Monday, July 30, 2012

Zorro, Perry Mason, Moondoggie, Flint McCullough and Ginger?

A picture may be "worth a thousand words", as the saying goes. A picture can bring back memories from fifty-four years ago, too, but so can a diary. And a diary can bring back those words verbatim. Fifty-four years ago was the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in high school.

It was a summer of dressing more than eighty chickens to put in our new deep freeze in the basement. It was the summer we got our new horse, Josephine - a much taller horse than old Queenie and not so apt to nip at us as we tried to put the bridle on her. It was another summer of swimming lessons about which I wrote: "Went down to Tranbarger's right after we got home (from swimming) and got our new little puppie [sic]. 'Ginger' is Leslie's name for it. It's real cute."

Looking at this freshman school picture makes me realize how little my hair style has changed. That lock sticking out the side of my neck at the back still bugs me. I always thought of a 'cowlick' as unruly hair above the forehead or at the crown - maybe the 'cow licked' me on my neck?
That end of July, 1958 diary entry relates something else I had completely forgotten about: "Got my pictures I sent for. R. Burr, R. Horton, G. Williams and J. Darren." I was forever forming crushes - boys in my class, boys I met from another town, friends of my older brother - even TV and movie stars. Apparently these were favorites enough that I wrote away for publicity photos:

Guy Williams - better known as "The man who wears the mask of Zorro!"  I had forgotten this was a Walt Disney Production, which explains why Annette Funicello was given a part as a birthday present in one episode. Zorro's 'real' name was Don Diego de la Vega, an intellectual Spaniard completely inept with a sword. Don Diego's manservant, the mute, Bernardo (Gene Sheldon), pretends to be deaf as well as mute in order to listen in on the plans of Zorro/Diego's enemies.
So, what young romantic girl wouldn't fall for Zorro and want a picture of him? Remember the uptick in the Z's carved in desks and picnic tables and painted on sidewalks and walls?

So, Zorro, Si; Professor John Robinson, nada. I must not have watched Lost in Space with Williams as the head of the Robinson family and June Lockhart as his wife. Or, if I did, he looked and acted so completely different I did not recognize him. Williams also appeared on some Bonanza episodes as Ben Cartwright's nephew, Will Cartwright. Oh, those Cartwright's - I think I had a crush on all of them at one time or another, especially Adam and Little Joe. Guy Williams died in 1989.

Raymond Burr, the man with the steely blue eyes, was the actor who brought to life Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason. I would not miss an episode of Perry Mason. I had always wanted to be a secretary so of course I imagined myself as Della Street. I didn't necessarily think Raymond Burr was handsome, but he was charismatic. And he was always on the side of justice.

By the time Raymond Burr played wheel-chair-bound, Chief Detective Robert T. Ironside, I was over developing crushes on actors. Well, almost over it. But I did think Perry Mason had aged well and made a good-looking Ironside. Raymond Burr died in 1993.

My crush on James Darren must have resulted from his singing career rather than acting as he wasn't Moondoggie in the Gidget movies until 1959. Or perhaps I saw him in one of his earlier movies, Rumble on the Docks, Operation Mad Ball or The Brothers Rico. 

It was always so easy to confuse James Darren and Bobby Darin. James Darren acted with Sandra Dee. Bobby Darin was married to Sandra Dee. James and Bobby were both singers as well as actors.
From this 1999 album cover, I would say I could probably still get a crush on James Darren. He has aged very well. I should listen to some songs from this album, Night and Day, I'll Be Seeing You, Just In Time, The Way You Look Tonight and many other old standards to see if I remember his voice. Darren was born in 1936.

Possibly the least known of the four I requested photos of was Robert Horton. He played frontier scout Flint McCullough on the television series Wagon Train from 1957 to 1962. I remember wishing the shows highlighted him more than they did the Wagon master, played by Ward Bond. Flint was always being sent ahead to scout the trail while Wagon master Major Seth Adams dealt with that episode's problems. Horton was often confused with Robert Fuller, the actor who replaced him when he left the series to pursue a career in musical theater.

