Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fall Farmers Market in Tipton Iowa

In Iowa's Cedar County, the town of Tipton is the county seat of government. On Thursdays in October there is a farmers market on the courthouse grounds. Trading begins at 4 pm. This time of year you can buy pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn, squash and baked goods. The 42N team bought acorn squash from this vendor.

We bought a bunch of Indian corn for decorations outside. Squirrels have already discovered the cobs and apparently are enjoying de-kernaling the display. 

Our visit to Tipton was a week ago - five days before the Big Blow went through the Midwest. Those 60 mph winds probably blew the yellow leaves off these trees and yard and into the next state to the northeast - that would be Wisconsin. While I took a better photo of this Tipton house, this frame is the only one with a kid on his bike. Looked a little like a Norman Rockwell scene. Know that.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Three Stairs to Grant Wood's Grave

Three roadside steps will take you to the final resting place of American painter, Grant Wood. Here in 42N country Grant, his sister Nan and other family members are buried in nearby Anamosa, Iowa. Grant Wood was a US Army veteran from WWI, hence the military bronze marker and flags that flank his simple headstone.

One Day 2 of the the Big Wind, the lowest barometric storm over the continental US (aside from Tropical storms) the flags snapped with each gust and the fall leaves were no where to be found. Know that.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gloomy Day in October

Gray skies and slight wind greeted the 42N team in Independence, Iowa. The five story Wapsipinicon Feed Mill built in the mid-1800s has been flooded and repaired many times near downtown Indy. New to the area is this warning sign meant to inform those who would swim around the dam. Know that.

Monday, October 25, 2010

No Digging Here

Apparently digging is prohibited at this cemetery. Must be full. Know that.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Buy a Past at a Norway Iowa Auction

Recent items at last weekend's auction in Norway, Iowa. The home owner in her 80s lived there all her life. It was her parent's home too and she inherited all their things. Veneer off a tube radio peels away.

The auction set up boys took all the furniture outside for people to bid on. This cabinet went for $200.

A cap gun with its original box.

A Butternut (?) coffee can with US space program illustrations from Mercury to Apollo on it. Sold for over $25.

What time is it? Radio tube buying time of course.

Camera in its original box.

Buy a set of Iowa oak chairs - cheap! These went for under $25. There was much more at the auction. We bought several things for resale and the Dan Patch print - see the post here. Know that.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

He is Somebody's Somebody

Sometimes at household auctions you find things that make you pause. In this case at a Norway, Iowa sale last weekend there was this old photo of a somebody. No information on the photo's front or back as to who this person was and no one in the auction crowd knew either. Besides having a bad hair day, this guy was somebody to someone at one time. I'm sure the cost of the photo sitting was high at the time and the elaborate frame indicated that this was something cherished by a family. But as generations change and the stories become lost to time, eventually the identity of this person fads.

In today's digital photography world we too face this same issue. Outside of identifying the subject and date in the file name, there is not much else to positively identify our subjects. Preserve your digital images with file tags or other means. Otherwise in a hundred years someone looking at a digital copy of your Uncle Ed will not have a clue as to who that is in the image. Know that.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pig on a Stick - Lamb on a Stick

42N country's rural areas are made up of grain farming (corn and soybeans) and livestock production - no surprise for many in the breadbasket of America. Many county fairgrounds have dedicated areas for 4H related livestock shows during the summer.

On this day the 42N crew stopped at the Benton County Fairgrounds in Vinton, Iowa. Seen in two buildings are these wooden animals on a stick with numbers. Odd. What they represent are pens for either lambs or pigs with an identification for bedding and judging. Still the thought of a pig or lamb on a stick is much like the Iowa State Fair's claim to have many forms of food available on a stick.

On a side note: while most of the 42N area farmland is nearly harvested (soybean and corn harvesting), a single stalk of green corn in the silking stage grows near the pig building. Protected by the building and a west facing direction, the corn plant probably will continue to grow for a few more weeks before the overnight frost gets colder and stays longer. A sign of the fall. Know that.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Calm Crunching Along the Cedar River

Twight on the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Across the now calm river (not the out of control flood of 2008 river) is the iconic cityscape. Quaker Oats manufactures among other things Capt'n Crunch cereal from corn and oats at this plant. During the flood of 2008, boat houses dislodged from nearby Ellis Park floated downriver to be caught by this bridge which was being reinforced by parked railroad cars. Flood video here and here.

