Seen on I-35 while driving from Des Moines to Ames. A railroad connects Huxley and Maxwell. I wonder the person responsible for naming towns along the railway named these two after Thomas Henry Huxley and James Clerk Maxwell?
When I was in elementary school I wrote a book report about Bob Feller, the Hall of Fame pitcher for the Cleveland Indians. I suspect that book was "Bob Feller: Hall of Fame Strikeout Star" by Gene Schoor, front and center in the third photograph. Schoor was a sportswriter who specialized in quickie biographies of athletes. He didn't go to games but based his writing on the work of of other writers, making him somewhat of a scoundrel. Anyway, I was amused at Marty Appel's memory of writing book reports based on one of Schoor's books (I probably read that Mickey Mantle book, too!).
Back to Feller. He was raised on a farm near Van Meter, Iowa. It was apparent from a very young age that he was born to play baseball. His father built a baseball field, complete with grandstand, on the farm for young Feller. Interesting thing to do in Iowa. Feller signed a contract while still in high school and, through some shenanigans by the scout that signed him, managed to go straight to the Cleveland Indians at age 17 without pitching in the minors. Feller was probably the fastest pitcher in major league history. He went on to pitch three no-hitters (including one on opening day), twelve one-hitters, 266 wins, and 2581 strikeouts. All that despite missing the better part of four seasons while he served in World War II. He didn't win a World Series game but he was a member of the Indians 1948 World Series winners.
Earlier in the 1948 season the Indians were playing at Yankee Stadium. Babe Ruth was dying and made his farewell appearance at the stadium before the game. To steady himself Ruth grabbed a bat, Feller's bat, and walked onto the field. The last bat that Babe Ruth ever touched disappeared before Feller was able to retrieve it. Years later he was able to buy it and the bat now oddly has pride of place in front of Chief Wahoo.
Driving between Lincoln and New York I got a kick out of seeing the exit sign for Van Meter, remembering that it was Feller's hometown. I took the exit once. There wasn't much happening in Van Meter. The museum opened in 1995 so I had to stop in for a look on this trip. There still wasn't much happening in Van Meter. So little was happening that the museum wasn't even open. I took a picture of the mural and headed to Winterset.
Normally I would have taken a different route back to Des Moines, but I had a hunch the museum would be open. It was, and it is well worth stopping at if you're a baseball fan. Everything you want to know about Bob Feller is there in the museum. Feller was, along with Joe DiMaggio, a prototype for modern athletes, endorsing many products while carefully protecting his image. He found that he could make enough money on off-season barnstorming tours that he could spend the winter months working out rather than taking a second job. When the season started he was in much better shape than any of the other players.
I'm hosting a bunch of people this week for work so I'll probably not be around these parts too much until Thursday or Friday.
I tied my shoes today for the first time since July 19th. Therapy this morning consisted of thrusting my hand into a vat of hot corn husks, wrangling the left pinkie finger, picking up wooden blocks and putting them in a box with the same finger, and mashing an industrial-sized blob of silicone polymer (commonly known as Silly Putty). I was given a smaller blob so I could continue the mashing at home.
A better name for this post might be "how to lie with photos" as these three pictures aren't at all representative of Winterset. It was cold and windy that day and I had other ice cream plans so I didn't get a snack at Frostee's. The mileage sign was in someone's yard on a side street. I bet few people from out-of-town ever see it. I wonder if the sign owner's have been to Maine. It took a while to figure out what SHOPPER was all about. The Shopper is Winterset's version of the PennySaver newspaper.
Thanks to a red herring from Google Maps it took a while to figure out what was going on with this monument in Winterset's city park. The Delicious apple, which is the precursor to the mealy, tasteless, yet best-selling present day Red Delicious apple, was was indeed discovered by Jesse Hiatt. However, Hiatt's farm was in Peru, Iowa, not Winterset.
I panned around the Google map for Winterset and didn't see Peru. That piqued my curiosity so I plugged in the directions from Winterset to Peru and got this. That was odd because it shows Peru being a couple hundred miles away in the northeastern part of the state near the Mississippi River. I zoomed in only to find no town!
Back to the drawing board. This article didn't help because it claimed the apple was from Winterset. A little more digging turned up an Old Peru about ten miles southeast of Winterset. Old Peru was once big enough to warrant a post office. Back in 1853 the town was known as Peru. Peru lost its post office in 1903. Hiatt found the delicious sapling in 1872 when Peru was in its heyday.
The condensed story of the Delicious apple was that Hiatt found a sapling in his apple orchard. He let it grow and it eventually produced tasty red and yellow striped apples. He named the variety the Hawkeye apple, after the state nickname. Several years later the Stark Brothers Nursery held a competition to replace its good-looking but tasteless Ben Davis variety of apple. The Hawkeye caught Clarence Stark's attention but Hiatt's return address could not be found. Another competition was held the following year and Hiatt's apple was again the favorite. The Stark Brothers bought the right to propagate Hiatt's apple and renamed it the Delicious apple. After a century of cross-breeding and hybridizing the Delicious apple has morphed into the awful Red Delicious apple of grocery store and school cafeteria ubiquity.