Danny Carrier shares tales of growing up in Guttenberg

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Danny Carrier owned and operated Danny's Auto Repair for 44 years. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

Danny Carrier was born in 1937. His parents were Louis and Hilda Carrier. He attended and graduated from St. Mary's School in Guttenberg. Carrier told The Press, "I used to get in trouble for entertainment. I had one brother, Jerome, and four sisters, Pat, Mary Ann, Winifred “Winnie” and Laura. I was the youngest. I had a newspaper route delivering the Des Moines Register." 

Kann clubhouse — No girls allowed!

Carrier shared, "There used to be a woods across the alley full of willow trees and things. Ronnie Kann had a clubhouse. He was real handy. He built it out of willow trees and wood from up home. I couldn't go near it because I was too young and caused too much trouble. He ended up being a fireman in Dubuque. Ronnie's proud parents were Ted and Tillie Kann. Everybody knew and liked Tillie."

"Ronnie had a little bicycle. He would never let me ride it. He and the other club members were busy doing something, so I took it for a run and I couldn't stop. I got on the lower end of town and crashed. When I tried to get it going again I couldn't get it started. Donny Sadewasser helped me get going again. Boy did I catch hell when I got back," he remembered. 

"My brother was a member of the clubhouse. They didn't allow any girls. One guy got mad at the club because they wouldn't let him in, so he tore the clubhouse down and blamed it on me. I was too young to do most of the damage so they found him. He was a summer boy – he always came to town in the summer,” he said. 

Milk and paper route

“My mother always told us to stay away from the river, so I never did much fishing, and swimming was out of the question! Instead, I helped out on the family milk route quite a bit, picking up the milk and stuff like that. We delivered to just about everybody in town. Between that and the paper route I kept out of trouble,” he said. “It was kind of interesting about that paper route – they had a deal – if you signed up for six weeks you got two weeks free. The delivery boys would get prizes. Donny Stoeffler, he was one of my regulars — he always took advantage of that deal.” 

He continued, “The milk was bottled in glass bottles. It was pasteurized in the creamery. They made butter and ice cream down there too. The customers would leave their empty bottles on the steps, and we would replace it with the full bottles. Some of the people had insulated milk boxes and some people told us to just walk in and put it in the icebox. A quart usually lasted most people a couple of days. It depended upon how many kids you had.” 

He added, “Most people put the money in the bottom of the empty quart bottles. We reused the bottles and washed them in a bottle washing machine and then put them in sterilized water and set them upside down to dry. I did my fair share of bottle washing. That was the only way they could keep me out of trouble.” 

Stray cats

“When I was six or seven years old there was the old abandoned button factory. We were told to stay away from there because the bums stayed there when they came through town. There was a litter of angora cats in the building and we wanted one of those kittens. The kids went in and chased one out. I stood post and grabbed it when it came out and it bit me. They were worried about rabies, but watched the cat a couple of days and decided it was okay. My brother and sisters had a mind to keep it, but it was wild. My mom wasn’t too happy about that,” he laughed. 

“I went to Lakeside as a teen, and sometimes to the dance hall in Prairie du Chien. I met my wife at Lakeside. She and her friends always danced around the outside of the dance floor. I asked her to dance and it went from there. We have been married ever since,” he proudly shared. 

Danny’s Auto Repair

“My father had a garage. I started working on cars and got pretty good at it. Mike Jaquette was going to tear down his old DX grease house. He said if I wanted the building I could have it. I took it and moved it down to the location where I eventually built my own shop.  AUTOTEK is located there now. I owned and operated Danny’s Auto Repair for 44 years,” he said. “After I retired I volunteered as a handyman at St. Mary’s Church and school for about ten years. I did a little bit of everything. I handed the keys to Father Bries a couple of months ago, when I decided it was time for me to retire my services.”

“Lucy” the neighbor’s dog

“In recent years, I was always in the habit of taking the neighbor’s dog for a walk. We walked together for ten years. Lucy was her name. She was a good dog. Everyone along the river walk knew her name and would stop and pet her. The Olivers had it set up so she could reach our house when she was on her outside leash. My wife always said she could set her clock to when Lucy would stand at the back door and bark for a treat. She really loved those treats.” 

“The dog and I both ran out of steam at the same time. She was getting old and crippled up and so was I. One morning I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk. She looked at me kind of sad and put her head down. I didn’t want to go for a walk either. The Olivers took her to the vet and had her put down shortly after that. They invited me along but I didn’t want to go. Lucy was a black lab. She loved everyone. The only problem was if somebody walked up with a stroller she would always lick the kid’s face. Now when my wife thinks I need to take a walk she hands me the vacuum cleaner and says, ‘Now walk,’” he chuckled. 

Final thoughts

Carrier has been a longtime member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus. He recollected, “I was on the fire department and got the Jaycees going in town. I remember during the flood of 1965, Mayor Rishell asked if I would help put sand bags over the sewer covers. Keith Willman and I used his dad’s International flatbed pickup truck to haul the sand bags. We ruined his dad’s truck hauling sand 15 hours a day. I gave Keith a lot of credit, because he had the pickup, and we were going into a lot of rough areas. One day we even delivered sandwiches to the volunteers so they could keep working. It was a great community effort. We had help from all the surrounding towns. We had really good help.” 

I asked Carrier if he would like to share any other stories and he replied with a hearty laugh, “No, I said too much already!”

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