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Monday, May 2, 2016

Gray Matters: An interesting place

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sitting here this bright cold afternoon I find myself thinking of things I have learned about some of the interesting people here at Cottage Grove Place. Each evening if we haven't made plans to sit with someone we know in the dining room, the hostess seats us randomly, usually at a table for four. Many of the residents are from here in Cedar Rapids, so several times I have found myself seated with three of those folks who are all familiar with the same people and locations. Then I can only sit and listen to the interesting conversations. Depending on the personalities of my dining companions, those chats sometimes drift into something approaching gossip sessions. (I've discovered these sorts of things don't have to have a small-town backyard fence over which to be exchanged!)

Sorting through some of the relationships here is also fascinating. In the past, several of my family have warned me against making assumptions; advice I didn't always take seriously. But I am finding that it is a good idea here. Several couples always seen together are not "Mr. and Mrs. So and So," as I had assumed, but are companions with varying degrees of closeness. One learns to slowly figure these things out. A friend who is also a newcomer shares my amazement as we discover these connections. As she recently said, "I guess we're just going to have to live and learn."

Then there are the stories of where various individuals were educated. Those with college degrees have earned them at local colleges, the nearby university, or other institutions across the country. It was such fun the other evening listening to two fellows as they discovered for the first time that both had graduated from the same Big Ten University in a neighboring state. They were soon comparing favorite courses, professors they did or didn't like, and on and on--both totally oblivious of anyone else around.

I have also heard amazing accounts of illustrious careers. Some individuals are eager to tell of their own accomplishments, while others make it necessary for someone to literally drag the pertinent information out of them. One delightful gentleman is retired from a distinguished legal career and is the author of a number of scholarly volumes about the law. He is so kindly and modest that, if it hadn't been for other sources, I would never have known of his accomplishments. One thing he did tell us was that he had been in law school with Nile Kinnick. As that was in the days when students were seated alphabetically, they always sat side-by-side. In his estimation, had his bright and talented classmate lived, he might well have been president of the United States. An intriguing observation on "what might have been."

Accounts of the activities of the offspring of many residents are interesting, too. Stories abound of members of the "boomer generation" who have had highly successful careers in major cities on either coast, but have chosen to leave those over-crowded areas and return to the mid-west. I know Cherokee County has experienced some of that "reverse exodus," and I expect you are as pleased as I am to hear further proof that it continues happening in other places, as well.

I hope you have found these tales to be of interest, and I do want to thank you for putting up with my telling them.