Arbuckle native ‘Snooks' becomes mayor of Iowa city
Snooks Bouska grew up with a bird dog hunting pheasants and waterfowl.
The way he remembers it, virtually every boy in Arbuckle did.
"We always thought we were the center of the universe," Bouska said.
It is fair to say Allen Bouska's universe has changed many times over the years — through Vietnam, years as a crop duster, and later a businessman — though he never imagined himself as a mayor.
But Bouska is just that in Marion, Iowa, where he defeated a sitting councilman for the mayor's seat in November.
"As a businessman, you are busy running your business seven days a week, and you trust the city is taking care of you," Bouska said. "Then, wow, you learn they aren't."
At the heart of the issue was a proposal to create a new Seventh Avenue Corridor through Marion.
"They were going to shut down the original Seventh Street," Bouska said.
He said that plan would have put 90 businesses and their 350 employees at risk, plus another 56 residences in the area.
"So I got the business community behind me, and I won."
He said four months into the job, he is still trying to change the culture of the city government.
Bouska had owned two Dairy Queen franchises in the area, though he has since sold them. His daughter, Lori, runs one of them. His other daughter, Allison, lives in San Francisco.
He said he and his wife, Vickie, are "volunteer workers" now.
Pat Hamilton, the superintendent of Pierce Joint Unified School District, grew up with the Bouska family. Snooks' sister, Elaine, was one of her closest friends at Pierce High School.
"I can see him as a mayor," Hamilton said. "He has always been involved in the community."
That included during the time when he worked for Hamilton's father-in-law, Jack Hamilton, at a local machine shop. Before that, it was owned by Jess Hardy.
"When he walked into a room, everyone knew Snooks," said Hamilton. "If you can ever say there's a good soul, Snooks was a good soul."
But what Bouska is probably best known for is as a crop duster pilot.
That came after his days as a fighter pilot for the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, and that came after his graduation from California State University, Chico, in 1967.
He graduated from Pierce High in Arbuckle in 1963.
"I came back a couple of years ago for a reunion," Bouska said. "But I keep in touch with a lot of people back there."
Bouska, who retired from the Navy Reserves with the rank of commander, stopped crop dusting when he took a marketing job with Coors Brewing Co.
That job took him to the Midwest where he eventually settled.
He said there is not a lot that is similar between Marion, a town of more than 40,000 people, and Arbuckle.
"Not at all. This is basically a Midwest town," he said.
Bousksa can now be seen in the Midwest skies. Using the moniker "Crazy Czechoslovakian Pilot," he mixes in humor with his own stories of near-death events as both a combat and crop dusting pilot.
For more on that, visit czechflight.com.