My wife Sandy and I will take any excuse for a road trip that gives us an opportunity to see new parts of the country. And when we do, we like to get off the main roads to enjoy the real America, not just the “highway America.” We enjoy the slower pace, the opportunity to see the great beauty and many attractions and curiosities this country offers, and the chance conversations and experiences one can only have if you take the road less traveled. In all these respects, DeWitt definitely delivered.
Last month, Sandy and I had an opportunity to travel from northern Virginia to Vinton, Iowa to attend our son’s end-of-service ceremony with FEMA Corps, a national service program focused on disaster response and disaster mitigation. We came up through central Ohio and stopped off to visit friends and family, wound our way through Indiana hill country and Illinois croplands and crossed the Mississippi north of Davenport heading to Vinton. Thus it was that we found ourselves passing through DeWitt on Route 30 on a fine spring day around lunchtime. So we stopped off at the Garden Café for some mighty fine soup and sandwiches.
While enjoying the hospitality of the nice folks at the Garden Cafe, we read a bit about native son and noted artist John Bloom and a mural he had painted, “Shucking Corn,” installed in the old DeWitt post office, now City Hall. With a little time on our hands, and always keen to take advantage of local attractions, we decided to have a peek. We wandered over to the post office and inquired about the mural and the very helpful postmistress informed us that we had found the new post office, and that the mural was located in the “old post office,” now serving as the City Hall. Entering City Hall, we were invited by the folks in the front offices to enjoy Bloom’s work located above the Mayor’s office door. It was well worth the time—a wonderful artistic representation of the American experience we leave the city and highway to enjoy. The enthusiastic folks there pointed us to some additional Bloom sketches mounted in the Council chambers. We had an enjoyable conversation about the growth and development around DeWitt.
Heading back to the car we crossed the intersection of 10th Street and 6th Avenue, and we were diverted by a sign identifying the intersection as the crossroads of the old Lincoln Highway and the historic Blues Road. I’m a great blues fan and it is my ambition on a future road trip to follow the Blues from New Orleans northward. As we were enjoying that discovery, we turned around to see a thatched roof building in Lincoln Park, something you just don’t see every day in this country! Further intrigued by the German “Hausbarn” museum sign, we poked our heads into the Chamber of Commerce offices to inquire about it. We met the DCDC staff, who couldn’t have been more gracious representatives of DeWitt—opening up the museum for us and letting us know about the various happenings in the DeWitt environs, including Tunes in Town located in Lincoln Park. We greatly enjoyed our conversation with them and their willingness to show us the well-organized displays relating to the German migration to America.
As we had an event to get to in Vinton, we reluctantly took our leave of the good folks of DeWitt. But we have abiding memories of a town with great local attractions and of warm, embracing residents who have an obvious sense of civic pride, and who have a predisposition to offer a helping hand, even to out-of-town folks just passing through. We look forward with great anticipation to our Blues Road travels in the next year or so, now not just because of the draw of the music, but because it will provide us the opportunity to travel up 6th Avenue on our return to one of our new favorite American towns.
With fond memories – Rob and Sandy Fountain
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