Scary Iowa Halloween Venues, The Art of Richard Kelley
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Order wine by telephone at 641.672.WINE �9463�. We offer shipping within Iowa and to select states. Adult signature required for receipt of wine. The White Wines of Tassel Ridge...Simply Extraordinary® 4360-P5-8.5x11_F.indd 1 4/1/13 3:23 PM Features 24 Right Here in Mason City! A truckload of previously unseen Meredith Willson memorabilia brings to life the multifaceted genius of America’s most beloved music man 32 Iowa’s Best Secret Destination The Brenton Arboretum is the most wonderful place in Iowa of which you’ve never heard 40 The Magic of Richard Kelley A lifelong Iowa artist enters a new, playful phase 44 Hunting the King of Nuts Shellbark hickory nuts rival morel mushrooms for the top spot on Iowa forager’s list of wild delicacies Departments 4 from the editor You Know the Territory 5 contributors To this Issue 6 letters What’s Restricted? 10 day trips Things to See and Do Statewide 15 seasonal celebrations Halloween from “Ah!” to “Zombie” 20 landmark Something to Toot About 56 in focus Award-Winning Images 63 escapades Bankrolled to Splurge contents September / october 2013 volume 62 | number 1 iowan.com ON THE COVER: Robert Preston as Professor Harold Hill and Shirley Jones as Marian the librarian link arms and march down River Cityâ€™s Main Street in the 1962 Warner Brothersâ€™ film version of The Music Man. Licensed By: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. THIS PAGE: A collection of trombones on display at The Music Man Square in Mason City. Photo by Dan Weeks from the editor You know the territory Proudly published and printed in Iowa Publisher Polly Clark So an Iowan walks into a Bar Association meeting. In New Zealand. He tells the assembled group of lawyers from around the world that he’s from Iowa. “You know Iowa,” he says confidently, “from the Iowa caucuses that begin the United States Presidential race.” Blank stares. “No,” says someone in the audience. “We know Iowa from The Music Man! River City!” Some begin singing: “Seventy-six trombones led the big parade . . .” Given the right prompt, they knew the territory. You love Iowa and read The Iowan, so you know the territory better Editor Dan Weeks Creative Director Ann Donohoe Associate Graphic Designer Megan Johansen Image/Photo Specialist Jason Fort Editorial Associate Nate Brown Copy Editor Gretchen Kauffman Advertising Account Executives Meghan Keller Tom Smull Becca Wodrich Subscription Services Katrina Brocka than most. You know that some things about Iowa, such as The Music Man, are international icons. Others, such as the Brenton Arboretum and Iowaharvested hickory nuts, are hidden treasures. Still others, such as the work of Des Moines artist Richard Kelley, manage to be both: His paintings are Jim Slife Twilla Glessner Accounting Manager Allison Volker CEO Production Manager well-known to the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and to collectors but are a yet-to-be discovered delight for many. The Iowan, ISSN (0021-0772), is published bi-monthly by Pioneer Communications, Inc., 300 Walnut Street, Suite 6, Des Moines, Iowa 50309. This issue is dated September 1, 2013, Volume 62, No. 1. All content © 2013 The Iowan/Pioneer Communications, Inc., and may not be used, reproduced, or altered in any way without prior written permission. Periodicals Postage Paid in Des Moines, Iowa, and at additional mailing offices. We cannot be held responsible for the loss or damage of unsolicited material. POSTMASTER: Send change of address to: The Iowan, 300 Walnut St., STE 6, Des Moines, IA 50309. Prices: Subscriptions — Special rate when ordered direct or by mail: six issues per year for $24. International orders require additional postage. Please call for rates. Single copies — on newsstands: $4.95; current issue by mail: $4.95 plus $3.50 S+H. Please call for quantity discount pricing. Single past issues 2005 to present: $5.95 plus S+H, two for $9.95 plus S+H; prior to 2005: $14.95 plus S+H. New Subscriptions, Renewals, Gifts: iowan.com > SUBSCRIBE firstname.lastname@example.org 877-899-9977 x211 Change of Address: iowan.com> CONTACT > Address Change email@example.com 877-899-9977 x211 Past Issues: firstname.lastname@example.org 877-899-9977 x211 Mail Orders: The Iowan Subscription Services P.O. Box 2516, Waterloo, IA 50704 Advertising Information: 515-246-0402 x202 or 877-899-9977 x202 email@example.com iowan.com All these subjects — and lots more — are featured in this issue. That’s because here at The Iowan, we delight in visiting every corner of the state and bringing the best of Iowa to you: people, destinations, food, culture, history, festivals, activities, and, of course, the great Iowa outdoors. Starting with this issue, we’re working to make our stories even more informative, more colorful, and more fun to read. In the process, we’re rolling out three new elements that will appear in every issue: Day Trips, page 10, is your guide to things to see and do statewide. Seasonal Celebrations, page 15, is a themed directory of seasonal events. (This issue: Halloween!) Escapades, page 63, shares spirited stories of growing up in Iowa. I’m new to The Iowan but not to Iowa. I’ve lived in Iowa my entire adult life and have been editing magazines here for more than 25 years. But to make The Iowan the best magazine it can be, I need your help. Please take an extra-close look at this issue. Let me know what you think of the new elements, the articles, and what you’d like us to include in future issues. Because you know the territory. And because, after all, The Iowan is your magazine. I look forward to hearing from you! 2012_IRMA_member_emblem.jpg (JPEG Image, 1500 × 1466 pixels) - S... Dan Weeks, Editor editor@Iowan.com 4 http://regionalmagazines.org/downloads/membersonly/2012_IRMA_mem... 10% PCW Paper Made in the USA THE IOWAN | iowan.com 1 of 1 3/5/2012 11:54 AM contributors Tim Ackarman is a Deb Wiley is a John Holtorf left freelance writer and garden writer, editor, a high-paying job photographer living photographer, and Polk as a construction near Garner. Although County Master Gardener. superintendant in 1985 he grew up not far She serves on the boards to take a barely paying from “River City,” like of the Greater Des Moines position as a darkroom Professor Harold Hill he Botanical Garden — and of assistant in a photo never learned to play a The Brenton Arboretum, studio. He never looked note. He cowrote “Right about which she writes back. He contributed Here in Mason City!” in “Iowa’s Best Secret images to “Iowa’s Best page 24. Destination,” page 32. Secret Destination,” page 32. (holtorf.com) Writer Jim Duncan Paul Gates Photographer Mark says he admires great photographed for the Tade’s Grandma Tade art but has no shred of Associated Press during baked cookies with artistic talent. He’s been the 1988 presidential shellbark hickory nuts compensating by writing election and later that she’d gathered near her profiles of imaginative year joined Business home in southeast Iowa. artists, among other Publications Corporation Memories of her cookies subjects, for the past 25 as Photo Director. inspired Tade’s recent years. His latest profile Now a freelancer, he foraging expedition, is “The Magic of Richard photographed “The which he documents Kelley,” page 40. Magic of Richard Kelley,” in “Hunting the King of page 40. (pipphoto.com) Nuts,” page 44. September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 5 letters What’s restricted? brush or debris can restrict the channel, preventing navigation; or runoff or other effluents can pollute In “Forces of Nature” [July/August the water, restricting recreational use 2013] on page 29 there is a photo of such as swimming. They can also be a stream described as a “restricted termed “restricted” if rules protect waterway.” What defines this as a them from certain uses, such as the The Whole Iowan I enjoy your magazine and particularly enjoyed the May/June 2013 issue. I was part of a magazine that we put together in the mid-’70s that did some of what you guys are doing. We restricted waterway and what activities discharge of treated wastewater or the called it The Whole Iowan. It evolved are restricted? A further clarification as withdrawal of water for irrigation or into a publication called Aspire. Some to what defines and what activities are other purposes. Finally, they can be of our ideas were picked up by other “restricted” would be helpful. Is there a restricted for public safety. A stream publications and continue on today. published list of restricted waterways running through the National Guard’s My father had a great story about and the reasons for being restricted? training grounds at Camp Dodge in traveling the Lincoln Highway from Thank you for the interesting article! Johnston, for instance, is off-limits to Iowa to New York in the 1930s in a civilians because of danger of heavy Model T with some other fellows. I — Curt Abney, Sioux City artillery fire! In the case of the stream in this photo, recreation is restricted by Excellent question! According to the water quality: Chemical runoff from Iowa Department of Natural Resources, farm fields makes it unsafe to swim in. waterways can be termed “restricted” For a list of other such Iowa waterways, because our ability to use them is type “Iowa impaired Waters” into a compromised. Geographical conditions Mason City p. 24 Spencer p. 20 Malvern p. 16 Cedar Rapids p. 10, 15 Urbandale p. 17 Pleasant Hill p. 16 Des Moines p. 16, 17, 40 Creston p. 10 Villisca p. 17 The Iowan firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook.com > The Iowan Magazine Iowa City p. 11 The Iowan OnLine Visit iowan.com and read a digital edition of the magazine on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Points of Interest in This Issue 6 Write to Us! iowan.com > Contact Atkins p. 15 Carroll p. 12 Council Bluffs p. 17 feathers. Keep up the good work! Des Moines, IA 50309 Waterloo p. 17 Dallas Center p. 32 and was afraid I might ruffle some 300 Walnut Street, Suite 6 Clear Lake p. 16 Guthrie Center p. 63 not contact all the family members — Ed. Decorah p. 12 Calliope p. 11 followed through because I could — Gene Wehrheim, Cedar Rapids search engine. or fencing can restrict human access; wrote it up for publication but never THE IOWAN | iowan.com © 2010 Iowa Council of Foundations For good. For Iowa. For ever. What’s your passion? Whether it’s arts and culture, education, children’s health, conservation, or anything else, community foundations help you support the causes you care about. Give and receive. Making a donation through your local community foundation is rewarding—in more ways than one. Your gift creates lasting good, and with the Endow Iowa Tax Credit Program, generous tax incentives make it easier to give for less. Contact your local community foundation or visit iowacommunityfoundations.org. 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There was Pasta, Pizza, Salads and all your favorites www.massageenvyfranchise.com Des Moines’ most complete menu including Steak, Chicken and Seafood *The figures are the average clinic volume of all 2012 sales after two or more years of clinic operation. 315 clinics out of a total network of 656 clinics met or exceeded this amount in 2012. A new franchisee’s results may differ from the represented performance. Past performance is not a forecast of a prospective franchisee’s future financial performance. A franchise offer can be made only by an FDD. See Item 19 of the current Massage Envy FDD for further clarification of these metrics. To learn more about franchising opportunities, contact: Lori Merrall at 480.366.4171 or email@example.com ME_4.8375x4.75_Eugenia_Tzoannopoulos.indd 1 One owner. One name. Family run since 1946. The Original Lacona Family Restaurant! 2400 Ingersoll • Des Moines 515.288.2246 www.noahsdesmoines.com Monday–Thursday 11 am–11 pm Friday & Saturday 11 am–Midnight Never on Sunday 8 THE IOWAN | iowan.com Given my experience as a member and seeing the growth With the crispness of the fall air, enjoy authentic German celebrations, learn the craft of winemaking, savor vor unique foods, at are as goods and hospitality that original as you are. nothing else I would rather spend all of my effort and focus on. - Eugenia Tzoannopoulos 7/1/13 5:47 PM DES MOINES, IA Don’t Miss Des Moines AQS QuiltWeek! Catch Quilting Fever in America’s Heartland! Be inspired by special exhibits featuring collections from around the world, including the hand-pieced exhibit, Celebrating Quilts the Caohagan Way from the Philippines, the whimsy of the Cow Stampede exhibit curated by Mary Lou Weidman, the crowd-stopping Tentmakers of Cairo, and other award–winning quilts from around the globe. See the best in hand, machine, traditional, and art quilts from around the world competing for more than $50,000 in cash prizes. Our Merchant Mall is a quilter’s shopping paradise. Looking for those last details to finish that prize-winning quilt or needing something new to spark your creative juices for your new quilt? Make it an extra-special week! Follow your passion and build your skills by attending lectures and classes with some of your favorite instructors — Charlotte Angotti, Anita Grossman Solomon, Catherine Redford, Weeks Ringle, and more. Iowa Events Center Des Moines, IA • October 2–5, 2013 www.AQSshows.com day trips PhotoS Courtesy John Bigelow Taylor compiled by CAROL BODENSTEINER and MARY GOTTSCHALK Read My Pins View the Madeleine Albright Pin Collection National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (NCSML), Cedar Rapids Now through October 27 Monday–Saturday 9:30 a.m–4 p.m., Sunday noon–4 p.m. 1400 Inspiration Place SW, Cedar Rapids 52404 ncsml.org 319–362–8500 Free–$10* After the government-controlled Iraqi press called a trip to the Smithsonian Institution, where they were Madeleine Albright an “unparalleled serpent,” she met displayed earlier — but you don’t have to go that far. The with Saddam Hussein wearing a diamond-studded snake