#925 – Dick Bernard: Leaving Iowa

Michelle W., you’ve been promoting Woodbury Community Theatre for a long time, but we’ve yet to “darken the door”. Keep us on the list. Next time we’ll be there.
A week ago I stayed overnight with my sister and brother-in-law in Park Rapids MN. It was a last minute overnight, and they had plans to go to a play in tiny nearby Hubbard, and they scrambled to get one of the few remaining tickets for me.
What a night it was. The tiny Theater was packed; there were more people there, probably, than live in Hubbard. Word had gotten around, and a sold-out house was common.
Community Theater lives!
We saw the comedy “Leaving Iowa” (program here: Leaving Iowa001
Leaving Iowa001
Succinctly, “Leaving Iowa” is in essence about everybody-who-ever-was-in-a-family-who-took-a-car-on-“vacation”. In other words, most of us.
On the back leaf of the program (link above), the director describes one such trip of his own; at the end of this post, I describe one of mine. This is an invitation to remember your own experience(s).
The stereotypical Dad, the guy in charge (or so he thinks) died three years ago, his ashes unceremoniously perched on top of the fuse box in the basement. Most all of the play is in the car with the (really nicely) in-charge Mom; Dad; sis and brother, involved as any sister or brother who’s ever had to tolerate siblings in the confines of a car can relate. (For myself, it was seven of us, five kids, I the oldest, and I was in heaven when I finally got the Drivers License, and “controlled” the steering wheel. My siblings got rid of the pest, (me), of course; you know all the rest of variations of the story from your own memories of growing up, somewhere, and going as a family, some place.)
Part of the story involves the son taking Dad’s ashes to be distributed at some special place, and that is itself a hilarious though one-way conversation. Dad sits there quietly in his urn on the passenger side.
The story ends with son and Dad leaving Iowa for the final resting place at the geographic center of the United States, somewhere in Kansas. That, too, was one of Dad’s “democratically” decided destinations sometimes, and now his final.
The play was a little long, but the acting was delightful and if your town community theatre is looking for a really fun play with great audience appeal, this is one to check out.
(I just did a quick google search, and here are many links to check out, if you wish.)
And I promised my own story….
Back in August of 1978, I decided to take my son and my sisters foster-son Buck on a long trip from Minnesota as far south as Grand Canyon and back. The boys were 14, a good age for a trip like this. We traveled in my 1971 Chevy Van, our “motel” for the trip. We saw wonderful things, like driving to the top of Pike’s Peak; they learned to waterski on Lake Powell, and on and on. Like kids universally, they went where I did.
One memorable day we spent much time at Mesa Verde, CO, doing the tour, seeing the sights.
At night, we chose to stay in Cortez, Colorado, at a KOA. This one had a swimming pool, a heavenly development for the boys.
The next day was planned out. I thought that if we left somewhere about midnight, we could get to Grand Canyon in time to see the sunrise over the canyon.
I looked at the map, and it just happened that down the road about an hour or two was Four Corners, where Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico come together.
It was a not to be missed opportunity, and it would be the middle of the night when we passed it, so by the dictatorial powers vested in me, I cut back the swimming time for the boys, so that we could go see Four Corners.
They were not happy campers. But what choice did they have? None.
Off we went, me and two surly boys.
We got to Four Corners late on a hot afternoon and there it was, Four Corners, basically a brass plate in the godforsaken desert without so much as a souvenir stand or a place to buy some refreshments.
But we’d come there, and I insisted that the boys stand by the plaque so I could take the picture.
Somewhere in a box downstairs is that picture, a slide of two glowering kids obviously unhappy to be there. It’s a picture worth a thousand words, for sure!
We had lots of good memories from that trip, but this sour note is the one I choose to remember.
What do you remember?

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