Last evening (two and 1/2 years later) the river was almost completely calm and within its banks - invoking the thought - what flood? Oh its impact is still being dealt with by the city's residents and government. But on this night at this location the river is calm. Know that.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fastest Stallions in the World - Dan Patch, George Gano and Minor Heir

Music composer, Meredith Wilson, once enshrined the fastest horse in the world at the time in the musical, The Music Man. Trotter Dan Patch who shattered the two minute mile is featured in the song - Ya Got Trouble. See video here:

"And the next thing you know your son is playin'
For money in a pinchback suit
And listenin' to some big out-o'-town jasper
Hearin' him tell about horserace gamblin'
Not a wholesome trottin' race, no
But a race where they set down right on the horse
Like to see some stuck up jockey boy settin' on Dan Patch?
Make your blood boil, well I should say..."
Lyrics and Music composed by Meredith Wilson, (C) MPL Communications.

At an auction in Norway, Iowa where nothing but antiques poured out the small home's door, a framed, dusty print of three horses emerged and was purchased by the 42N team. The print, Fastest Stallions in the World, from the M.W. Savage Art Department featured (left to right) Dan Patch 1:55, George Gano 2:02 and Minor Heir 1:58.5. Marion Willis Savage owned Dan Patch and built an empire around the horse. Today the city of Savage, Minnesota, where M. W. Savage built an expansive training facility, celebrates the great horse with Dan Patch Days held annually in mid-June.

The current movie, Secretariat, features the triple crown winner. In his day, Dan Patch was also widely known and later remembered in advertising wares like this print (above), watches, paper weights and many other things - another example of mass marketing in the early days. These items remain highly collectible even 94 years after Dan Patch's death in 1916. Know that.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

DX Gas Station Still Exists in Midwest

A staple in 42N Midwestern towns for many years was the neighborhood DX gas station. In 1968 the company was bought by the Sun Oil Company (now called SUNOCO) and the DX name was slowly removed and replaced.

Driving through the countryside to take in Fall harvest scenes and above normal temperature, the 42N crew came to the town of Oxford Junction, Iowa (41.98N, 90.95W.) There, right on a Main Street corner, stands the DX station sign, vintage gas pumps and small service building - all preserved.

The odd thing about coming upon that DX station was the nearly automatic check off in the brain that says, yes this gas station belongs here. A split second later that the brain corrects itself with the notion that the scene shouldn't be there anymore. Its a museum or tribute now. Hmm, a sign of aging. Know that.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Water on Feather on Lake

While fishing Central Park Lake (42.11N, 91.13W) in Jones County, Iowa and enjoying the record heat for mid-October I saw this configuration floating beneath the dock. Water on a feather which is on a lake struck me as an odd juxtaposition but obviously is a perfectly natural situation.

Canada geese on the opposite side of the small lake patrolled the waters from the beach to mid-lake, maybe in search of food. This feather was one of theirs and its drift on the lake picked up two signs of early Fall. As for the day's catch, put me down for one sunnie and about a hundred sweat bee bites - never had that happen before. Must be my cologne - Essence of 42N. Know that.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hoover: Iowa's Only Native President

Iowa has produced some enduring people - John Wayne, Jean Seberg, the Everly Brothers, Andy Williams, Tom Arnold, Kurt Warner and Christopher Ashton Kutcher and many more. So far the state has produced only one US President - Herbert Clark Hoover. He was the first president to be born west of the Mississippi River.

President Hoover and his wife Lou Henry Hoover are buried in West Branch, Iowa at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. Their white marble graves are within easy walking distance to the library and museum. Hoover was born in West Branch.

Just a few paces east of their grave site on the walk back to the museum, you can see tall prairie stands that are part of the park. The view of this barn can be seen from this vantage point.

And speaking of prairie, there's another connection to note at this library - that of Hoover and a famous writer - Laura Ingalls Wilder of Little House on the Prairie fame. Her daughter Rose Wilder Lane became good friends with the ex-president. Rose's collection of manuscripts, letters and other communication is housed at the Hoover library including many of letters to and from her mother as they worked on the Little House books. Know that.

