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Postcards From Iowa #8

Reverse side: Abraham Lincoln from New Salem. This bronze statue by Avard Fairbanks was given to the State of Illinois by the Sons of Utah Pioneers in 1954. It is located at the top of the hill in New Salem State Park near the entrance to the village. Published by Color-View, Inc., 208 N. Main St., Rockford, Ill. Postmarked May 17, 1962 in Rochelle, Ill. with a note from Father.

I grew up in Davenport, Iowa. Iowa is not the land of Lincoln. That is across the Mississippi River in Illinois.

Father sent this postcard from Rochelle, Ill. where he presumably attended a meeting for the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America. I don’t recall. I was ten years old. The message on the back was, “I’ll be home before the card gets there so I’m saying goodbye to Rochelle.”

We stopped by Father’s step-mother’s place in Rock Island one time. She wasn’t home. Gladys was grandfather’s second wife after Ina Elizabeth died young of food poisoning. Grandfather died of complications from surgery. According to her obituary, Gladys owned and operated Deaton’s Diner for 35 years. She kept the family name, adding two additional husbands by hyphenation after grandfather died. She told me, in the only letter I have from her, that the marriage into the Deaton family was a business proposition. All three of her husbands are buried next to her in a Rock Island Cemetery we visited decades ago. The cemetery sexton knew “Mrs. Deaton” well.

In high school, we took the bus downtown then walked across the Centennial Bridge to Rock Island where a movie theater was screening a serialized story of The Batman made by Columbia Pictures in 1943. After the television program debuted in 1966, I was all about the Batman. All 15 serial episodes were screened one after another. It was a long walk to see them, but we felt it important to include the serial in our Batman fandom.

On my trip back to Iowa from military service I stopped and stayed with friends in Springfield, Ill. for a couple of days. During that trip we visited Lincoln’s tomb and his house, which had been opened to the public. I recall a number of book shops displaying various Lincoln books in street-facing windows. Many words have been written about the 16th president. He felt more real to me after that visit.

I spent the most time in Illinois when we lived in Indiana. Work took me all over. I got to know Chicago and the suburbs, as well as most other parts of the state. I went anywhere with an opportunity to recruit truck drivers.

I’m lucky to have this postcard. It’s one of the few notes Father sent me. It could easily have disappeared with my comic book and baseball card collections left in Mother’s attic when I moved from home in 1970 to attend college. I don’t think of Father much these days. When I do, it’s comforting to have things I know he touched as well. It is part of making a life in the time of the coronavirus.

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