Tuesday, January 26, 2010

70 Years Ago at Foxcroft

From Bess' Diary:

January 25, 1940, Thurs.
Vacuum cleaned, sent Milky Way (? Unreadable?)
Didn’t go to Mrs. Harshbarger’s tea but did walk for mail.
Kept furnace and grate going, fed birds, worked on spread
Radio – read a lot. Eric Wilson married today


"Mrs. Harshbarger is Gretchen Harshbarger one of Bess' best friends. In 1940 Gretchen and her mother published Flower Family Album .

She was also the garden editor for Household Magazine and American Homes and president of the Garden Writers' Association of America and the American Hemerocallis Society. Harshbarger received numerous national and local awards for her contributions to horticulture. In Iowa City she is remembered for her leadership in founding Project GREEN (Grow to Reach Environmental Excellence Now), a group devoted to beautifying public spaces.

In her Jan. 21, 1940 entry Bess reported "To Mrs. Harshbarger's 2-4 to see her unpack 600 bulbs, she gave me dozens of them, home and planted all I had earth for, dug more from hotbed and left it to warm till morning."

"Eric Wilson" was a neighbor two doors away to the east. An Iowa City native, Wilson was an outstanding track athlete at the University, winning Big 10 and NCAA titles in the 220 meter dash. Despite having broken the world record in the 400 meter dash in an Olympic qualifying meet prior to the 1924 Paris Olympics, he did not place in the event, having notably lost in the preliminary heats to Eric Liddell, who's achievement was documented in the movie Chariots of Fire.

By 1940 Mr. Wilson was working as the director of sports information for the University of Iowa.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Communication: 19th-21st Centuries

I must say it is satisfying, in that ying/yang balance of life sort of way, to direct a University Heights citizen to the municipal website by talking to them on a candlestick telephone.

In my new life as a city councilor I am the chair of the "e-government" committee. I am also the complete staff of the e-government department. This means I am now in charge of our municipal website. The image below links to the site:

I have done some minimal re-arranging of the site, and created a method for citizens to subscribe to updates, but nothing too fancy. I am firmly in favor of boring but functional.

You may also notice a link to a public meeting next week to gather input for revisions to the comprehensive plan. Things should be very interesting for the forseeable future.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Post Holiday Update

Greetings. it's time to update on what happened, house-wise, over vacation. The answer is "not much." We spent most of vacation visiting my dad who spent four weeks, Dec. 3rd through 31st, in UI hospitals. He was dismissed to rehabilitation in Cedar Rapids on New Year's Eve, and continues to make good progress.

I did manage to surprise Lisa with her Christmas gift. Some time probably in the 1940's Helen made a needlepoint picture of Foxcroft, which she promptly then attached to a folding camp stool. Wouldn't you do exactly the same? We bought the stool at the house sale, 5 years ago this coming March. I took it to our favorite framer, (and A&C maven) Kathleen Rash, at the Art Mission. Here is what she did with it:

Here is a close up of Helen's needlework:

The house also got a gift this year. The phone niche in the dining room once again has a candlestick phone in it:

I put the decorative grill back below the phone niche, I'd found it when we emptied out the attic, put it in the basement and forgot about it. The label on the top of the grill contains Foxcroft's original 4 digit number 4452. Anne, Helen's cousin who was her resident caretaker here, still has that phone number.

My much appreciated house related gift this year was a new pair of overalls, which I will probably wear out next summer as I continue to paint.