Muscatine Magazine, April 2020

Page 1

Almost Friday Fest

Little Libraries

Local Blacksmith

Gilda’s Club

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Page 6

Page 16

Page 22

ISSN 2475-7128

April/May/June 2020

Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce & Industry


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Editor’s Corner

Shop Small In this issue Almost Friday Fest. . . . . . . . . 2 Little Libraries . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Programming for All Ages. . 8 Community Foundation . . 11 Art Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Cole Reed: Blacksmith. . . . 16 Sunnybrook Bowling. . . . . 18 Gilda’s Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 On the cover The Discovery Park pond under a dramatic sky by local Muscatine photographer, Mark Washburn. To see more of his work, visit his Instagram page at

Muscatine MAGAZINE Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce & Industry 100 W. 2nd St. • Muscatine, Iowa 52761-4027 563-263-8895 Muscatine Magazine is published quarterly by:

When I began writing this issue of Editor’s Corner, my thoughts were focused on the downtown construction and how it will impact the small businesses on Second Street. It wasn’t too long after that the Corona Virus (COVID-19) was beginning to have an impact on our daily activities. After I wrapped my mind around a monthlong spring break, I went right back to thinking about our small businesses and how these restrictions will impact them. Small businesses are a vital part of our community. Local small business owners and employees are our family, friends, and neighbors. It is important now, more than ever, to make a concerted effort to shop small. Here are a few simple ways you can support our small businesses during these unprecedented times:

• Order delivery or carry-out. This is a great way to show your support for our local restaurants. • I f possible, tip a little more than usual. Being a little extra generous to wait staff and delivery people helps others and fosters good will and appreciation in the community. • Buy gift certificates. Use them in the future and they also make great gifts! • Support local salons and other servicebased businesses by purchasing their products or buying gift certificates to use at a later date. You can also make an appointment for a future date. Most importantly, be kind, be considerate, and thank those around you who are working hard to make sure things in this community continue to run as smoothly as possible.

— Rebecca Paulsen, Editor

Absolutely Free Checking For personal and business accounts. Learn more at:

Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce & Industry 100 W. 2nd St. • Muscatine, Iowa 52761-4027 Email: ISSN 2475-7128 Editor: Rebecca Paulsen, GMCCI Creative Director: Mike Shield, Shield Design Contributors: Rebecca Paulsen, Mike Shield, Tina Roth, Jim Elias, Motley Mae Photography, Jen Simmering, Beth Van Zandt, Virginia Cooper, Jessica Hubbard, P.M. Cantrell, Tina Roth, Mark Washburn

Aim High. Bank Strong. Member FDIC

For advertising info: Contact Rebecca Paulsen at (563) 263-8895 or Muscatine Magazine is a quarterly publication focused on Muscatine, Iowa, and the surrounding area. The publisher reserves the right to refuse and/or edit any materials submitted for publication. Published articles and advertising do not constitute endorsement. ©2020 Minimum opening deposit $25; no minimum balance requirement thereafter, and no monthly fees. See bank for details.

Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2020 1

2 Muscatine Magazine • Fall 2019

When Chris Boar and Brenda Christensen dreamed up the idea of creating Almost Friday Fest, little did they know how big of an impact their event would have on the city of Muscatine. Keeping the idea of community in mind, Boar and Christensen set out to create a space where everyone would feel welcome, where residents, businesses, and organizations could gather in one place to share in a sense of belonging and camaraderie. Born out of the Healthy Living Fest, Almost Friday Fest came to life in the summer of 2019. Aiming to bring people together to connect with music, food, and friendly-family activities, the event encourages residents to partake in a festival celebrating connection and inclusivity.

