|December 20, 1969|
Concordia Lutheran Church
But we took our new route, driving north along the Mississippi River--a trip that interested both of us greatly because, of course, of Mark Twain and Huckleberry Finn. I had crossed the Mississippi more than a few times, but I'd never driven along its course. This would be the first of several times.
We reached Hannibal, Missouri, Twain's riverside boyhood home, and we toured the Twain sites that were open (not a lot--it was nearing the New Year). (I have got to look for our pictures before my next post!) We would return to Hannibal--several times. And would also visit nearby Florida, Missouri (about forty miles southwest of Hannibal), where Twain was born in 1835.
(And this began a pattern: Throughout our forty-nine years together almost all of our "vacations" have had a literary component. Sight-seeing. (Stalking?) Visiting homes and graves and other relevant sites in the lives of American literary figures. Even trips to visit family have involved this: My mom lived her last years in Lenox, Mass., not far from Melville sites, not far from Edith Wharton sites, not far from ... you get the picture?)
Then we made another alteration (had we decided earlier? or spur-of-the-moment?): We would drive from Hannibal to Des Moines, Iowa, about 225 miles northwest of Hannibal. My parents were living there, and we thought it would be cool (!) to show up and surprise them.
I think now about the innocent daffiness of all this: making major driving alterations in late December; showing up, unannounced, at my parents' door, a door that was some 700 miles from our apartment in Kent, Ohio. (My parents, by the way, were both teaching at Drake University at the time--brought there by their college friend--and now the Drake president--Paul Sharp, who had also been president of Hiram College during most of my dad's tenure there--1956-66).
So ... on we drove, the weather cooperating (as I recall). We rang the bell--and my mom, answering, actually looked thrilled to see us. (A good actor, Mom.)
We learned in an instant that we were not the only company: My dad's younger brother John was also there--with his wife, Juanita--visiting from their home in Walla Walla, Washington (Dad had grown up on a farm in the Walla Walla Valley). I loved my aunt and uncle and was thrilled to see them.
(I think my grandmother Osborn may have been there, too ... curse you, Memory!)
But no one ever suggested or implied that we should have given them a head's up. No, they found room for us, made us feel entirely welcome.
A couple of days later, we left for Ohio--a long eleven-hour drive (Iowa's speed limit on I-80 was 75 then, and our poor VW Fastback did its best).
Again--the daffiness of doing this in winter! Thinking that nothing could conceivably go wrong. (Ah, Youth!)
Late that night we pulled back into College Court, to our apartment (323) in a building that held three other apartments: two up, two down. (Our rent for this four-room apartment was $75 a month. My car payment was $60 a month.) (323 College Court still stands--though it, as yet, provides no plaque announcing that Joyce and Dan Dyer began their lives together there--what an oversight by the local historical society!).
We fell into bed, into a deep dream of happiness from which we have not yet awakened in forty-nine years. May we never do so ...