Monday, December 5, 2011

December Weather

by Loren Horton

Snowfall glitters
Starlight glimmers
Points of brilliant light
Shimmer on the glaze
Of ice-bound streams

Stillness hovers
Hushing the fluttering flakes
To mute repose
Across the sheeted earth

Calm enfolds the scene
As branch and twig and bush
Keep silence
In the light and in the dark
While snowflakes fall

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Honor Flights

Oaknoll residents Bob Laudie, Bill Byington and George Dane had the opportunity to go on an Honor Flight to Washington D.C. Eastern Iowa Honor Flight is a non-profit organization dedicated to sending veterans to our nations capital, where they can visit historical sights and war memorials.

Bob, Bill, and George are veterans of World War II. We thank them, and all veterans, for their service and sacrifice.

For photos of their trips, please visit the Oaknoll Facebook page at on Veterans Day, November 11, 2011.

We hope you enjoy this short video of Bob Laudie filmed during his Honor Flight on October 18, 2011.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Oaknoll Nurse Shirley Cox Wins Award

Congratulations to Oaknoll nurse Shirley Cox, who was recently awarded the University of Iowa College of Nursing/John A. Hartford Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence Long-Term Care Nursing Leadership Award for her career in long-term care and her mentoring of nursing students!
Check out the video for highlights from the event.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Tale of the Oaknoll Oak

by Willa Jones

A resident saw it
Out there in the Oak.
A dark mass of something,
Was it a joke?

She called in her neighbor
To look in the oak.
What is that big blob?
Or is it a joke?

"No," said her neighbor.
"That's no joke in your oak.
I think it's a turkey
Asleep on that limb,
It may be about time
To awaken him."

From under a bush
Came a hen turkey then
With chattering poults
Numbered One to Ten
One scratched here,
Six over there,
Five and Eight argued
They wouldn't share.

The blob shook awake
And looked down from the limb,
That racket on the ground
Was bothering him.

"What's going on?" he called from the oak.
"Come down here and help," yelled his wife.
"These kids are no joke."

Big wings flopped him down.
He'd straighten them out.
With face red, feet stomping,
He began to shout.

The poults didn't listen
They were scratching around
All over the place.
Three and Ten had a race
To get the same bug.

One and Two over there
Found a big slug.

They were having such fun
In their new atmosphere.
The grass was for scratching
They couldn't hear.

From the window the residents
Looked down on the drama,
While big old Dad Turkey
And old Turkey Mana,
Looked on in amazement,
As their poults One through Ten
Fed themselves joyfully and then
Ran under the bush for a quick little rest,
Mama went after, she'd done her best.

Big old Dad Turkey
Flew into the oak
To become the dark blob
He was no joke.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Oaknoll Trees

by Loren Horton

A maple tree
Stands proudly in the yard
Right next to a ginkgo tree

By late September
The maple tree sports colored leaves
Bright red, orange, yellow
The ginkgo tree is still green
And shows a reserved façade

The two tree neighbors
Present a vivid contrast----
Each in its own way
Demonstrates nature's beauty
We are glad to have variety
To ease our eyes and hearts

All too soon there will be change
And we will see naked branches
Starkly grey against winter snow

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Summer's End

As summer comes to a close, here are two pieces by Claudine Harris to celebrate the season.

All Things Shimmering

     Never been to Missouri, never expect to go there. But every summer a day comes when boxes of their bounty piles into my co-op store. Missouri peaches are here! One of the embellishments of summer. Long awaited. Long dreamed of. Peaches arrive the same week Marvin's sweet corn is heaped high on the counter, its brown silks limply cascading from tight green husks, like so many dark tresses on a pillow. Corn fresh from the field. There is none better, swiftly, slightly simmered, and eaten at once.
     Summer mornings are too hot, even at dawn, to tempt a walk through the neighborhood before settling down to writing. A pair of goldfinches beyond my window cling upside down on the drying stalks of catnip and nameless weeds, pecking at the seeds of August. Blossoms of impatiens in the rock wall await silently the brief thunderstorm that may bring them relief.
     Evening is corn on the cob, glistening droplets on my window screen, and a peach.
     August is all things shimmering.