Friday, October 8, 2010

UPDATE: Olin, Iowa Fire Aftermath - A Call for Living Supplies

The 42N Observations blog site received a lot of page visits today. I discovered the reason was a posting on Craigslist - Des Moines, Iowa regarding the recent fire in Olin, Iowa where the 42N team was on the scene. Click this link for the back story posted yesterday.

Here is the Craigslist  posting from today:

"I got a call today from my sister whose garage and house caught fire on Wednesday, Everything is a total loss due to fire, smoke and water damage. Everyone made it out okay along with 1 of her sons companion dogs, the other companion dog known as Rolly, his 3 legged pooch was found unresponsive under my nieces bed 45min after the flames broke out, thanks to quick thinking firefighters his life was saved. The fire is still under investigation, I don't know anything about insurance as my sister is a total wreck and trying to make sure the kids have a safe place to stay while they work with the police and fire marshall while cleaning up.


6-8 pants, M-L shirt, 6.5-7 shoe

33x33 Pants, L shirt, his only pair of shoes are on his feet and he's helping with clean up.

Tanner (boy) Age 11
12 Regular Pants, Size 14 shirt, 6.5 Shoe

Braydon (boy) Age 10
12 Husky Pants, Size14 Shirts, 6 Shoe

Rylee (girl) Age 6
Size 5-6 Pants and Shirts, Unsure of shoe size at this time

Delilah (girl) Age 24 months
24 Month clothes, Size 6 shoe, Still in diapers size 5

Chloe (girl) Age 8 months
9-12 Months, Size 2 Shoes, Size 4 diapers.

They need diapers, wipes, diaper ointment, toiletries, bathroom items, cleaning supplies, laundry soap, pet food, pet supplies any and all household items and supplies.
I can pick up anytime between 8am-3:30pm and 4:30pm-9pm for bigger items, Feel free to call me at 515-971-2194, If anyone has anything they would like to drop off, please email me ( and I will give you my address.

Here is a couple links to the story

Let's show some Des Moines Metro Community spirit and give whatever you can give to help it will be much appreciated!"

Help where you can. Know that.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Iowa City's Old Capitol in Hawkeye Fall Splender

The University of Iowa began in the former territorial capitol building in Iowa City. At this time of year the Pentacrest is nearly in full color against a bright blue sky and temperatures in the 70s.

Directly across the street from Old Cap is Iowa Book and Supply. Inside its doors is everything Hawkeye for purchase. Here is a selection of shirts.

Need a Hawkeye key fob or decal or clock or cup or set of coasters? This is the place for all things black and gold.

And for only $199 each, you may purchase a real Hawkeye football helmet (replica) from today's design back through the years. On this display are the 1960-70s left, the mid to late 1970s center, and the 1979 to Present design inspired by Coach Hayden Fry. The other three sides of this column are filled with earlier helmet designs.

Four or five doors down from Book and Supply is The Airliner. Its been the 'liner since 1944, serving many a college student with a variety of great food and adult beverages. One tradition that seems to still be alive is for people to sit at chairs near the bar's front windows and rate those who walk by. Take that as you may, guys hold up fingers indicating how they rate side walkers - from one to ten. This generally takes the form of male judges who consume beer while rating female students walking by the place. Some things never change. Know that.

Dog Rescued in Olin, Iowa Fire

Yesterday while traveling the 42N countryside to photograph the Fall harvest, the 42N team came upon Olin, a small town in eastern Iowa at 41.99N, 91.14W. A thick black column of smoke and flames was coming out of a home. We arrived on the scene to find the home owner and kids standing away from the burning garage and home. We lent cell phone assistance to her while the sirens grew louder.

Fire crews from Olin, and nearby Stanwood and Morley communities arrived with several fire fighting trucks, ambulances and support personnel. Mom said that all her kids were out of the home but their three-legged pet dog was still inside.

Crews assembled portable pools of water, filled by tanker trucks to fight the fire. Tanker trucks from other fire departments arrived and filled the pools as there were no close fire hydrants. While this activity unfolded in a span of an hour, fire crews eventually got the garage fire extinguished and stabilized the attached house. About 45 minutes into the situation the home owner asked again about the dog. A fire fighter had searched earlier for the dog but depleted his oxygen supply and was forced to retreat.