Czechoslovakian-born Albright arranged for the same pin, right. Albright’s eloquent pins range from designer exhibit to visit Cedar Rapids’ National Czech & Slovak creations and family heirlooms to dime store finds. As Museum and Library, where she is a board member. Secretary of State, she used them to express everything from the importance of negotiation to protest to national *NCSML members and children 5 and under free, youth 6–13 $3, pride. Viewing 280 pins from her collection is worth students (with ID) and active military $5, seniors $9, adults $10. Southwest Iowa Hot Air Balloon Days Photo Courtesy creston chamber of commerce Up, up, and away! September 20–22 Uptown Creston and the Creston Airport firstname.lastname@example.org 641–782–7021 crestoniowachamber.com Free More than 50 balloons take flight in an impressive display of color and grace during Creston’s 36th annual Hot Air Balloon Days. The event kicks off Friday evening with a Fun Flight and continues through the weekend with hot air balloon races, a flea market, crafts fair, book sale, and parade with marching band. Brightly lit balloons provide a beautiful foreground against the starry night sky during Saturday’s popular Night Glow. 10 THE IOWAN | iowan.com day trips Calliope Lives! Visit a reconstructed pioneer-era county seat Saturday, September 3, to Monday, September 5 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Intersection of RT 10 (Avenue E) and 18th Street, Hawarden iagenweb.org/sioux/TownHistories/CalliopeVillage.htm 712–550–1213 Free Thinly populated Calliope, on the western edge of Sioux County, declared itself the county seat in 1860. A dozen years later the more centrally located Orange City declared itself the county seat; raided the Calliope courthouse; and carted the county’s records, seal, and a safe with the county’s money to Orange City. Calliope Photo Courtesy CJay Photo remains, however, as a living history reconstruction of a pioneer-era village, circa 1860-1910. During Big Sioux River Days on Labor Day weekend, Calliope comes alive with music, food, exhibits of pioneer crafts, and tours of the village — which includes more than a dozen buildings, including a log-cabin courthouse containing the recently repatriated safe, left. Farms, Food, and Fermentation Take a culinary bike ride Sunday, September 22 Eat to Ride & Ride to Eat Starts at 8:30 a.m. Iowa, Washington, and Johnson counties (Iowa City area) culinaryride.com for starting point, routes, information, and registration $45 Take a bicycle ride down an Iowa country road during the height of the harvest. Stop and tour a farm and have some of the best chef- or farm-prepared food and handcrafted 9/22/2013 beverages you’ve ever tasted. Repeat four to seven times, depending on whether you’ve chosen the Cherry Tomato Route (10-20 miles on pavement) or the Beet-it-Up Route Iowa City Community School District and the Youth Off- (50-60 miles with some gravel sections). It’s a great way Road Cycling Program. The ride, the food, a ride T-shirt, a to enjoy Iowa at its tastiest and most picturesque — and to titanium spork, and an artist-designed napkin are included. benefit two great causes: the Farm to School project of the Guilt-free indulgence doesn’t get much better than this! September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 11 The Schoolhouses of Winneshiek County Tour historic landmarks Saturday, October 12 8 a.m.–2 p.m. 1101 Highway 9 West, Decorah (Bluffs Inn & Oaks Steak House) email@example.com 800–434–2039 $15 Country schoolhouses are Iowa icons. You can tour four — two wood-framed, one stone, one log; the Laura Ingalls PHOTOS Courtesy of Winneshiek County Historical Society day trips Home and Hotel Burr Oak; and the boyhood farm of Nobel Prize winner Norman Borlaug during Preservation Iowa’s scenic northeast Iowa fall tour. Plus you’ll witness the unveiling of a new sculpture celebrating Borlaug’s countryschoolhouse education and eat lunch in Spillville’s restored Speakeasy Inn. If country schoolhouses are really your thing, come a day early for the Country School Preservation Conference, which features presentations on the history and preservation of Iowa’s early schoolhouses. Carroll’s Innovative Orchestra Music teacher Rebecca Windschitl wanted students at All Hear them make music for the pure joy of it Strings Attached, her nonprofit music school, to experience Saturday, October 19, and Sunday, October 20 what it was like to play in a symphony orchestra. She Carroll Recreation Center, 716 N Grant Rd., Carroll enlisted fellow professional musicians and music teachers carrollsymphony.com as mentors to play with her students in what has become 712–830–2454 the Carroll Symphony. Its 177 musicians range in age from $8 or 2/$15 6 to 73. Like their growing audience, they live throughout Iowa and come together six times each year to make music — late classical, Latin, contemporary, and big band swing — for the pure joy of it. In the process, they’ve brought a PHOTO COURTESY The Carroll Daily Times Herald big-city sound to small-town Carroll. The symphony, junior symphony, and jazz, brass, and woodwind ensembles also tour and are available for event booking. Day Trips Wanted Does your nonprofit organization have a unique event of statewide interest you’d like our readers to know about? Send details and high-resolution photographs to editor@Iowan.com at least three months in advance of your event and we’ll consider it for publication. 12 THE IOWAN | iowan.com What’s happening in energy efficiency? Home Contacts Search... 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We offe r many different tools to help customers inc rease energy-efficiency . In 2012, Alliant Energy helped Iowa companies save more than 203 mil lion kWh and provided nearly $60 million in inc entives. alliantenergy.com/customrebates • 1- 866 -ALLIANT © 2013 Alliant Energy 1343601 4/13 MJ September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 13 UPPER IOWA UNIVERSITY OCTAGON ART FESTIVAL� Experience. Learn. Lead. 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OUTDOOR EXCITEMENT! 33 mile paved trail Swan Lake State Park • Fishing & Camping • • • Online excellence – nationally ranked for quality, “best buy” online degree-granting programs EXPERIENCE! Delicious Cuisine & Local Wine Tasting! Annual Band Day & Fall Festivals Schedule a campus visit today. 800-553-4150 • www.uiu.edu On Campus • Online • Independent Study • U.S. & International Centers The Iowan --- revised ad (3.56x9.75).indd 1 14 THE IOWAN | iowan.com 7/12/2013 1:49:45 PM S H O P DIN E EX P ER I EN C E Check our website for EVENTS & BUSINESSES! Carroll Chamber of Commerce 712.792.4383 carrolliowa.com The Iowan Sept/Oct2013 Client: Carroll Co. CVB Section: Date: 7-22-2013 Proof #: 1 seasonal celebrations Halloween “AH”to “Zombie” from From elegant themed dinners to macabre mazes and zombie runs, Iowa does Halloween proud. Whether you’re looking for some fun with the kids or a scare-me-witless trip through a haunted house, you’ll find it here — and lots more. Who knew there were so many Halloween-themed celebrations close by? Atkins Cedar Rapids Scream Acres’ Monsters and Merlot A dinner to die for! Circle of Ash Do you like your Halloween mild — or wild? October 4 7–11 p.m. 3260 69th St., Atkins bloomsburyfarm.com 319-446-7667 $59.95 Weekends in October, Halloween night, November 1 and 2 8–11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sunday and Halloween night 8–10 p.m. 412 7th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids circleofash.com 319-521-2221 $11 per person. Food donation to local food pantry saves $1 Bloomsbury Farms hosts Monsters and Merlot, a five-course candlelit dinner served among the cornstalks. Dishes such as Spare Your Life Ribs feature locally sourced ingredients; well-behaved zombies serve. You can explore the farm’s 3 haunted mazes weekends in October. For $24.95 + tax those 21 and over can have Wine with the Witch on October 24. Circle of Ash offers attractions that range from familyfriendly (a Clue-style murder mystery, a high-tech midnight ghost hunt, and a Halloween-themed hypnosis and comedy show) to scary (a revamped haunted house) to truly terrifying (an adults-only, full-contact, solo walk-through — safety word included!). September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 15 seasonal celebrations Clear Lake Haunted Hike If you dare, they will scare! Weekends in October 7–11 p.m. and Halloween 7–9 p.m. 2532 South Shore Drive, Clear Lake thedanddranch.com 631-357-1695 $9 The Haunted Hike at the 1884 D &D Ranch includes a Halloween museum featuring classic and well-known spooks, a haunted Old West ghost town, and eight acres of pastures and cornfields, where more horrors await. A cast of college drama students provides fun and dramatic scares; a portion of the proceeds benefits local children’s organizations. Des Moines Blank Park Zoo’s Night Eyes Merry, not scary! October 17–20 and 24–27 Thursdays and Fridays 5:30–8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays 1–8 p.m. 7401 SW 9th St., Des Moines blankparkzoo.com 515-288-4722 $5 per person, $4 for members The Blank Park Zoo’s Night Eyes offers Halloween fun for the younger crowd. The event leads costumed kids and their “handlers” on a themed treat safari across the zoo grounds. Favorite storybook characters entertain, and a play area with a bounce house provides a pit stop. Animals with outdoor access sometimes greet visitors. Sleepy Hollow Haunted Scream Park Five-in-One! 4 October 4, 5, 11, 12, 17–20, 24–27, and Halloween night 4051 Dean Avenue, Des Moines sleepyhollowscreampark.com 515-262-4100 Tour any three haunted houses for $19 or all five for $25 Sleepy Hollow Haunted Scream Park offers five haunted houses, including the vampire-themed Castle of Blood and Twisted Tales (think fairy tales gone wrong). Plus, the entry fee lets visitors fight off a horde of zombies that have overtaken an abandoned research facility at the Duty Calls laser park, join the Club Blood dance party, and tour the Museum of Fear’s collection of authentic props from classic horror films. heart of darkness, waterloo Circle of Ash, Cedar Rapids The Slaughterhouse A bloody good time Weekends in October, Halloween 8 p.m.–12 a.m. 1300 Metro East Drive, Pleasant Hill theslaughterhousedm.com 515-864-9832 $12 ($10 with coupon) First you’re wheeled in on a pallet jack like a lamb to the slaughter. Then you’re herded through a maze of steel barriers that will put you face to face with “blood, gore, and murderous madmen.” Calling itself “Des Moines’ Most Feared” and “most Iowa-centric” haunted house, The Slaughterhouse earns its reputation with a realistic setting and a dedicated crew of “butchers.” Wicked Wicked fun October 30–November 10 Civic Center, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines desmoinesperformingarts.org 515-246-2300 Prices vary; tickets on sale August 5 Wicked returns to Des Moines for a second run after setting sales records with its initial showing in the city in 2011. The award-winning play tells the tale of two notorious witches from Dorothy’s land of Oz and how they became known as The Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good. The musical is recommended for children ages 8 and up. Malvern Gateway of Chaos Scared for a cause October 5, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26 8–11 p.m. with No-Scare from 7–8 p.m. on October 25 and 26 1605 Main St. Malvern gatewayofchaos.com $9 or $7 with two nonperishable food items. No-Scare is $5. Ranked Iowa’s best haunted house by hauntworld.com, Malvern’s Gateway of Chaos draws thousands of fans from across the state. Dozens of volunteers donate time and money to the event, which donates 100 percent of its proceeds to the Malvern Area Betterment Association, a nonprofit that supports social, educational, and community development. 16 THE IOWAN | iowan.com Urbandale Living History Farms’ Victorian Funeral Some traditions never die October 12 1 p.m. 11121 Hickman Rd., Urbandale lhf.org 515-278-5286 Normal admission rates apply Join others in a celebration of life and death during a reenactment of an 1875 funeral for a fictional Civil War veteran. The Living History Farms’ Tangen House displays a Victorian coffin and other period funeral decorations. A horse-drawn hearse leads a funeral procession to New Hope Cemetery, where the Walnut Hill Choral Society sings Victorian funeral hymns. Villisca Villisca Ax Murder House Don’t ax—don’t tell! Open for daytime tours and overnight stays 508 2nd St., Villisca villiscaiowa.com 712.621.1530 $10/$5 for tour, $400/night for groups up to 6 The site of a 1912 unsolved mass murder that claimed eight lives, the Villisca Ax Murder House has been restored to its original gory — uh, glory — and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Owners Darwin and Martha Linn offer daytime tours and year-round overnight stays at the home. Waterloo Heart of Darkness Face your fears! Weekends (some Thursdays) in October, first weekend in November Thursday 7–10 p.m., Friday–Saturday 7–12 p.m., Sunday 6–10 p.m. 5111 Osage Rd., Waterloo enterthod.com $17 (group rates and other discounts available) Iowa’s largest haunt winds through nine themed zones, including a corn maze, a chainsaw alley, and a 3-D fright zone; a Monster Midway features a DJ, carnival food, and a zombie photo booth. It all starts September 14 with ghosthunting classes and a competitive 5K zombie run ($20); a separate zombie fun run lets you choose to run either as a survivor or as one of the infected ($8/$10). Villisca Ax Murder House, Villisca Zombies! Run! If waddling around in a costume eating high-calorie treats doesn’t fit your lifestyle, try running with the undead. Zombie runs — costumed and uncostumed, competitive and purely recreational — are the latest twist on Halloween tradition. Council Bluffs The Running Dead 5K Dash and Bash Run for your life! October 5 Westfair Fairgrounds, Council Bluffs therunningdead5k.com 402-206-7848 $43 This 5K course will have survivors running, jumping, and crawling through obstacles while escaping packs of hungry zombies. Runners wear belts equipped with three flags they must protect until they reach the finish line. Those who lose all three flags will be considered “zombified” and not eligible for prizes at the end-of-race Zombie Bash. Des Moines Zombie Nation 5K A winning zombination October 12 Water Works Park, Des Moines $30/$35 run4funllc.com or facebook.com/Run4FunLLC Runners in waves of up to 500 will head for the finish line and a party with snacks, beverages, and a DJ. