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at an Iowa spa page 40


these easy houseplants page 20

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volume 62 | number 3

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Features 24 Iowa’s Best Old-Fashioned Hardware Stores by Barb Hall Your source for know-how, vintage ambience, and nails by the pound.

34 The Basketball Blizzard of ‘65 by Kay Jordan Whitham I had to get to town — but how?

40 Spas: The Exotic Winter Getaway Next Door by Amber Dawn Barz A soothing, rejuvenating weekend may be closer to home than you think.

46 Climbing the World’s Tallest Icicle by Dan Weeks Don Briggs invented a new winter extreme sport — and made Cedar Falls it’s capital.

Departments 4

from the editor

What’s Special About Iowa?

5 letters Bad Hog!

8 travel

Day Trips and Seasonal Celebrations

ON THE COVER: Cocoa Caliente. Recipe, page 17. Photograph by Dean Tanner

16 food

THIS PAGE: Woodward Hardware Store. Story, page 24. Photograph by Kathryn Gamble

20 garden

Cozy Winter Drinks

Bring the Tropics Indoors

22 home

Feather Your Nest

52 flashback: 1954

Reddy Kilowatt, miracle starch, and more

56 escapades Paper Blizzard

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from the editor


What’s Special About Iowa?

Publisher Polly Clark Editor Dan Weeks Creative Director Ann Donohoe Associate Graphic Designer Megan Johansen Image/Photo Specialist Jason Fort

“I’m running away to Iowa!” So wrote one Californian after hearing on the national news how Don Briggs and friends invented a new winter sport with a just hose and a silo (“Climbing the World’s Largest Icicle,” page 46). Fortunately for Iowans, we don’t have to run away — we’re already here. We don’t have to leave our state to experience the only spa outside of India specifically built to offer authentic Ayurvedic treatment (“Spas — The Exotic

Editorial Associate Nate Brown Copy Editor Gretchen Kauffman Advertising Account Executives Meghan Keller

Tom Smull Becca Wodrich Subscription Services Katrina Brocka Interns Omeed Kashef Colin Ludlow Dana Wolthuizen

Winter Getaway Next Door,” page 40). Or hardware stores that make house calls (“Iowa’s Best Old-Fashioned Hardware Stores,” page 24). Or the heroic help of friends, neighbors, and fans during a blizzard (“The Basketball Blizzard of ’65,” page 34). Every issue, we ask, “What’s special about Iowa?” And every issue, we find more ingenious, unexpected, fun, poignant, intriguing answers to share with you. Starting with this issue, we’re also now featuring four of your favorite subjects in every issue: Iowa travel, food, gardening, and home. So you can easily find them, we’re labeling them clearly in the front of the magazine. You’ll also find a new element in the back of each issue. “Flashback” features fun and interesting items published in The Iowan 60 years ago. Even if you weren’t here in the ’50s, we think you’ll get a charge out of them. In the pages between, we’re providing even more big, beautiful photographs of Iowa at its seasonal best. And of course we’ll continue to feature Iowa people, places, history, the arts, and the outdoors. Do you have a story that talks about how special Iowa is? Let me know! I’d love to hear it.

Dan Weeks, Editor

Jim Slife Twilla Glessner Accounting Manager Allison Volker CEO

Production Manager

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 January 1, 2014, Volume 62, No. 3. 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: > SUBSCRIBE 877-899-9977 x211 Change of Address:> CONTACT > Address Change 877-899-9977 x211 Past Issues: 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 2012_IRMA_member_emblem.jpg (JPEG Image, 1500 × 1466 pixels) - S...

10% PCW Paper Made in the USA



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letters RAD MAG


I’m a photographer based in New

Last week I saw a copy of The Iowan.

York City. I’m taking a trip home to

I really enjoyed all of the articles,

Des Moines to visit my folks for a

especially the one by Mark Tade about

that is looking into the possibility of

couple weeks. I wanted to reach

the shellbark hickory trees and nuts.

starting a sustainable community in

out and let you know how rad the

I am 91 years old and have been

this area. We would greatly appreciate

magazine is — my folks have issues

picking up shagbark nuts on our

any contacts or list of communities

dating back a couple years, and I

farm since 1951. I made a batch of

like this in Iowa, also contacts for any

always catch up when I visit.

Grandmother Tade’s cookies, and we

organic farms and gardens. We would

thought they were great. I was hoping

love to communicate with like-minded

you could ask Mark Tade if it would be

people that have formed to pursue a

possible to buy a few nuts from the

common goal of living and working in

shellbark tree just to try.

an intentional community.

— Nils Ericson, Brooklyn, New York

BAD HOG Sometimes I wonder if Storm Lake, Iowa, is like so many other places.

—Jo Otta, Garwin

SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY I am with a group here in Des Moines

—Donna Eddy, West Des Moines

Other times I don’t. Yesterday I rode my motorcycle on the smooth county

Mark Tade doesn’t sell nuts, but

roads around town to look at prairie

there are lots of folks who do, and

There’s a long history of intentional

life and enjoy the air saturated with

they’re listed in the Iowa Nut Growers

communities in Iowa, most famous

the thick smell of Iowa topsoil and

Directory, produced by the Iowa Nut

among them the Amana Colonies.

the wind blowing through where my

Growers Association. We’ve mailed

Perhaps the best-known sustainable

hair would have been were I not bald.

Ms. Otta a copy; others can find it at

community in the state now is

Once I got my fill, I pulled into Al’s —ed.

Abundance Ecovillage in Fairfield:

car wash to rinse off the dust. From The Iowan

the coin machine, I gazed over my

ran a story on that community on

shoulder at the busy intersection


behind me and observed three police

Please inform me the definition of

available at 877-899-9977 or from

officers attempting to wrestle a hog

“locavore,” found on page 37 of the There are organic farms

— a big, strong, fast, fat hog. After a

November/December 2013 issue. It is

and gardens statewide; a good place

great amount of evasion by the hog,

not in my 1909 unabridged dictionary!

to start looking for them is the Iowa

the blocking of the intersection, the

—Hobart Belknap, Austin, Minnesota

stopping of many amused onlookers,

page 4 of the May/June 2008 issue

Organic Producers directory, where you can search by location:

the help of some locals, and some

Sure! Merriam-Webster defines

animal snares, the hog submitted and

“locavore” as “one who eats food

Good luck! —ed.

waited for “Jimbo,” who eventually

grown locally whenever possible.”

showed up with a livestock trailer.

Its first known use was in 2005, so

I mounted my now-clean motorcycle

we’re not surprised your 1909

and rode west into the sunset

dictionary doesn’t list the word.

thinking how much it all looked,

That’s probably because 105 years

smelled, and felt a lot like Iowa.

ago, most people were locavores —

— Jonathan Ehrlich, Storm Lake

only after most of us started eating food that traveled long distances did we invent a word to describe what used to be common practice. —ed.

January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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Thank you for providing the map

At the University of Iowa in 1956, I was

The cover, table of contents, and all

[below] highlighting points of interest

enrolled in a speech class with actress

photographs on pages 36–40 of the

in each issue. However, as I recall,

Jean Seburg, whose film festival you

November/December 2013 issue were

the map used to include the names

featured in the November/December

taken by photographer Paul Gates, a

of the cities and towns and that

2013 issue, page 12. The class was

longtime contributor to The Iowan.

was very helpful for me — an Iowa

historic: Jean was enrolled in the class

Due to an oversight, credit for those

part-timer who doesn’t know Iowa

when she learned of her selection

photographs was omitted. The Iowan

geography very well. Please consider

to play Joan of Arc, Jean’s sister was

regrets the error.

re-establishing that practice.

enrolled in the class, and Alex Karras

—Arlyce Feist, Monticello, Iowa and Berkeley, California

[the football player and later, actor and professional wrestler nicknamed “The


Mad Duck”] was also in the class.

The Iowan

Done! We recently started mentioning

—Sonja Jadacek Younker,

so many places in each issue that the

Fairbanks, Alaska

300 Walnut Street, Suite 6 Des Moines, IA 50309

names didn’t fit, and we also wanted

people to know on what page to look > Contact

for the coverage, hence the use of page > The Iowan Magazine

numbers instead of place names. But


there’s a better solution: make the map bigger, which we’ve now done. —ed.

Visit and read a digital edition of the magazine on your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Points of Interest in This Issue Lake Okoboji p. 8

Winneshiek p. 8 Clear Lake p. 10, 13

Everly p. 35 Cherokee p. 8

Sioux City p. 10

Algona p. 12 Waverly p. 34 Ridotto p. 38 Duncombe p. 38

Cedar Falls p. 11, 46 Waterloo p. 11, 52

Dubuque p. 14

New Providence p. 24 Boone p. 38

Ames p. 9, 38

Cedar Rapids p. 8, 14, 22 Mt. Vernon p. 22 Woodward p. 28 Perry p. 44 Amana p. 12 Mondamin p. 17 Swisher p. 17 Johnston p. 18 Coralville p. 13 Le Claire p. 17 Urbandale p. 11 Des Moines p. 9, West Branch p. 9 Honey Creek p. 14 10, 13, 14, 17, 26, 35 Muscatine p. 9 Riverside p. 43 Hancock p. 14 Indianola p. 28 Leighton p. 17 Maharishi Vedic City p. 41 Fairfield p. 41 Coin p. 53


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College Springs p. 53

Burlington p. 11


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Scheduled To Appear:


Tickets On Sale:






35th Anniversary celebration



featuring JIMMY GILMER


November 12, 2013 8am

marvelous MARVIN SHORT



For Information, call (641) 357-6151

Honoring the Lives and Legacies of our Three Fallen Stars – Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens & JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson.

