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Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

Gray Matters: Reporting from Hawkeye country

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Now that I'm living in Cedar Rapids, I find myself deep in the heart of Hawkeye Country.

The recent losses in both men's and women's basketball have made for some long faces. I'm still loyal to my alma mater, but I don't get quite so emotionally involved as some. Still, the connections do make for some interesting dinner conversations.

It turned out that two gentlemen at my table one evening had graduated from Iowa shortly after I did. When I told them I was a freshman the year Nile Kinnick won the Heismann it triggered a great discussion of the games, the team members and all sorts of reminiscences of that fabled season.

We talked of the original Highlanders who were all men wearing those formidable busbies. They had to be close to six feet tall, to be considered for membership. Then I told them of my tiny friend Laura, one of the small group of Highland Dancers.

It was she who danced the Fling on a huge drum balanced on the shoulders of six of the tallest bagpipers. When a majority of male students went off to WW II, girls took over the entire organization. We concluded it was a mistake not to have gone back to the original Highlander format when men returned to campus.

Soon those fellows went into many details concerning various members of that 1939 team, known as the Ironmen. I then remembered that my son Fred, who lives in Des Moines, has a friend whose father was one of them. The details had escaped me so I checked with him to get my facts straight.

It turns out that, actually, two of his friends are sons of those Ironmen. Unless you are a Hawk "junkie" this may be of little interest to you, so forgive me. Wally Bergstrom's son, John, has retired from General Growth and is now living in Chicago, and Bill Green's son, also Bill, still lives in Des Moines, having recently retired from Wells Fargo. Hearing of guys my sons' ages being retired did make me feel really ancient, by the way!

Our doors and the small shelves outside our apartments may be decorated as we choose. During the football season many sported a Hawkeye theme. But one gentleman had his whole door plastered with a huge CYCLONES banner. Guess he wanted to go all-out due to his minority status.

Now it's time for spring decorations. I put out some of my Easter eggs. I'm most proud of those painted for me by Shelby Bork. My new friends find it hard to believe they were painted by a middle school youngster.

I know many of you there are as pleased as I am to have one of her precious little works of art. Something else happened regarding Easter eggs which I must tell you about. A program was presented here last week on Czech Cottage, a gift shop, which has finally been re-opened following the flood disaster of 2008.

The owner also showed some videos he had taken in Czechoslovakia, including one on their cottage industry of decorating Easter eggs. To my amazement when I brought out a carton of painted eggs, which I had ordered from a catalog years ago, I found, stamped on the bottom, "Made in Czech Republic."

So I am happy to report that, inadvertently, I am right in fashion here in this area populated by a great many folks of Czech descent.

I am getting adjusted to my new situation but I still miss Cherokee County and all of you!