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines. The course is appropriate for runners and walkers of all abilities, and participants are encouraged to wear makeup and costumes. Registration closes October 4. Waterloo Zombie Infestation 5K – Surviving the Dead Fun Run Ready, set, survive! September 14 Heartland Farms, 5111 Osage Rd., Waterloo, IA 50703 heartlandfarmswaterloo.com 319-232-3779 $5–$20 Heartland Farms (also the site of Heart of Darkness, left) will be crawling with zombies during two events that will have the walking dead nipping at runners’ heels. Zombie Infestation (a competitive zombie run through the farm’s woodlands and corn maze) starts at 8 a.m.; top runners qualify to participate in subsequent regional zombie runs. In the afternoon flagged “survivors” will try to elude zombies and win entry into a prize drawing. Both events are for adults only. Reserve tickets online at enterthod.com. September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 17 HARVEST Join us for the 7th Annual Creek Fest at Brush Creek Winery! A Great Getaway for a Day August 31-September 2nd Saturday, Sunday & Monday: 12-6 pm. Grape stomp competition, music, wagon rides, venders in the vines, great food & fun! www.brushcreekwinery.com Explore Amish Country & Historic Downtown Discover Crafts, Quilts, Furniture, & Antiques Enjoy Fine Dining & Delectable Bakeries Quilt Block Walking Tour & Barn Quilt Drive 10 min from Casino & Award Winning Golf Anamosa Pumpkinfest & Ryan Norlin GIANT Pumpkin Weigh-Off Visit The Pumpkin Capital of Iowa! U-pick apples and pumpkins, hayrides, corn maze, animals, pedal tractors, corn pool, jumping pillow, bakery, farm meals, weekend festivals, and more! 32835 610th Ave Cambridge, IA 50046 515-383-4354 www.centergroveorchard.com Saturday, October 5th, 2013 Several events for the whole family, including a GIANT pumpkin weigh-off, huge parade and dozens of craft & food vendors. Travel back in time on our scenic back roads and get a sense of the rigorous days that comprise the Amish way of life. Tours take about 90 minutes. For more info on upcoming events & area attractions, For more info, please visit: www.anamosachamber.org/pumpkinfest Kalona Area Chamber 319-462-4879 319-656-2660 kalonachamber.com The Story of Iowa’s Wine Industry Comes to Life! vals esti F l l Fa s rd Fall Arts & Crafts Festival ~ Oct 5&6, 2013 Music in t he V ine ya Leaf Arts & Crafts Festival ~ Oct 12&13, 2013 Wine Trail Even ts Facebook and Twitter @ TaborWines 16TH ANNUAL NORTHEAST IOWA ARTISTS ’ • 51 ARTISTS at • 39 LOCATIONS I o wa To be held in Triangle Park Downtown McGregor, IA For more information: 563.873.2186 www.mcgreg-marq.org Friday, Sept. 27 9:00 am - 9:00 pm Original Arts & Crafts * Historic Town Live Music * Beautiful River Saturday, Sept. 28 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Stroll through historic buildings, quilt galleries & museums, and enjoy old world demonstrations, antiques, craft festivals, good music & great food! Iowa’s Best Kept Secret October 11, 12 & 13 715 D Ave, Kalona, IA 52247 319-656-3232 www.kalonaiowa.org 18 THE IOWAN | iowan.com Special Advertising Section STARTING A BACKYARD FARM? The 23rd Annual Guttenberg Germanfest! 40 Projects for Building Your Backyard Homestead Friday PM, Sept. 20 – equips you with clear step-by-step photos for building sheds, raised beds, arbors, and coops—all the key structures needed for a flourishing mini-farm. 192 pages, 400 photos. $16.95. Companion volume to the award-winning Backyard Homesteading. Hog Roast, National Polka Band, “Barefoot Becky & the Ivanhoe Dutchman!” Saturday, Sept 21 – Craft Fair, Food Vendors, Guttenberg German Band, Music by Lyle Beaver, Beer Tent, UNI Dancers, Carriage Rides, Wiener Dog Races, Wine/Beer Tasting, Contests, Inflatables & More! Available at Lowe's and major book retailers. Call 800-223-3130 to order. Creative Homeowner One International Blvd. Suite 400 Mahwah, NJ 07495 Saturday PM – Classic Rock Band, “Street Talk!” Opening band, “The Lovehandles!” Sunday AM – German Church Service at St. John’s For complete schedule and more information, visit www.germanfestinguttenberg.com NORMAN BORLAUG ORDER TODAY! HARVESTfest Join us for three days of family fun and entertainment! Sept 20, 21 & 22, 2013 Tours to Borlaug Boyhood Farm, Classic Car Show, Quilt Auction, 5K Run, Bean Bag Tourney, Flea Market, LIVE Music featuring The Blue Ringers and Much MUCH More!! ed United Bill Cotton is an ordain , (retired). A native Texan Methodist Minister in 1961 and has Iowa to family Bill moved his is a for many years. He served churches here and State University graduate of East Texas ern of Theology, at South the Perkins School He holds an Honorary Methodist University. ent, on College. In retirem Doctorate from Simps e of Studies for the Cours he teaches Biblical l of Theology, Schoo Paul Saint the Study at writes a weekly online Kansas City, MO and Human ers. Bill was the first MEMO for preach ary for the City of Rights Executive Secret 1970s, and has spent the in Iowa, s, Cedar Rapid of ng for justice on behalf much of his life worki minorities. women and oppressed books ® www.iowan.com Please visit our websites for a complete list of events & entertainment: www.crescochamber.com or www.howard-county.com or call: 563-547-3434 s most of his time These days he spend in farm near East Peru on a twenty-three acre ng addition to his teachi Madison County. In grows wood sculpture, and does Bill g, writin and berries. trees, plants, and aronia County A Madison Journal By Bill D. Cotton $19.95 A Madison County Journal is a compilation of reflections of the Author’s Seasons of Grace. by Bill Cotton “This writing grew out of a long journey. For everything there is a season and this is an attempt to discover the gift of grace that is always present.” books ® Special Advertising Section Order online at iowan.com and click on SHOP or call 877-899-9977 X211 September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 19 landmark Photos BY Carol Bodensteiner Something to Toot About The Clay County Fair’s Smoky Mountain Central Railroad has been wowing fairgoers since 1947 By Carol Bodensteiner Jim Bonnstetter isn’t a model railroader. At least he says he isn’t. Yet he’s spent every year since 1968 working on a model railroad that has become a centerpiece of the Clay County Fair in Spencer “I like to build things,” he says. And what he’s helped build over nearly five decades is the Smoky Mountain Central Railroad, a model railroad so big that the fair constructed The Depot specifically to house it. that the next year Sanders doubled its size — and its scenery: Six tons of plaster, mixed in buckets and troweled on by volunteers, created a mountain range and more. Sanders added to the model every year. Bonnstetter, a 34-year veteran of the Iowa Highway Patrol, was manning the Patrol’s booth at the fair in 1964 when he first saw the railroad. In 1968 Sanders engaged Bonnstetter to help. Now Bonnstetter carries on Sanders’ legacy. Small Beginnings Trouble-Free Departures The railroad began in 1947, when Ben Sanders, the owner of Spencer radio station KICD, was broadcasting from the fair. A week before the fair opened, Sanders suggested installing an HO gauge model railroad next to his booth. In six days, two carpenters built a 45-foot, two-track loop layout. The railroad was so popular Bonnstetter arrives at 7 a.m. every day during the nineday Clay County Fair. “Or before, if there is some problem that needs to be fixed,” he says with a hint of anticipation in his voice. “I learn by trial and error,” he adds, pointing to smoke rising from the chimney of a factory along the train’s route. “I use a mist maker — 20 THE IOWAN | iowan.com landmark A Look Underground For someone who likes to make things work, what’s under the exhibit is the most fun. In a tour of the basement, Bonnstetter points out the system of wires and motors for the ballroom. Other motors and switches run everything from miniature oil wells to tiny wind turbines. A series of lightbulbs illuminates all sections of the train, making it easy for Bonnstetter to see if they have been properly shut down at the end of the day. Every tool in the well-stocked workroom — where Bonnstetter spends hundreds of hours each year — has its designated space. Storage rooms are chock-full of what Bonnstetter calls “new old stock.” Bonnstetter explains that when Sanders bought an item for the railroad, he bought 10 or 20 at a time to make sure he’d be able to replace anything that wore out or broke. Labor of Love Opposite: Smoky Mountain Central Railroad pulls visitors into it’s miniature world. Above: Jim Bonnstettertalking to young visitors and at the controls. like florists use with cut flowers — to make the smoke. I started with fire, but that was too dangerous.” Scenic Bounty Thanks largely to Bonnstetter, the train today travels through an ever-growing array of scenic landscapes. More than 1,100 buildings and 11,000 figurines populate the display, including golfers on a 9-hole course and farmers on tractors working the fields. In another part of the exhibit, a hot air balloon takes off, floats over a mountain, and returns to the field from which it launched. And he plans to add more: the Field of Dreams, Mount Rushmore, a 1950s farm, a town in which firemen fight a fire in a burning building while a helicopter hovers, and a drive-in theater that shows actual footage of the Clay County Fair. Fortunately, Bonnsetter has a team of volunteers to help him keep the trains running. “I’ve worked on the train for four years,” says Tim Lyon, a Spirit Lake electrician. “I love running trains. They can derail if the track is dirty or there’s a bad coupling. Especially the first day of the fair, we see problems. Once we get it running, we keep our fingers crossed.” Dave Thompson of Colorado comes to Iowa every year to help run the train. “It’s a labor of love,” he says. “When a train derails, I have to be twinkle toes climbing over the exhibit to fix things.” Thompson, a retired Air Force fighter pilot, plans to add a formation of Thunderbird jets over the exhibit’s airstrip — if he can find the right-scale planes. At 83, Bonnstetter shows no signs of slowing down. After all, watching kids press their noses against the windows and talking to those who knock on his door is one of his favorite pastimes. “If you have a job you like,” he says, “you never work a day in your life.” Carol Bodensteiner is a Des Moines writer who enjoys listening to the sounds of passing trains. Watch it run! See the railroad in operation September 7-15, 2013. For more information: claycountyfair.com. September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 21 Figge Art MuseuM eXHiBitiON Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden Exploring, explaining and celebrating the world of plants Open Daily 9am–5pm Free for members and children under 3 909 Robert D. Ray Drive Des Moines, Iowa 50316 515.323.6290 dmbotanicalgarden.com 1934 A New Deal for Artists September 28, 2013–January 6, 2014 1934 is a special exhibition organized by the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum in celebration of the first federally-funded art program. The exhibition showcases a small selection of 54 works that provide a lasting impression of America during 1934. Sponsored by Douglass Crockwell, Paper Workers, 1934, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor Davenport, IA • 563.326.7804 www.figgeartmuseum.org 22 THE IOWAN | iowan.com 2013 North Central Artisan Studio Tour Friday, October 4th from 4:00 –8:00 p.m. Saturday, October 5th from 10:00—5:00 p.m. Sunday, October 6th from 1:00—4:00 p.m. www.facebook.com/NorthCentralIowaArtisans John Larson Sally Rasmussen Craig Kienast Sandra Quintus Rebecca Elias Richard Leet Peggy Cornick Bill Mateer Margie Kline Meagan Steinberg Chris White-Rozendaal Emily Kiewel Ann Bishop-McGregor While in North Iowa stop and see: Charles H. MacNider Art Museum 303 2nd Street SE—Mason City, Iowa www.macniderart.org 641-421-3666 2013 North Central Artisan Studio Tour Friday, October 4th from 4:00 –8:00 p.m. Saturday, October 5th from 10:00—5:00 p.m. Sunday, October 6th from 1:00—4:00 p.m. www.facebook.com/NorthCentralIowaArtisans John Larson Sally Rasmussen Craig Kienast Sandra Quintus Rebecca Elias Richard Leet Peggy Cornick Bill Mateer Margie Kline Meagan Steinberg Chris White-Rozendaal Emily Kiewel Ann Bishop-McGregor While in North Iowa stop and see: Charles H. MacNider Art Museum 303 2nd Street SE—Mason City, Iowa www.macniderart.org 641-421-3666 September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 2013 North Central Artisan Studio Tour 23 2013 North Central Artisan Studio Tour AND IN THE E IS EQUAL TO T There have been ma themselves to this m what we sow. If you majority of the time I think of the fam have them. I would that you take care o journey. I spend my and prepare them fo peace and happines It is not uncomm know how your insu this issue. Also “welln If you would hav are now? What wou taxed? How does th change your lifesty Life insurance is n than sponsor a bake gift — please call. We watch our pa our parents when th house and move int No planning is usua resistance which cau become divided rat Insurance can offer needs. It’s a free serv Your nest egg sh safe! They accrue ta principal and you ha return, after taxes o about 3%. If you can without the gamble you accept risk? Call us for a FREE insurance and estat Right Here in Mason City! Fifty-some years after Meredith Willson brought his idealized rendition of small-town