Another crew went inside the house and located the dog under something (I didn't hear where.) That defensive action by the dog probably helped save its life. The pet was carried out wrapped in a blue towel - he or she wasn't moving. Many observers thought the worst. Fire fighters brought the dog to the rescue team for oxygen. The home owner (in the white shirt above) saw the rescue procedure and raced over. She knelt close to her dog and talked to him/her while oxygen pumped through the dog's nose.

Finally the dog's tail began to wag and minutes later the three legged pet lifted itself up. This was certainly a positive highlight of the situation among the other points of no loss of human life or injury. The State Fire Marshall has been called in to help determine what happened. News accounts are recorded here and here. When news breaks out - your 42N reporter is there. Know that.

UPDATE: 10/8/2010 - Read the latest request for supplies from the sister of the home owner. Click here.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Original Lincoln Highway Posts Still Present in Linn County, Iowa

The Lincoln Highway bisects 42N country's Linn County. Here in Lisbon, Iowa is one of three original concrete posts left in the county with a bronze colored profile of old Abe and the red, white, and blue color scheme that identified the road with the big "L."

East Main Street in Lisbon, like many other Lincoln Highway communities has posted historic route signs along the route. Other cities have painted telephone poles or fly flags to mark the route. Some of the Lincoln Highway route changed over time and those portions are also marked - sometimes.

In Linn Country there are a series of Lincoln Highway displays that begin at the Lisbon History Center. There you can see the route through the county as well as read about the road itself, gas stations, overnight cottages, restaurants (where mobsters from Chicago in the 1920s-30s stopped) and so on.

In Lisbon, this LH post (close-up of medallion portion) still exists for all to see for 80 plus years. Go see it or some other LH post in your community. Send me your photo next to your version of the Lincoln Highway, Route 66 or National Road (Pike) type of historic route. Let me know what the road means to you. Know that.  

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Union Pacific 7821 Passes below Lincoln Highway

Union Pacific's 7821 pulls freight cars westward through 42N country's Mt. Vernon, Iowa about 4:30 PM today. The tracks run east-west at this location with the south set of tracks (on the right) being of heavier gauge for heavier loads. A neighbor to this location told me that coal bearing cars travel from out west through here on the south tracks headed for all the metro centers in the east. The neighbor also told me that the UP is considering adding a third set of tracks to the left in this photo. That decision could entail two residential properties losing some lawn. 

The opportunity to view the train was from a footbridge that once was the historic Lincoln Highway. The town preserved the iron structure when a more modern bridge was constructed nearby. Today walkers and joggers can traverse these tracks with the original brick pavement still visible.

See more of Union Pacific #7821 here. As quick as the #7821 was moving today it may be near you soon - look for it. Know that.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Gas Prices Below a Dollar at Shell Oil in Marion, Iowa

Come and get it. This evening the Shell Oil gas station in 42N country's Marion, Iowa advertised regular gas as 26-9/10ths cents a gallon! No Photoshop on this image. For perspective, earlier in the day I filled up at another station for $2.64 a gallon for ethanol regular (we are in corn country.)

Was this a special promotion for a very limited time? If so, there were hardly any cars around taking advantage of the offer. Most likely the digital sign was in error either due to the operator not punching in the full price or a machine malfunction. Wait until management hears from irrate customers for not honoring the price, that would be a PR nightmare for the station owner. But for the meantime time its like driving back in the 1960s or 1970s but without the full service attendant available. Fill 'er up and check the oil. Know that.

Friday, October 1, 2010

America's Best: Soy Bean Harvest Time

Weather conditions are perfect. Low humidity, nice temperatures and no wind all make for ideal conditions for harvesting soy beans in 42N country - the American Midwest. This harvester in central Iowa blows out the stubble as it gets in position to harvest another swath of beans.

Once the harvester begins working a section a wagon keeps pace to receive the product of the 2010 harvest.

Once full, the wagon re-positions itself next to a semi-truck trailer and offloads the beans. Leaving the fields the truck transports the beans to buying stations around the local area for testing and eventual further distribution to the world's food processors and other manufacturers needing the soy product.

Its a fascinating process to watch - even into the night. Many fields light up with this equipment as the growers want to take advantage of weather, price, or other condition to make the most of their season's work. Know that.