I think this is how I remember Robert Horton looking when he appeared on a Murder, She Wrote episode - another actor who has aged well. Or maybe they all just still look good to me because I've aged, too? Robert Horton was born in 1924.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gossip on Dorchester Terrace About The Cove

Well, when I read Beth Gutcheon's More Than You Know in January, 2011, I did say I would read more of her books if our library had any. When I first saw this cover of Gossip I passed right by it - didn't even look like my kind of book. Then I thought, "Beth Gutcheon, haven't I read her before?" So I picked the book up and read the inside cover.
And learned something. "Did you know that the origin of the word gossip in English is 'god-sibling'? It's the talk between people who are godparents to the same child, people who have a legitimate loving interest in the person they talk about. It's talk that weaves a net of support and connection beneath the people you want to protect."
Gossip is about three girls who first meet at boarding school in the 1960's, Dinah, Avis and Loviah and follows their lives through sixty years of friendship - through post 9/11 in Manhattan. Maybe it is because I do not like gossip or maybe because I can't identify with wealthy socialites, but I didn't care all that much for this novel.

As you know, Anne Perry is one of my favourite authors. I love her William Monk series - have read them all and am patiently waiting for the latest one to come out next month. And I really wished she had written more than the five World War I novels - they were superb. But I have shied away from her Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series. I read the first one (written in 1979) and thought it was okay, but I just wasn't as interested in these two characters as I was in William Monk and Hester Latterly.
I believe that is going to change, however, after reading her latest (#27) in the Pitt series, Dorchester Terrace. It is now 1896, the intrigues in Europe leading up to WWI are already beginning. This later era may have something to do with my liking Thomas and Charlotte better or I may just be needing an Anne Perry fix, but I really enjoyed this book. So much so that I am going to start working my way through the series - at first going backwards to find out what happened in Ireland that this book refers to. (Treason at Lisson Grove) After that, we'll see where I go, maybe back to the beginning so I get to know the characters the way the author developed them.

Ron Rash was first recommended to me by a friend. I have yet to read the book of his she had read and thought so good - Saints at the River - but I did read Serena, the novel for which he was a 2009 PEN/Faulkner finalist.
The Cove is set in the rugged Appalachians of North Carolina at the close of WWI. Though the war in Europe is near its end, feelings against anyone of German ancestry run high. Laurel Shelton is a lonely young woman living within the shadows of the cove. Townsfolk believe the cove to be haunted and that Laurel is a witch. Her parents are dead, her brother, Hank, is in the trenches in France. She aches for something to happen to change her life.
When Laurel finds a strange man in the woods, nearly stung to death by yellow jackets, she takes him to her cabin and nurses him back to health. All she knows about him comes from a note in his pocket, saying his name is Walter, he is mute and he is bound for New York.
Hank comes home from the war having lost one hand. He starts working to improve the farm and offers Walter a job helping build fences and dig a well. As time passes, it is evident Walter and Laurel have feelings for one another. But Walter harbors a secret which could destroy everything.
You know from reading the prologue when a man visits the deserted cove thirty years later and finds a skull in the well, that someone dies. But you won't know who it was until the very end of the book. Reading Rash's lyrical prose describing his characters and the setting makes The Cove a fascinating, atmospheric, historical novel.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"Did and Done"

My dear Grandma Lynam had a saying for everything. One of those which I remember well was whenever she completed a task, whether it was doing dishes, dressing a chicken or canning tomatoes, she would say, "There, that's did and done".
My task the last two mornings has been weeding the flowers. I've gone out early and worked for an hour or so each morning. The idea being to get it done before it gets too hot. But when it's already almost 80 degrees at 6:30 a.m., well......
So this morning when I came in soaking wet from sweat (yes, I know, "horses sweat, men perspire and women glisten". Believe me, it was sweat.), I said, "I'm did and done". And I meant done in! I'm really looking forward to the cold front moving through this evening and having our daytime highs being only in the 90's!

This year it has been hard to even keep the potted plants watered and looking good. The heat is just too much for them. So I'm showing a picture of my pretties from three years ago. I didn't even pot this many plants this year. Interestingly, the pinks in the pot on the left are still doing well. They have lived through three winters in that same pot. I set it in the garage in the fall, bring it back out and water in the spring, and away they go.

Unfortunately, my Linum lewisii, which I love because I think of it as a play on my dad's name, Louis Lynam, did not survive after the 2010 season and I haven't been able to find a local nursery that sells it. I also love this perennial, 'Blue Flax' or 'Prairie Flax' for the way it is covered in tiny blue flowers each morning, which drop during the day, only to be covered the following morning with more tiny blue flowers.

Even the lilies, day lilies and heuchera need more rain to be as lovely as they were two years ago. When we moved here, I dug and brought Mom's one little coral bells plant. It must have liked it in its new home because it has spread so much that I have even shared plants and still have a lot, though the new 'peach melba' heuchera I bought did not thrive and survive.