Bringing the Muscatine Community Together By Jessica Hubbard • Photos by Motley Mae Photography

“Friday Fest brings out people you might not usually see out and about in the community”, said Christensen. From 8 to 80 year olds, Almost Friday Fest’s goal is to create common ground for the residents of Muscatine. Scheduled for the fourth Thursday of each month from 5:00-8:00pm, May through September, individuals and families are encouraged to come out and enjoy a free night of fun. Located on the grassy area adjacent to the pedestrian trail along the Mississippi riverfront, attendees can bring chairs and blankets and enjoy the sounds of live music, partake in food from local vendors, and stop at local booths to see what’s happening in Muscatine and surrounding areas. Boar and Christensen met some 20 years ago when they both worked at Bayer-Monsanto (formerly Monsanto). They’ve been friends ever since and their passion for supporting their

community has grown right along with their friendship. Boar said, “Several years ago we were approached by Joni Axel to plan an event that would promote the trails in Muscatine. We came up with the Healthy Living Fest and it has been history since then.” “Support for Almost Friday Fest has come from everywhere!”, exclaims Christensen. Not only have there been generous corporate sponsorships and donations from businesses in Muscatine, but also monetary donations from residents and individuals who want to help keep alive a thriving annual event that gets people out into the community. In-kind donations such as tents for vendors and non-profit booths, and trailers for live music acts have also been provided by the community in a show of support. There are even golf cart shuttles to and from the event for attendees. One of the most incredible pieces of Almost Friday Fest is the number of volunteers and volunteer time that goes into the planning and preparation of the monthly event. Boar says hundreds of volunteer hours are poured into the Fest in order to keep it running. From planning meetings, to set up, to tearing down, the event is run by volunteer work alone. Even the graphics for marketing and fundraising of the event are done by volunteer, Mitch Zytnowski. Boar and Christensen say that residents can expect to see live music every month; some local acts as well as bands out of the Quad Cities, Des Moines, and even as far away as Chicago. There will also be bouncy houses for the kids, and food and a beer tent are also on tap for this upcoming season. Last year, even Muscatine High School got in on the action. The girls’ dance team offered free face painting for kids who attended the event. When the first Fest took place last year, the crowd size numbered between 300-400 attendees. As the event continued into the later summer months, Christensen says, “There were upwards of 1500-2000 people in attendance at the final fest of the season.” Word of mouth and the outpouring of local support are what keep Almost Friday Fest alive and growing. And, while the Fest has been a test of trial and error, Boar and Christensen couldn’t be happier with how the first year has turned out. For more information on Almost Friday Fest, or to find out how to volunteer, please contact Chris Boar at 563-343-0359. You can also find information about the event on the Keep Muscatine Beautiful Facebook page. n Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2020 3

Donations of dry cat/dog food can be dropped off at Happy Tails Pet Resort and Kennels, 720 Clay St, Muscatine. Pet items are distributed 8-10 a.m., every third Wednesday of the month at First Presbyterian Church.

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Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2020 5

Grace King has been really pleased with how her Free Little Library at 2485 Mulberry has been used. The library and bench were built by her husband seven years ago. Initially Grace purchased books and asked friends to help fill the library. Several teachers then donated books and now the library sustains itself with people stopping by to add and borrow books. “We have books for all ages, and all ages use it. We are so thrilled with the participation!”

Little Library Love By Jen Simmering While walking or driving around Muscatine one of the several Little Free Libraries may have caught your eye. The one located at 2485 Mulberry and its charming shingled roof and tiny brass knob brings to mind childhood fantasies of fairy cottages and secret cabinets hiding magic and shrouded in mystery. And in a way, that’s exactly what it is; it’s filled with books. The Little Free Library project began in Wisconsin in 2009 when Todd Bol honored the legacy of his bibliophile mother by planting a model one-room schoolhouse in his yard and adding books. He invited his neighbors to share in the project by taking a book 6 Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2020

and leaving one they wanted to pass on to others. The University of Wisconsin at Madison installed another one on a public path on campus. The idea spread rapidly, inspired the uniquely American idea of the free public library and the philanthropists who backed their creation. By 2012 there were over 4,000 Little Free Libraries. Today, the Little Free Library Website lists an amazing 90,000 registered libraries all over the world. Muscatine put six of those on the map. is the official website of the project, and it offers everything you need to know to open your own library. Every Little Free Library starts with a steward who agrees to register the library and care for it. Site

