THE SKUNK RIVER EPISODE
It was one of those early Iowa summer days in the early 1938, and Wayne Reed, Walter Eschbach, and myself (Hal Hoppins) were at the Eschbach Music Store. The word canoe came up that Walter had a 18-foot Old Town canoe. Wayne and I had a scow (canoe) we built out of orange crates (from the Jack Sprat Store on 9th Street), canvas from J.C. Penny Store where my mother worked and water seal to water proof the canvas (from Carr Hardware on Main Street).
In a couple of days we had our plans set for the trip. We would take the boats up to a launching area at the Skunk River below Story City in Walt’s pickup. The day we chose was during the week and the water was perfect. Our boat has a "V" bottom and sat down in the water and Walt’s canoe drew only 2 inches. We cast off and sailing was perfect.
Ames Daily Tribune article from September 26, 1938
We had been paddling for about an hour when suddenly there was the crack of a .22 rifle and Walter slumped over crying that he had been shot in the back, Immediately we started paddling hard to distance ourselves from wherever the shot came. We soon found a farmhouse to get help. The response was great and Walt was taken to the hospital and his recovery was positive.
The young man who targeted Walter was captured and dealt with.
This was about 70 some years ago.
The Story City marshal was Ole Roth (1891-1963). The lead canoe held the boys Walter Eschbach and Richard Dick Ross (AHS class of 1942) and Paul Alan Mitchell (AHS class of 1943). The second canoe held Harold Hoppins (AHS class of 1943) and Wayne Reed (AHS class of 1942).
Graduated from Ames High 1943