The Rose of Sharon is the one flowering shrub the heat and drought has not seemed to affect. It is even taller and more full of flowers than it was last year. My neighbor told me that one day the former owner of our house came back just to take a picture of the beautiful bush she had planted.

I have managed to keep the hanging plant my son gave me for Mother's Day this year alive and looking good by giving it a half gallon of water each morning and evening. But when it is windy and hot as it is today, I take it down and set it in the shade out of that sirocco wind.

I came so close to losing my beautiful Hyssop when I divided it to share in the fall two years ago. This is what it looked like pre-divide. In the spring following, all I had was a bit of green on what otherwise looked like dead sticks. I kept watering it and it did grow. This year it looked much better. I keep it watered every day and while it has yet to cover the sundial statue as it once did, it looks good. It is one plant I love to work around - the aroma is heavenly to me.

The earth may 'laugh in flowers' as my plaque says, but right now, I think it would be happier to 'laugh in showers'. It would be lovely if that cold front brought some rain with it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Korbel Brut Rose, Two Weddings And The Russian River

Before their wedding last Friday, Kari and I were talking about how much I wished I could be there in person. "I'll be with you in spirit", I said. "And I have a bottle of Korbel Brut Rose* Champagne I've been saving for a special occasion. I'll open that and drink a toast to you."
Which I did. This was a champagne I'd never had before, so as I sipped, I read the label: "In 1882, three brothers, Francis, Joseph and Anton Korbel established the Korbel winery in California's Russian River Valley." Wait a minute. We drove through the Russian River Valley on the way to Mark's wedding six years ago. We must have driven past the Korbel Winery, though I had no memory of it. Out came my pictures of that trip in July, 2006, along with the map of the route we took, and the memories came back.......

As long as we were going to drive to Healdsburg, California anyway, we might as well take our time and see as much as possible on the way. First I wanted to see Nebraska's waterfalls. YES, Nebraska does have waterfalls - almost all of them on the Niobrara river around Valentine in Cherry County. We saw Fort Falls on the Fort Niobrara Refuge, Berry Falls and the above Smith Falls, which at 65 feet is Nebraska's tallest waterfall. Smith Falls is located in Smith Falls State Park which is east of Valentine - a popular camping and canoeing area of the scenic Niobrara.

Bud always says he is "just the wheel man". He pretty much lets me plan the route and navigate. Second destination stop: Wounded Knee Massacre National Historic Landmark. The Wounded Knee Massacre was committed on December 29, 1890. About 150  men, women and children of the Lakota Sioux were killed by a detachment of the 7th Cavalry. They were buried here in a mass grave. A church was built on the hill behind the grave site. This monument lists the names of many of those killed in the massacre. It was erected in 1903 by the descendants of the fallen.
This is no highly developed, commercialized landmark. It is a cemetery; a quiet, peaceful, moving memorial which marks an atrocious time in our country's history. The final words on the monument are: "Many innocent women and children who knew no wrong died here". If you quietly reflect, listen to the wind and open your mind, you can feel their presence.

I am not a big science fiction fan, but after seeing Close Encounters of the Third Kind in the late '70s, I always wanted to see Devil's Tower in Wyoming. It is the first declared National Monument, established in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. We arrived early in the morning and hiked all the way around the base. Seeing rock climbers high up on the Tower's walls was impressively scary. I kept hearing those famous five tones from the movie theme and imagining a pile of mashed potatoes.

When I was in school, we learned the history of "Custer's Last Stand". Now it is known as The Battle of the Little Bighorn". This photo is of the cemetery and the 7th Cavalry Monument above it at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Montana. Montana is a big state and I would like to have seen more of it, but we were on a schedule to be in California by July 14. So across Montana we drove.
 After spending the night in the charming town of Red Lodge, MT and a perilous drive on the Beartooth Highway across Beartooth Pass the next morning, we entered Yellowstone National Park via the North gate. Charles Kuralt once called this "the most beautiful drive in America". I called it the highway to heaven or hell - take your pick. Before our trip began, I had a horrifyingly real nightmare of driving off a cliff on our way to the west coast. All the way up to Beartooth Pass, I kept remembering that horrible dream. I expected to go off the road into an abyss on every curve.