selection comes next, and there are several points to consider. Stewards should look for a location that gets good foot traffic and will not be in the way of snow removal or garbage routes. If the location is a public space, permission must be sought from the city to install the library. Many people choose to install them in their own yards for ease of care. In Iowa, stewards must be sure to call Iowa One Call to have utilities in the area marked before digging a hole for a library post. Next is getting the library itself. The Little Free Library website store has kits with pre-cut pieces and assembly directions as well as libraries that come already assembled. There are some

standard choices for style and a variety of options for materials and finishes. Prices range from $150 to $350. The website also links to a wide variety of building plans for custom libraries including making one from a recycled cabinet, libraries that incorporate living plants, and of course, a Tardis. Stewards are encouraged to think outside the basic house design and create something new. There are no strict rules about what the library can look like, but it’s a good idea for stewards to check with homeowners associations and neighbors before installing a daring design to promote community involvement and respect for neighbors, two tenets of the Little Free Library project itself. It’s important to use solid materials and make the extra effort to weatherproof the library. Building guides recommend using screws instead of nails, sealing any gaps thoroughly and using several coats of paint or stain to keep the library in good shape to protect its books. Check out the @littlefreelibrary Instagram account for inspiration.

In order to become an official “Little Free Library” and use the trademarked name, stewards must register their site with the website and pay a $40 fee to receive a sign indicating the unique charter number of the library. This fee covers the cost of maintaining the non-profit to support library stewards, offer free building plans, and fund the Impact Library Program, which installs free libraries in areas where books are difficult to access. Kits and libraries purchased through the website come with registration and charter already provided, and all registrations include a listing on the Little Free Library world map. Once the library is registered and installed, it’s time to spread the word. The purpose of the Little Free Library is to build community while inspiring a love of reading, and the website offers suggestions for introducing a new library.

Free templates for stickers, fliers and business cards are available to promote a new library. A ribbon cutting ceremony with food and fanfare announces a library in style. Literary holidays make for a great opening day and an excuse to decorate for a special occasion, such as Dr. Suess’s birthday on March 2 or Harry Potter Day on May 2. The more engagement with the neighborhood, the more successful a Little Free Library will be. n

Come visit our little free library! Our library was handcrafted in 2017 by my dad as the best birthday present ever. Our library be a great stop on a tour of several other little libraries in our community. While you are checking out our selection of books, make sure you take a peek in the library’s little windows. – Carly Reed, 128 Middle Road

Find them all! As the weather warms up this spring, head out to the registered libraries here in Muscatine and join in the community building. You’ll find them at : n New Hope United Methodist Church, 3215 Tipton Road n 2485 Mulberry Avenue n 128 Middle Road n 517 Woodlawn Avenue n 106 Lord Avenue n 211 West 5th Street

Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2020 7


As of the print date, all mentioned programming has been suspended due to COVID-19, please check with the individual organizations for more information on when programming will resume.

IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION & OUTREACH - MUSCATINE COUNTY 4-H Youth Summer Day Camps Camps for kids entering 1st through 6th grade available in Muscatine, West Liberty and Wilton throughout the summer. Camps are open to all youth. Find more information, dates and how to register at www.extension.iastate. edu/Muscatine Master Gardeners Find local Master Gardeners at the Saturday Farmer’s Market, join us for a webinar, access resources online at Horticulture and Home Pest News: www.hortnews.extension.iastate. edu/, or call the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach HortLine with your lawn, garden or landscape plant questions: 515-294-3108.

Health & Wellness Resources Looking for healthy, simple and budget friendly recipes? Check out the Spend Smart. Eat Smart website or mobile ap! www.spendsmart.extension.

Agricultural Information Land owners and operators can access research-based resources through our Ag Field Specialists or online through the Ag Decision Maker: www.extension.

Connect with us! Like us on Facebook at Extension, visit us online at, join our e-newsletter by calling 563-263-5701, or visit our office at 1601 Plaza Place, Muscatine.

