Wednesday, November 04, 2009
I have always enjoyed Meredith Willson's "The Music Man". You know. If I could just memorize that "We got trouble right here in River City", I'd be the hit of every party. I'd probably get invited to parties JUST to do that bit! "The Music Man" is about Iowa, my home state. It's supposedly about its people. With this I disagree totally! He portrays Iowans as folks who keep to themselves, mind their own business and expect you to do the same, and only say as much as necessary. That couldn't be further from the truth! After graduating from college too many years ago, my son did Europe on the "hostel program". When he returned I asked him which city he liked best. The young man who grew up in Colorado and visited me in Iowa semi-annually, answered that he liked Prague best. Why? "Because everyone was so friendly, just like in Iowa!"
Yesterday had a worst case scenario lunch/dinner at Bennigan's right off I-35 in Clear Lake. Don't go there!! Drove out to crash site just to see if you could get to it through the mud and to see if the beans were in. Stopped to talk to a truck driver hauling grain somewhere. Ain't much being hauled anywhere this fall. "Did you come to see the Crash Site?" "Nope. Just wanted to see if you got your beans in. I was here in June and everything was real wet. This is your farm, isn't it?" "No, I just work for him. He owns this farm and the Surf Ballroom in town." Obviously had noticed the Texas plate on Mr. Towed. "15 to 20 cars come out here every day." I just couldn't keep it in. "You tell your boss I think he's a true American hero!" "How come?" "If he wanted to, he could turn this into a gold mine, but he doesn't. You gotta work to find this place. You gotta investigate, you gotta ask questions just to get within half a mile of the shrine. Then you gotta walk/slog through soft, clingy Iowa loam, detour around small ponds, and wonder if your body will ever be found. You REALLY ARE on a Pilgrimage. You are going to where The Music Died!!
Well, we had driven out there to kill a little time before meandering over to Mason City, just a few miles to the east. It was time to move from Where the Music Died to Where the Music Man Lived. We had made a day trip on Monday because I knew Meredith Willson was from there and that River City in "The Music Man" was based on Mason City. I had no idea what we'd find, but that's the fun of it. What we did find was the beautifully restored home that Willson grew up in and a wonderful new $10.2 million building known as The Music Man Square. As Zoe was shooting pictures of the house, the square, and the statue of Meredith, a lady walked up and apologized that everything is closed on Mondays, but please come back tomorrow. That might have been the end of it, but she seemed to want to visit, beginning with the usual "Where're you from" and building to a crescendo introduction of "My name is Zoe".Pandemonium broke out! "Oh, my gosh, I'm Zoe, too." After trading a few Zoe stories, Mason City Zoe turned to me. "I'm just plain ol' John." "My husband's name is John!" Egads! Well, MC Zoe was on her way to a board meeting in the restoration where she was to take minutes, so she dragged us along. She wanted her friends to meet the "other" Zoe and John. As a result, we got to meet some very nice people and get a glimpse of the inside of the house. After we left we agreed to come back tomorrow and visit the house, museum and all.
Now, let's recap. We had just met one of these "keep to yourself" Iowans, visited briefly, found we had names in common, exchanged cards, and said good bye. End of story? I think not! Late that afternoon Zoe got an e-mail from Zoe, asking if we would like to come to their home for supper the next evening. Next day we spent all afternoon at the restoration and the square. By the way, as we walked in the doors of the square a handsome young man (relative term, Dick) walked up and said "You're Zoe and John!" Talk about your basic celebrity status! Anyway, we spent 4 hours there and had a wonderful time. Then we drove to Zoe and John's home, had a wonderful supper of chicken soup, a great visit, and managed to leave before they wished we were gone.
Now, let's recap. When's the last time you met someone in a completely casual situation, found only one thing in common, and gotton invited to their home for supper next evening? Huh? Huh?