Thursday, October 19, 2006

Part 2 -- Remsen and Marcus Iowa

My trip to Iowa was delightful in every way. First, I must mention the scenery. I've mentioned several times on my blog that people are mistaken to imagine Kansas and Nebraska as flat, featureless, and boring. The same can be said for Iowa. For miles past Council Bluffs, travelers see high plateaus and bluffs topped by hardwood forests. The poet in me imagined the Native Indian watch fires atop those bluffs in ages past. Bluffs along the Missouri River are easily as tall as many of the worn down mountains in the Appalachian chain. Iowa is blessed with fertile valleys and rolling hills, where corn grows in fields far as eye can see and sleek cattle graze along the roadsides.

My friend and I stayed at the Frontier Motel in Remsen. Remsenites say the Frontier has been there as long as they can remember. It is not fancy, but is clean and comfortable at $28 per double occupancy, and is within easy walking distance of an excellent restaurant, The Golden Pheasant. We chose Remsen as our home base because Marg Sanow and her uncle Dale Sanow live there, a town of about 1400 people.

My friend said she'd never eaten so often or so well as we did in Remsen. We had the absolute best pizza EVER at Greg's Pizza and Grill, made from scratch on site. We had a whopping big and delicious breakfast at Ruth's Cafe. If you ever eat there, order the breakfast sausages. OH YUM!! And one day we had a generous lunch at The Remsen Cafe. Dale fed us broasted chicken and potato wedges one evening from Mrs. B's, and cooked spaghetti sauce from scratch another night to top his perfectly al dente pasta. Grandma Esther Clara often said, "We Sanows like our grub." That appreciation has been carried down through several generations, and the food we had in Remsen was exceptional.

Friday night, Marg hosted a gathering of Sanow descendents in the basement meeting room of The Happy Siesta Health Care Center, where her mother resides. We Sanows snarfed ham and cheese sandwiches, pickles, chips, and cake while we gabbed a mile a minute and exchanged information. I was thrilled to meet so many relatives in one spot and only wish I had had longer to visit. But now I am armed with names, addresses, and emails so I can keep in contact with branches of Grandma's family.

Saturday, Don Sanow, another long lost relative, bought our breakfast at the Marcus truck stop -- good food, cooked to order. After our tummies were full, he took us on a driving tour so we could see Grandma's home place memorialized in My Name is Esther Clara. Much has changed in the years since the Sanows lived there, but seeing the place, walking the same ground they walked a hundred years ago, was a bittersweet experience for me. From there, Don drove us to the cemetery where Ma and Pa Sanow and several of their older children are buried. The last thing on his agenda was to show us Marcus, a town roughly the size of Remsen. Main street looks much like it did when Grandma was a girl, lined with stone and brick buildings built to last. Marcus has its own home-owned ethanol plant, a huge operation that awed us all with its size.

Later we visited Lois Krekow, the woman who originally put me in touch with Marg Sanow. I wanted to thank her in person for her kindness. Lois is on the Marcus Library board and read my post searching for Sanow relatives on the Marcus Iowa Blog. She and her husband live in a comfortable home in the country outside Marcus.

Sunday, suddenly, the visit ended and it was time to head home. Whether relative or non-relative, the people in Marcus and Remsen were friendly and helpful. I need to thank them all in writing, but will also thank them here, for making my visit pleasant and memorable. I miss everyone who lives in that pristine Iowa valley.


Mitts said...

I dream trip would be for we "Sanow-Smiths" to go there in the future.

Pami Angel said...

The food,Relatives,the rolling hills etc sounded wonderful.Sounds like God's country for sure.Ah,yes,would be nice to get to go their

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I enjoy good writing by writers and poets who are not famous. My mother said I was born a hundred years too late. The older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

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