Des Moines Civic Center March 8-9, 2014

Tickets on Sale at For More Information Visit

January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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12/2/13 9:55 AM



Events worthy of an excursion Four from the North EXPERIENCE NORDIC ART Vesterheim Museum Decorah Now–Wednesday, April 16 10 a.m.–4 p.m. daily

Bertha Jaques: Eye on America VIEW THE WORK OF A PIONEER ARTIST Cedar Rapids Museum of Art Cedar Rapids Now–Sunday, January 5 Tuesday–Sunday 12 p.m.–4 p.m. 410 3rd Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids 319-366-7503 Adults $5, students and seniors $4 Bertha Jaques — pioneer woman, artist, conservationist — is best known for her captivating prints of wildflowers and ferns. Jaques became one

502 W Water St., Decorah 563-382-9681

of the leading ladies of printmaking and etching in

Adults $10, seniors $8, children $5

male artists. The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art holds

This exhibit of recent works by four Duluth-area artists —

the world’s largest public collection of Jaques’ work,

Alison Aune, Ann Jenkins, Ann Klefstad, and Arna Rennan —

including more than 400 botanical prints, and an

reflects a deep respect and love for the natural world and for

archive of photographs, correspondence, and essays.

America at the turn of the 19th century. She was self-taught, yet succeeded in a field dominated by

traditional Nordic imagery. The artists’ work includes both paintings and sculptures.

Cherokee Jazz and Blues Festival JAZZ ME, BABY! Multiple venues Cherokee

University of Okoboji Winter Games LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

Friday, January 17–Saturday, January 18

Several venues Lake Okoboji 712-225-6414

Friday, January 24– Sunday, January 26

$10–30, depending on individual event and time of purchase

Live jazz and blues warm mid-January nights with hot


music. Local musicians jam Saturday afternoon; there’s

Named for a fictitious

a Big Band Dance

university started by three

Saturday night.

brothers in the 1970s, this

Explore Cherokee

winter festival offers Freeze Your Fanny Bike Ride, The Polar

during nightly pub

Plunge, broomball, hockey, flag football, softball, snowmobile

crawls. A regional

races, 5K/10K road races, and more outdoor activities. Warm


up indoors with Texas Hold ’Em, the Chocolate Classic and Galleria, a Chili Cook-Off, Soup Fest, and much more.


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Eagles & Ivories Ragtime Weekend GRAB YOUR BINOCULARS AND DANCING SHOES Several venues Muscatine Friday, January 24–Sunday, January 26 $40 3-day concert package, $15 evening concerts, $10 afternoon concerts, $5 after-hours sessions, 16 and under free to all events. By day, watch eagles feed at Muscatine’s river locks, where the rushing water never freezes; by night, savor live ragtime by Ivory & Gold and other bands during scheduled concerts and casual after-hour gigs.

The Hidden Works of Jay “Ding” Darling VIEW DING AT HIS BEST Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum West Branch Saturday, January 25– Sunday, March 23 9 a.m.–5 p.m. 210 Parkside Drive, West Branch 319-643-5301 $6 adults, $3 seniors, 15 and under free Marvel at the combination of humor and political and

Cinderella — Moscow Festival Ballet

environmental commentary of Jay “Ding” Darling, the iconic


papers while winning national recognition and two Pulitzer

Stephens Auditorium Ames

prizes for his instantly recognizable cartoons.

Iowa cartoonist. Darling worked as a reporter for The Sioux City Journal, The Des Moines Register and Leader, and other

Sunday, January 26, 3 p.m. Lincoln Way, Ames 515-294-3347 Subscribers $30, single tickets $35, 18 and under $20 With a delightful blend of storytelling and humor, plus splendid scenery and costumes, the Moscow Festival Ballet brings Cinderella to the stage in Ames. This production adds humorous English pantomime to Sergei Prokofiev’s beloved music and traditional ballet.

Winter Blues Fest BEAT THE WINTER BLUES Downtown Des Moines Marriott Hotel Saturday, February 8 700 Grand Ave., Des Moines 515-830-4213 $15 in advance, $18 day of show Calling all blues fans — this annual musical festival features 10 acts on six stages. Revel in electrifying rhythms and soulful lyrics while you enjoy a night out on the town with fellow blues lovers.

January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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travel Des Moines Home and Garden Show VISIT HOW-TO HEAVEN

Color the Wind Kite Festival FLY THE CLEAR LAKE SKIES Clear Lake Saturday, February 15, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.

Iowa Events Center Des Moines

On the lake near the western end of Main Street 641-357-5516

Thursday, February 6 12 p.m.–9 p.m.


Friday February 7, 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Saturday February 8, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. Sunday, February 9, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Stunt fliers pilot vibrant show kites and create choreographed kite ballet at this annual festival. A frozen lake offers a great view of the show; kite vendors sell what

730 3rd Street, Des Moines 515-564-8000

you need to join

$9 online, $11 at the door, $4 children 7–12, ages 6 and under free

you’re there, check

This annual event draws about 40,000 visitors who attend

Lake Arts Center’s

seminars, meet celebrities (this year, it’s American Pickers’

collection of kites,

Frank Fritz), hear lectures, watch demonstrations, and

kite memorabilia,

peruse the offerings of dozens of home and garden

and kite artwork.

in the fun. While out the Clear

product vendors and service providers. New this year: a butterfly exhibit.

Sioux City Symphony Love: By Request

Des Moines Metro Opera’s Wine & Food Showcase



Orpheum Theatre Sioux City

Downtown Des Moines Marriott Hotel

Saturday, February 15 6:45 preconcert talk 7:30 p.m. concert

700 Grand Ave., Des Moines 515-961-6221

528 Pierce St., Sioux City 712-277-2111

$40 in advance, $50 at the door

$15–$40 The Sioux City Symphony hosts a romantic evening of Tchaikovsky, Wagner, and Schumann that features Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture (the 1880 Version) and Wagner’s

Friday, February 21, 5:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m.

More than 40 of the area’s finest restaurants, wineries, breweries, and distributors present tempting dishes and craft beverages. Proceeds from the merriment and mingling benefit the Des Moines Metro Opera’s productions and education programs.

Tristan und Isolde: Prelude and Liebestod. The symphony also welcomes Wayne Weng, the 2013 Iowa Piano Competition Champion, performing Schumann’s famed Piano Concerto. Love is in the air!



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Ramada Tropics Resort Bluegrass Festival JAM WITH THE BANDS Ramada Tropics Resort Urbandale Friday, February 21– Sunday, February 23


5000 Merle Hay Rd. Urbandale 641-799-1442 Weekend pass: $30 in advance, $35 after January 31 Single-day passes $15–$20 in advance, $20–$25 after January 31 Friday 4:30 p.m. concert, free The Bluegrass Music Association of Iowa introduces the 2nd

Friday, February 21–Saturday, February 22, 7:30 p.m.

annual Ramada Tropic Resort Bluegrass Festival. Four Midwestern

211 N. 3rd St., Burlington 319-237-1099

bands — Jimmie Allison and the Ozark Rounders, the Bluegrass

Adults $24, students and seniors $18

play along during jam sessions throughout the weekend.

Martins, Bluegrass Addiction, and No Grass Limit play — and you can, too. Bring your stringed instruments and harmonicas and

Newsweek called them “the best Beatle band on the planet.” Managed by Sam Leach, the original promoter of the Beatles, this live band features period instruments, detailed costuming, and spot-on depictions — right down to a left-handed Paul. Act I features the Ed Sullivan years; Act II, the Sergeant Pepper era. The show ends with songs from Abbey Road and The White Album.

UNI-Dome Antique & Collectibles Show HUNT FOR VINTAGE TREASURE

The Small Patch: Quilts for Dolls and More ADMIRE HAND-STITCHED QUILTS Grout Museum of History & Science Waterloo


UNI-Dome Cedar Falls Friday, March 21–Sunday, March 23 Friday 4 p.m. Saturday 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Sunday 10 a.m.–4 p.m. 2501 Hudson Rd., Cedar Falls 712-326-9964

Now–Saturday, March 8 Tuesday–Saturday 9 a.m.–5 p.m.


503 South St., Waterloo 319-234-6357

more than 150 exhibitors. The UNI-Dome overflows with

$10 adults, $5 children 4–13 and veterans

toys and sports collectibles, tools, and textiles — all waiting

Before ready-made toys, children perfected their stitching

to be browsed and bargained.

