intimate” There were many of us who knew what the “intimate” was, those that didn’t just figured she was talking about lingerie.

Donna knew a ton of gossip and facts.  She’d say you remember him, right?  If I said no, I got an in depth description of them, where they worked, how many kids in the family, what the kids looked like, the wife looked like, what he did for a living, what his job was like, who his boss was, what he was like, so you were always better off to just nod your head and hope you could figure out who she was talking about during the conversation.

Donna had been here for a long time and knew just about everyone, but there came a day when she had to sell her business. Everyone was sad about it but life goes on.

I loved Donna, miss her and her store but the store that is in her location now is very nice. It’s called Dig’s. Very nice clothing… outerwear. 110 W 3rd. Outside still looks the same different color though. 

So here’s a tip, find out something anything about a store that used to be downtown, or a story you heard about a person that used to work downtown and ask a retailer about it…And you thought you went in to just browse and buy..


My Dad owned a salvage yard and sold used cars. Self starter, work day and night type of guy. Always had a laugh or a funny story to tell. He was so thin, around 5’11 kinda reminded me of a very young Frank Sinatra.

Grew up in the 30’s when Yankton was going through the depression along with the rest of the country.

He told a story of being so very poor in the dirty 30’s he stole a lump of coal from a neighbor to try and stay warm. I can’t even imagine being that cold and poor. He said there was no shame as everyone was broke.

At one time he was so hungry he ran away from home went downtown and hid out in a closet on the second floor of building. He said it was right outside an apartment that an old lady lived in and she would give him food. He was just an eleven year old child.

No matter how hard our lives are now, it is nothing compared to the dirty 30’s.

We lived next to the salvage yard since I was 10.. People would come and go. selling cars for junk and buying them. The house used to be a run down farm, with a big corn bin that had collapsed spilling corn everywhere.. Dad bought it cheap borrowed money from Grandpa and Grandma…$750 for 13 acres including the house. Which also needed work. I remember sitting in the Chinese red kitchen eating and a massive rat came up through the furnace vent. Dad chased it around the room cornered in it a side room. Mom going crazy worried we’d get bit. Rats were huge and everywhere, living the good life of the fallen down corn crib.

One day an old school chum of Dad’s came into the shop. I was there cleaning a car up for sale. I could hear them chuckling and laughing about the good ole days

My father went to the catholic school in the 30’s. Dad would tell us he did nothing wrong but his friends were very mischievous, and always getting him into trouble. So one day he and his friends found a way to skip school by crawling up on the roof of the school..As it was a warm day they could play cards and games without anyone even knowing they were there. Parents would assume they were at class and the Nuns would assume they were at home sick..Unfortunately the nuns could hear their laughter.One by one they came down, told to stand in a line and hold out their hands. One by one the Nun walked by with a willow branch and smacked the tips of their fingers. If they pulled back they got 2…Dad said “Boy that hurt.”.I said “Bet you guys didn’t do that again”. He smirked at me and said “Well, not get up on the roof.”

One day, Ken,  a friend he hadn’t seen in a very long time stopped. He had been living in California, but was Dad’s chum from the days when Dad drove Cab..Pretty sure he was a Catholic kid too. So they stood at the counter in the garage, chuckling and laughing. I was sweeping the floor…closer and closer to them so I can hear what was so funny.

I heard Ken say “Ever wish you’d lost that bet with me?”. Dad burst out laughing and looked at me.. You know the kinda look like should I say anything and let her know.. So I “said what bet?” Ken and my Dad looked at each other, still laughing..

“Well,” Dad said, “I drove cab years ago. One day Ken and I stood in the shop downtown, we looked out the window and saw your mother walking down the sidewalk towards us.”

Ken said “Your father said wow now that’s a mighty fine looking woman”

I told him she wouldn’t have anything to do with you. Dad said “Wanna make a bet?” They started laughing so hard you knew there was more to the story but I didn’t think I wanted to know.

Mom was a bill collector and Dad didn’t pay his bills so Mom was trying to collect.

Dad kept a car was like the one he drove so many years ago, a 1938 Buick Special 4 door with suicide doors. We bought it and restored it. $50,000 later and its still not done.


Dad told pretty wild stories about driving cab.. Once again ones I heard while working in the garage. He said the prostitutes all wore a certain flower on their shoulder. They  made a deal with cab drivers if the drivers had a potential “john” for them, if the drivers would point out the ladies of the night and the john went for it. The cab driver would get a percentage of the deal. 

Yet another story that had to much information in it,