I flew to Iowa in May 2014 for my father’s 85th birthday. It was a nice event and it always amazes me how many friends my parents have. While I was in Iowa I also made some side trips. One was to West Branch, one was to LeClaire and one was to the Iowa City/Coralville area.
One of the things to do in West Branch is to visit the Herbert Hoover Museum.
Hoover’s birthplace is also located in West Branch. It must be about 100 square feet total. I am never going to complain about my 500 square foot place ever again. Hoover said his boyhood home is “physical proof of the unbounded opportunity of American life.”
This is a map of the site from the National Park Service.
Hoover from the National Park Service brochure.
This statue is very close to Hoover’s birthplace. I really like the statue. It’s called Isis: The Goddess of Life BUT it looks like it could also be called Isis: The Goddess of death. It’s eerie and cool and I wouldn’t want it anywhere near my place.
What the plaque says…
That’s me in the Fellowship Meetinghouse. I look drunk but I’m not. My glasses are askew so I inadvertently have a Hunter S. Thompson look. All I need is a cigarette to bite down on. Enough about me. Back to the meetinghouse, evidently, men sat on one side and women sat on the other side. Everyone sat in silence until they were “moved” to speak.
Herbert and Mrs. Hoover’s graves. They’re very modest. Nothing like Grant’s Tomb.
This is the Old Capital Building on the University of Iowa campus. Iowa became a state in 1846 and the University of Iowa was founded in 1847.
While in Iowa City and Coralville I ate at a variety of places but I preferred HY-VEE. It’s a grocery store that serves a $4.99 breakfast. Hey, I’m cheap.
Evidently about ten years ago they started putting up Herky statues around town. Herky is the University of Iowa’s Hawkeye mascot. There are about 50 of them now. So here’s a sample of Iowa public art.
This Herky stands outside a police station. My shirt is wild.
I guess he would be Super-Herky. He’s wearing a cape so I have some simpatico with him.
This is a Herky dad with a baby Herky. Some anti-art degenerate pulled off the baby’s feet! How rude.
I cut this out of a local paper. It was either the Cedar Rapids Gazette or the Quad City Times. It happened about a month ago. My understanding is the whole town was in an uproar and the police are on the case. I can’t believe somebody would do this. Crime is running rampant in Iowa. The vandal is obviously somebody from out of town. I suspect it’s somebody from New Jersey.
LeClaire, Iowa is the birthplace of Buffalo Bill Cody.
I was sitting in an A&W Diner eating a chili cheese dog with onions (along with a root beer and fries) thinking about what I should do next. I had already gone to a number of antique stores looking for Odd Fellows items. It was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. It was a cold day and the sky was overcast but I could still see the Mississippi river from my booth in the diner so life was good. After I finished eating I walked out to my car in the parking lot. I was rummaging through my car’s trunk, looking for something, when I saw this guy in an Antique Archaeology t-shirt walking up the hill beside me. I asked him where he got the t-shirt and he said the Antique Archeaology store was right there. He lifted his arm and pointed to a newish looking brick building looming above us on the hill. He told me there were two stores “up there” and I could go into both of them. He stated that he was from a small town down by Burlington and he wanted to move up to LeClaire and get a job working for Antique Archeaology. He said he would be happy sweeping the place up every night. I didn’t suggest he aim higher in life because I was in Iowa and people there are polite and my comment would be inappropriate. I went to both stores. The newer one was wonderfully designed. It was a large open space constructed of glazed brick with large windows and a place I could see myself living in — it was that nice. The other space looked like an old garage but it had its charms too; the main one being the large Phillip Morris guy from the postcard below being on display inside. I would urge anyone who ends up in this vicinity (for whatever reason) to stop by Antique Archeaology. It’s weird and cool. I ended up buying a coffee mug, some postcards (see below), a 1/2 price – 2014 calendar and a bandana/handkerchief.
I remember seeing this episode (I think the show is called American Pickers) when they found this Phillip Morris guy.
I also remember this episode when they found these Laurel & Hardy heads. Considering I don’t have cable and only watch this show when I’m on vacation (and in motels) it’s amazing (or do they repeat them so often it’s not amazing)?
This is what I bought at Big River Antiques on Cody Road. I grew up in Davenport so I was THRILLED to find it.
The antique dealer I bought this from didn’t know who this was which made me gasp a little inside. Without any superiority I said, “It’s our martyred president…James Garfield.”
I bought this tobacco card at the same place that I bought the Odd Fellows Davenport badge. The back of this card states there were fifty cards in the set and the antique store had about twenty. The hero was a clean shaven guy who looked like silent film star Tom Mix but I didn’t buy his card. Instead, I bought this card. I thought the guy in the card above was the best friend of the Tom Mix looking hero but I might be wrong. The more I look at the card, the more I think “his best friend” is his gun.
All photos, of me, were taken by my lifelong friend and Coralville resident Robert C. Graef.
That’s my friend Bob with Officer Herky.
Here’s another picture of Bob from the early 1980s taken with a Polaroid camera. I think I took this picture.
Jonathan and David. My book, The Odd Fellows, was released on December 16, 2013.