Iowa’s largest indoor antiques and collectibles show features furniture, art, books, jewelry, tableware, postcards, coins,

by creating small quilts for their dolls. Modern quilters re-create these wonders to decorate, to experiment with colors and patterns, and just for enjoyment. The Grout Museum’s exhibit features old and new quilts, dolls, and doll accessories.

January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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Winter Festivals





Veterans Park

Multiple venues within the Amana Colonies

Friday, February 7–Saturday, February 8

Saturday, January 25 • 515-295-7201 Free–$25, depending upon event 319-622-7622

Algona’s cure for cabin fever includes a chili cook-off,


a Texas Hold ’Em tournament, live music, an indoor

The colonies buzz

triathlon, ice races, snowmobile rides, snowball kickball,

with dozens of

kids’ games, a bake-off, and more.

all-day events, including exhibitions of ice carving, hearth cooking; competitions in log sawing and beard growing; contests in the unique-to-Amana ham-put, pork chop slapshot, and wreath toss; and activities such as pretzel making, cookie decorating, and marshmallow roasting. A wine and beer walk, a 5K run-walk, free admission to museums, a Snow Ball with live music and dancing, plus other events are included.



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Clear Lake State Park

Marriott Hotel and Conference Exhibit Hall

Friday, January 17–Sunday, January 19 weather permitting. Alternate dates: February 8–10

Saturday, January 25, 12–4 p.m. • 641-421-2861 Event entries $5–$35; spectating is free

300 E 9th St., Coralville • 319-248-1700

Join a guided snowmobile cruise around the lake,

$40 brewmaster, $25 general admission, $5 nondrinking. Participants must be 21 or older.

LeMans-style racing, Radar Runs, a vintage snowmobile

This third annual celebration of winter beers and the brewers

show, food tent, and raffle. Bring your sled and enter an

who make them features craft beers and winter seasonals

event (and perhaps win a cash prize) or just come for the

for sampling and purchase from more than 40 Midwest

camaraderie and to cheer on the participants.

breweries, plus live music and food. A limited number of “brewmaster” tickets are available for early admission, a


special glass, and a chance to talk with brewers about the

Surf Ballroom & Museum

craft of brewing.

Thursday, January 30–Saturday, February 1 460 North Shore Dr., Clear Lake • 641-357-6151 PHOTO COURTESY MIKE JENN

$110 (valid for the entire event at the Surf; individual-night tickets not available) The Surf’s Winter Dance Party commemorates “the day the music died,” when Buddy Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and Ritchie Valens played their last


concert there on


February 2, 1959,

Hy-Vee Hall

before their plane

Friday, January 24, 9 a.m.–2 p.m. and 7 p.m.–7 p.m. Saturday, January 25, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.

crashed north of year’s three-day,

Iowa Events Center 833 5th Ave., Des Moines 515-288-7171

festival-style event features live concerts by Chubby Checker,

Free daytime events; $50 Friday evening gala

Los Lobos, the Original Drifters, and more; a family sock

Iowa’s premier festival celebrating African-American arts

hop; a record and memorabilia show; a kids’ show; a ’50s

and culture features performances of gospel, dance, drama,

and ’60s art show; dance/costume contests; and events

jazz, blues, R&B, soul, drum & drill, puppetry, and more on

throughout the community.

three stages, plus a health fair, soul food, kids’ carnival, and

Clear Lake. This

many other events and exhibitors. There’s also a black-tie Embracing Excellence Gala Friday evening.

January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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DES MOINES (continued)




Iowa State Fairgrounds

Saturday, March 1 10 a.m. or 11 a.m.

Botna Bend Park

Saturday, February 1 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

2926 Mahogany Rd. Hancock • 712-741-5465

E. 30th Street & E. University Ave. Des Moines



$5 before February 26, $6 day of event, children 5 and under free


Celebrate the 21st anniversary of tapping the silver maple

This mecca of all bacon

trees at Botna Bend Park. You can drill your own tap and

festivals offers bacon

learn how the process of making real maple syrup begins.

sampling, bacon lectures,

Fee includes a sample of authentic maple candy.

bacon-inspired dishes, bacon competitions, a bacon queen (in an all-bacon dress, PHOTO COURTESY THINKSTOCK

of course), bacon awards, live entertainment, and what the organizers call “bacon fellowship.” Last year’s event hosted 9,500 people, served more than 5 tons of bacon, and raised $30,000 for charity.

EASTERN IOWA IOWA WINTER GAMES Dubuque: January 24–26 Cedar Rapids: February 8–9

HONEY CREEK GUIDED SNOWSHOE HIKE Loess Hill Lodge Saturday, January 11, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. weather permitting Hitchcock Nature Center 27792 Ski Hill Loop, Honey Creek 712-242-1197

Exact locations, schedule, registration, and fees:

$5 includes a guided hike, refreshments, and snowshoe use. Ages 12 and up only; call to preregister.

The 2014 Winter

Explore a Loess Hills wonderland on snowshoes that allow

Iowa Games will

you to float over even the deepest drifts. View winter wildlife,

feature 23 sports,

wind-sculpted snow formations, and sparkling winter views

from archery to

of woodlands, meadows, and bluffs.

Zumba, for people abilities. More than 4,000 athletes are expected to compete in indoor events such as basketball, indoor soccer, martial arts, swimming, table tennis, dodgeball, and volleyball. Winter sports include alpine and cross-country skiing, ice hockey, figure skating, snowshoeing, and more.


of all ages and

PERRY BRR RIDE (BIKE RIDE TO RIPPEY) 2014 Perry to Rippey Saturday, February 1, 10 a.m. Hotel Pattee 1112 Willis Ave., Perry Register online at • 515-465-4601 $25 The Perry Area Chamber of Commerce hosts the 37th Annual BRR — Bike Ride to Rippey. The 24-mile ride from Perry to Rippey and back rolls on sometimes through frigid wind chills and a foot of snow, sometimes through springlike 60-degree temperatures. Attendance has grown every year; riders and guests come from all over Iowa and the country.



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Cozy Winter Drinks

Chocolate Caliente Home-made marshmallows and tiny-but-tasty cinnamon cakes are a great accompaniment to this decadent cocoa, says this recipe’s developer, Chef Michael Bailey of Des Moines’ Embassy Club West. A touch of chili powder gives the rich chocolate a very subtle spice. Serves 6

2½ c. evaporated milk ¾ c. Anderson Erickson half-and-half ½ c. Tia Maria (optional) ½ vanilla bean ¼ c. sugar ¼ t. chili powder 1½ T. unsweetened cocoa powder 3 cinnamon sticks 1 dried Serrano chile, whole 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate ½ c. Anderson Erickson heavy whipping cream ½ T. Mexican cinnamon, ground

A quartet of Iowa-sourced beverages to warm you from the inside out by JIM DUNCAN | photography by DEAN TANNER

Iowans have always mellowed cold winter days with hot chocolate, mulled wines, and warm spirits. We’ve combed the state to come up with these four delicious recipes — all from Iowa sources and using Iowa ingredients. Try one — heck, try ,em all! — some winter eve by the fire or when welcoming family and friends.

1. Warm evaporated milk, half-and-half, Tia Maria,

vanilla bean, sugar, chili powder, and cocoa powder in saucepan over medium heat. 2. Add cinnamon sticks and Serrano chile. Stir in

chocolate until melted. Let stand, uncovered, 20 minutes. 3. Whip cream and ground cinnamon together

until stiff peaks form. 4. Strain chocolate mixture. Serve in warmed coffee

mugs with dollop of cinnamon cream on each or with homemade marshmallows.

IOWA INGREDIENT SOURCES Anderson Erickson Dairy Half-and-half, heavy whipping cream Made in Des Moines 515-265-2521

Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery Pear Brandy Made in Swisher 319-857-4300

Mississippi River Distilling Co. Cody Road Rye Whiskey Made in LeClaire 563-484-4342

Tassel Ridge Winery Brianna Made in Leighton 641-672-9463

Small’s Fruit Farm Loess Hills Cider Made in Mondamin Barn: 712-646-2723 Home: 712-646-2195 Home-made marshmallow and cinnamon cake recipies

January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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travel • food • garden • home food

Cyd’s Cozy

Loess Hills Hot Cider

Cody’s Harvest

A fruity, semisweet, and highly aromatic Iowa white wine combines with spices and pear brandy to create a taste that’s delightfully tangy and a bit citrusy, says Cyd Cohen of Cyd’s Catering in Johnston, who contributed this recipe.

The Loess Hills’ fertile soil produces some of the most distinctive-tasting apples in America. This recipe is exceptionally smooth — thanks to the maple syrup — and subtly spiced. Delicious!

Made with Iowa apple cider, maple syrup, and whiskey, Cody’s Harvest is probably the most purely Iowan warm cocktail out there. It’s warming and smooth, and the sage adds a wonderful depth and aroma.

