Thursday, August 15, 2013

Wright and Wilson

After our visit with family, in Chicago, we continued into Iowa. There were some places Jim had been wanting to visit, and we decided to combine it with a trip to Rockford Illinois.

We drove as far as Cedar Rapids, and stayed in a hotel by the river. In the morning, we noticed a sign showing the water level, from the flood in 2008  - it was well above my head! The cashier said that the current was so strong, no one could get near the hotel. It's hard to imagine what that must have been like.

(I remember the 1972 flooding in Pittsburgh. Dad took us to Neville Island, to see where water was coming up through drains. This was not nearly as impressive as seeing the Golden Triangle under water - I guess it was a perspective that was more easily grasped. I remember coming across the Fort Pitt Bridge and seeing roadways under water.)

We continued on to Mason City, Iowa, where we visited the Stockman House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The Interpretive Center was quite interesting, describing the Prairie School Architecture used in a number of homes and buildings in Mason City.

Robin, outside the interpretive center

Window in the interpretive center

The Stockman House

Alas, no photos allowed inside

I loved the openness of the house - with some modernization, and insulation, it would be a pretty nice place to live. Jim disagreed - the ceilings were a bit low. Apparently Wright didn't like tall people; he called them weeds. Humph. I'm rather fond of my "weed"!

We stopped by the Park Inn Hotel, also designed by Wright, but decided against a tour there. We looked around on our own, and then visited the Meredith Wilson Museum. Wilson, of course, is known for writing The Music Man, but I was surprised to realize he had quite a career, in the service, in radio and TV, and on Broadway.

Meredith Wilson


The museum also had instruments on loan from the National Music Museum. (We stumbled on that gem back in 2010, when we visited family in Ponca, Nebraska. It is an amazing place.)

This instrument - a nyckelharpa - caught our eye - we had no idea what it was. According to this site, it is a traditional Swedish instrument, "somewhere between a typewriter and your grandpa's old crackly fiddle."

This video shows Peter Puma Hedlund performing Blekingepolskan on the nyckelharpa. - according to another YouTube site, this is a traditional tune from the village Bingsjö in Dalarna, Sweden (That video had drums - not really what I was looking for!).

When we'd finished with the museum, we headed for Spillville, Iowa, where Antonin Dvorak once spent the summer - more about that in the next blog post.

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