I was filled with gratitude as I drove over to meet up with the sixtahs on Friday morning, now over a week ago, for a planning meeting. I love seeing the gals, and we’re getting ready for our next trip! In the year since our Route 66 trip Patty has battled her cancers fiercely. We’re all grateful.
Trudi and I had spoken during the week by phone trying to make a rough sketch of our upcoming Mississippi River trip and hadn’t gotten very far. Trudi was a travel agent in a former life and is quite good at pulling together a group of ideas and turning it into a fabulous trip (our Route 66 adventure, for example!). We needed Patty’s input. What did SHE want from the trip. Where did SHE want to go?
We met at the happiest place of earth:
Dunkin Donuts, of course!
I claim credit for choosing this venue for our meeting and other tummy-focused decision making that goes on behind the scenes. Let’s just say I am a Value Added Team Member when these issues arise. I do know A LOT about doughnuts.
Janey and I pulled in at the same moment, and I noted Patty’s car nearby with the Wingate University bumper sticker proudly displayed. Her son leaves for his first year of college in a few short weeks.
Inside Dunkin, Patty was waiting with her friend Dee who is visiting from Pittsburgh. Patty and Dee have been friends for over twenty years. Dee sparkles like the rhinestones on her handbag. Within five minutes you feel not only like you know her, but like you’d like to invite her along wherever you go. She promised to meet up with us on our trip, and we’re holding her to it! And she knows Cathy Finch, Patty’s friend who met up with us in St. Louis on the last trip!
Enter Jean: Jean arrived to hugs and laughter! We’d missed her as she’s been on a family vay kay with her three kids and hubby. As you know, we frown upon such things. A Sixtah must not leave the herd.
Additionally, Patti T wasn’t able to join us at this Dunkin D meeting as she was with another group of girlfriends on a trip. Obviously this is another departure from the herd. Things are out of control.
Dee was amazed that our meeting actually took on a “meeting quality.” We’re serious about getting this thing moving… We settled down to the job at hand, and Trudi questioned Patty about her thoughts for the trip. Was it important to start at Lake Itasca, the source of the Mississippi River? Should we see a baseball game in St Louis? What about Graceland in Memphis? Where would we end?
Patty DOES want to see the St. Louis Cardinals play in St. Louis! And yes, we will pack our Elvis wigs! Patty wants to visit the kids at St. Jude Hospital in Memphis too! And we hope to end the trip in New Orleans.
AND, wait for it….
Patty wants to add Muscatine, Iowa to the list of stops.
You may have asked yourself the same question? Jean searched for a map of Muscatine, Iowa for us…
According to the Callaghan girls they spent about five years of their lives living in Muscatine back when Patty was in middle school and part of high school (she finished high school at Cardinal Mooney HS in Sarasota, Florida where she helped vex nuns with Marty Merritt, you may remember?)
People who suggest road trip stops like Muscatine, Iowa to their friends probably should always justify their request. Patty did.
Muscatine, she says, is the only place where the great Mississippi River runs East to West and not North to South. It is also the county seat of Muscatine County, don’t you know. And Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, was a resident for a time and worked at the local newspaper, The Muscatine Journal, which was partly owned by his brother. Samuel Clemens described Muscatine in his book, Life on the Mississippi:
“And I remember Muscatine—still more pleasantly—for its summer sunsets. I have never seen any, on either side of the ocean, that equaled them. They used the broad smooth river as a canvas, and painted on it every imaginable dream of color, from the mottled daintinesses and the delicacies of the opal, all the way up, through cumulative intensities, to blinding purple and crimson conflagrations which were enchanting to the eye, but sharply tried it at the same time. All the Upper Mississippi region has these extraordinary sunsets as a familiar spectacle. It is the true Sunset Land. I am sure no other country can show so good a right to the name. The sunrises are also said to be exceedingly fine. I do not know.”
Our Patty says there is a button company in Muscatine, and my research shows that this is still true. Muscatine’s slogan is “Pearl of the Mississippi” and this tiny town is called “The Pearl Button Capital of the World” as the freshwater mussel shells harvested from the Mississippi River looked like pearls when crafted into buttons. The Weber factory is still operating today and celebrated its 100th year anniversary in 2004. I really really want to tour that factory, PV.
This Patty of ours is a gal who has a passion for Americana. I didn’t have to press hard for more stories. And Callaghans tell good stories for sure.
Patty then shared the story of arguably the most notable accomplishment of a Muscatine native son (unless you count the remarkably numerous US diplomats who somehow called this tiny town home and later made their mark on the world? I’m not even kidding.)
There was a time back in 1973 when a boy from Muscatine Iowa rescued the rock band THE WHO. Again, you can’t make this stuff up. Scot Halpin had recently moved from Muscatine, Iowa to California back in 1973 when he purchased scalped tickets to see THE WHO. He and his friends arrived thirteen hours early for the concert so that they could get good seats up front. During the concert the band’s drummer, Keith Moon, passed out mid-show. After a delay and an attempt to get Keith Moon back on stage the band continued on without a percussionist. At one point guitarist Pete Townshend asked the crowd, “Can anyone play the drums?” Scot’s friends attracted the attention of the concert’s promoter, and Scot ended up on stage. Later that same year he received an award from Rolling Stone Magazine for “Pick-Up Player of the Year.” Nine years ago when Scot died THE WHO posted a link on their website announcing a memorial blog in memory of Halpin. The Muscatine Iowa boy had saved THE WHO concert back in 1973.
So we’re going to Muscatine! And probably St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans.
We’re just so grateful to have this special time together. We’ll hit the road again. We’ll laugh a lot. We’ll snuggle together and tell stories. We’ll try to be as nice as Trudi. We’ll drink out of “Good M.” cups. Patti T and Jean G will guide us over the miles. Janey and I will have private third row seat jokes and will always know where the car’s chocolate is being stored. And Patty V will cue up songs on pandora for us to sing, and her feet will be up on the dash. For she is full of great. And we are grateful.