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Yards Books Illuminate "A Way Of Life"

"A Way of Life" volume I is also the story of an industry that changed radically, beginning in the 1950s. Tradition gave way to new ways of marketing and gradually the Yards faded as the place to buy and sell livestock. Then came the devastating Livestock Exchange Building fire of May 15, 1998, and the final auction on March 28, 2002. Poole says the Yards book comes at a time of renewed respect for Sioux City's livestock marketing heritage. "It's time to remember the place and the people who made Sioux City a dominant industrial player. I want this book to serve as one record of that era."

More stories from "The Yards"


Volume II devotes a chapter to Fred L. Eaton, an industry visionary who revived the badly compromised Yards after the depression of 1893. Eaton came to Sioux City from New England in 1894 to represent investors who had sunk millions into the promise of the Yards and other Sioux City projects. Under Eaton, Sioux City rose to become a world power in livestock marketing.

Another chapter in Volume II tells the colorful story of John "Jiggs" Donohue, a legendary commission man and consummate Yards promoter. Donohue's connections brought sports luminaries Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe Louis to Sioux City as part of his plan to push the Stockyards into the national spotlight.

Donohue also devised a number of high-profile publicity stunts, including a flight to the 1928 annual stock growers' convention in Havre, Mont., in "The Spirit of South Dakota." Donohue promoted the airplane as the sister ship of Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis." Volume II looks at the impact of the Swift & Co. meatpacking workers' strike that dragged on from late September 1938 until almost February 1939. It includes the nationwide strike of January 1946 when President Harry Truman ordered the federal government to take over meatpacking plants and spare the nation from a meat shortage. Service men and women had returned from World War II to find an increased cost of living but little or no increase in their wages.

The Live Stock National Bank robbery of 1935 and stories of the legendary commission men also figure into the book, as well as dozens of sidebars that pick up family memories and unique events and aspects of the Yards.

Photos and memorabilia were contributed by more than 70 people and institutions, including Morningside College which boasted one of the nation's leading livestock marketing education programs.

Readers will learn more about Stockyards Company official and broadcaster Don Cunningham who was known as the "voice of the Yards." Cunningham took every opportunity to promote the central public market system. In one of his 1940 radio broadcasts, Cunningham urged homemakers to "use more lard" in their pie-making. Lard was best for baking and good for hog prices, he told listeners. A lard-inspired recipe for kolaches is drawn from the 1987 Stock Yards Centennial Cookbook, compiled by The Stockettes, a group organized to promote goodwill among all aspects of the livestock industry.

"A Way of Life" volumes I and II are sold at the Center: $20 apiece; $5 additional for shipping each book. To order, contact mpoole@siouxcitylcic.com or call 712-224-5242 Tuesday through Sunday.

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Book Cover: A Way of Life II Stories from the Yards
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2:00 p.m. Sunday, May 28
"Never Forgotten: The History
of Sioux City's Calvary Cemetery
with Walter Peterson
Wednesday, June 7
"SUMMERTIME FUN FOR KIDS"
Hands-on Learning Series
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2:00 p.m. Sunday, June 4
"Hymns and Herds" A Year
in the Life of an Iowa Pioneer Family
presented by Dr. Tom Morain
2:00 p.m. Sunday, June 11
"The United States and World War I"
Part two of a three-part WWI series
presented by Dr. Don Hickey
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