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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Old Fort Des Moines

This museum and park was our primary reason for this stop. Joyce is a big WW II buff and I recently got this idea of writing a book about a woman joining the WACs to find her MIA brother, That's because my uncle was the MIA and my mother had wanted to be a WAC to end the war faster so he could get home. But her mother cried and said she couldn't stand to lose two children, so my mother didn't go. I started doing some research to see how it might have turned out had she gone anyway. My uncle died in the Death March on Bataan; she couldn't have done anything about it. But it still has the makings of an interesting story. So when Joyce said she wanted to go to Mt Rushmore, I routed us through Des Moines, as good a way to get there as any other. As luck would have it, we visited on the 35th anniversary of Joyce's commission as an Air Force officer. Isn't that peachy? She thinks so.

Here is the fort and museum:

It wasn't what I expected, which was some dusty bunch of wooden buildings. It's very green, as a lot of Iowa is right now, and the buildings are brick with big porches; very inviting. One building is the museum, and they have some memorials in the park as well. A lot of the old buildings are still standing, some used by the Reserves, the local zoo, and so on. Joyce was most impressed with the women's restroom, which is all marble and brass and oak. I bought a whole lot of their books and got a lot of ideas for mine. If you are ever in the neighborhood, drop in and have a look. It's a very well-kept secret. It is also, by the way, the first post on which black Army officers were trained and commissioned, to fight in WW I. So apparently Iowa is a safe place for social experiments, as we have just seen with their recognition of gay marriage.

We drove north to Clear Lake this morning to meet a friend I have known for some time through my royals group, but never met in person. Many people in my group have an Iowa connection, and again, it's right on the way to Mt Rushmore. Like everything else in Iowa, like the whole state, Clear Lake is a well-kept secret. It's a real gem of a little town with wonderful turn of the last century architecture, and we had a lifelong resident as a guide. What fun! Anyway, don't underestimate Iowa as a place to live or a place to visit. We have seldom seen such beautful countryside full of budding trees and bursting with flowers all around beautiful farms with varied architecture. The soil is so dark and rich-looking, it just makes you want to eat corn, or something green and healthy. Just one warning: I'm told winter sucks, so definitely come some other time. Unless you're a Buddy Holly fan; then you have to come in February.

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