Iowa to stage and screen, a truckload of his effects return to his hometown — his final and perhaps most significant gift to Mason City. story by Tim Ackarman and Dan Weeks “I attended an audition of Meredith Willson’s first musical,” wrote theater columnist Earl Wilson in 1957, “and I can assure you that the Mason City, Iowa, genius is going to do for Iowa what Rodgers and Hammerstein did for Oklahoma.” Well, Wilson was right about Willson. An American Classic The Music Man debuted on Broadway in 1957. The movie by the same name had its world premiere in Mason City in 1962. Together, they made the musical 24 THE IOWAN | iowan.com story of flimflam band-instrument-and-uniform salesman Professor Harold Hill, his redeeming love for Marian the librarian, and “River City,” Iowa, one of the most enduring works of Americana of all time. It is an even better story because Willson was a genuine piece of Americana himself (see “Who Was Meredith Willson?” on page 27), a small-town Iowa musical prodigy who went straight to the top — first as a New York musician, then as a West Coast composer, bandleader, radio music director, and household name. Opposite: When 90,000 people came to Mason City for the world premiere of Warner Brothers’ movie The Music Man, Willson returned to preside over the festivities. Now his estate has donated a truckload of personal effects to Mason City’s The Music Man Square, where many are on display. Bottom: Willson’s talent as a radio personality made him a household name decades before The Music Man became a smash hit. He was a regular character on the Burns and Allen radio show and was music director of the comedy variety program The Big Show among many other radio performances. is now nearly eclipsed by his best-known character, Professor Harold Hill. Willson died in 1984, and the generous, funny, sincere, public-spirited musician, composer, lyricist, bandleader, and radio and television personality, who liked nothing better than to sit down at a piano and entertain friends at a party — or to guest-direct a midwestern high school band as it belted out “76 Trombones” — is fading from our memory. The Music Man Comes Home Fortunately, a recent arrival in Mason City offers Iowans a great chance to get reacquainted. In October 2012 a 53-foot-long semi-truck load of Willsonalia pulled up in Mason City. It was a gift of his widow, And through it all ��� from touring with John Philip Sousa to playing flute for Arturo Toscanini in the New York Philharmonic to Los Angeles radio studios and Broadway debuts — he never really left his hometown. “Willson’s my name; Meredith Willson. I’m from Mason City, Iowa,” he said when he first appeared on George Burns and Gracie Allen’s famous radio show in the 1950s. It was a fact he constantly reminded his national (and, during World War II years, international) audiences, and it was key to his accessible, folksy style — and his tremendous appeal. He not only brought Mason City to the wider world, he brought the nation to visit his Mason City “cousins,” as he called them, in 1962. That year 90,000 people from New York to Hollywood attended The Music Man’s movie premiere in his hometown — and Willson led the 600-piece marching band and 160-unit parade. “He has been wonderful to us, and he has never forgotten where he came from,” said one Mason City resident during the film’s premiere. “I guess The Music Man proves that.” Fifty-some years later, though, it is perhaps Iowans who might enjoy a reintroduction to Meredith Willson — a multitalented creative genius whose reputation September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 25 Top: Theodore Geisel (better known as Dr. Suess) and Willson served in the Army Signal Corps together during World War II and remained lifelong friends. This illustration is a humorous tribute to the bandleader’s ability to combine corn and culture in his folksy, funny radio persona — and to Willson’s prolific output, which sometimes reached eight shows per day as music director of the Armed Forces Radio Network during World War II. Bottom: Hank Ketcham was also a huge Willson fan and proposed collaborating on a "Dennis the Menace" musical. He dedicated and inscribed the original copy of this nationally syndicated comic strip to Willson in 1979. 26 THE IOWAN | iowan.com the late Rosemary Willson, via her estate. (Earlier, she bequeathed $5 million to the town to help establish The Music Man Square, a museum, events center, and educational facility adjacent to Willson’s restored boyhood home. The Square opened in 2002.) “We knew it was coming; we just didn’t know when,” said David Vikturek, chief executive officer of the Mason City Foundation, as he and volunteers opened box after box, all packed carefully by a California finearts shipper. They found 14 boxes of awards alone. “I pulled out a little item and it was a Grammy Award,” said Mason City Foundation archive committee member Jerry Tieszen. Fellow volunteer Dick Attleson unpacked Willson’s Presidential Medal of Freedom, posthumously awarded in 1986. “I never ever thought I’d be able to see one, let alone pick one up,” he said. Photos, letters, and other documents feature Hollywood stars, world leaders, and other notables Willson counted as friends. Other finds include musical instruments (some likely dating to Willson’s childhood), books and drawings by Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, and original cartoons by Hank Ketcham, who envisioned a “Dennis the Menace” musical. “There was everything from a piccolo to his office desk,” said Karol Wallskog, another volunteer. “We were indeed overwhelmed,” added Barb Johnk, who in addition to chairing the archival committee “calls the meetings, bakes the cookies, and writes the grants” that help keep Music Man Square going. “Our eyes got big,” Vikturek said, “and we realized we had a huge job ahead of us.” Although thousands of items have been catalogued, Vikturek expects the work to continue for years. Long-term plans call for a searchable, online database of artifacts, but for now Vikturek and his staff field simple inquiries; scholars with extensive needs often visit. “One University of Chicago student working on her doctorate was here for three days,” Vikturek said. For the volunteers, most of whom are retired educators, it’s a chance to further get to know a man with whom they already feel personally connected. “That’s probably why we stay involved with this,” Wallskog explained. “We keep learning new things about him.” Who Was Meredith Willson? q The largest baby born in Iowa at the time, May 18, 1902: 14 pounds, 7 ounces. q A musical prodigy who learned to play woodwinds from a piano teacher who taught him via instructions from a pamphlet entitled “How to Play the Flute.” q A piccolo player in the Mason City High School Band who blasted a shrill note just as Mason City’s football team attempted a field goal in the closing seconds of a game with close rival Des Moines North High School, distracting the referee and causing him to award the point to Mason City — an event that Mason City fans referred to as “a piccolo assist.” q A piccolo player with the John Philip Sousa Band for four years who reputedly earned as much applause for his solo work as did the entire rest of the band for its performances. q A first-chair flutist in the New York Philharmonic under conductor and musical director Arturo Toscanini. q The composer of an estimated 400 pieces of music, including everything from Jell-O jingles to jazz standards to a film score for Charlie Chaplin to symphonies and Broadway musicals to the “Chicken Fat” song (“Go, you chicken fat, go!”) for the President’s Council on Physical Fitness. q The conductor of countless bands, orchestras, and other ensembles, including the NBC Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and the Armed Forces Radio Orchestra during World War II. q One of the first radio music directors to innovate the band-director-as-radio-persona, who bantered with the likes of George Burns and Gracie Allen, Groucho Marx, Ethel Merman, and dozens of others. q A would-be quiz show host who flubbed his audition by reading a contestant the answer instead of the question. q A man whose sharpest criticism from TV critic Harriet Van Horne was that he “still refers to Mason City, Iowa, at every possible opportunity.” q Posthumous recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1986. q ü All of the above. September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 27 The Critics Sound Off There were plenty who doubted that a musical based on life in small-town Iowa in 1912 would appeal to sophisticates. Willson himself had his doubts and sat near a theater entrance during the Broadway debut, ready to sprint for the door if the audience was hostile. But the show was a smash hit from the get-go. Audiences roared their approval; critics raved. Here’s a sampling from some original reviews: Meredith Willson “has translated the thump and razzledazzle of brass band lore into a warm and genial cartoon of American life . . . If Mark Twain could have collaborated with Vachel Lindsay [the American singing poet known as the Prairie Troubadour], they might have devised a rhythmic lark like The Music Man, which is as American as apple pie and Fourth of July oration . . . The Music Man is a marvelous show, rooted in wholesome and comic tradition.” — Brooks Atkinson, New York Times “Nothing like it has ever been seen on Broadway.” — Variety “The Music Man is for absolutely everybody.” — Walter Kerr, Herald Tribune The Music Man is the “only show on Broadway to which you can take a nun with no fear of embarrassment.” —columnist Walter Winchell “A rousing, oom-pa delight.” — Life “It deserves to run at least a decade” — Frank Aston, New York World-Telegram and Sun “A whopping hit. This salute by Meredith Willson to his native Iowa will make even Oklahoma! look to its laurels.” — John McClain, Journal-American “In a fat Broadway season whose successes deal so clinically with such subjects as marital frustration, Top: The Music Man original Broadway cast album (this one inscribed to a fan by Willson in June 1958) was #1 on the Billboard charts for 12 weeks — and stayed there for nearly 5 years. Middle: The world premiere of The Music Man movie was timed to coincide with the North Iowa Band Festival, an annual event that celebrated its 75th anniversary in Mason City in May 2013. alcoholism, dope addiction, juvenile delinquency and abortion, The Music Man is a monument to golden unpretentiousness and wholesome fun.” 28 — Time THE IOWAN | iowan.com Bottom: Willson was honored with a U.S. Postal Service commemorative stamp in 1999 as a part of the American Music series of Broadway Songwriters. Willson grabbed the drum major’s baton and personally led “the big parade” in Mason City for the movie premiere in 1962. The Music Man by the Numbers According to the musical’s leading number: 76 trombones led the big parade, with 110 cornets close at hand, there were more than 1,000 reeds springing up like weeds, there were 50 mounted cannon in the battery. The 1962 movie posted similar numbers: On Broadway: 66 performers in the original 1957 cast included 300,000 dollars per week were earned in ticket sales by the time it opened at Radio City Music Hall. Warner Brothers spent 4 members of SPEBSQSA, the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America. In total, the cast sang 250,000 dollars on the film’s Mason City premiere. The city hosted 18 lively tunes, down from 40 songs originally composed, leaving 22 songs unsung, including a real clunker, 90,000 guests for the event, which was timed to coincide with the North Iowa Band Festival. The city spent an additional 1 tune named “I’ve Already Started in to Try to Figure Out a Way to Go to Work to Try to Get You” (which was fortunately omitted). The result was a 35,000 dollars hosting the party, and townspeople opened their houses to Hollywood stars because the hotel rooms in the area could not accommodate everyone, including 2-act musical that took 3,500 band members from 6 years to write, included 121 bands from across the country, a 7 scenes and 27 musical bits, including reprises. The play went through 40 drafts before it was ready to present. It lasted for 1,375 performances, initially grossing 160-unit parade that included 40 floats and banners that read “No Trouble in River City Today” 70,000 dollars per week, of which the composer earned 104 members of the press, 5,000 dollars per week, making him a very wealthy man. The cast album was # 190 law enforcement personnel, who mostly attempted to direct traffic. Also present were Hollywood glitterati, including the film’s stars Robert Preston (as Harold Hill), Shirley Jones (as Marian the librarian), and a very young Ron Howard (who played the lisping Winthrop Paroo). Arthur Godfrey emceed the event. The film went on to win 1 on the Billboard charts for 12 weeks and stayed on the charts for 245 weeks (that’s nearly 5 years!), and the production earned 5 Tony Awards, beating out the more contemporary-themed West Side Story for Best Musical. 2 Broadway revivals, one in 1980 and one in 2000, ran for more than 700 performances. Those plus thousands of regional, community, and school theater productions have proved the musical’s timeless appeal. 