     At last a summer day like those in childhood, bright and clear, wind free, dry. Endless. A day to chase butterflies, made mud pies in the shade and color them with the rainbow tables in a paintbox.
     Climb a tree to near its top and sway there, holding tight, hoping to see a boat leave the dock on the lake at Vevey. Summer in 36, 37? But this is Iowa, already the end of August.
     The paintbox is long abandoned with the dolls. Trees are not climbable and no lake stretches out, lazy, to distant blue-gray slopes. Butterflies only seldom flitter by the window.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Iowa Rhapsody

by Loren Horton

Summer heat
Punctuated by flashes
             of lightening
To a background continuo
             of bass thunder
Leavened by the heaviness
             of humid air
So fitting a stage setting
For picnics, fireworks
Small town festivals
When communities unite
In a social family reunion

The leaves thick on sturdy branches
The grass burned with brown patches
And the native wildflowers
Overwhelmed with yellow
Interrupted by occasional bluish-purple
Rivers and creeks
Flow sluggishly by grassy banks
Lack of regular rain
Reduces the volume of water
Redecorating for turtles and frogs
And making bullhead habitat smaller
The swimming holes are challenging

When all these phenomena
Come together in this season
Summer becomes collective
A mosaic of these myriad parts
But coalesced into a visible whole
Understood by those who live in it
Mysterious and alien to strangers
Who have never known the joy
Of standing on a back porch
To watch the lightening strikes
Illuminate the dense cloudbank
To listen to the crash of thunder

The character-building nature
Of these aggregate experiences
Create a comradeship of sorts
Based on mixed common feelings
Shared by those who have known
The pleasures and the pain
Endured the physical discomforts
Been exhilarated at the sense
Of survival in face of obstacles
Understood most fully
By the band of brothers and sisters
Who have grown up in Iowa

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Dress

by Jonnifer Ellsworth

One constant feature of my "growing up" years was the annual journey from Cherokee in northwestern Iowa to my grandparent's home in Sandusky, Ohio. My mother, Mary Ellsworth (Oaknoll resident from 1991-2004), grew up in Sandusky where her father was sales manager of a major paper and boxboard manufacturing firm, Hinde and Dauch.

My grandfather was born in 1877 and grew up on Isle St. George (North Bass Island) less than thirty miles from Canada in Lake Erie. He was the youngest of six children born to Howard Hill Morton and Annie Milner Morton (pictured below).

Howard Hill Morton
Annie Milner Morton

 His oldest sibling, Alfred, was born in 1866 in Washington D.C.  His parents resided in Washington a little more than two years at the beginning of Abraham Lincoln's second term as U.S. President. Howard had been hired as a correspondent by the Cincinnati Enquirer to report on Lincoln's second term and, following the assassination, the family returned to Ohio and settled on North Bass to grow grapes for the wine industry.

The dress was a pink silk ball gown made in Washington for Annie to wear to Lincoln's second inaugural ball. In the photo below,  I am standing in the backyard  of my grandparents home in Sandusky wearing "the dress." The year is 1950 and I am six years old.

Here I am wearing "the dress."

 The photo of my mother is a studio portrait taken in Sandusky in the early 1920's. All female Morton children had their photos taken in "the dress." We were posed standing on chairs or orange crates with the dress skirt flared over them and sometimes tissue paper was used to expand the skirt bottom outward. It had a 19-inch waist and none of us could get into it much above the age of 6-8. It was donated to a Lakewood, Ohio historical society by my aunt when the last Morton grandchild was born a male.

My mother, Mary Ellsworth, in "the dress."