Serves 6

Serves 1

Serves 4


750-ml bottle of Tassel Ridge Brianna 1 star anise 2 fresh ginger, sliced ¼-inch-thick 3 vanilla beans 3 cloves, whole 4 T. honey 1 Asian pear, sliced ¼ c. Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery Pear Brandy 1. Put the wine in a medium heavy

saucepan with the star anise, ginger, vanilla beans, cloves, and honey. 2. Set the pan over medium heat

and bring just to a simmer, stirring occasionally. 3. Turn off the heat and steep 15

minutes. Pour in warm mugs and garnish with fresh pear. 4. Stir in brandy.


apple cider maple syrup cinnamon sticks whole cloves allspice berries lemon zest orange zest

2 oz. apple cider 1 oz. fresh lemon juice 1 oz. maple syrup 2 oz. Mississippi River Distilling Co.’s Cody Road Rye Whiskey 2 fresh sage leaves

1. Pour the apple cider and maple

1. Heat all of the ingredients except

syrup into a large saucepan. 2. Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries, orange zest, and lemon zest in a washed square of cheesecloth; enclose the bundle, then tie it up with string. Drop the spice bundle into the cider mixture. 3. Place the saucepan over moderate heat for 10 minutes; do not boil. 4. Remove the cider from the heat. Discard the spice bundle. Ladle the cider into warmed mugs, adding a fresh cinnamon stick to each serving if desired.

Jim Duncan is a Des Moines-based freelance writer.

6 c. ¼ c. 2 6 6 1 t. 1 t.

the whiskey together. 2. Once warmed throughout, pour into a mug and add the whiskey. Garnish with fresh sage if desired.

Dean Tanner is a commercial photographer who lives in Des Moines with his wife and two daughters. He specializes in food photography.


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January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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11/26/13 4:53 PM


Bring the Tropics INDOORS

Four easy-to-grow houseplants to lift your spirits by DEB WILEY | photography by DEAN TANNER

It’s dark and cold in Iowa these days. Adding houseplants will cleanse the air, add humidity, and most important, cheer you up. You say you can’t grow plants? What if they could live in a closet for two weeks with no permanent damage? Former Iowan Justin Hancock, now with Costa Farms in Florida, the largest grower of indoor plants in North America, says anyone can grow these.

MOTH ORCHID (Phalaenopsis species) Orchids get a bad rap as being difficult to grow, but moth orchids — named for their flower shape — are really easy. Many bloom for up to six months, then go dormant for another six before reblooming. “So you’re without flowers for six months,” says Hancock. “Show me another houseplant that can do that.”


HOW TO GROW: Place moth orchids in low to medium light. Allow

the potting medium to dry out slightly between waterings. Avoid letting the orchid stand in water. If your orchid is potted in moss in a glass container, stick your finger below the moss to check moisture and only water when dry. Use a liquid fertilizer such as 30-10-10 when the plant is dormant; switch to 10-20-10 when blooming. Fertilize every other week during warmer months, once a month — or weekly at about one-quarter strength — in winter. SIZE: Varies; miniatures to very tall orchids. TIP: If your orchid won’t rebloom after a six-month rest, move it to a

spot with more light, but not direct sunlight. It also needs a 5°F to 10°F drop in temperature to form a flower spike. Keep it about 55°F at night and 65°F during the day for three or four weeks. Avoid placing it in a cold draft.

GENERAL TIP If your plant is drooping, stick your finger in the soil and don’t water unless it is dry. More plants die of overwatering than underwatering! Fertilize sparingly, especially in winter, when most plants are dormant; too much fertilizer can damage the plant. Most nonflowering plants do well in a location with indirect light.



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SANSEVIERIA (Sansevieria species)


This old-fashioned favorite with upright, strappy leaves is also known as snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue. Sansevierias also survive the two-week closet test. “They’re bulletproof, with a nice architectural, upright style,” Hancock says. “The shape really appeals to the next generation; it’s a great IKEA plant.” There are at least 60 sansevieria species with a variety of coloration. HOW TO GROW: This low- to bright-light plant wants moist soil, but don’t let it stand in water or let the soil go completely dry. Fertilize with 5-5-5 fertilizer every two to four months. SIZE: 2 feet tall, 15 inches wide. TIP: Avoid watering the center of the plant, which can cause it to rot.

Water the soil.

RED AGLAONEMA (Aglaonema Siam Aurora) Red aglaonema (ag-lee-oh-NEE-ma) is another plant that survived the closet test. “It came out in virtually the same shape,” Hancock says. Red ag, as the Costa folks call it, is a “nice, solid performer that grows really slowly, so its care requirements are lower,” he says. HOW TO GROW: Place aglaonema in low to medium

light. Keep the soil moist, but don’t allow the plant to stand in water or let the soil go completely dry. Fertilize with a 5-5-5 every two to four months.

DESERT ROSE (Adenium obesum) It looks like bonsai, blooms like a Hawaiian plumeria, and is super easy to take care of because it’s a succulent. The desert rose blooms in shades of red, pink, or white (inset photo, below). “Its exotic beauty is really tough to beat,” Hancock says. HOW TO GROW:

Place a desert rose in bright light conditions for best flowering. Keep the soil moist to dry; don’t allow it to stand in water. SIZE: Up to 2 feet tall,

20 inches wide. TIP: Keep the

temperature above 40°F.

SIZE: Up to 3 feet tall, 2 feet wide. TIP: Choose the red version of aglaonema (also known

as Chinese evergreen) for its beautiful leaf coloration and place it in a red pot for striking tabletop decor.

Deb Wiley, a Des Moines-based garden writer and editor, always tries to rebloom her orchids.

January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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Feather Your Nest Czech Feather and Down Company creates Old World comfort by Suzanne Kelsey

As a girl, Dawn Schorg knew exactly what she would save if her house caught fire: her feather pillow, handcrafted by her great-aunt Vera Vanous. “That pillow was the most comfortable thing in the world,” recalls Schorg, now 47. Using techniques born in Czechoslovakia, Vera Vanous handcrafted feather and down pillows, comforters, and beds. She used top-quality ticking, feathers, and down; hand-weighed each product to ensure the proper mixture of feather and down; double-stitched all seams; and finally fluffed, kneaded, and reweighed each product. Her business, Griffith Feather Company, was established in 1885 by Czech immigrant relatives in Cedar Rapids. In the late 1980s Schorg’s mother, Rose Marie “Cookie” Vanous, took over. Vera, then 86, taught niece Cookie not only how to craft new feather and down products but how to “renovate” old ones by removing the old ticking, sterilizing the feathers and down (done via steam in the old days, now accomplished by exposing the materials to a special light), sewing new ticking, and inserting the clean contents. Each product’s stuffing is handled individually so that customers get their own feathers and down back. “She kept saying, ‘It’s like riding a bicycle; once you catch on, it’s easy,’” recalls Cookie Vanous, 68. “I struggled for a long time, but suddenly it began to click.”


Pick your pillow: Czech Feather & Down’s Mount Vernon shop offers a variety of sizes, stuffing mixes, and ticking.

Traditional workmanship is a part of the company’s heritage: It’s been making and restoring feather and down bedding since 1885.


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Vanous renamed the business Czech Feather and Down Company, moved it to Czech Village south of downtown Cedar Rapids, and worked 16 hours a day to fill orders. Her aunt continued to make pillows for the company until she reached 90. In 2000 Schorg joined her mother as co-owner. After the Czech Village flooded in 2008, the company relocated to downtown Mount Vernon. The women marveled over the can-do spirit of the small town that greeted them with a big postflood welcome. Volunteers gave the store a makeover, complete with a moon-andtwinkling-star sleepscape above the counter. Behind the counter in the production room, Vanous works on comforters and feather beds while Schorg and her husband, Rob, make new pillows. Queen-size pillows range from $41 for a 90% feather/10% version to $187 for a firm, all-down pillow. (Down, or fine underfeathers, is more expensive but the ultimate in comfort.) Specialty and custom-made items, such as pillows designed to accommodate hoses connected to sleep apnea machines, are also available. Vanous estimates that in the late 1800s there were hundreds of similar businesses in the Midwest. Today Czech Feather and Down may be one of the last. But business is good. Orders come in via email from all over the world, including England, Germany, and Nigeria. Vanous and Schorg also enjoy the walk-in local customers and travelers. “People talk about their personal lives so openly,” says Schorg. “Maybe it’s because pillows are related to sleep, and sleep is such a personal thing.” She also is surprised by the sentiment people have about their bedding. One woman from Georgia called, embarrassed about the condition of her husband’s two old feather pillows. “But she finally convinced him to send one of them to us,” says Schorg. “He absolutely loved what we did and allowed her to send in his other one. “It turns out I’m not the only one in the world that cherishes my pillow.”