MUSCATINE ART CENTER Mini Masters Introduces children ages 2-7 to the world of art with stories and activities. A new theme is presented each month, and each class is built around a children’s book. Mini Masters is an engaging program for young learners offered every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. and every Thursday at 3:30 p.m. (FREE!) First Thursday Tap into your inner DIY-er! Join Program Coordinator Katy Loos on the first Thursday of the month to create fun projects. Classes meet Thursdays from 5:15 - 6:45 p.m. Fee is $15.00 or $13.50 for Friends members (unless otherwise noted). All supplies are 8 Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2020

included in the class fee. Class size is limited to 15 people. Take and Make Art Every Saturday and Sunday there will be a project in a bag for you to take home and complete using only a few additional supplies. Stop in anytime we are open during the weekend to grab your bag. There is no cost for these fun and easy projects. Saturdays and Sundays we are open 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. Red Barn Studio Artist Vada Baker gives step-by-step instructions on how to complete your painting. Learn new techniques and have all your questions answered by Vada in this fun studio class you won’t

want to miss! Classes meet several Thursdays each month from 5:15 to 6:45 p.m. Registration is required. Space is limited and is available on a first to register basis. All supplies are included in the class fee of $15 or $13.50 for members of Friends of the Muscatine Art Center.



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MUSSER PUBLIC LIBRARY O Baby Lapsit Circle time and social time for the very youngest, ages birth to three plus parent or caregiver. Meet for songs, fingerplays, and stories, then adjourn to the children’s department for play and social time. Sparkplugs Aimed at 4 through 8-year-old’s, but everyone in the family is welcome to attend and participate. We start each program with a big, healthy snack.

Dedicated to supporting the communities where our members live, work, and raise their families.

Tai Chi Practiced as a graceful form of exercise involving a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing. Adult Book Club Join your fellow book lovers for a book discussion of our monthly read. New titles are chosen every month ranging from local authors and bestsellers all from different genres.

Visit for more information on these programs and more!

We are currently livestreaming our programming due to COVID-19. Please visit our Facebook page for details and times.

Sunnybrook Wii Bowling Showdown Brings In The Community By Tina Roth At Sunnybrook of Muscatine Assisted Living, a group of die-hard seniors take their Wii bowling gaming seriously. But no one is complaining if they spend a little extra time in front of the screen because it provides an outlet for keeping their mind and body active, as well as serves as a community outreach. The Wii bowling team tradition originally started, simply as an activity between the Sunnybrook facilities in Muscatine, Burlington and Ft. Madison. The two person teams would travel to or host, a tournament once a month. But the Muscatine team was eager for more competition, so Sunnybrook marketing director, Megan Francis organized a friendly game between the resident 10 Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2020

team and the staff. While the idea was fun, Francis knew, however, that it was impractical to think they could sustain a staff/resident competition on a regular basis. “Besides,” Francis laughed, “They are really good, and they beat us.” So in April of 2017, Francis sought the help of community members. Jason Miller, director of the Muscatine Special Olympics at the YMCA, was especially interested in supporting Sunnybrook resident Dick Vetter. Vetter was a longtime participant in area Special Olympics and one of the original Sunnybrook Wii bowling team members. Miller was one of the first community challengers of the Sunnybrook team and remains a dedicated supporter. Sunnybrook

now hosts a Wii bowling “Showdown” every Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. They boast a four-person team plus a coach, while challenging guests bring two people. Two games are played -- one a warm up and the other for competition. “They have been kicking our butts for two or three years now,” laughed Miller. “I have not figured out a formula for beating these guys.” While Francis was the one “to get the ball rolling,” she says the team members have embraced the idea and taken ownership. Aside from coordinating the week’s competitor, she let’s them handle the details. “Purposeful living for seniors is our goal,” remarked Francis. “I think the best