Thank goodness coming down was much more gentle than going up. There were pretty alpine lakes surrounded by wildflowers. The sun shone and I relaxed. We drove straight through the park, headed for the lodge and Old Faithful, stopping only to take a few pictures of the Yellowstone Falls and The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (River). Probably the most surprising thing that happened in the most populous area of the park as we waited for the hourly geyser show was that among all those hundreds of tourists we ran into Bud's cousin and husband from our hometown in Iowa.

Many will recognize these arches made from elk antlers in Jackson, WY. They form entrances on all four corners of the city square. I always want to call this Jackson Hole, but the town is Jackson, the area is Jackson Hole Valley. There is also the nearby Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and ski area.

After the rush through Yellowstone and Jackson, we were ready to slow down for a day. Soda Springs, Idaho was a surprising stop. We visited Hooper Springs where weary Oregon Trail travelers once camped and where I sampled soda water right out of the spring. It wasn't quite the soda water I was used to, but at one time soda water from this spring was bottled and marketed all across the country.
Geyser Park is in the downtown area. It was discovered in 1937 during an attempt to find a hot water source for a swimming pool. The drill went down 315 feet and unleashed a geyser. It is now capped and controlled by a timer. It erupts every hour on the hour.

When we got to Crater Lake in Oregon, there was still snow on the ground. Bud remembered the story of how I had made Kari and Preston stand in the snow atop Loveland Pass in Colorado when they were little kids just so I could take their picture. So, he made me do the same as a 'get-even' for them.

This isn't the picture of Preston and Kari in the snow, but it is the one with the snow balls they made atop Loveland Pass in the mid-1970's. They were so cold. They just wanted to get back in the car while their Mom wanted just one more picture.

Crater Lake was just as beautiful and magical as Kari had said it was. It is the deepest (1,943 ft.) lake in the United States. It is the result of the eruption of Mount Mazama 7700 years ago. Crater Lake Lodge is one of the oldest national park lodges. It was opened in 1915.

From Crater Lake on the way to Northern California we drove along the wild and beautiful Rogue River. I think I took this picture in the Natural Bridge area.

Eventually we made our way to the Russian River Valley - the scenic shortcut from Highway 1 back over to Hwy 101 via Hwy 116. The drive along the Russian River was beautiful with small towns and resorts along the way. I still don't know how I missed seeing the Korbel Winery. I must have been looking for a spot to wade in the river when we passed by it.

We made it to Santa Rosa in time to check into our hotel and meet up with Kari and Ken before heading up to the home of the bride's parents in the hills outside Healdsburg for the rehearsal/get-acquainted dinner. Long tables covered in white paper were aligned beneath the roof of the patio. Most of the guests were already seated when the ones on the side next to the house were asked by the servers to move "so we can pour". Well, yes, there were wine glasses on the table, but why would filling them necessitate having half the guests get up and move?
Then the servers came in with huge pots and began pouring food right on the table. Honestly, it reminded me of when we used to slop the hogs - pouring a mixture of milk and feed all along the trough. I don't think I'd ever even heard of a sea-food boil before, let alone see and eat one. It seems to me the Californians may have called it simply a "boil".
Everyone returned to their seats. There were no plates, no cutlery, just napkins, butter, salt and pepper, wine glasses and claw crackers. It was probably the most fun meal I've ever had which is ironic as one of my biggest pet peeves is "playing with your food". We finally caught on that whatever you wanted to eat you just picked off the table and ate with your hands. There was lobster, shrimp, corn-on-the-cob, artichokes and potatoes.

The next day was spent shopping and relaxing around the hotel pool until time to return for the wedding. After the ceremony, a formal dinner was served under twinkle lighted trees, followed by speeches and dancing. I don't know if Kari and Ken danced after their own wedding Friday night, but I did get this picture of them dancing at Mark's wedding.  Aah the memories.....I even remember Bud dancing with me that night - something that has only happened three times in thirty years.

*Korbel Brut Rose - "the excellent champagne to toast all of life's great moments".

Sunday, July 22, 2012

To Be 70 Years Young

"To be 70 years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be 40 years old." (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.) I don't think anyone can do 70 years young any better than my brother-in-law, Gene.
A few days ago Kristi invited us over for homemade ice cream and fresh peach pie to help celebrate her Dad's birthday. He didn't want a big to-do. A Sunday night supper seemed about right for him.
Nothing was said about presents, but I knew I wanted to give him something to mark the special day.

