Herbert Hoover Did Not Invent the Vacuum!

Trip Start Apr 05, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Missouri
Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I planned to be out of Bloomington/Normal by 9:00 am.  The best laid plans...  I woke up at 8:45 am after returning from golf (Cinder Ridge) and a Cubs game (Cubs win 11-1) about Midnight last night.  After all was said and done, I was on the road by 10:00 am, heading for West Branch, Iowa. 

I have discovered that there is something therapeutic for me about driving.  I love it.  I always have.  I get to think, sing along (with no critics) and complain at the dumb drivers who camp in the left hand lane!!!   

 I was starting the "West of the Mississippi" portion of my Presidential Gravesite quest.  I was heading toward the only President from the state of Iowa.  I'll bet if you quizzed 100 people from across the nation, 90% or more would not know that Herbert Hoover came from Iowa.  Other myths:  Herbert Hoover did not invent the vacuum.  And he was not related to J Edgar Hoover of FBI fame.  

Herbert Hoover, who became the 31st President of the US was born in West Branch, Iowa, just outside of Iowa City in 1874.  His father was a blacksmith and his mother a devout Quaker.  Unfortunately, his father died when "Bert" was six and his mother died when he was nine, leaving him and his two siblings orphans.  Quaker families are tight and Bert eventually went to live with his Aunt and Uncle in Oregon.  He eventually entered Stanford University at 17 and graduated as an engineer.  After working a menial mining job for a year, he applied to a British firm which was looking to oversee their mining activities in Australia.  He is sometimes credited for finding "gold" in Australia.  He was offered the same position in China, and accepted, and having enough money, wired his girlfriend, Lou asking to be his bride.  The day after their wedding, the couple left for China.  Hoover made a fortune,  becoming a self-made millionaire in the mining industry and was probably the richest president we have ever had at the time.  

Because of his Quaker upbringing, he felt the need to help humanity with his wealth.  He was asked by President Woodrow Wilson to help the people of Europe during WWI.  For this, he became known as the "Great Humanitarian." 

He ran for President in 1928 and was the recipient of the greatest landslide in history.  However, it was a scant 8 months later that the stock market crashed and the "Great Depression" was ushered in.  And Hoover was the perfect scapegoat.  He remained a scapegoat until the President I am seeing tomorrow (Harry Truman) tapped him to feed the people of Europe after WWII.  And he did so.  How ironic that he could feed the people of Europe after WWI and WWII, but couldn't seem to feed his own people during the Great Depression.  

Hoover died in 1964, and I remember his funeral...watching it on TV.  He was buried on a hill overlooking the town where he was born, West Branch, Iowa.

I got to West Branch about 1:00 pm, heading first for the National Park Service Visitor's Center.  As I entered, the National Park Service Ranger looked over at me like I was interrupting his steak dinner.  And he said, "What du ya need?"  Taken back a bit, I asked, "Can you tell me what there is to see here?"  As he rattled off the things, I asked about the gravesite, but I had obviously interrupted his "schpeel" and he said, rather emphatically, "Let me finish".....OK.   I'll just watch the movie.  The movie was on Hoover's youth.  It was OK, or was I just mad.  I thanked him and the girl he was talking to after the movie and left.  

I saw the house he was born in.  Very small.  Then I went to the gravesite.  Very nice.  As advertised, it was on a hill overlooking the small town of West Branch.  I would call it very understated...maybe the Quaker in him.

I went to the museum.  $3 for old people.  And after viewing it for half an hour....very interesting.  I liked it.  Then a 22 minute film on Hoover's life...also well done.  

I asked about a local place for lunch and wound up at Herb N' Lou's Pizza and Subs.  The sub was average at best.  

Then I was on my way to Independence, Missouri....home of Harry Truman.  It was going to be a five hour drive.  I should be there by 8:00 pm...made it at 7:57!  

I love both my hands free phone (although reception is a problem at times) and my satellite radio.  I switch channels reflecting my personality...50's on 5, 60's on 6, 70's on 7, 17 - Love Channel, 32, - The Bridge, 56 - Willie's Roadhouse and 97 - The Blue Collar Comedy Channel.  

I was reminded that daughter Laura recently got her first job in the religious field by a comedian who said:
* I'm a Baptist....which is both a culture and a religion!
* We do not believe in premarital sex...we're afraid it might lead to dancing!!!
* And I'm a Southern Baptist, so we don't even believe in synchronized swimming!!!

Is there a stranger name for a town than, "What Cheer, Iowa?"  I don't know.

I drove West almost out of Iowa and then south to Kansas City.  By 6:00 pm I was in Missouri. I passed the John L. Lewis Museum...remember him?  American leader of organized labor...I think he started the AFL-CIO.

I passed St. Joseph, Missouri, starting point for people leaving for the west coast on the Oregon Trail and also the starting point of the Pony Express as well as where Jesse James was shot and killed.  What an historic town.  I also passed Jesse James' birthplace in Kearney, MO.  

Got to the hotel and got upgraded by the manager to a suite....God I love IHG!!!  Checked in and after freshening up, I headed to a great steak house..."The Hereford House."  Ate at the bar.  Awesome food.  Awesome service.  

Tomorrow....Give 'em Hell Harry Truman and "I like Ike!"

Take care my friends!!!



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