part for me is to see is them taking everything into their own hands. They get it set up and greet the guests at the door. They handle it all.” Among the community businesses and organizations that have sent challengers are Sinclair Tractor, Beckey Insurance, Rock Valley Physical Therapy, the Muscatine Area Chamber of Commerce, Crossroads, The Salvation Army, Members Community Credit Union, Heartland Hospice, Hy-vee, and members from the Muscatine Police Department, Fire Department, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Muscatine County Sheriff’s Department. “The first question I always get is, ‘Do we have to let them win?’” laughed Francis. “I just say, you try and beat them!” With community support growing and competitive spirit high, the team created a leaderboard last year to keep track of the competitor scores and show rank. While the Sunnybrook team usually mops up the competition with team scores averaging between 380 and 460, they do not actually place their scores on the board. “A lot of our visitors are like us,” explained Sunnybrook resident and team member, Bill Oeter, 92. “They have never done it before, so our role is more as encouragers. They really aren’t competing against us, but against each other.” Oeter, a lifelong golfer prior to coming to Sunnybrook, had never done any

form of bowling, let alone commanded a Wii controller. While he has recently had to bow out of actual play due to arthritis, he remains active on the team as a coach. In addition to the weekly “showdown,” members of the team hosts a Friday Bowling 101 from which they have recruited new team members. Following practice, the team hosts open bowling in which any resident or visitor at Sunnybrook can join them for a friendly game. Oeter also credits the game with keeping his mental game sharp by adding the scores in his head. “He is actually quicker than a calculator,” praised Francis. “Playing on the Wii really does keep their minds and bodies active.” Ninety-year-old Alan Arkema was recruited by Oeter to join the team not long after moving to Sunnybrook in August of 2017. While he now regularly bowls a 300, Arkema’s first attempt was less than impressive. “I think I bowled a 160,” he remembered. “I was ready to give up, but Bill encouraged me to keep trying. He said, ‘You know, that’s a good score for a beginner!’ It really perked me up!”

Arkema credits becoming part of the team as helping ease his transition into life at Sunnybrook. “It has really helped me feel included in the community,” Arkema, who is originally from Sully, Iowa, noted. As this year’s anniversary “rolls around,” Francis is focused on finding new ways to engage the community and the team members. According to her, the challenges give community visitors a better understanding of the vital, interactive community that is Sunnybrook. “This is just one more chance for visitors to see what Sunnybrook is like, what we are and what goes on here,” agreed Oeter. “It was an activity before,” concluded Francis. “Now, it is a community event.” Interested in getting involved? Sunnybrook is always looking for challengers from the community. If you or your organization/business would like to challenge the Sunnybrook team, contact Megan Francis at 563-263-5108 or Showdowns are held every Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. n

Arkema has a formula for his success. “You need to watch your path on the alley for drift in the ball, watch how you hold the ball and release the trigger at the right time.”

Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2020 11



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3500 years ago, primitive man smelted down raw iron in things called bloomeries and they began crafting steel tools and weapons. The art of blacksmithing was born. By Jim Elias • Photos by Beth Van Zandt Today, a modern blacksmith named Cole Reed works in his small Montpelier, Iowa shop creating the rugged, rusticlooking products his customers seek. “I try to stick with the old-school stuff and you don’t need fancy tools to make this happen,” says Reed. “I love making things out of steel because steel lasts.” In Reed’s blacksmith shop he uses a hundred-year-old forge, anvils and hand-made tongs from the 1800s blacksmithing era. He says these tools still get used in daily operation for the exact way they were originally made. Custom work gives him the opportunity to be creative. That’s why he fabricates useful steel and

iron parts with that old, primitive look his customers are looking for. Examples of Reeds work are things like railroad ties mounted onto stained oak and turned into rustic coat racks and knives fabricated and polished out of old files. “I do custom work, because I like to stay on the artsy end metal fab work,” he says. Reed says one big steakhouse chain wanted a front door with ‘something burly to pull on’. So he fabricated door pulls out of 1-inch key stock cut into 12inch pieces twisted and turned into a rustic door handle. Reed cut his blacksmithing chops as a production iron worker and learned his trade by doing. He is a 2010 graduate of Muscatine High School where he began working at MUSCO Lighting. He

spent a year working for John Deere at the Davenport works then honed his blacksmithing craft as an ironworker and production fabricator. His real love for iron work came from his grandfather. He would go on jobsites with his grandpa who, when Cole was 7, gave him his first bench grinder. That grinder is still used today in Reed’s shop. He’s been doing custom fabrication and blacksmithing for the last 12 years and after moving home about 5 years ago he opened his shop in Montpelier last March. Reed says the manufacturing environment doesn’t give him the same creative outlet he gets when he’s in his own blacksmith shop. There he makes custom foot pegs for Jeeps, gas tanks and fenders for motorcycles, and lots of home décor items for people looking to have that rustic, rugged look. He produces work for clients all throughout the region … always with a keen interest in delivering that look of strong, primitive iron. n

Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2020 15

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A Lasting Impact – From One Student to Another Supporting local youth is the goal of all our scholarship donors. Donors feel a real connection to the students they help support and enjoy being a part of their educational journey. One of those students, Alanna Wallace, is getting ready to graduate, and is the recipient of the Frank and Carrie Townsend and Ruth Townsend Scholarship. Alanna is graduating this spring from Grand View University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). “I decided to major in nursing because I have always had a passion to help others,” Alanna said. Her path to nursing began after a brief hospitalization in high school. “This was a really hard time for me and the nurses I had during that time influenced me to try to be there for others as much as I can.” As a graduate of Wilton High School her small school experience ultimately led her to choose Grand View University. Alanna said, “I loved that it was a smaller campus and I had more opportunities to have one on one time with instructors.” She had many great experiences there including participating on a shooting team, volunteering, and working at a hospital in Des Moines as a supply chain technician. During college Alanna had many opportunities and experiences, but working in the neonatal intensive care

unit with an abandoned newborn shaped her career decision. “It made me want to be there for all the families going through such a painful and vulnerable time when it is supposed to be a happy occasion.” Alanna said. She plans to pursue a career at a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit and would like to stay in Iowa and eventually move closer to family, but she is open to all opportunities to gain nursing experience. “I found an extreme passion for this unit and would love to experience it for the rest of my career.” Eventually she may decide to pursue a Nurse Practitioner license and become a midwife. Alanna is thankful for the opportunity to receive this scholarship, “I am so grateful for everything and I truly wouldn’t be where I am without the scholarship I have received, and with that I want to thank all of you! It has been more helpful than I ever would have imagined. Thank you all!” The Frank and Carrie Townsend and Ruth Townsend Scholarship Fund was created by Herb Townsend upon his death in 2014, honoring the memory of his loving parents, Frank and Carrie, and his favorite teacher-turned-sister-in-law, Ruth Townsend. Herb Townsend was a life-long resident of Wilton and was a farmer, businessman and entrepreneur. When Herb was young he was not a particularly avid student, but established a special respect for his Wilton High School English teacher named Ruth in the mid-1940s. Ruth

would later marry Herb’s older brother Fred, making his favorite teacher his sister-in-law. The Frank and Carrie Townsend and Ruth Townsend Scholarships are available to graduating seniors of Wilton High School: up to three $5,000 scholarships for seniors planning to attend a vocational/ technical/trade school that awards a minimum of a certificate upon completion, renewable for a second year; up to seven $5,000 scholarships for seniors planning to attend a twoyear community college or four-year college or university, renewable for three additional years; and additional one-year scholarships may be awarded. One-half of the available scholarships will be awarded based on financial need with remaining scholarships based on citizenship, leadership, and academic success. Additional scholarships for Wilton High School seniors, as well as many other high schools in Muscatine County are currently open for applications. The Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine has over $425,000 in scholarships available for area high school seniors. Applications can be found on our website www. scholarships For more information on the scholarship application process, or opening a scholarship fund, call 563-264-3863.. n Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2020 17

Getting Through This

Together By P.M. Cantrell The largest professionally hosted cancer support organization in the world has had a local presence for more than twenty years. Gilda’s Club of the Quad Cities opened its Muscatine center in 1998 and has since served nearly 600 people. Programming and advice is organized by licensed social workers and is open to cancer patients, survivors and caregivers and is entirely free. “Cancer is expensive and we don’t want to add to that,” says Kelly Craft, Program Manager of Gilda’s Club Quad Cities. Craft, a licensed social worker who has office hours in Muscatine adds that in addition to popular programming, services include finding resources and making appropriate referrals for clients. “If we don’t have a program, we’ll find programming and services. Even if they just need someone to talk to they can call as well.”