1 Golden Globe Award for best musical film 1 Academy Award for best music 1 Writers Guild of America Award for best-written musical A1 rating from the motion picture review board, meaning it couldn’t possibly offend anyone. September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 29 Willson was a prolific composer: He authored more than 400 songs during the course of his career, including the hit songs “You and I,” “I See the Moon,” and “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas.” Meredith Willson Writes . . . Willson was not only a musician, composer, and music “[Wrestling with difficult matters of musical composition director. He was also a lyricist, serialized newspaper is] like trying to take off a pair of flypaper pajamas.” — from columnist, novelist, and autobiographer. He had plenty to say his second memoir, But He Doesn’t Know the Territory, about just about everything, and his nostalgic recollections of published in 1957, about being a novice to Broadway while life in Mason City were often gently humorous. Here are a few trying to write The Music Man quotes that give a flavor of the man: “Like any Iowa child, I loved to play circus and hated to practice the piano.” “I had my first taste of trouping with the local dance orchestra. We would play nearby towns like Lyle, Minnesota, and Britt and Belle Plaine. And I can still see our drummer, “Some Iowans who have seen The Music Man in rehearsal have called it an Iowan’s attempt to pay tribute to his home state. I’m glad they feel that way because that’s what I meant it to be.” — from “Thoughts While Strolling Around,” a syndicated column “Now don’t think that I don’t like Wisconsin; they make Ralph Kelso, coming around the corner of the depot in wonderful cheese . . . Or the university’s fight song, mind the middle of the night, being hit by a hunk of Minnesota you, but Mason City is in Iowa.” — on composing “Mason City, blizzard right smack in the bass drum which he had on his Go, Go, Go,” a new fight song for his hometown high school back. He sailed away like an iceboat, and we picked him that did not use “On, Wisconsin!” as its melody. He also wrote up two blocks down the street just in time to build a fire in a fight song for the University of Iowa, a pep song for Iowa the middle of the Milwaukee Railroad tracks, which was the State University, and the theme song for the Iowa — A Place accepted way to stop a train in a small town in those days.” to Grow campaign in the 1970s. “You know, the farther away I get from Mason City by “That mewling, babbling destroyer of craftsmanship, the calendar, the faster I seem to be coming back to the old that scaly corrupter of taste known as Rock ’n’ Roll.” — on values and things we used to take for granted back home — contemporary music. (In spite of these views, Willson’s widow, like not taking things for granted. Everybody back home took Rosemary, is reputed to have said that Willson made more for granted that certain things were just naturally worthwhile, money on royalties from the Beatles’ covering of his 'Till There like making jelly and tomato preserves in the summertime so Was You” on their Meet the Beatles! album in 1964 than he you’d have them for later on in the winter.” — from his first made from The Music Man itself.) memoir, And There I Stood with My Piccolo, published in 1948 30 THE IOWAN | iowan.com Ya Gotta Know the Territory Meredith Willson may have presented himself as a fresh-from- Willson writes: “I was a dude in a canoe, shooting rapids for the-heartland rube with his radio persona and in his folksy the first time, jagged rocks every place right under the boat, writings, but he was in fact a creative genius whose greatest but because I didn’t know they were there I just leaned back success was the result of a lifetime of dedication to his craft. and enjoyed it.” When the boys’ band suddenly bursts into The Music Man premiered when Willson was 55 and combines an expert performance at the end of The Music Man with no everything he’d ever learned from the best in the business rehearsal or instruction, it comes off as plausible — because into one spectacular show: Willson had lived that moment of glory decades before. Composition: Willson wrote, “Every part of a Sousa march Turning the everyday into comedy: While writing the is inspired — the bass line, the woodwind figures, the score for Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, Willson trombone countermelodies, even the peckhorn afterbeats.” wrote that Chaplin “kept us laughing through every lunch, Listen to “76 Trombones” again and you’ll hear every lesson day after day, and he never told a single joke — only true Willson learned from the Marchmaestro applied with a experiences or things he’d observed . . . he’s a real genius.” gilt flourish. He also remembered that Sousa sometimes Willson said about that experience, “Believe me, I learned doubled the tempo of waltzes, written in 3/4 time, to a 6/8 something about humor.” beat and performed them as marches. Though Willson’s audiences may not have realized that “76 Trombones” and Speak-songs: Willson was adamant that songs in a musical “Goodnight, My Someone” were essentially two versions of should be intrinsic to the story and that the lyrics and the same tune, linking the leading characters’ theme songs choreography should grow naturally out of the action. He created a subconscious harmony between them. also believed that rhythmically recited lines, practiced to the precision of a musical performance, were an art. He first Showmanship: From touring with Sousa’s band Willson used these “speak-songs” in scripting commercials, writing also learned the maxim of every performer: The Show Must out the parts like a musical score. His most famous, speak- Go On. “Even when the scenery fell down in Montgomery, song of course, is the introductory train scene to The Music Alabama,” wrote Willson, “[Sousa] never even glanced up Man. Its ability to conjure the rhythm of a steam train and from his music stand. The sousaphones were high enough the banter of ordinary folk is a work of pure genius. to keep the scenery from falling down completely and killing somebody, probably. So the basses kept playing — 'ump — ump — ump — ump' — while all the rest of us scrambled and hambled around under the canvas trying to push it back in place. We first rescued the horn section . . . and one by one we all got clear of the scenery and came straggling in so that by the time we hit the last measure we were all playing again. Mr. Sousa? He turned around and bowed to the terrified audience just as though the scenery was supposed to fall down at every performance.” Sight-reading: During his first concert with the New York Visit! For a complete reprise of Meredith Willson’s life and career, visit The Music Man Square in Mason City. It includes the restored Willson boyhood home, a recreation of The Music Man River City streetscape set, a Meredith Willson museum displaying artifacts and memorabilia from his life and career — many of them newly acquired from the Rosemary Willson estate — and a gift shop. The Music Man Square also features touring exhibits related to early-20th-century life and music; rents its facilities to groups for events; offers music instruction, rehearsal, and performance spaces; and loans musical instruments to school children with financial need. Philharmonic, Willson had to fill in at the last minute for a sick soloist in a rendition of Beethoven’s Leonore Overture. He basically sight-read what his flute teacher called “one of the most celebrated flute solos in the whole symphonic repertoire” to the applause not only of the orchestra’s audience but of the orchestra and its conductor as well. The Music Man Square 308 South Pennsylvania Ave. Mason City 50401 641-424-2852 themusicmansquare.org Open Tuesday through Sunday 1–5 p.m. September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 31 The Brenton Arboretum anticipates your need for quiet enjoyment — or a chamber concert at sunset or children’s birthday party — in the great outdoors. story by Deb Wiley 32 THE IOWAN | iowan.com photo by John holtorf September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 33 One Man’s Mission Look for a Prius parked along the side of the 2-mile gravel road that loops through the arboretum. You may see a guy nearby wearing a battered hat and old khakis wielding well-used Fiskars loppers on some suckering trees. That would be J.C. “Buz” Brenton, the great-great grandson of Dr. James Brenton, who settled on land just a stone’s throw away 160 years ago, after coming to Iowa from Indiana by covered wagon. Dr. Brenton, the first doctor in Iowa west of Des Moines, bought 80 acres in Dallas County at $1.25 per acre. Brenton didn’t start out to create an arboretum — a place for the enjoyment, collection, and study of trees. He just wanted to preserve a natural area, where he could plant some trees, spend time with one of his beloved dogs, and refresh his soul. His wife, Sue, encouraged it. “I started this for me,” Brenton says. “I wanted a place where I could come out and enjoy these things,” sweeping an arm as if to encompass all 2,100 trees and shrubs now planted on the property. 34 THE IOWAN | iowan.com “I don’t know of another arboretum like it.” — Anthony Tyznik, noted landscape architect Brenton, a modest man with an outsize life, was a major player in the former Brenton Bank empire, the $2 billion company that was sold to Wells Fargo in 2001. An avowed environmentalist and dedicated philanthropist, Brenton has raised funds for dozens of projects, including the Des Moines Civic Center and, most recently, the revamped Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. He’s responsible for the Heritage Carousel of Des Moines, located in Union Park, and the Brenton Skating Plaza in downtown Des Moines. At 79, he still swims daily (he swam the English Channel in 1989). Almost daily he heads out to his arboretum, which opened in 1997. Brenton himself planted the first several hundred trees, including his favorite, the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera). The Lay of the Land Brenton hired Anthony Tyznik, an Illinois landscape architect who designed the well-known Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, to draw a master plan. “I was impressed with the site,” Tyznik says. “It had all this topography.” Relatively flat fields surround the property, but “All of a sudden you come into this place with a change in elevation, a little stream, and various exposures that gave a lot of diversity and interesting changes in aesthetics,” Tyznik says. Working with the contours of the land, he created vistas both grand and small. photo by Deb Wiley Ease yourself into one of the strategically placed Adirondack chairs around this 140-acre undulation of tree-filled prairie and tune in the quiet. True, it’s not exactly silent. A redwing blackbird trills nearby. In the distance a tractor putters. Insects buzz in a bounty of prairie flowers. A susurrus of pine needles rises gently on the wind. You may even hear the delighted giggles of children clambering on the peeled skeleton of a giant felled elm tree at the O’Brien Nature Play Area. (Come on the right evening and you’ll hear a concert as well.) You are enjoying the Brenton Arboretum near Dallas Center — quite possibly the most beautiful place in Iowa of which you’ve never heard. The land has been in the same family since 1853 — barely seven years after Iowa achieved statehood. Although it is only about 20 minutes from the western edge of the Des Moines metro, the nonprofit arboretum has escaped wide notice. That’s partly by design and partly due to the nature of the man whose vision brought it to life. photo by Deb Wiley Strategically placed Adirondak chairs encourage visitors to pause and enjoy the views throughout the arboretum. The plan is unique: Trees are planted in family groupings in a prairie setting instead of in a woodland. “I don’t know of another arboretum like it,” Tyznik says. “The prairie actually flows among the plants.” And trees aren’t the only things growing — the arboretum is, too. More trees will be planted on an adjacent 20-acre piece of land donated to the arboretum, and the experience there will have an entirely different feel. “It’s in a glen. Walking along the stream, you’re lower and more protected, so it feels more intimate,” says Lynn Kuhn, the arboretum’s executive director. “I decided I should open it up to the public,” Brenton says. “I’m upset when there’s hardly anyone here. But then I remember it’s just for me.” If you build it... Brenton is kidding, of course: With an executive director, a general manager, an outreach coordinator, a board of directors, and an army of volunteers, the arboretum attracts a growing number of groups and individual visitors each year, hosting field trips, birthday parties, and family gatherings and offering dozens of events annually from courses to concerts. (See “Brenton Bucket List,” page 37, for an idea of what you can do there.) Still, it’s a big place. Even when other visitors are present, it’s hard not to feel like you have it mostly to yourself. Many of the trees in the arboretum, not even 20 years old, are still on the small side, and the arboretum still seems far out in the country. But September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 35 photo by John holtorf Arboretum founder J.C. “Buz” Brenton planted the first few hundred trees himself and can still be seen on the grounds pruning trees and giving tours. He started the arboretum as a personal nature retreat, then opened it to the public. there will come a day, Tyznik predicts, when city sprawl reaches right out to the Brenton Arboretum. “I wouldn’t be too concerned about people not knowing about it,” he says. “They will.” Some of the arboretum’s biggest fans are even younger than the trees. Elizabeth Schultz’s two sons, Andrew, 9, and Matthew, 6, love going to the arboretum to romp, roll downhill in the grasses, and explore. “My youngest son has fallen in love with it,” Schultz says. For their latest birthdays, she asked the boys where to host a party. Matthew replied, 36 THE IOWAN | iowan.com “Mommy, of course we’d go to my favorite place in the world, the Brenton Arboretum!” Many visitors may come to appreciate trees in the same way Buz Brenton does. He is writing a book about them. “As I proceeded to learn more about each species, they became acquaintances, friends,” Brenton writes. “There they were and I was often with them. Always silent but so alive! Often majestic and modest, but sometimes exuberant; always attached to place. I admired their character, their permanency.” Brenton Bucket List You’ll find a lot to do at the Brenton Arboretum. In addition to viewing the trees and the vistas, you can Create. Workshops vary; past classes