Moline Memories - MHS 66 Friends

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lyda Rose - From Moline


My favorite musical is "The Music Man" because it reminds me of my hometown area. We were always crossing the river to see people and places in Iowa.

Meredith Willson grew up in Mason City, Iowa, and he created this musical as a tribute to the people he knew. Many characters and names are from Mason City. The song "Lyda Rose" includes the name of his favorite aunt Lyda and his mother (Rose). In the musical, Lyda Rose Quackenbush hailed from Moline.

Willson, played the flute, like me, but much better than I. He joined Sousa's band and played in Toscanini's New York Philharmonic. He was far more than a song writer, composing symphonies and leading orchestras in Hollywood for the music industry. 

Willson's big moment in TV history was a flop, so he had the time to write his first musical, which went through 32 revisions before opening as a smash hit. Robert Preston created the character of Harold Hill (whose real name was Greg) on stage and in film, making any other interpretation seem amateurish.

In small town America, which still exists, people trust each other and help each other out. Recently my car went belly up at a Shell after an earlier jump start and a quick fix at a Goodyear store. A man stopping at the gas station drove us to his house, grabbed his tools, drafted his son, and drove back with us to diagnose and fix the battery. They installed it faster than AutoZone could check me out. He zoomed away in his truck, stopped, jumped out and came back. "Pray for me. I am starting a new business." 

Moline was like that. I developed a flat at midnight, working at Melo Cream. The Shell station across the street was closed and I was a new driver. One customer came out, changed the tire in a few minutes, and was back drinking coffee at the counter. He was uncomfortable about being thanked.

I am having a great time blogging about Moline. I keep looking up websites and pictures, learning more about those memories, hearing from classmates about their similar experiences. 

I remember two Moline girls who were good friends in the flute section in our band. One is follower on this blog now. The other one lives in...Mason City. They recently got in contact via Facebook.

By coincidence my wife Chris was a librarian in South Bend, and later went to library school in Columbus. I often called her Marian the Librarian. She went to my family reunion in Iowa once, and we laughed about how the musical described them all so well:

Iowa Stubborn

Oh, there's nothing halfway
About the Iowa way to treat you,
When we treat you
Which we may not do at all.
There's an Iowa kind of special
Chip-on-the-shoulder attitude.
We've never been without.
That we recall.
We can be cold
As our falling thermometers in December
If you ask about our weather in July.
And we're so gosh darn stubborn
We could stand touchin' noses
For a week at a time
And never see eye-to-eye.
But what the heck, you're welcome,
Join us at the picnic.
You can eat your fill
Of all the food you bring yourself.
You really ought to give Iowa a try.
Provided you are contrary,
We can be cold
As our falling thermometer in December
If you ask about our weather in July.
And we're so gosh darn stubborn
We can stand touchin' noses
For a week at a time
And never see eye-to-eye.
But we'll give you our shirt
And a back to go with it
If your crops should happen to die.

So, what the heck, you're welcome,
Glad to have you with us.

Farmer and Wife:
Even though we may not ever mention it again.

You really ought to give Iowa
Hawkeye Iowa
Dubuque, Des
Moines, Davenport, Marshalltown,
Mason City, Keokuk, Ames,
Clear Lake
Ought to give Iowa a try!

I read some blog and Facebook comments about Moline Memories to my wife the other day. She said wistfully, "You Moliners really stick together."