Why Feathers? “People travel to Europe and sleep on feather and down beds and pillows, and they come back wanting that comfort,” says Cookie Vanous. “Especially if you have back or neck problems, these products are really comfortable.” “One of our customers was able to avoid spine surgery after buying a good down pillow,” adds Schorg. Down comforters follow the contours of the body, adjust when you move, and provide warmth without weight. Plus, properly restored feather and down products can last more than a century. Fred and Ellen Ziska bought a feather bed for a cabin they were building in the Idaho mountains. They wrote the company that the bed kept them “warm and snuggly on those cold Idaho nights and mornings. “When you first crawl into it,” they added, “you melt into a mountain of fluffy down feathers … and it warms up fast into your own personal oven. If we didn’t have to eventually get out of bed now and then, we would never need a heat stove. This has been the absolute BEST bedding purchase we have ever made!”

Freelance writer Suzanne Kelsey counts her sheep in Coralville.

January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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You can buy a box of lightbulbs at New Providence Hardware, but these carriage bolts are still sold by the piece the old-fashioned way.



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Old-Fashioned Hardware Stores They dispense know-how, they drip with vintage ambience — and they still sell nails by the pound. by BARB HALL | photography by KATHRYN GAMBLE

The door creaks open and a bell tinkles overhead. The echo of your footfall on the wood floor bounces off the tin ceiling, joined by the whirring of a saw in the back and the ka-ching of a cash register. You’re engulfed by an unmistakable combination of smells — oil, metal, dust, jute — that can only be found in one place: your local hardware store. Most neighborhood hardware stores have long been replaced by retail chains, but a few have survived and continue to solve the day-to-day problems of the community — leaky pipes, damaged screens, burned-out bulbs, broken doors.

We’re Still Here New Providence Hardware has been solving those problems for 150 years. It’s the oldest hardware store in Iowa. The town of New Providence threw a big party in September to celebrate the store’s milestone. “The community really came together for our celebration,” says Marlene McDonald, who owns and runs the store with her husband, Tom. “It was a celebration for the community just as much as it was for us.” While they were preparing for the event, Tom and Marlene took time to reflect on how they’ve survived.

“In 1863, when the store was opened, we were in the middle of a Civil War,” says Tom, who walked into the store in 1975 at age 21. It didn’t help, he says, that the railroad was built more than a mile north of town — a long distance in those days. But the store survived. “In 1910 Main Street burned down. We’re still here. We’ve been through the Depression and two World Wars, where all raw material went toward the war effort. We’re still here. The farm crisis of the ’80s changed Main Street forever. Again, we’re still here. “And just when we started to see light at the end of the tunnel, in the 1990s the mass merchants and the big-box stores aggressively added stores, dealing another blow to Main Street. But we’re still here.” Through the years owners of New Providence Hardware have provided more than just hardware. At one time or another, they’ve installed and maintained windmills, pumps, and cream separators. Now they specialize in plumbing and heating. And the people of New Providence, population 226, still rely on the store for screens, nails, screws, knickknacks, and, well, whatever. “It’s the people that want the store,” Tom says.

January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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A Fair Shake

Marlene McDonald, above, reaches into a bin at New Providence Hardware, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in September.

Larry Balvanz, a retired New Providence farmer, is one of those people. He’s been a regular customer since 1962. He strolled in one day looking for a bolt. “I knew it was here,” he said. As Larry left, the bell rang and another customer came in to check with Marlene on details of a local funeral. Roxanne Mehlisch, who was the New Providence postmaster for 13 years before retiring recently, was one of many who helped prepare for the sesquicentennial celebration, which was attended by the governor. She’s also a regular customer. “It’s a good place to get your birdseed and Super Glue,” she says. “And Pepsi,” she adds, pulling a cold one out of the store’s cooler.


Loyal customers are also the backbone of Fairground Hardware in Des Moines, located at the corner of East Walnut and East 30th Street, across from the west entrance to the state fairgrounds. The building dates from 1893 and has housed a general store and a post office. As the state fair, first held in Des Moines in 1878, got bigger and bigger and bigger, so did the need for Fairground Hardware. Fair time is owner Mike Robinson’s busiest (and favorite) time of year. In the weeks before, he’s busy helping vendors set up shop. “You don’t know what you’re going to run into during the fair,” he says. “They’ll call ahead and give me a list: hose, electrical supplies, trimmers for chicken toenails, parts to fix a leak in a concession stand sink.” Hardware store parking becomes fair parking, a significant source of revenue. “It’s fun. It’s more of a social thing,” he says. But fair season is only a few weeks in August. Like it is at the New Providence store, Robinson says, “It’s service that keeps ’em coming back.” And, like it is in New Providence, window and screen repair make up a significant part of his business. But that’s not the kind of service he’s talking about.


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OPPOSITE RIGHT: Fairground Hardware has served fairgoers and Des Moines’ east siders for decades. LEFT: Mike Robinson is in his 18th year as owner of Fairground Hardware. “Not only can I sell it to you, but I know how it works,” he says. BOTTOM: You can still buy nails by the pound at Fairground Hardware.

Behind the counter where he holds court daily with some of his regulars, Robinson stores multiple drawers of nails. “Out at the other stores, if you want a nail, or 10 nails, you have to buy a whole box. I still have them in bulk like they did 50 years ago.” He pulls out a handful and places them on a scale. “I don’t know about you,” he says, “but when I go into a store, I want somebody knowledgeable to help me.” He picks up a plumbing repair kit from a shelf. “You can pick this up at one of the big stores,” he says. “But I will open it up, take it out, and show you how to use it.” Robinson has also been known to make house calls. A few years ago a customer who is in a wheelchair needed help with a part she bought at the store. He delivered and installed it and still checks on her. “I like helping people,” he says. Robinson had his eye on the store for years before he bought it. As a rental-property manager in the area, he bought all his hardware at the store and told the previous owner, Jim Cox, “If you ever want to sell this place, let me know.” He did.

January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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ABOVE: Woodward Hardware is part hardware store, part museum — a showcase for vintage toys as well as antique hardware. RIGHT: Clayton Overton has just started to part with some of the antique toys and hardware he’s collected for decades.

Back in Time Clayton Overton of Woodward also has a passion for hardware. Woodward Hardware is one part hardware store, three parts museum. While visiting his grandparents as a young teenager, Overton helped his grandfather by digging through boxes of old junk the elder had bought at auctions. “I was hooked,” Overton says. “I’ve been collecting hardware ever since.” Venturing from his family’s farm south of Indianola, he haunted old hardware stores. “In 15 minutes I could come up to the counter with an armload of stuff they didn’t even know they had,” he remembers. “When I told them I collected hardware, they’d take me to the basement and show me truckloads of stuff they were hanging on to.” Over the years, he added blacksmithing equipment and old tools to his collection of unusual hardware, lanterns, and general merchandise. He


dreamed of creating a small living history farm somewhere. But when the store in Woodward became available, his dream turned a corner. The 1900 structure on Main Street has been home to a variety of businesses, including a general store and a grocery with names like Pugh and Dahl on the ownership rosters. It’s been a hardware store since the early 1950s. Overton took over in 1983, and he’s been taking it back in time ever since. “I opened it to be a working hardware store,” he says. The style of the store was up-to-date when he bought it, but Overton wanted a vintage look. “Everything you see, all the shelves and cabinets and fixtures, I’ve brought in for my collections, except for the floor and ceiling, which are original,” Overton says. He bought much of the circa 1800 shelving from a hardware store in Guthrie Center. Other fixtures came from general stores and hardware stores in Indianola and Des Moines.


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LEFT: Overton has spent almost as much time collecting and assembling vintage store shelving as he has collecting his wares. ABOVE: New Providence Hardware specializes in obsolete merchandise — often it its original packaging.

On those shelves you can find a variety of fascinating household gadgets and tools: electric fans, ice cream freezers, and Overton’s personal favorite, a water-powered kitchen mixer. You’ll also see a few antique toys, such as a rare Badger coaster wagon and a five-man Flexible Flyer, the largest sled ever made. Somewhere along the line, Overton started to collect antique toys, too. Most of those are upstairs, but a few have escaped to the main floor. Those are for sale. For now, the massive collection upstairs is not. Like Robinson and the McDonalds, Overton supplements the store’s revenue with plumbing and electrical work, and he repairs glass and screens.

In 1983, when he bought it, most Woodward businesses were closing their doors. “I tried to adapt my business to losses in community,” Overton says. “When the lumberyard closed, I sold sack feed.” Now he’s trying to retire. He opens the store when he feels like it — mostly for tour groups interested in the antiques and the extensive toy museum upstairs. But he won’t close the doors any time soon. “I’ve got a lot of hardware to get rid of,” he says.

Barb Hall grew up going to Petersen Hardware in her hometown of Tipton. “You can’t mistake the sounds and smells of a good hardware store and the friendly feeling you get when someone there helps you solve a problem with your home,” she says. Kathryn Gamble ( is a freelance photographer based in Des Moines.

January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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2nd Edition


COMING SOON: Text and Photography by Ty Smedes smedes2_Eaglebookcovers2rev.indd 1

11/26/13 10:04 AM

Iowa’s Bald Eagles have returned! In 1977, Iowa recorded its first bald eagle nest in 72 years, and amazingly just 3 decades later, 294 young were reared across 92 counties during 2012. This 2nd edition of The Return of Iowa’s Bald Eagles chronicles this conservation success story with new facts, antidotes and over 70 new photos. New nesting charts and statistics are included, and wintering charts and statistics are current through 2013. The Return of Iowa’s Bald Eagles, 2nd edition, 255 pages, $27.95 + tax, available in soft cover





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which contains newly discovered Lost Towns, updated images and much more!