have included dried-flower arranging, botanical block printing, watercolor painting, botanical drawing, journaling, and more. Learn. You can take classes in tree identification and the art of choosing plants for landscaping projects or join a Founder’s Walk led by Buz Brenton. photo by Deb Wiley Listen. Seasonal outdoor concerts under the pavilion range from tango (dance lessons included!) to chamber music. Play. At the O’Brien Nature Play Area, kids can climb on stumps and hay bales, walk through a tunnel of living plants, build bark structures, and check out the butterflies. It’s one of Iowa’s 16 Nature Explore Certified Classrooms designed to connect children with nature. Schedule a play date; the arboretum will supply tools and suggest nature activities. photo by John holtorf Rent the facilities. Arboretum members can rent the outdoor pavilion with a living green roof and the new Vista Room in the environmentally friendly administrative building; several seasonal children’s birthday party packages combine outdoor activities with use of the arboretum’s facilities. Volunteer. As a naturalist, librarian, event staff member, tour guide, host, research assistant, trail keeper, or gardener, you’ll enjoy the arboretum while sharing it with others. Walk trails. Four miles of trails include six paths that wind through tree and shrub collections, reconstructed prairies, ponds, and streams. The popular Leaf Walk trail has its own brochure with a key to identifying trees by photo by Deb Wiley their leaves (no cheating by looking at the tags at the base of each tree grouping!). Watch birds. About 184 species have been seen here; a brochure lets you check off the ones you glimpse during your visit. September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 37 Left: The arboretum is particularly attractive in the fall, when evergreens contrast with golden grasses and flamboyant hardwoods. Right: Children are among the arboretum’s greatest enthusiasts, whether they’re visiting as part of a school field trip, with their families, or for a class. Planting? Consider One of These Top Trees photo by ohn Hotlorf Andy Schmitz, director of horticulture and general manager of the Brenton Arboretum, loves trees. He hangs out with 2,100 of them every week at the arboretum and sometimes vacations by taking seed-hunting expeditions in other parts of the country to seek out species. Schmitz, a Waterloo native and Iowa State University graduate, recommends these five tall trees for our state: Research and Collections One of the purposes of arboreta is to collect and study trees. The arboretum has collected about 90 native species of Kentucky coffeetrees (Gymnocladus dioicus) and is gathering information on cold hardiness, growth habits and rates, and more. Eventually the arboretum expects to be certified as a nationally recognized collection by the North American Plant Collection Consortium through the American Public Gardens Association. Arboreta are also important to preserving trees. As insects such as the emerald ash borer and elm bark beetle decimate entire tree species, it’s important to know which trees survive and why. The work being done at the Brenton Arboretum may not be widely valued — yet. The arboretum also has the second-largest collection of disease-resistant elm trees — 38 species, hybrids, and cultivars — in the country. The largest is at the Morton Arboretum. 38 THE IOWAN | iowan.com Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus) Schmitz likes Kentucky coffeetrees for their ornamental seedpods and because they are relatively rare in Iowa. Mature trees reach 60 to 75 feet with a 40- to 50-foot spread. Tolerant of urban conditions, limestone soils, and dry or moist soils, Kentucky coffeetrees provide light shade, have no disease or insect issues, and lend a soft texture to the landscape in summer and a coarse texture in winter. Common bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) This deciduous conifer sports wonderful red-brown color in the fall, then drops its soft needles. The knobby “cypress knees” add an interesting look to a landscape. The bald cypress is native to the swamps of the southeastern United States but tolerates dry soils. It grows 50 to 70 feet tall and 30 to 40 feet wide. Bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis) A faster-growing hickory with sulfur-yellow leaf buds, the bitternut hickory has the best fall leaf color, a clean bright yellow. It grows 60 to 75 feet tall and 40 to 50 feet wide. photo by Deb Wiley Accolade elm (Ulmus japonica × wilsoniana ‘Morton’) Your elm-growing days are not over. New diseaseand insect-resistant strains of elms include the Accolade elm, developed at the Morton Arboretum in Illinois. It has the classic American elm vase shape. It is drought-tolerant and offers excellent disease and insect resistance. Bonuses: deep green glossy foliage and a fast growth rate. It grows 60 to 70 feet tall and 50 to 60 feet wide. When You Go The Brenton Arboretum 25141 260th Street Dallas Center 50063 515-992-4211 thebrentonarboretum.org is an extensive website with a calendar of classes and other activities. Open Tuesday through Sunday 9 a.m. to sunset. Closed Mondays. Free admission (including school field trips); fees for Chinkapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii) It’s clear Schmitz likes big trees, and the chinkapin oak is no exception. It reaches 50 to 60 feet tall with an even wider spread of 60 to 70 feet. It grows in limestone soils that are common in many parts of Iowa but prefers deep, rich bottomland soils. classes, workshops, facility rentals, and organized activities. Discounts for members. Directions: The arboretum is 2 miles southwest of Dallas Center. From I-35/80, take the Hickman Road/US Highway 6 exit. Go 9.5 miles west. Turn north on R Avenue/County Road 15 for 3 miles. Go west 1.5 miles on 260th Street (gravel). September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 39 40 THE IOWAN | iowan.com The Magic of Richard Kelley A lifelong Iowa artist enters a new, more playful phase story by Jim Duncan | photography by Paul Gates Richard Kelley has always lived to paint. Now that he’s retired from a night job in the Des Moines Register’s mailroom, his current work is as vibrant as always — and more joyous than ever. The Studio Kelley lives in an actual studio apartment. Tables hold tubes of paint, buckets of brushes, fixatives, and some 170 model cars. Easels hold canvases. Shelves swell with art books. “I spend a large part of my income on art materials. It costs me $200 to have a canvas stretched. Have you checked the price of turpentine lately?” he asks. “It adds up.” He listens to golden oldies and pop on KIOA, a Des Moines radio station. “I tried classical music,” he says, “but that absorbs my mind.” Kelley’s walls are covered with framed photos of his paintings and notes to himself. A prominent one reads: “Do not call the gallery.” Heading West, pastel on rag paper, 2013 September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 41 Left: Artist Richard Kelley wants you to look at his work and smile. Kelley himself, however — here with one of his strongly hued paintings reflected in his glasses — remains intensely focused. Opposite: Art collector Ellen Hubbell and Mary Ann’s Swimming Party The Galleries The Careers “I’ve seen that note,” says Kelley’s representative, TJ Moberg, whose Moberg Gallery is only a half-block from Kelley’s apartment. “First he wrote it, then he underlined it, then he highlighted it.” “I have to learn to stop bugging them,” Kelley admits. “I’m not their only client. It was easier for me when I was with Karolyn Sherwood Graham; her gallery was a long walk from here.” Graham, a novelist now and no longer in the gallery business, says of Kelley: “His life is entirely focused on his art. For years Richard worked nights in the mailroom at the Des Moines Register. He said it was the perfect job for him. As he would push the mail cart through the quiet hallways, he would occasionally find scraps of paper lying about with odd shapes on them: a line, an image, an object. Sometimes these would inspire him, and he’d stop delivering mail to sketch out a new idea. He kept a folder of these ideas — plus a handful of sketches on bar napkins — and he would bring them to my gallery to get my opinion.” Richard Kelley, born in Davenport in 1944, received a B.A. in art from the University of Iowa in 1967 and an M.F.A. from the University of Cincinnati in 1969. He taught art for two years at what is now called the University of New Orleans, then at Drake University and the Des Moines Art Center. But, like classical music does, academic politics “absorbed my thought process,” says Kelley. “Anything you say can get you in trouble.” So in 1976 he left academia for the Register mailroom. “Mail was all I had to worry about until I retired in 2007. Plus I had benefits. That all made it much easier to paint,” he says. And paint he has: Moberg is the sixth Des Moines gallery that has represented Kelley’s prolific output. In 1988 he won a national painting competition sponsored by the ARTquest School of Art and Design in Ormond Beach, Florida. He also won Arts Midwest, a National Endowment for the Arts competition, that same year. Over the decades, he’s built a significant following of collectors both regionally and nationally — many of whom mostly collect only world-renowned artists. 42 THE IOWAN | iowan.com The Collectors Kelley’s first major champion was Jim Demetrion, Director Emeritus of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., a part of the Smithsonian Institution and one of the most renowned museums of American contemporary art. He has followed the artist’s career since the early 1970s, when Demetrion was the director of the Des Moines Art Center. “Richard has gone from painting tumultuous subject matter — earthquakes and floods and such — to something far more whimsical and light in mood. Yet he still uses the same strong and powerful colors,” Demetrion says. Kelley agrees that he has lightened up. “My earlier work was rather apocalyptic. Now I am more lighthearted. I relate more to Aesop’s fables — animals having a good time. People have enough hypertension from the daily news. I want to help them relax and smile a bit.” Current Des Moines Art Center Director Jeff Fleming admires Kelley’s “all-consuming passion for painting, both physically and mentally. Since he retired, he can paint full-time, and his work now has a great joy of life and a humor to it.” Collector Tom Chase is attracted by Kelley’s sense of humor amidst chaos. “His work has a unique perspective, a playful laughing out loud at dark and brooding subjects,” he says. The Muse These days Kelley’s oils and pastels are distinguished by surreal color schemes and subjects: heavy reds, blues, and yellows; wild animals; urban landscapes; cars; and a muse named Mary Ann. “She’s a pure fantasy — a reckless, daring woman. She stops trains, crosses the Delaware like George Washington, has naked garden parties on New York rooftops, and leads animals out of town like a Pied Piper,” Kelley says. Collector Ellen Hubbell says Mary Ann inspires her. “I lived through a transitional period in feminist history, and she appeals to me. In one party painting Mary Ann and her friends seem so liberated, swimming nude as men and even animals gawk. In another she leads an ark full of animals out of town. She’s always confident being a center of attention. Because she’s fea- tureless, I think she honors every woman. That’s rare in art history,” Hubbell says. The Palette Fleming finds Kelley’s combination of harsh blues and reds emotionally intense and that the colors add to the intuitive, subjective aspects of the artist’s work. “It’s somewhat surreal and mysterious,” he says. Kelley agrees. “I want to create a sense of energy, intensity, or vigor. I want the movement of the colors and forms to be energetic and continuous, like life itself. I find myself moving toward an art that is less abstract, that refers to concrete subjects. Most of all, I want to create a sense of magic, the sense that life is unpredictable, that anything can happen.” In Kelley’s paintings, it not only can happen — it does. The Exhibit An exhibition of Richard Kelley’s latest pastels will be held at Moberg Gallery, 2921 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines, December 6, 2013–February 1, 2014. Tuesday–Friday 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.–4 p.m. For more information: moberggallery.com; 515-279-9191. September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 43 Hunting the King of Nuts Come along on a fall ramble to harvest one of Iowa’s rarest, sweetest delicacies: shellbark hickory nuts. photo-essay by Mark Tade For millennia people have sought shellbark hickory nuts for their full, sweet taste — the reason they’re also known as king nut hickory nuts. Twice the size and much tastier than the more common shagbark hickory nuts, shellbarks are sought as passionately as morel mushrooms but are much less well-known. The nuts’ obscurity is relatively recent. “The fruit is in great estimation with the present generation of Indians,” wrote American naturalist William Bartram in 1792. Even just a couple generations ago gathering them was common. Toasted hickory nut cookies like those Grandma Tade made from nuts gathered near her Henry County home are the most delicious I’ve ever eaten (see recipe, page 49). First, though, you need to forage. Shellbarks are now relatively rare, and the nuts are virtually unavailable commercially. For Iowa hickory nut lovers, the hunt is part of the fun. 44 THE IOWAN | iowan.com September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 45 Last fall I went nutting with some friends in a river bottom riven with meandering streams and sprinkled with marshes, potholes, and sloughs such as this one. I imagine it is as wild as it was when the Sac and Fox (Meskwaki) tribes lived here hundreds of years ago. (To find your own hickory nut hunting ground, see the shellbark hickory range map on page 49.) Shellbark nuts, like walnuts, have a thick husk, a hard shell, and edible meat. If the husks are green and tightly formed, theyâ€™ll loosen and come off more easily when the nuts are allowed to dry for a week or so after harvesting. Youâ€™ll need to remove the loosened husk by hand before attacking the shell. Few nutcrackers are up to the task of opening a shellbark hickory nut, so most foragers crack them with a few strong blows of a hefty hammer (put the nuts on a hard surface such as a driveway, sidewalk, or concrete step first), then pick out the meats. 