I don't know how I remembered that at one time he had collected red glass. I confirmed with Kristi that he still had his collection, but hadn't added a new piece for a long time. I knew there was a reason I didn't sell my old Anchor Hocking Royal Ruby pitcher at the farm sale. "This 'small ball pitcher with ice lip' would be perfect for him", I thought.
So this morning I went out to get it off the top shelf in the garage - and it wasn't there! A scan of all the shelves didn't reveal the box I knew it was in. The hunt was on. Every box and Rubbermaid container was searched. Shelves were straightened as I went along - a job I've been planning on 'getting around to' for some time. Finally, when almost every shelf had been searched, I found the right box.

I think Gene liked the pitcher. Didn't he one time many years ago kid me about giving it to him? The time had to be right - and what could be more right than marking a 70th birthday and 49 years of having this cheerful man in the family?
"With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come." (Shakespeare - Merchant of Venice)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Come Live With Me And Be My Love

"Where the sun sets o'er the sea, that's where she and I will be."  This photo I took of Kari & Ken along the Oregon Coast several years ago has always been one of my favourites.

When Kari began a long-distance romance with a guy she had first met and become friends with in Minneapolis twenty-some years ago, I was happy for her. I was less than thrilled though when she told me a little more than ten years ago that she was going to move to the west coast to be with him - not that I wasn't happy for her, just that I didn't like the idea of her being so far away.

The relationship worked. And even though Ken gave her a diamond five or six years ago, I didn't think they would ever actually "tie the knot". They were happy with the status quo. But earlier this month, Ken had some health issues that made it more urgent for Kari to get him covered under her health plan. The easiest, fastest way to do so was to get married. (Kari writes eloquently about this in her most recent blog at "To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved deeply by someone gives you courage." (Lao Tzu)

It has been hard keeping their secret the past couple of weeks - especially when I saw my older brother last week. We hadn't talked for a month or two so in the process of 'catching up' I told him, "I have a new great-granddaughter". He countered with, "Well, I'm getting a new son-in-law". Really? Right back into the old sibling rivalry one-upsmanship? I wanted so badly to say: "Well, so am I and it will be sooner than you!" But I didn't. I kept the secret.

 "It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages." (Friedrich Nietzsche)
I wished so much I could be with my daughter on her wedding day, but as that was not to be, I was glad she and Ken had two of their best friends, Corvus and Rachel, to be with them as their witnesses and to celebrate with them at a wedding supper afterwards.

"We seek the comfort of another. Someone to share and share the life we choose. Someone to help us through the never ending attempt to understand ourselves. And in the end, someone to accompany us along the way." (Marlin Finch Lupus)

"Come live with me and be my love, share my bread and wine. Be wife to me, be life to me, be mine.
Come live with me and be my love, let our dreams combine. Be mate to me, be fate to me, be mine.
I will try to do my best for you. I swear, I promise you, I will cry for you, I will comfort you my whole life through. 

Come live with me and be my love, share my bread and wine. Be a part of me, be the heart of me. Be mine.
(Lyrics by Ware, Martin and Gregory. Versions sung by Ray Charles and, my fave, Roy Clark)

I wish you much happiness and a lifetime of love and sharing.  ........Mom

Friday, July 20, 2012

"A White Sport Coat and A Pink Carnation"

I used to always watch the morning news on TV. Now, instead, I read the morning news on the internet. I scan the home page which is set on one of the national network news sites. If a story line interests me, I open the page for the full story. Often I just read the little blurb and never go any further (which can result in some pretty strange imaginings on my part). Earlier this week I noted one of those blurbs which suggested it was going to tell you how to save money by shopping in thrift stores.

"Good grief!", I thought, "Who doesn't know about shopping in thrift stores?" Apparently lots of people because a Google search turns up all kinds of sites: "12 Tips for Thrift Store Shopping"; "A Basic Guide to Thrift Store Shopping"; "23 Must Know Tips for Thrift Store Shopping"; etc. etc. Those sites must be for the newly "less than affluent" folk. I've been shopping thrift stores and garage sales my whole life. This JH Collectibles jacket I bought at the Goodwill in Des Moines in the '80's is still one of my favourites.

When I worked in Valley Junction (West Des Moines), there was a consignment shop which only accepted 'name' brand clothes. My fellow employees and I spent many a lunch hour combing through those racks looking for stylish bargains. I remember one of our co-workers though who was appalled. "You don't really buy clothes there to wear, do you?! One day she did go with us, but only to buy a man's dress shirt for her daughter to take to school to use as a paint shirt in art class.

