The Des Moines Sunday Register, March 27, 1960
She’s watched Clive grow from only a dozen homes…
The biggest commodities at Clive these days are handsome new homes and dozens of school children. Half a century ago when Mrs. Scennia Swanson, 82, came to Clive from Knoxville, major commodities were cherries, other fruit, vegetables, grain and coal.
There wasn’t a car in town, but both passenger and freight trains clattered by on the Milwaukee railroad tracks at a rate of one every half hour. Now there are perhaps three trains a day.
Fifty years ago, a one-room school house provided ample space for youngsters from the dozen homes located in Clive and for youngsters from the coal mining community down the road near what is now 73rd Street and University Avenue.
Today the school-age population is increasing so rapidly the modern new school building with space for more than 660 children isn’t big enough. School officials are thinking of building the first wing of a new building.
Since 1912, Mrs. Swanson has lived in the same house (NW 86th Street and University Boulevard). Her husband died that year after having typhoid fever.
Mrs. Swanson was left with five small children. Friends and neighbors helped her devise a way to support her family. The solution was a large frame building with a general store downstairs and living quarters upstairs.
She also qualified to operate the town’s post office. During lulls in business, Mrs. Swanson cooked, made all of the youngsters’ clothes and canned fruit and vegetables.
She operated the store & post office for 21 years — until the five children had completed high school (Post Office until 1929). All five graduated from East High School in Des Moines.
When the three oldest children were in school, Roosevelt High hadn’t been built. Closest transportation to East High was the streetcar. It made a turn around at 49th Street and University Avenue. The children walked 3 miles just to get to a street car, unless they were lucky enough to hitch a ride.
After the children graduated from high school and obtain jobs in Des Moines, they persuaded their mother to give up the store and post office.