Two towns, two musicians to make them famous
Trip Start Aug 24, 2013
7Trip End Aug 31, 2013
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Where I stayed
Historic Park Inn Hotel Mason City
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Read my review - 5/5 stars
What I did
Clear Lake, Music Man Square
We began our day by heading to Clear Lake to see the Surf Ballroom, where Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper had their last show. The mid-century design was stunning and it's easy to see how much fun a concert or dance would be there. The ballroom started have big band events there in the 1930s and continues to host rock shows there today. The building is open every day for self-guided tours and the gift shop sells t-shirts, knick knacks and repro posters of the famed Winter Dance Party of Feb. 2, 1959.
After Clear Lake, we headed to the Hobo Museum in Britt, Iowa, about 20 miles west. Driving through flatness and corn and soy beans, with an occasional "town" we finally made it to Britt, only to find the museum "closed for the season." If summer isn't the season it's open, I'm not sure what is.
So we headed back to Mason City to try out another local food delicacy: the loose meat sandwich. We were told to go to Pro's Sandwich Shop, where there are no menus and you order off the menu board over the grill. The waitress brought us our sandwiches wrapped in paper and plopped them on the table, along with a small spoon. The sandwiches were hamburger buns with pretty flavorless, crumbled ground meat on them. A pickle and some mustard gave them some flavor, but overall? Meh. At least it was our cheapest meal so far on the trip. About $8 for the two of us.
We finally headed over to the Music Man Square and Meredith Willson's home, which don't open to the public until 1 p.m. We arrived just in time to catch a tour leaving for the musician's boyhood home, and had a great time touring the upstairs and downstairs of the lovely, Queen Anne style home, built in 1896 with electricity and indoor plumbing. I noticed one of the props on the desk in the family parlor: a 1918 Masonian yearbook, Willson's junior year in high school (mine is the 1919 edition).
Music Man Square is a reproduction, basically, of the streetscape used in the movie. It was pretty lame, except for a room where they showed a documentary, narrated by Shirley Jones (the movie's Marian the librarian) talking about the casting and filming of the movie of the Music Man. She reveals in the video that she became pregnant during the 9 months of shooting of the film, and by the end of the movie, they were tightening a girdle around her waist to keep her
Back to our beautiful room for tomato sandwiches, with tomatoes purchased from a roadside farmers market somewhere in Iowa the day before.
My Review Of The Place I Stayed