Order online at (click on SHOP) or call 877-899-9977 X211

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Prohibition in Iowa & Lost Black Hawk County - 2nd Ed.


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Your Relaxation Destination!

For the guys! Experience—fishing • snowmobiling • cross country skiing • hunting

For the girls! Discover—spas • home decor • antiques • quilting • specialty gifts

For everyone! Enjoy—delicious cuisine • wine tasting • night life • health/fitness centers and comfortable accommodations

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11/13/13 1:02 PM

3-Show Season Ticket Package as low as $42!


Friday, January 17 · 1 pm

Tuesday, March 18 · 1 pm

Thursday, May 1 · 1pm · (515) 246-2322 · Des Moines Civic Center Ticket Office Support for The Dance Series has been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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11/27/13 3:51 PM

The Basketball Blizzard of ’65 I had to get to town — but how? by KAY JORDAN WHITHAM


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While northwest Iowa hunkered under howling winds and blinding snow, my hometown of Everly fretted. In 1965 the March blizzard that often coincided with the Iowa Girls State Basketball Tournament had arrived a week early. Schools closed, roads were impassable, and the Cattlefeeders, in the middle of seven consecutive years of state tournament appearances, couldn’t practice for the big games in Des Moines. After days of high wind and record-breaking snow, the storm abated. Everly dug out, the school janitor cleared a path to the gym, and Coach scheduled practice. His plans, however, hit a literal snowbank. Chlea Wilken and I, starting guards on our six-on-six team, lived on neighboring farms 12 miles from school and miles from the nearest blacktop. In the snow clearance hierarchy we were at the bottom of the drift. My dad and I stared bleakly at the cement-hard, eight-foot-tall wave of snow frozen in our lane. Dad had promised Coach Haines we’d try to get to town. Fortunately, Chlea’s father and Marion “Pete” Flint, a neighbor to the east, reported they could get their front loaders out of sheds and onto the road. Other snowbound neighbors joined in the telephone party-line discussion, strategizing routes and volunteering to scout the roads that fronted their farms.

Elmer downshifted, raced the truck’s engine, and aimed at the drift. We hit it with a jolt. Dad and I — bundled in long johns, trousers, shirts, sweaters, sweatshirts, jackets, coveralls, and anything else Mom could wrap around us — clambered over snowbanks and trudged down the wind-scoured gravel road. Our plan was simple: We would go as far as we could. Farm groves made charcoal smudges against the gray-white horizon, and wisps of snow skittered across frozen fields. As we hurried along, cold stinging our noses, Dad worried that the wind might pick up, but I was giddy with excitement. At a corner a half mile from our farm, we met Chlea and her father. I was relieved that she looked as fat and ridiculous as I did in layers of mismatched clothing. From the south, we heard the steady throb of a tractor: Neighbors had begun clearing one end of a snowdrift. Pete and Chlea’s father attacked the opposite end while Chlea and I waited in neighbor Nora Dixon’s kitchen, warming our toes and munching cookies.

January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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Deep drifts and downed power lines prevented travel in much of rural Iowa during the blizzards of 1965.

Soon that small section of road was cleared. Via phone we’d heard that the road to the south was open for more than a mile but was then blocked. We hopped on tractors and rattled down the road. I ducked my head against the searing wind and listened to Chlea’s dad and mine shouting battle plans over the tractors’ roars. When we arrived at the bank, the battle was over without a shovel scooped. The monster drift was too long, too deep, and too hard. But Elmer Dykstra, a fanatic fan who lived on the other side of the drift, swore that if Chlea and I walked across the snowy impasse, he’d get us to town. Cold had seeped through several layers of socks and gloves. I stomped warmth into my feet and stared at the bank. It was six to eight feet deep, nearly a half mile wide, and seemed as broad and forbidding as Siberia. Some wind-sculpted sections were as smooth as marble; others were scalloped with tiny, hard ridges. Near a grove, a great frozen wave crested; snowflakes swirled over its summit.


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The blizzard left “concrete-hard” barriers everywhere. The roof of this snow tunnel was strong enough to support a man’s weight.


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The Everly Cattlefeeders “Iowa six-player girls’ basketball was the most successful sporting activity for girls in American history, at its zenith involving more than 70 percent of the girls in the state,” wrote Max McElwain in The Only Dance in Iowa. By the 1960s, girls’ 6-on-6 basketball had evolved into a fast-paced, skillful game that enthralled eager crowds with its speedy half-court action. It drew huge crowds, especially in small towns where the tradition was strongest. The Everly Cattlefeeders were a girls’ basketball dynasty — determined, tough, and talented. Everly, population 600, loved them. Businesses would often close for a big game; everyone had something red and white to wear. The team got some of their spunk from fending off ribbing about their unlikely name and their mascot, Smokey The Bull. (In the 1930s Everly cattle farmer John Jeldon agreed to contribute $50 toward team uniforms provided the team was named The Cattlefeeders.) Everly and the Cattlefeeders took their sports seriously. They ultimately produced two hall-of-fame athletes, a hall-of-fame coach, and a pro women’s basketball player, along with several college athletes and some semipro players. Not bad for town with a population much smaller than the largest airliner’s passenger list. In 1990 an era ended when Everly consolidated school districts and the teams were renamed The Mavericks. — Susan Koehnk Lee


The winning team with the unlikely name.

Smokey the Bull — complete with crazed look, pipe, and fedora — as he appeared on the cover of a 1960s Everly High School yearbook.

Cattlefeeder pride: This sign still stands in Everly.

The Cattlefeeders girls’ basketball lineup in 1965: Kay Jordan is 4th from left; Chlea Wilken is second from right; Coach Haines is front and center.

Susan Koehnk Lee is a former Cattlefeeder and the daughter of the late star Cattlefeeder baseball pitcher Ray Koehnk. Now a graphic and web designer in Asheville, North Carolina, she maintains a fine website,, which has much more information on the Cattlefeeders.

January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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Dad gave me his fleece-lined leather mittens, the ones he wore to do chores during blizzards. Chlea’s father strapped a fat cap with wooly earflaps to her head. Then we scrambled up the bank. The walk seemed endless. With each gingerly step, we hoped that the packed snow would hold our weight. It did. I sighed with relief when I saw Elmer’s truck emerge from a distant lane. When we reached the end of the bank and the truck, Chlea and I turned and waved to our fathers, who had watched our every step from the far side of the drift. We piled into the cab, Elmer revved the engine, and we shot down the road. Gravel rattled; snow billowed. Clutching the wheel with both hands, Elmer barreled through drift after drift. The truck bucked and swayed but never stalled, and when we emerged from each bank, Elmer shouted and pounded the steering wheel in triumph. Then we faced a deep, narrow drift. Elmer downshifted, raced the truck’s engine, and aimed at the drift. We hit it with a jolt. Snow sprayed over the windshield, blinding us. The truck fishtailed but ground forward. Suddenly tires grabbed gravel, and we shot free onto a plowed blacktop road. This time we all roared in triumph. At the school, Chlea and I shouted our thanks to Elmer. We’d made it to practice — and on time! When we waddled into the locker room, we were greeted by raucous laughter. Chlea and I joined in. With all our ill-fitting layers, we looked ridiculous. As I laughed, I remembered Pete and Chlea’s father on their tractors, Nora plying us with cookies, Elmer barreling through snowbanks, and Dad slipping his big mittens over my cold hands. That day’s journey was as triumphant as any tournament win. It was Iowa girls’ basketball at its best.

A One-Two Punch Most Iowans of a certain age remember at least two blizzards in March 1965. The “Basketball Blizzard” occurred the first week in March. That was followed on March 17–20 by another storm, at least as severe, known as The St. Patrick’s Day Blizzard. In hours, temperatures plunged to near zero, winds gusted past 70 mph, and snow flew so thick you couldn’t see across the street. Pheasants were found flash-frozen to tree limbs; dead cattle stood like cast-iron statues in their fields. At the time, The Des Moines Register reported that: • 12 inches of snow fell in the northern part of the state. • 14-foot drifts were observed. • 27 hours was the time it took one woman to travel from Ames to Boone. • 55 motorists stranded en route from Boone to Des Moines piled into a Greyhound Bus — the only vehicle with enough fuel to keep its heaters running. • 61 stranded motorists ended up in one farmhouse north of Duncombe. They ate all the food in the house, plus what they brought in from their cars to share; a traveling meat salesman with a trunk full of cold cuts was particularly welcome. • 100s of cars ran out of gas waiting for rescue on drifted-in highways. Strangers piled into cars with strangers, huddling together for warmth. Others risked frostbite and hypothermia to rescue fellow motorists who had collapsed from exposure. • 1 baby was delivered in complete darkness by a school nurse in Ridotto, where the power was out. The mother and baby did just fine.