Gilda’s Club was named for actor Gilda Radner, perhaps best known for her skits as nerd Lisa Loopner, Baba Wawa, and the Weekend Update’s Roseanne Roseannadana for Saturday Night Live where she was an original cast member from 1975 to 1980. The Detroit native married fellow actor Gene Wilder in 1984. The following year she experienced symptoms that were misdiagnosed for ten months until it was determined that she had stage four ovarian cancer. Radner died in 1989 of ovarian cancer, much like several relatives before her. As a result, Wilder helped to establish both the Gilda Radner Hereditary Cancer Program and in 1991, Gilda’s Club. Currently there are 56 Muscatine residents participating in Gilda’s Club programming like chair yoga or the rotating workshop, which, Craft explains is a grab bag of services and can include anything ranging from crafts to nutrition to educational workshops. Chair yoga, a local favorite program, is a gentle way to stay limber and active while recovering from cancer treatments, says Gail Van Hecke, a three time cancer survivor who finished her last treatment in

Office hours for the local chapter of Gilda’s Club are held at Senior Resources on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at 1808 Mulberry Ave. in Muscatine. Muscatine is part of Gilda’s Club Quad Cities and has had a local presence since 1998. 18 Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2020

2019. “I’ve been surprised how much chair yoga has helped my flexibility, breathing and strength.” Van Hecke says the program is suitable to all cancer survivors despite age, fitness level and physical conditions. “It’s safe and in a supportive space and you can take it (the exercises) home and do it there too.” Van Hecke also touts the camaraderie and social atmosphere of the program. Craft adds, “It (programming) helps to make sure that people don’t go through this alone.” n

For more information Visit for up to date information about fundraising events, donating time and money or contributing to wish lists, which include items like store gift cards and bottled water.

Programming: Chair Yoga: Second and Fourth Thursdays, 10:30 - 11:30 a.m., ISU Extension, 1601 Plaza Place, Muscatine

Gilda’s Club Office Hours: Second and fourth Thursdays, 5 a.m. - 2 p.m., Senior Resources, 1808 Mulberry Ave., Muscatine, (563) 263-7292 xt 109

Rotating Workshop: Third Thursday, starting at 6 p.m., First Presbyterian Church, 401 Iowa Ave., Muscatine

Local Board Members: Board of Directors: Holly Oppelt Associate Board: Heather Brewer, Mandy Parchert, Linda Anders

Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2020 19

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Till death do us Part Over the span of hundreds of years,

millions of couples have spoken the words “Till Death Do Us Part.” On June 6, 2020, the Muscatine Art Center will open the exhibition “Till Death: Wedding and Mourning Traditions” and will highlight

dresses and other artifacts from its permanent collection. The exhibition will be a journey through time, providing glimpses of how Iowans exchanged vows and laid to rest their loved ones. Wedding and funeral practices are in a constant state of flux, responding to changing times and the norms within communities. The costumes and objects in this exhibition originally belonged to individuals who lived in Muscatine County. The earliest mourning wear belonged to Abbie Shoewalter and dates to 1875. The earliest wedding dress belonged to Sarah Foulkes Schenck and dates to 1882. The most recent wedding dress is part of a five-generation wedding dress collection and belonged

to Lorraine Willis Stevens who married in 1943. The costumes are connected to well-known family names from Muscatine’s past, and approximately 30 will be on view, some for the first time at the Muscatine Art Center. Visitors to the exhibition may be surprised to discover wedding dresses made in a variety of colors and a variety of fabrics such as wool, crepe, silk, satin, and even cotton. Some are heavily embellished while others are plain – both styles dictated by the trends of the day and the wearer’s wealth and status. The mourning wear is stunning in both construction and embellishment. Fashion journals of the period detailed the social rules of dress and outlined a three ‘stage’ process for mourning. Lace, tulle, gauze, taffeta, and other fabrics create a beautiful layering of textures and patterns. Most of the mourning and wedding dresses are handmade. Some were crafted by women with basic sewing skills following basic patterns while others are the work of highly skilled professional seamstresses.

