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Friday, May 6, 2016

Gray Matters: Unique coincidences

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Though I often complain about the disadvantages of aging, I must admit it isn't all bad.For example, it's rather nice sitting back and thinking about all of the unique coincidences that have occurred over the years.

I recently decided to record a few for my family and was then encouraged to share some with you Gray Matter readers. I will leave it to you to decide whether or not that was a wise decision.

Many of you are too young to remember when co-operative elevators first started competing with privately owned grain dealers. In those days, there could be quite a bit of antipathy between the two.The Dorr Feed Mill was privately owned by my husband and his brother.Their first expansion was the purchase of a mill in Correctionville.A few years later the elevator in Granville came up for sale.

It had been owned by a Mr. Cannon who was from Paullina where he had owned a similar establishment. He had recently passed away, but, as I recall, his Paullina holdings had been sold to that town's Co-op Elevator shortly before his death. So when the Dorr brothers became interested in the Granville elevator, they were dealing with his widow and her associates.

A remark she made during those negotiations got back to us and it was one we always prized. It seems that when their final bid was in, Mrs. Cannon's attorney insisted she should return once more to the fellows at the Co-Op whom he was certain would raise the bid. She flatly refused to do this because she wanted "those nice boys from Marcus" to have the elevator.

My husband laughingly admitted that whatever personal impression "those nice boys" had-made might have contributed a bit to her attitude, but he was certain that having the Granville Elevator remain in private hands was a far greater factor. I find it interesting to look back on the way ideas have changed over the years. Bear with me now for, though I may seem to be going off in an entirely different direction, I am coming to the matter of unique coincidences.

When I was a junior at the University of Iowa, Virgil M. Hancher became our new president. During my final year, I did my student teaching in a senior honors English class at University High. That turned out to be a big mistake.The instructor thoroughly enjoyed delivering his lectures and his honor students were eager and attentive.

As a result, we practice teachers learned absolutely nothing about handling a class of restless teenagers. We simply observed and then took a pile of themes home to grade before the next class session.The topics assigned for those papers were of a rather personal nature, often involving happenings in the students' homes.One of the lads whose papers I graded was Virgil Hancher Jr. Now back to our friend, Mrs. Cannon, in Paullina. We had kept in touch with her for some years, occasionally visiting her in her gracious home.One day when we stopped to see her, we received our usual warm welcome, and were then introduced to her daughter, Susan, Mrs. Virgil Hancher, who was visiting from Iowa City.(We hadn't been aware of the relationship before that.)

She was as lovely as her mother and conversation soon flowed easily.Unable to resist, I casually observed that she might be surprised to learn how much I knew about life in the university president's residence.She was extremely puzzled until I told her of having graded her son's themes the final semester of his senior year at U. High, and then she understood. Now I hope you see what I mean about looking back over a lifetime of unique coincidences.I'm sure you probably have a collection of your own if you stop long enough to think about it, for the world is full of them.