Kay Jordan Whitham was a guard on the Everly Cattlefeeders from 1961 to 1965. She now lives and writes in Flagstaff, Arizona, with her husband. They have two adult children, neither of whom played basketball.


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Come Touch the Heart of America Heartland Acres Agribition Center, Independence, IA

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319.234.4567 January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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12/3/13 11:54 AM


The Exotic Winter Getaway Next Door

Dreaming of a soothing, rejuvenating weekend? Iowa offers several overnight spa options â&#x20AC;&#x201D; including one that hosts visitors from six continents. by AMBER DAWN BARZ



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You could sneak away for a weekend on a tropical beach somewhere this winter, but a visit to an Iowa spa can give you more relaxation and rejuvenation for your time and money — without the travel hassles. For Christmas last year, my husband gave my daughter and me a spa package weekend at an Iowa hotel, spa, and casino. We were pampered by massages and pedicures, enjoyed umbrella drinks, laughed at a comedy show, and gambled away our $40 slot and table allotment (more than I am usually willing to stake). We had a wonderful, relaxing time, and I’d do it again in a minute. Here is a sampling of spas to consider and what to expect when you get there.

THE RAJ Maharishi Vedic City Five miles from Fairfield, Iowa’s newest city — Maharishi Vedic City, population 300 — was incorporated in 2001. Every one of the city’s 265 buildings is designed according to Maharishi Vastu architecture, which aims to promote harmony and balance for those who live and work in them. The city is the home to the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention — and The Raj, a world-class Ayurvedic health spa and vegetarian restaurant. Ayurveda is a system of preventive health care developed in India more than 6,000 years ago. The Raj is the only spa outside of India specifically built to offer traditional Ayurveda rejuvenation treatments. People from all over the world visit regularly. In business since 1993 (long before the town incorporated), the spa specializes in treatments ranging from a few hours to as long as three weeks. Treatments can be for general health and wellness or focus on such issues as aging, stress, weight loss, memory loss, allergies, and insomnia.

The Raj in Maharishi Vedic City offers access to 6,000 years of preventive health care knowledge. Some guests say their stays were life-changing.

What should you expect? The Raj is quite a bit more holistic than a typical spa. The full treatment starts when an Ayurvedic expert gives you a health consultation that uses pulse diagnosis to detect subtle imbalances in your physiology, then recommends a plan to relieve them. The entire treatment process is customized, from the food to the treatments to the herbs used in the massage oils. “Guests who choose a health consultation and individualized treatments will gain an understanding of how all aspects of their lives are interrelated and contribute either positively or negatively to overall well-being,” says The Raj’s marketing director, Miriam Man. “Simple shifts in diet, exercise, and daily routines can enhance each guest’s progress toward increased strength and vitality. Our guests go home feeling renewed in body and spirit. They also report that the benefits from their stay continue to grow long after they have returned home.” If that sounds a bit deep for you, you can choose from a list of more standard spa options, including facials, massages, and other relaxation techniques.

January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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How much does it cost? You can select one or more of the items on The Raj’s à la carte list (see the sampling below) or opt for a comprehensive package, which ranges from $595 to $661 per day with a three-day minimum. Comprehensive packages include wellness sessions (including recommendations for after your stay concludes); Ayurvedic spa treatments (2–3 hours a day); herbal enemas, or bastis (optional); private room and bathroom; organic, gourmet vegetarian meals; yoga classes; and evening lectures. à la carte pricing • Maharishi Ayurveda Wellness Session (health consultation): 30 minutes, $149 • Anti-Stress Massage: 45 minutes plus 15 minutes’ rest, $170 per session • Shirodhara (a soothing continuous flow of oil poured slowly and gently across the forehead to settle and balance the nervous system, which often results in profound relaxation): 20 minutes plus 10 minutes’ rest, $125 A shirodhara treatment at The Raj is designed to induce a state of profound relaxation.

• Ten-Step Royal Facial Therapy (a revivifying multistep process designed to make your face feel smooth and radiant): 75 minutes plus 20 minutes’ rest, $140 • Gem Light Therapy using light beams and 13 different gemstones: $120 per session • Accommodations: $108–$165 per night (additional discounts are offered to day spa guests) • Lunch and dinner prices: $10.95–$15.00 (breakfast is included in room rates) For more information call 800-864-8714 or visit



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THE SPA AT RIVERSIDE CASINO AND GOLF RESORT Riverside Just minutes from Iowa City, Riverside, population 993, claims to be the future birthplace of fictional character Captain James T. Kirk of the 1960s show Star Trek. Since 2006 Riverside has also been home to The Spa at the Riverside Resort. The spa features Aveda brand products and treatments, which are also rooted in the natural and holistic science of Ayurveda (note the similarity in names). Aveda is a subsidiary of Estee Lauder. “Our spa services are designed to relax stressed muscles, nourish and freshen skin, and polish outward appearances,” says Katie Miller, spa manager. “We offer a variety of massages, facials, hair services, waxing, pedicures, and manicures.” The Riverside hotel accommodations are 4-star-rated. While there, you can also enjoy live entertainment, fine dining, and table- or slot-style gambling.

What should you expect? Check in at the Riverside Hotel, confirm your appointment times, then head to the spa, allowing yourself enough time to relax in the steam sauna and whirlpool in the separate men’s and women’s locker facilities. Robes, towels, and spa sandals are provided. How much does it cost? The hotel frequently offers discounted spa packages that include one- or two-night accommodations and two spa treatments per guest. Ask about specials when you call for reservations. You can also select one or more items from the spa’s à la carte list. See some options, right.

Like most spas, the Spa at Riverside Casino and Golf Resort offers therapeutic massage.

à la carte pricing • Stone Massage (combines therapeutic hands-on massage techniques with smooth, warm stones to help reduce stress and tension): 75 minutes, $115 • Tranquillescense (similar to the shirodhara, this treatment gently streams warm oil over your forehead and is designed to relieve stress and anxiety while bringing clarity to the mind): 30 minutes, $45 • Focus Facial (a nourishing skin care regime that can be continued at home): 30 minutes, $60 • Signature Facial, (a multistep facial and skin care regime tailored to your individual needs and skin type): 1 hour, $85 • Professional Makeup Application: $25 • Aqua Body Polish (a full-body exfoliation using natural minerals and sea salts): 40 minutes, $70 • Shellac Nail Polish (a 10- to 14-day chip-free gel nail color application in which the color dries quickly, so there is no need to worry about smudging): Manicure, 60 minutes, $45; Pedicure, 75 minutes, $75 • Accommodations: $70–$200 per night For more information call 877-677-3456 or visit

January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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The Copper Door is a full-feature spa in a spectacularly renovated vintage hotel that’s the centerpiece for Perry’s charmingly revitalized downtown.

THE COPPER DOOR SPA AT THE HOTEL PATTEE Perry If you haven’t been to Perry recently, population 7,700, you’re missing out. The city has enhanced the downtown area with a beautiful streetscape project. Many of the buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and interesting small shops, galleries, and public spaces abound. In November the 4½-star-rated Hotel Pattee, known for its meticulously decorated themed rooms (such at the Louis Armstrong Suite and the Gustav Stickley Room), reopened. (For more on the hotel and Perry, see The Iowan, November/December 2013, page 30.) The Copper Door Spa at Hotel Pattee reopened also. Licensed massage therapist and Perry resident Jeanette Loyd is excited about the changes. “You’ll find the same beautiful decor and top-notch massages, facials, and skin care treatments but at more affordable


prices,” Loyd says. “Come for a weekend and enjoy a relaxing massage, facial, and body wrap and go home feeling relaxed and refreshed.”

What should you expect? Check in at the Hotel Pattee, confirm your appointment times, and then head over to the spa at least 15 minutes before your appointment time to relax, unwind, and slip into the provided plush robe and slippers. If you like, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea before your service begins. How much does it cost? The hotel and spa offer a variety of discounted spa packages that include one- or two-night accommodations and a choice of spa treatments. Ask about specials when you call the Hotel Pattee for reservations. You can also select one or more items from the spa’s à la carte list. See a sampling opposite.


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à la carte pricing • Therapeutic Swedish Massage (a massage technique designed to relax the entire body): 30 minutes, $40; 60 minutes, $65 • Deep Tissue Massage (hands and heated bamboo are used to loosen muscles and release chronic muscle tension; great for those who suffer from headaches, tight shoulders, back pain, or all three): 30 minutes, $50; 60 minutes, $75 • Contour Body Wrap (an all-natural body wrap process that detoxifies the tissues while producing a loss of up to 14 inches. Contouring restores elasticity to loose and sagging skin, helps diminish cellulite, and contours problem areas of the body): 60 minutes, $70; series of 3, $195; series of 5, $300 • All About the Feet (includes gentle exfoliation with sea salts and essential oils and an extensive and deeply relaxing foot massage): 30 minutes, $40 • Pattee Signature Lift Facial (designed to create a natural healthy glow, this treatment includes double cleansing; a gentle triple-action enzyme exfoliating masque; a luxurious massage of the face, neck, and shoulders; and the application of a moisturizer. Ideal for all skin types, including sensitive, rosacea, and aging skin): 75 minutes, $80

HERE OR THERE? A beach on the Caribbean in January is fabulous (who doesn’t love white sand and blue skies?). But if it’s relaxation you’re after, even a three-day stay at The Raj is much less expensive. My husband and I went to Puerto Rico a few years ago; airfare set us back $600 per person. It took 7 hours to get there and 10 hours to get back. Hotel accommodations at the 4-star level averaged just under $200 a night. Add in food, entertainment, and a massage or two and the price tag was close to $4,000. By contrast, the weekend my daughter and I spent at the Riverside cost us $550, including two spa treatments for each of us, meals, a little bit of gambling, and gas. Round-trip travel time from Des Moines was less than four hours.