In collaboration with the Muscatine Art Center, we bring you artifacts from the Permanent Collection. Since its opening in 1965, the Muscatine Art Center has been a depository and archive for history items related to Muscatine County. We hope you enjoy! Wedding dress worn by Laura Musser. Laura Musser married Edwin LeRoy McColm on November 18, 1903 at the home of her parents, Mr. & Mrs. Peter Musser, Front Street (now 501 E. Mississippi Drive). The dress is of cream silk voile with cream cotton lace insets overall. Dress bodice has full length flared sleeves with ruffled edge. Sleeves have pleated chiffon at cuff. Mandarin collar and cream silk satin cumberbund. Dress skirt is cream silk voile with alternating cream cotton lace insets. Lined with silk tafetta. Related items include the original dress box, marked From Kort Lee Frocks, 1370 Broadway, New York, wedding shoes from Gimbel Brothers, New York, wedding invitation and wedding book with the marriage license and list of wedding gifts and donors. All are gifts of Betty Spies.

“One of our favorites is Laura MusserMcColm’s wedding dress from 1903,” explains Melanie Alexander, Director of the Muscatine Art Center. “But it will be a thrill to see visitors react to some of the colorful dresses and their rich textures. These are elements that are not captured in black and white historic photographs.” In addition to costumes, which also includes men’s suits and dresses worn by other wedding party members, the exhibition includes many wedding and mourning accessories, marriage

certificates, historic photographs, and remembrance objects including elaborate Victorian era wreaths made from hair. Sprinkled throughout the exhibition are stories of courtship as well as biographies and details of the lives of those who wore the costumes. Several events are planned in connection with the exhibition. “For the Love of Art” returns on Sunday, May 31st. During this ticketed event, participants will preview the exhibition with Muscatine Art Center Registrar, Virginia Cooper, providing a guided

tour. The event will also include musical entertainment and a tea with light refreshments in the Music Room. On Saturday, June 6th, the party moves to Geneva Country Club for a wedding themed fundraiser to benefit the Friends of the Muscatine Art Center and its mission to support educational programs. The exhibition will conclude with an “Irish Wake” at the Muscatine Art Center on Thursday, October 29th. Information about event tickets is posted on The exhibition will be on view through November 1st. n

The Muscatine Art Center is located at 1314 Mulberry Avenue in Muscatine, Iowa. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday evenings until 7:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Student Art Exhibition Featuring the work of Muscatine Middle School and High School Students April 23 – May 17, 2020 Every spring, the Muscatine Art Center’s Stanley Gallery is installed with colorful, vibrant work of Muscatine students. This year’s work was created by middle school and high school students. The exhibition is a celebration of the artistic achievements of local young people. Drawings, paintings, sculptures, mixed media, and more are on view. Exhibition Reception – Sunday, April 26, 1:30 - 3:00 p.m.

I am West Liberty: “Student Reflections” and “A Collection of Community Stories and Objects” March 19 – May 17, 2020 Exhibited on the second floor of the historic Musser-McColm home, students from the West Liberty High School Art Club present their 2020 photography projects. As a complement to the student display, a community-based exhibit features West Liberty voices by highlighting objects connected to personal journeys or ties to countries of origin.

Till Death: Wedding and Mourning Customs June 6 – November 1, 2020 In this exhibition featuring dresses and other artifacts from the Muscatine Art Center’s permanent collection, the focus is on how Iowans exchanged vows and laid to rest their loved ones and how those customs changed over time. Visitors may be surprised to discover wedding dresses made in a variety of colors and a variety of fabrics such as wool, crepe, silk, satin, and even cotton. Some are heavily embellished while others are plain – both styles dictated by the trends of the day and the wearer’s wealth and status. Details on events connected to the exhibition are available at n Muscatine Magazine • Spring 2020 23

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