Thrift Stores are so much fun to go through because you never know what you will find. When we do stop at one nowadays, I mostly hunt through the glassware, looking for treasures and through the books. Once on a trip to the Southwest, I found a chaise lounge that I really, really wanted. But, no way to bring it home in the Honda.
In the mid-70's, Dad and Mom came up one weekend. I hauled them off to the Salvation Army Thrift Store on North Sixth Avenue. I wanted them to see all the bargains living in the big city offered. I don't remember if Mom found anything, but Dad sure did - a white sport coat for a very reasonable price. And the amazing think was that it fit him! Dad was a big guy - six foot, six inches, long arms, long torso. Most of the time he had to special order clothes from the Big and Tall catalogs.
Mom's reaction was, "What do you want that for?" It seems to me the price was only $1.25, which I'm probably remembering wrong, but she definitely did not want him to buy it and he could tell by the tone of her voice. He kept opting for it. She kept vetoing him. Again she asked him why he wanted it; where would he wear it? Finally, he said, "If nothing else, you can bury me in it." We left the store without the white sport coat.

What was Dad's affinity for a white sport coat? Was he remembering how he looked and felt all dressed up for Ron & Ruth's wedding in April, 1968? Was there something about Marty Robbins' song that spoke to him? I'll never know why he wanted that jacket. But many, many times, I wished I had gone back and bought it for him.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Two Recent "It's A Small World" Stories

I have always loved those 'small world' stories especially when they happen to me. When I lived in the big city (Dim Wah, Dez Moinz, Dee Moyne), as often as I could when meeting someone I would ask if they were a native of the city. If not, "Where did you grow up"? Or, "What was your maiden name?" One time when I went to lunch with the people conducting our annual audit where I worked, I asked one of the young women if she was originally from Des Moines. "No," she replied, "I'm from some small town you've probably never heard of: Lovilia." "I've heard of Lovilia", I told her, "one of my high school classmates lives there now." She asked who that was and I said Shirley....not being able to remember Shirley's married name for a minute, so I said, Shirley Scott. She said, "She's my mom." Small, small, small world.

Back to my recent stories. Last weekend my daughter Kari was on her way to a friend's house when she passed by a garage sale. She spotted the above figurines and exclaimed, "Oh, Isabel Bloom!" The man said, "You know about Isabel Bloom? You must be from the Midwest." Kari told him yes, from Iowa originally and he asked what part. She said Des Moines, but that her Mom's family were from Corning and that I now live in Creston. He said, "I'm originally from Atlantic." (Another town in SW Iowa.) This small world exchange took place in Portland, Oregon where Kari now lives.

One of my high school class mates who now lives in Bakersfield, CA is working on scanning family pictures now that he's retired and has time to do so. Last week he posted old pictures of his family home and the Methodist Church at Guss on face book. That started a brief dialog about remembering Guss. He mentioned my Uncle Alvin's black smith shop among other places. I asked him if by chance he had a picture of it from back then as I was thinking about writing a blog about it. Unfortunately, he did not.

So, Tuesday, I decided to google "Guss, Iowa Blacksmith Shop" hoping somewhere out there, there might be a picture. Which is what led me to Donna's "JUST ME" blog spot and her blog "When I was a little girl" of March 23, 2011, remembering her time living in Guss. And there was this picture (above) of her Mom, taking a picture of the old black smith shop as it was about fifteen years ago.

In that blog she also showed a picture of herself standing in front of the 'switch board' house where she lived with her parents who ran the Guss telephone switchboard. The funny thing was in all my thinking about and remembering Guss from the '40's and 50's, I had been trying to remember the names of the people who manned the telephone switchboard 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So I e-mailed her and asked. Even though her family moved to Missouri in the early 50's, we are sharing some fun memories; some of which she has already published on her blog at

Here is a picture of my cousins, Lloyd (left) and Gary taken at Grandpa Ridnour's around 1945 - possibly the way Donna remembers them. I still want to blog about the black smith shop and still hope to find a picture of it as it was in the 40's. Aunt Lois's pictures were all destroyed when their farm home burned in the mid-'80's. And Gary lost any pictures he had when fire destroyed Grandpa & Grandma Ridnour's house where he was living in the '90's.

I'll keep looking for an old picture of Uncle Alvin's black smith shop in Guss, Iowa. And I'll keep savoring these small world experiences made even easier now through the magic of the internet.

(Thanks to Donna for permission to use her picture.)