• Sunless Spray Tanning, full body: $30 • Accommodations: $109–$199 per night For more information call 515-465-3511 or visit

Amber Dawn Barz ( is a Des Moines-based freelance magazine and book writer.

January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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Climbing the

WORLD’S TALLEST ICICLE Don Briggs invented a new winter sport — and made Cedar Falls its international capital. Story and Photos by DAN WEEKS

It has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, on ABC news, and in papers coast to coast. A Los Angeles viewer wrote, “I’m running away to Iowa!” called it “a climbing mecca in the middle of the Great Plains.” Don Briggs just thought it made sense. A University of Northern Iowa instructor and former wrestling coach, Briggs is also a world-traveled mountaineer. He particularly enjoys the challenge and the beauty of scaling frozen water. Plowing a field one day for his friend, Jim Budlong, he started eyeing a grain silo. Winter was coming. “What if we sprayed it down?” he wondered. “I’ll grab the hoses!” said Budlong. A new sport was born. “You need two things to farm ice,” Briggs says. “Temperature and water. Well, we’ve got those.” We also have a land spiked with silos, 90 percent of which Briggs says are empty. Why not repurpose them? So for more than a dozen years now, Briggs has hoisted hoses with showerheads aloft to sculpt ice towers that can reach 85 feet high and 8 feet thick. Dozens of climbers each weekend day pay $35 (or $150 for a season pass) to get outfitted in climbing gear; expert instruction and enthusiastic encouragement from Briggs and his crew; and admission to the cozy warming shed, where battered-but-comfy couches and hot chocolate await. Climbers are belayed to the tower’s top with stout ropes held taut by trained volunteers.


If you get unstuck from the ice, you don’t fall — you just hang suspended and can decide either to climb on or be lowered gently to the ground — a thrill in itself. No prior experience is required, and climbers from grade-schoolers to octegenarians and folks from as far away as China have successfully scaled the tower. Briggs and his volunteers don’t make a nickel — the user fees go for gear rental and other expenses. “My dream,” says Briggs, “is to see ice on every silo in Iowa, with people climbing them. It’s so healthy and exhilarating.”

Don Briggs watches a climb in progress.


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portfolio On a crystalline-blue January day, two climbers rest before enjoying a rappel down an 85-foot-tall grain silo near Cedar Falls. The climb â&#x20AC;&#x201D; open to anyone for a nominal gear-rental fee most winter weekends â&#x20AC;&#x201D; has won international attention.

November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN

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A climber pauses to consider his next move. Hooklike ice axes and crampon-studded boots give climbers purchase on the ice.

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Multiple belaying ropes allow three climbers to ascend simultaneously. The ice changes shape and consistency daily, so no two climbs are the same.

November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN

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Eighty-five feet doesn’t sound that high, but near the top spectators are just plain specks!

Dan Weeks is The Iowan’s editor. He climbed his first ice here and plans to return soon. “It’s a blast and a bargain,” he says.

JOIN THE ASCENT! Climbs begin when temperatures are consistently below 26 degrees. Hours: Saturday 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Information and directions: For ice conditions or group climbs call Don Briggs at 319-277-6426.

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JANUARY 24ï&#x161;»26, 2014  5 & 10K Race  Chili Cookoff  Snowmobile Run  Bonfire

 Broomball  Polar Plunge  Softball  And Much More!





January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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flashback: 1954

60 Years Ago in The Iowan

In January 1954 an issue of The Iowan cost 35 cents. The illustration inside the front cover showed a rural letter carrier on horseback.

A full-page ad promoted “the miracle plastic discovery of the scientific world” to keep clothes “wiltproof hours longer.”



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An Iowa Development Commission ad lured industry to a state “where the young learn to use tools, operate and repair machinery almost as soon as they learn to walk.”

“There’s a man in the kitchen … and he’s just as much at home as the women!” marveled writer Lenore Sullivan in her cooking column. She reported that chef and dietitian Stanley Watson “relaxes by cooking. He thinks more men should do this.”

“The Case for Small High Schools” proclaimed, “school reorganization might not only hamper education, but also destroy the small town — and America.” It focused on Coin, population 400. Its high school boasted 74 students, a 36-member marching band (right), 8 teachers, a 6-man football team, and a school paper. (Today Coin has less than 200 residents and sends students to South Page High School, 8 miles away in College Springs.)

Reddy Kilowatt assured Iowans in an Iowa Electric Light and Power ad that “interconnected utility services” were on their way via “the great Iowa grid now being built.”

January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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Are we there yet?

DMO’s Children’s Theater presents:

Annie jr


May 16-25, 2014

at Des Moines Social Club General admission seating Tickets available online and at the door $15 adults $12 students & seniors $8 children 10 and under DMO Children‛s Theater presents Orphans in the Firehouse

“One of America’s Best Small Towns”

There’s an app for that!

May 16th–25th, 2014 @ Des Moines Social Club

-Smithsonian Magazine


Des Moines Onstage

2124 Grand Avenue

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... moving to the rhythms of the world

315 East 5th St. #12 Des Moines, IA 50309 515-283-8383



Learning and Healing through the ARTS


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All times in CST

season presented by:

515.564.8700 | IOWAWILD.COM January/February 2014 | THE IOWAN

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Paper Blizzard How not to learn the first law of thermodynamics. by MAX P. GRASSFIELD illustration by DAVE TOHT

Waverly, on the banks of the Cedar River, was a great place to grow up in the 1940s. My one complaint was the family requirement that I attend Sunday morning church services, which I found far too structured for my inventive twelve-year-old’s mind. For some inexplicable reason, one bitterly cold, gray January Sunday, I found myself having to endure a double dose of church, Sunday school AND the formal eleven o’clock service. Seated in the back of the sanctuary, I was alone, restless, and bored. I could feel the hot air rising from the register on the floor in front of me from the church’s basement furnace. Rather innocently I tore off a little corner of the church bulletin and released it over the register. Up it floated. “Fascinating,” I thought to myself. During the next half hour or so, unbeknownst to the congregants in the pews ahead of me, I managed to send dozens of small pieces of the bulletin’s blue mimeographed paper into the church sanctuary’s heaven. It kept me entertained and might have gone unnoticed

As punishment, not only was I obliged to apologize, but my father also volunteered my janitorial services to the church. I had to clean the sanctuary, which by the time the furnace was turned off looked more like the American Veterans’ hall after the annual New Year’s Eve celebration than a place of worship.

had the Reverend McMichael not looked toward the heavens during one of his climactic fire-and-brimstone finishes. He was confronted with a blizzard of paper bits circulating above him in the upper reaches of the ceiling. His concluding remarks trailed off in disbelief while I managed to sink a little lower in the pew, head bowed, a picture of angelic contemplation. Or so I thought.

Max Grassfield learned that hot air rises in a Waverly pew. He applies that knowledge as a glider pilot in Englewood, Colorado. Dave Toht is an illustrator, writer, book publisher, and blogger (

Someone must have ratted on me. When my father found out, the lesson for me, aside from learning that hot air rises, was that one didn’t have to be a meteorologist to

Do you have a story about your escapades in Iowa? Email it to and we’ll consider it for publication.

know when a storm was brewing in my house.


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Iowa Area Development Group established the Iowa Venture Award to honor entrepreneurial achievement, innovation, and leadership. Our organization and its member-owned electric utility sponsors take great pride in presenting the 2013 Venture Award recipients.


IOWA VENTURE AWARD RECIPIENTS Airport Road Vineyard & Winery Brownmed, Inc. CPI-Prairie Gold Hatchery ECHCO Concrete L.L.C. Kloubec Koi Farm LaBudde Group, Inc. United Farmers Mercantile Cooperative Valley Plating, Inc. Wildwood Hills Ranch of Iowa

800-888-4743 1 January/February| 2014 | THE IOWAN 000_IBC_TheIowanJF2014.indd 1

11/26/13 5:36 PM



000_OBC_TheIowanJF2014.indd 1

11/26/13 5:37 PM

The Iowan | January/February 2014 vol.62 | no.3  
The Iowan | January/February 2014 vol.62 | no.3  

Iowa’s Best Old-Fashioned Hardware Stores by Barb Hall Your source for know-how, vintage ambience, and nails by the pound. The Basketball Bl...