Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Saturday, June 15, 2013

On the Road Again, Part 2

Guess Which One of Us Is Goofy?

14 June 2013, 9:28 p.m.

We're in our hotel room in South Bend, Indiana, worn and weary but bewildered by all we've been able to do in our week away from Hudson.  I'll not write too much about Joyce's endeavors (that's her story), but in a bit I will mention a few things, just to give you an idea.

But first ... "my" part ...  We left Hudson on Monday morning and headed south and west toward Indianapolis, where we found the two houses where my uncle and aunt (Ronald and Naomi Osborn) lived while he was teaching at Butler Univ.--and then, later, at Christian Theological Seminary.  Their daughter, Virginia (Ginny), an only child, died in a freak auto accident in 1967, driving home on spring break with friends from Stephens College. A driver of another car died in a heart attack, drifted into the path of my cousin's car.  Killed her.  She'd been valedictorian of her class at Indianapolis' Short Ridge High School (the same high school, by the way, that Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. attended) and had just completed part of her freshman year at Stephens.  Her death is a horror from which none of us ever really completely recovered--certainly not my aunt and uncle, who'd adored her.

From Indianapolis, we drove into the Spoon River country of Illinois, where we saw two homes once occupied by Edgar Lee Masters (one is open to the public) and visited other sites related to him and his work--including the cemeteries in Petersburg and Lewistown that inspired his powerful work Spoon River Anthology.  We saw his grave, as well.

And then ... off to Iowa, where I wanted to see some places important to my great high school English/Latin/German teacher, Mr. Brunelle.  I'd learned from the 1900 census that he and his family (he was only about six at the time) were living in tiny Miller,
Lutheran Church, Miller, IA
Iowa (my GPS, offended, refused to find such an insignificant place!), where his father was a farmer.  We found Miller all right (the GPS on my iPhone was willing), and chatted with a woman who'd lived there all her life.  She'd not heard of the Brunelles, of course (1900 was awhile ago!), but said if I'd send her more information, she'd find out what she could.  There are only a handful of houses there--a church.  And cornfields sufficient to feed the world.

In Sioux City, Iowa, we found (as I posted on FB the other day), the building that was Sioux City High School--now called "Castle-on-the-Hill Apartments--when Mr. Brunelle was in high school there.  We also found the house where he and his sister lived with their mom, a seamstress at the time, while he was in high school.  Dad had taken off.

We also went to the campus of Morningside College (his alma mater) in Sioux City and saw a couple of buildings that date back to the time of his tenure there.  We drove, as well, to the monument erected to honor Sgt. Charles Floyd, the only member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition to die on the route.  It was December 1804.  He is buried on a high bluff above the Missouri River near Sioux City, and in the Morningside College yearbook I learned that  when Mr. Brunelle was a student, he liked to run to that monument, dedicated in 1901 (he was seventeen at the time), about two miles away from the Morningside campus.  Mr. Brunelle, the Founding Father of Jogging!

Then commenced "Joyce's part" of the trip--tracing the 1859 trip of John Brown across Iowa, west to east, as Harpers Ferry loomed in the near future.  We visited tiny towns (or town sites--some places are just gone now), saw the worn gravestones of Brown supporters in small cemeteries in vast cornfields, and ... but, as I said, this is her story, so I will let her tell it in her own way, somewhere down the road.  I know she will do some FB posts later.

Joyce and I have been making trips like this since ... well, since our honeymoon in December 1969, when we visited New Orleans so she could do some work on Kate Chopin and--on the way home--Hannibal, Missouri, for the many Mark Twain sites.  We have never taken a "vacation" in the traditional sense; we're always chasing ghosts, delighting in the flashes of phosphorescence they permit us to see.

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