46 THE IOWAN | iowan.com We look for mature trees (shellbarks donâ€™t produce nuts until theyâ€™re 40 years old or so) with shaggy bark and pointed leaves in groupings of seven. (Hickory trees with five-leaf groupings are shagbarks, which yield smaller, less-sweet, but still very edible nuts.) Finding a huge tree such as this one is akin to hitting the jackpot during a good year. September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 47 Nut foragers divide into early-fall and late-fall camps. Early-fall hunters say they have a better chance of getting to the nuts before other foragers do; foxes, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks — even many birds — love to eat the nuts as much as we do. Late-fall foragers, on the other hand, say it’s less work to harvest the nuts after they’ve dried out a bit and the thick outer husks have begun to loosen or even fall off. Hickories produce large quantities of nuts every other year. This was an off year, so our harvest was small — about five pounds per person. Still, that was enough to fill up a five-gallon bucket — and yield many batches of Toasted Hickory Nut Butter Cookies. 48 THE IOWAN | iowan.com Toasted Hickory Nut Butter Cookies 1 cup king nuts (shellbark hickory nuts) ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter ¾ cup organic brown sugar 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon salt 2 cups brown rice flour Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place hickory nuts on sheet and toast for about 10 minutes. Let cool; chop into small chunks. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. In an electric mixer with a paddle attachment blend butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add brown rice flour. Mix until dough comes together. Stir in toasted nut chunks with a wooden spoon. Form dough into a ball, wrap dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove dough ball from refrigerator; cut dough ball in half with a pastry cutter. Place half of the ball in refrigerator. Roll out the other half on a floured surface until fairly thin. Cut with a cookie cutter; place pieces 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining half. Bake for approximately 13 minutes (add 2 minutes if you prefer to caramelize the butter for a nuttier flavor). You can find shellbark hickories in flood plains along the Mississippi River and its tributaries in southeast Iowa, and also in south central Iowa. The trees are less common than in the past because many bottomlands have been cleared for farming. The trees prefer swampy areas and tolerate flooding well, so many of them grow in areas that are too full of sloughs, potholes, and meandering streams to be farmed. Always ask permission from property owners before foraging on private land. LYON OSCEOLA DICKINSON EMMET SIOUX O'BRIEN CLAY PALO ALTO WINNEBAGO KOSSUTH WORTH MITCHELL HOWARD FLOYD CHICKASAW WINNESHIEK ALLAMAKEE HANCOCK CERRO GORDO FAYETTE PLYMOUTH CHEROKEE BUENA VISTA POCAHONTAS HUMBOLDT WRIGHT FRANKLIN BUTLER HARDIN GRUNDY SAC HAMILTON CALHOUN BREMER BLACK HAWK WEBSTER IDA WOODBURY CRAWFORD CARROLL GREENE BOONE STORY BUCHANAN BENTON TAMA MONONA CLAYTON DELAWARE DUBUQUE JONES LINN JACKSON MARSHALL CLINTON CEDAR HARRISON SHELBY AUDUBON GUTHRIE DALLAS JASPER POLK POWESHIEK IOWA JOHNSON SCOTT MUSCATINE POTTAWATTAMIE ADAIR CASS MADISON WARREN MARION MAHASKA KEOKUK WASHINGTON LOUISA MILLS FREMONT MONTGOMERY ADAMS PAGE TAYLOR UNION CLARKE LUCAS MONROE RINGGOLD DECATUR WAYNE APPANOOSE WAPELLO JEFFERSON DAVIS VAN BUREN HENRY DES MOINES LEE September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 49 Winterset www.madisoncounty.com Enriching the Community for Over 50 Years Photo Courtesy of Maggie Ripperger Food ¶ Crafts ¶ Entertainment Bridge Tours ¶ Passport to the Past 44th Annual Food ¶ Crafts ¶ Entertainment Food ¶ Crafts ¶ Entertainment Madison County www.madisoncounty.com v (800) 298-6119 Bridge ToursCovered ¶ Passport to the Past Bridge Tours ¶ Passport to the Past Bridge Festival www.madisoncounty.com v (800)12-13, 298-6119 www.madisoncounty.com v (800) 298-6119 October 2013 2 Blocks South of Square KIDS CRAFTS • SPIN ART • ART CAFE Open 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (during the Covered Bridge Festival) WWW.WINTERSETARTCENTER.ORG 224 South John Wayne Dr. • Winterset, IA 50273 (515) 975-5444 Food Crafts Entertainment Bridge Tours parade car show music quilt show courthouse tours And much more! www.madisoncounty.com 800-298-6119 Food ¶ Crafts ¶ Entertainment Food ¶ Crafts ¶ Entertainment BRIDAL ENGAGEMENT Bridge Tours ¶ Passport to the Past Bridge Tours ¶ PassportDIAMONDS to the Past ■ ANNIVERSARY ■ ■ COLORED STONES www.madisoncounty.com v (800) 298-6119 www.madisoncounty.com v (800) 298-6119 See it for yourself! 10am–4:30pm daily 216 S. 2nd Street, Winterset TOLL-FREE (877) 462-1044 www.johnwaynebirthplace.org bshannondesigns.com 51 e. jefferson / winterset 515-462-6749 Food ¶ Crafts ¶ Entertainment Bridge Tours ¶ Passport to the Past b b. shannon designs } Festival hours: Sat-Sun 9-6 Regular hours: Tues-Sat 10-6 Best selection of Iowa wines in town, antiques, Midwest artistry, miniature gardens, classes and wine tastings www.madisoncounty.com v (800) 298-6119Madison County Historical Complex Food ¶ Crafts ¶ Entertainment Food Iowa ¶ Crafts ¶ Entertainment Located in the old Madison County Jail 815 S. 2nd Ave., Winterset, firstname.lastname@example.org 220 N 1st Avenue Bridge Tours ¶ Passport to the Past Bridge Tours ¶ Passport to the Past Food ¶ Crafts ¶ Entertainment www.historyonthehill.com 515-344-4084 www.madisoncounty.com v (800) 298-6119 515-462-2134 www.madisoncounty.com v (800) 298-6119 applehurst.com Bridge Tours ¶ Passport to the Past Mon-Sat 11am-4 pm; Sun 1 pm-5pm www.madisoncounty.com v (800) 298-6119 50 THE IOWAN | iowan.com Special Advertising Section TO ELK HORN, IOWA'S Authentic 1848 DANISH WINDMILL Memorable —36th Annual— NATIONAL MOMENTS HAPPEN HERE Farm Toy Show Experience the Art of Hospitality NEW to the Mill Grounds900 A.D. VikingHjem in Mason City, Iowa Visit this 60-foot windmill built in Denmark in 1848, dismantled & shipped to Elk Horn, Iowa in 1976 OPEN DAILY Visit our Danish Import Shop Danish Windmill • Elk Horn, Iowa I-80 to exit 54, go north 6 miles Inspiring Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, “The Music Man”, Historical Village, lots of shopping, dining, festivals galore and much, much more! held at Beckman High School, the National Farm Toy Museum and the Commercial Club Park in Dyersville, Iowa 800.423.5724 www.danishwindmill.com November 1, 2 & 3, 2013 VisitMasonCityIowa.com Sponsored by Toy Farmer LTD. For more information call: 1-800-533-8293 or visit our web site: www.toyfarmer.com Proudly in printed IOWA Your magazine for Antique to Modern Collectibles • Tips from the Experts • Latest Auction Results • Detailed Show Calendar • Insights to Passionate Collecting SAVE 53%! SUBSCRIBE NOW www.treasuresmagazine.com! Enter Discount Code TRIA1 Or call 877-899-9977 ext. 204 September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 51 discover discover discover discover discover discover discover discover Carnegie HistoriCal MuseuM an iowa Century Museum Amana Heritage Museum Exhibits in three 19th century communal buildings tell the story of the Amana Colonies National Historic Landmark. Introductory video. Museum Store. 319-622-3567 www.amanaheritage.org The Iowan July/August 2013 CLIENT: Amana Heritage Museum SECTION: Museums PROOF #: 1 DATE: 5-23-2013 Iowa Museum Association NEW: Union Cavalryman, James Hopwood Nesmith’s 1863 field diary. A transcription is accompanied by historic maps, his sword, rifle & other personal effects. Hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 1:00–4:00, and the first Friday of Art Walk 6:00–9:00. 112 s. Court street, Fairfield, ia 52556 641.472.6343 email@example.com www.FairfieldMuseum.com The Iowan May/June 2013 Client: Carnegie Historical Museum Section: IMA Treasures Date: 4-2-2013 Proof #: 3 Special Advertising Section iscover discover discover discover discover discover discover discover GERMAN AMERICAN HERITAGE CENTER Exhibits, Facility Rentals, Programs, Education, Events, Classes, Gift Shop Group Tours Welcome! 712 W. 2nd Davenport, IA gahc.org • 563.322.8844 Granger House Museum Marion’s Granger House, its furnishings & the story of its residents provide a snapshot of the Victorian lifestyle experienced by many middle-class families in Iowa & the Midwest during the 1880s. Open for tours: Thurs–Sun, 1-4:00 pm 970 10th Street • Marion, IA • 319.377.6672 marionmuseums.org • now on facebook, too! Louisa County Historical Society Cherish Yesterday ~ Dream of Tomorrow ~ Live Today! at the Join us for our fall exhibits and events! Farmall-Land-USA Museum Fall Festival: Sept. 21, 2013 9am–2pm Guided tours through the museum, church, and school. Live demonstrations featuring: Apple Cider Press, Butter Making, Corn Shelling, Quilting, and Stone Engraving Vendors—antiques, crafts, jewelry, photography, flowers, lunch available! Farmall-Land-USA is a 26,500 square foot museum which houses the personal lifetime collection of Jerry Mez— an incredible display of more than 150 IH full-size tractors, pedal tractors, toy tractors, artist's prints, and memorabilia. Civil War Program: Oct. 20, 2013 1pm–4pm Relive the tragic story on the six Littleton brothers of Louisa County. Civil War style show (Men & Women) Lovely clothes and ball room gowns. Antique Civil War quilts—many will be on display and a story to go with them. Excellent! A “Man in Black” will be presented. Limited seating available call now to reserve! 319-728-8818. ***New to the museum within the last month: 1809 Melodian and an 1892 Quilt made by Columbus City ladies Louisa County Historical Society 609 Hwy 61 Wapello, IA 52653 319-527-5247 www.louisacountyhistory.com Handicapped accessible bus tours welcome by appointment. in Avoca, IA The museum is well-lit, climate-controlled, and handicap accessible. Special exhibit—On Loan for 2013 The Garrett Twin Drive Tractor! Manufactured & patented around 1956, and weighing in at a massive 15,380 pounds. A must see! Hours: Tues-Sat: 9 am–5 pm Sun: 12–5 pm Closed Mondays To arrange a group tour, call 402-490-1574 or 712-343-6354 Please visit our website at: www.farmall-land-usa.com Come live and play as a lumberjack while being swept away by the American lumber saga at The Sawmill Museum. Treasure the past. Imagine the future. Experience history through our innovative and educational exhibits. 408 Main Street La Porte City, IA 50651 Hours (May-Nov.): Tuesday & Thursday 10–4 pm Saturday 10–2 pm 319.342.3619 www.lpcmuseum.com From Lumber Camp to Lumber Yard— For Fall of 2013, come see Bill Michael’s model of a vintage early 1900’s sawmill and lumber yard. Fun for the whole family! The Sawmill Museum An American Lumber Experience 2231 Grant Street • Clinton, IA 52732 563-242-0343 www.thesawmillmuseum.org Join us for the 8th Annual Creepy Campus Crawl Muscatine Art Center The Musser Museum‘s rooms host collections of paintings, sculpture, and Oriental carpets. The Stanley Gallery hosts national, traveling art exhibitions. 1314 Mulberry Avenue Muscatine, IA 52761 563.263.8282 www.muscatineartcenter.org Find us on Facebook and Pinterest The Iowan May/June 2013 Client: Muscatine Art Center Special Advertising Section Section: IMA Treasures Date: 3-22-2013 Proof #: 1 Adventures Through Time & Space October 25, 2013 • 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, 319-335-0606 or visit us at www.uiowa.edu/mnh or www.uiowa.edu/oldcap. www.IowaMuseums.org Visit the Coming Soon: George Curtis Mansion Linda Betsinger McCann’s Other times by appointment $6 Donation 563-249-5861 The Muscatine History and Industry Center We proudly tell the town’s story in becoming the Pearl Button Capital of the World and continuing today in the 21st Century as a thriving manufacturing and entrepreneurial center led by many including C. Maxwell Stanley, Roy J. Carver and Stanley M. Howe. 117 W. 2nd Street, Muscatine, IA 52761 563.263.1052 www.muscatinehistory.org The Iowan JULY/AUGUST 2013 Client: Muscatine History & Industry Center Section: IMA Treasures "To Enrich the Knowledge Date: 5-8-2013 and Appreciation of Innovation and Proof #: FINAL Publication Sept/Oct 2013 CLIENT: SECTION: PROOF #: 1 DATE: 07-11-2013 models . . . models . . . models Circuses • Toys • Tractors Trains • Road Builders • Horses & something new every time! 7 North Water Avenue New Hampton, IA 50659 641.394.2354 www.carnegieculturalcenter.org The Iowan September/October 2013 Client: Carnegie Cultural Center Section: IMA Treasures Date: 7-2-2013 Proof #: 1 A N N ··· AvAilAble now: =(3 3(,+@ 96 ............ ............ ...... $19.99 books ® Open Daily 9-5 • i-90 exit 14 (605) 642-West (9378) see OuR viRtual tOuR at WWW.WesteRnheRitaGeCenteR.COm The Iowan JULY/AUGUST 2013 CLIENT: High Plains WHC SECTION: HERITAGE TOURISM $??.99 R ··· L INDA B ETSI NGER M C C ANN ··· books ® lO S T awk aC k H blC OUNTY Vani shed ∙∙∙ l i n da y Ceda r Valle Town s of the R Bet e r s i n g mccan n ∙∙∙ n • fuRnisheD lOG Cabin anD RuRal sChOOlhOuse • live lOnGhORn Cattle • bOOk stORe & Gift shOp • live COWbOy musiC anD pOetRy )9, 4, * 6 < 5 ;9 @ Vanish ed Towns of the Cedar Valley mccan to run d as likely County seeme evidence Black Hawk were to find n s to Iowa’s beaver as they the huma n 1850, visitor buffalo or miles. While of deer, elk, have 567 square habitation across traces out over roots of that lacking settlers spread then, the of the 135 withered away, y grown since g up and their has steadil have sprun maybe just (or population s Towns communitie ng but fixed. McCann’s been anythi of neighboring life in Linda resources brought to others and ur places while of the the glamo memories, railroad). Some there. nt in fond access to the to learn was barely dorma be shocked only lain ers might histor y have even old-tim a landscape represent 3 6 :; $19.99 y , Foot Fordty. hawk coun ey turk glory to lack ing to oF B towns r the lost From Bless discove McCann R COuNTy Cheney, you realize w, County, Burk? Did Rapids in of Rust, Glasgo Cass Junction or ly to Cedar about Do the names Falls, you? How g from Waver loo, Cedar anything to railway runnin ry? The Water impacted many an electric ieth Centu and there was ctor on of the Twent for over fifty years ed recall the condu the early part rs rode it Railway operat people can & Northern existence. Even now, College. Farme d by the its ‘trolley’ to loo shippe lives during talk about riding the Water in es or of those Cedar ce and factori ‘their’ car, memories sell their produthe histor y and the to town to Read Road. rban. Cedar Valley ts who rode the interu Valley residen I • COWbOys, RanCh life, histORy Of RODeO • ameRiCan inDian CultuRe anD aRtifaCts • GOlD mininG, fORestRy anD bentOnite • authentiC antique WaGOns anD faRm implements *,+(9 ............ .... Most Bremer County residents could Bremer. Many have heard of Irma, find the villages of Horton or a few residents Knittel, Artesian could or Maxfield. Only Potter Siding, Klinger,locate the sites known for their creameries; or Wapsi. Landscap N ··· Smith Grove are e names such asR M such C CasA N known to long-time Section Run, Fort residentsT S I N G E Big Woods or D A B E , but what about Quarter John,··· N I or Hazlett’s L of Key, Pony, Roxie Ford? or Syracuse? Ninety-fo Do you know the hamlets explored in this ur locations and book. There were names are 41 no longer exist. How many names post offices in Bremer County that do you know? CounT The Iowan May/June 2013 Client: Figge Art Museum Section: IMA Treasures Date: 3-26-2013 Proof #: 2 ;/, Can you visuali ze Bremer County with ninety named loCati ons than it more has in 2012? appeared in that is how it the late 1800’ s and early 1900’s. , al logo promoTion ame, or y. iT was a niCkn ern railwa Valley road falls, and norTh oo and expanded The Cedar , Cedar aTerl waTerloo urban begun in w iVer Valley. for The inTer edar r eleCTriC of The C was an ... . . amounT . . . . . large . a r ........ To CoVe ......... ......... Lamb mean ......... Shaker, or LOST BReMeR Put a little art in your life and visit today. The Figge is known for art exhibitions, education and some of the Midwest’s finest collections. 225 West 2nd Street Davenport, IA 52801 563.326.7804 www.FiggeArtMuseum.org Iowa Museum Association Iowa September/October 2013 CLIENT: SECTION: IMA Museums PROOF #: 3 C The Figge Art Museum H aW k 405 East Threshers Road Mount Pleasant, IA 52641 319-385-9432 www.thetheatremuseum.com email@example.com ETSINGER How about Lime Kiln or Strawtown? There were 94 named locations in Cedar County that won’t be found on most maps today. Many people realize Rochester was the first county seat and that John Brown trained men around Springdale, but do you know Sojourner Truth spoke in the area or that Tipton Junction was planned to be located on the interurban? Linda McCann has researched Cedar County’s Lost Towns and details the history, location and other information in her newest book. If you have any connection to Cedar County you will want to read this book and share it with the young people in your life. L aC k LoST B Proudly preserving the history of tent theatre and opera houses of the heartland. INDA McCann Theatre Museum of Repertoire Americana and Research Library ··· RoaD We do not charge an admission fee, your financial gift to us will assist in the future development of exhibits. R L B M C or Side Hill? Do you know Apollo LEy CEDaR VaL Creativity in the Field of Transportation" Hours: Mon - Fri 9 - 1:30 Saturday 10 - 2 Sunday 1 - 3 Tour groups are welcome, please call 641-236-9860 to schedule. www.iowatransportationmuseum.org COUNTY Vanished Towns of the Cedar Valley R Wednesdays 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. Memorial Day to Labor Day CED AR R Open for Tours LOST R 420 5th Avenue South Clinton, Iowa Laura Ingalls Wilder Park & Museum Experience Laura Ingalls Wilder’s childhood home of 1876, the Master’s Hotel. Guided tours offered with admission charged. The visitor’s center and gift shop are housed in an historic bank building, and carries a large supply of books by Laura and other authors. 3603 236th Ave Burr Oak, IA 52101 563-735-5916 www.lauraingallswilder.us $19.99 books ® www.iowan.com Nobody works harder (or smarter) to manage your risk. “Our people make the difference” Excellent Service! Competitive Costs! Insurance Agents & Brokers 300 Walnut Street • Suite 200 Des Moines, Iowa 50309-2262 800-767-1724 www.reynolds-reynolds.com in focus the picture of motherhood 56 THE IOWAN | iowan.com in focus I Am Mom Enough This photograph holds a special place in my heart for a few reasons. The expectant mother in this piece is my cousin. The location is my grandparents’ farm in Marion County, where she and I spent countless hours together as children. Finally, I was inspired to take this photograph after recently becoming a mother myself. I’d been bombarded with images from art in the media portraying mothers as inadequate or in competition with one another. I wanted to create an image showing a naturally confident, beautiful mother — because we are all “Mom Enough.” — Megan Magnum, Des Moines September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 57 in focus 58 THE IOWAN | iowan.com in focus CRYSTALIZE White This photo is of my favorite subject: my daughter. It’s fun to try to capture the curiosity that practically seeps from her in everything she does. What draws me to this photo is the delicacy of the crystals tangled in her lashes. – Kellee Oxley, Tipton September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 59 in focus 60 THE IOWAN | iowan.com in focus West Wing Sky High You can see some spectacular sunsets from airplanes, but theyâ€™re not easy to photograph due to reflections on the inside of the airplane windows. This amazing contrasty sky with beautifully saturated color inspired me to try. I put my jacket over my head and camera and my camera lens flat against the window to eliminate reflections, then underexposed slightly to capture the rich colors. â€“ Collette Storkel, Urbandale September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 61 SEPT 26-28 It’s Simple. Just be Here. Lucas Oil Knoxville Championship Cup Series FINALS plus 305’s Come Touch the Heart of America m Iowa Gold Star EXPERIENCE Military Museum a working dairy farm RIDE MILK the trolley Honoring Iowans’ Military Service to Our Country PET a Holstein our kangaroos CHURN FEED ENJOY your own butter a calf OUR MISSION: To honor and depict the military experience of Iowa Citizens in all wars, homeland defense, and Iowa service. fine ice cream 7105 NW 70th Avenue Johnston, IA 50131 515-252-4531 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Call for tours: (319) 939-2187 Hudson, Iowa • www.hansendairy.com www.iowanationalguard.com/Museum Stop and pick the flowers! Miss Effie's Country Flowers & Garden Stuff A unique “U-Pick” flower farm. IOWA’S ORIGINAL BARN QUILT PROJECT BARN QUILTS OF GRUNDY COUNTY For more information, please contact: 705 F Ave/ PO Box 85 Grundy Center, IA 50638 319-825-3606 www.grundycountyia.com One full acre of heirloom flowers and herbs. Come enjoy our Grant Wood landscape and cut the perfect blossoms for your bouquet! 27387 130th Ave Donahue IA 52746 563-282-4338 Hours: Th-F 9-5 pm, Sat-9-3pm, Sun-12-3pm www.misseffiesflowers.com Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge Iowan Sept/Oct 2013 CLIENT: SECTION: PROOF #: 1 TheaterClassroomsExhibit Area DATE: 07-09-2013 TeacherWorkshopsWildlifeObservationBirding BikingHikingHuntingPrairie Point Bookstore The Visitor Center facilities include exhibit space, theater, classrooms, and a bookstore! In addition, the public is welcome to drive through an approximately 700 acre enclosure in hopes of seeing bison or elk. The Visitor Center is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Sundays from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge 9981 Pacific Street | Prairie City, Iowa 50228-0399 (515) 994-3400 | www.fws.gov/refuge/Neal_Smith/ silosandsmokestacks.org Adventure programs for ALL ages! Park open everyday dawn to dusk 319-277-2187 hartmanreserve.org blackhawkcountyparks.com escapades Bankrolled to Splurge Digging for treasure at the Guthrie County Fair story by Carroll McKibbin | illustration by Dave Toht The Ringling Brothers Circus claimed it was “The Greatest Show on Earth.” But I knew better. That distinction belonged to the Guthrie County Fair. The most wondrous event of my year returned to the fairgrounds along the banks of the South Raccoon River in Guthrie Center each Labor Day weekend. No place produced so much excitement in so few days. And in 1947 my mother gave me permission to go solo for the first time. With a pocketful of dimes earned by running errands for my grandmothers, I was bankrolled to splurge on five-cent goodies and ten-cent rides. “Don’t eat a lot of junk,” said my mother knowingly, “and don’t spend all your money in one place.” I skipped across the courthouse lawn, through Guthrie Center’s three-block business district, and past Mitchell Park. Merry-go-round melodies drew me to the fairgrounds entrance, and there I entered a fairyland. A Ferris wheel lifted riders above treetops. Wooden horses galloped on the merry-go-round. And the metal arms of a machine in a glass case tugged and pulled gleaming white strands of taffy, a once-a-year treat and the best nickel ever spent. But September/October 2013 | THE IOWAN 63 escapades first I headed to the midway to scope out my other spending options. I strolled past the freak show, where a greenskinned Alligator Lady lived in a tank of water. Farther along, a root beer stand held glittering mugs waiting to be filled with the foaming contents of a large barrel. Nearby, a cotton candy machine spun fragrant, pink webs. I pressed on, resisting enticement until I reached the digger machines at the end of the midway. These ringed the edges of a flatbed trailer; an operator stood in the middle. I had tried to spy on the action at the digger machines the year before, but my mother had purposefully whisked me along. Now I saw that each wooden case had a window on top and a crank below. Inside, a miniature crane with a clamshell bucket was poised to snatch prizes from a bed of yellow corn kernels: shiny gold watches, rings, and bracelets, plus a pile of glittering dimes in a tray. “Wanna play, sonny?” asked the operator enticingly. “It’s only a tenth of a dollar, my boy. One thin dime.” I reached into my pocket and clutched my hoard. A dime could buy a stick of taffy AND a root beer. This was a big decision. “Are the watches real?” I asked. “Yes, sir, little man. Seventeen-jewel Bulovas, just like you’ll find in a jewelry store.” Watches cost a lot — more than I could earn running errands. I wanted one. If I could win a Bulova for ten cents, that would be a super bargain. “Just turn the handle in front,” the man said. “The machine will do the rest.” I held a dime aloft. An arm with a green snake tattoo reached toward me; practiced fingers snatched my coin. I heard a “click” and saw a light come on inside the treasure chest. I was in business! I turned the crank handle. The toy derrick pivoted. The scoop descended. Its jaws opened, bit into a mouthful of silver coins, and clamped shut. Wow! Easy money! I turned the crank carefully — very carefully. The dragline’s scoop rose slowly and rotated back toward the chute. After a seeming eternity of cautious cranking, the scoop jaws opened and released a stream of silver into my hands. 64 THE IOWAN | iowan.com I counted 10 shiny coins. My wealth had doubled. One dime in, 10 out. Forget the watch! I wanted cash. “Just tap on the glass with a dime when you’re ready for another go,” the man said smoothly. I tapped. Again I turned the crank and watched for the derrick to zero in on the dimes. It didn’t. Instead it stopped short and snatched up a plastic ring not fit for a Cracker Jack prize. I tapped once more. Again the derrick missed the treasure tray. Dime after dime, it became evident that the valuable prizes — the watches, the jewelry — were beyond the scoop’s reach. If only the derrick would return to the silverstacked tray, I could at least recoup my original dollar and head for the taffy stand. It didn’t. In fact, with my last dime the scoop delivered nothing but yellow kernels — hardly a prize in rural Iowa. My road to riches had hit a dead end. I left the fairgrounds forlorn. The luster of “The Greatest Show on Earth” was tarnished. But not forever. The next year a wiser young man returned to the Guthrie County Fair to savor the taffy, quaff the root beer, and ride the Ferris wheel to the heavens. He stayed clear of the digger machines. Carroll McKibbin, a native of Guthrie Center, is a retired professor who taught at several universities, including Iowa State and Drake. Among his publications are two books about Iowa: Lillian’s Legacy: Marriage and Murder in Rural Iowa and Apron Strings. They’re available from the author by emailing email@example.com or calling 805-544-9319. Dave Toht is a writer, illustrator, book publisher, and blogger (davetoht.tumblr.com) with a fondness for subjects having to do with growing up in the Midwest in the mid-20th century. Toht’s most recent books are 40 Projects for Building Your Backyard Homestead and Backyard Homesteading. They’re available at Lowe’s and booksellers. Do you have a story about your escapades in Iowa? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll consider it for publication.