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ten Years Later

by Claudine Harris
(From Gilbert Street and a Half + Ten Years Later, photographs and an essay. Published by Scrivana Press, Iowa City, Iowa, available from

The North End- 2010

Today, it is October. I park on Gilbert Street near Mercy Hospital, where a landscaped mini-park offers a pleasant place to relax. Gilbert Street rises gently in front of me. I head north toward Brown Street. This section of street is firmly residential, a part of the Northside Historic District. I have to make a conscious effort to notice changes. Instead, what strikes me are the memories that return.

At number 418, brownish red bricks show through flaking paint. Is this deliberate, or a home in the process or being cleaned up? No way to tell. I look for a wreath of bare twigs I remember was in a doorway, and find it. The outdoor wooden stairs to an upper apartment, where once I had a chat with a young woman sitting on the top step, still exist. Narrow porches shelter the clutter of crumpled half-empty charcoal bags, old shoes, bikes, empty bottles and cans, and canvas chairs. On one of these a young man sits today in the late afternoon sun, engrossed in his reading. People pass me on the sidewalk with small children or dogs.

I have reached the northern end of Gilbert Street. These last blocks slope enough that, on two winters, I was able to ski down the middle of the street on a Sunday, when street cleaners had been slow to come around with a plow.

Downtown on the move

Although much in unchanged in this part of town, some of the photos taken earlier could not be taken today. The tornado of 2006 did eliminate a favorite board fence, crush roofs and walls, leaving some land still vacant, while other buildings were soon repaired. The bus station that stood on the corner of College Street has been relocated closer to the center of downtown. A restaurant changed name several times, and is now gone. A 14-story building has sprung up and dominates the skyline above the pedestrian mall. South from the center, some businesses have other owners, new apartments have been built. An art gallery and an antiques shop are gone, an Asian grocery changed hands. This is the shifting fabric of the city.

On the whole, the atmosphere I imbibed in years past survives. Rallston Creek still flows deep in its channel, mostly unnoticed by anyone, except pedestrians like me who lean over the bridge abutment and enjoy gazing at the normally meager flow of water held back by riprap rocks. Under the concrete bridge, a home of sorts shelters sundry belongings and a camp cot and chair. It is vacant just now as, seeking the reflections of weeds and scrub growth, my eyes intrude into its darkness and damp cold.

Promise of the street

I leave the long street behind to return home across the river, but the street remains with me. I am of it and it is part of me. After living in its vicinity over forty years, I feel and own its presence. This is why I return. The street lives on as I have. Both of us changed and the same.

This is a city of some 70,000. An insect among the planet's giants that boast inhabitants in the millions. Yet, to the lone wanderer on foot- lone, but never lonesome- urban space is measured on a human scale. I am not the first to say so. Jane Jacobs celebrated the flâneur on city sidewalks. What I encompass in the moment is what I perceive. Passerby, vehicles. My pauses are frequent, dictated by whimsy rather than the demands of traffic. What can be seen and heard and surmised in the immediate surroundings, what I am personally aware of, is the extent of it. The texture of nearby walls, cloud formations above rooftops, café tables set up on the sidewalk. Twisted bikes abandoned where they fell, ragged posters stapled to wooden posts. But also budding leaves on springtime limbs, and always people. People. What are they thinking, where are they going? Do I care? Does it matter?

A walk on the city street is a promise to be fulfilled. On the sidewalks of the Northside of Iowa City, I think of myself as part of the atmosphere, likely totally ignored. Mobiles held to an ear, people are absorbed in their own thoughts and concerns. I may be invisible to them, but mine is the urban privacy Jane Jacobs wrote about. There is a kinship of sorts among us, even if unacknowledged.

In front of John's Grocery, I wait to see who walks out. If someone's flowing hair catches the afternoon sunlight, I will quickly attempt to take a picture, but a photographer misses a lot of shots! No matter. I will be back to renew in my memory the many views of Gilbert Street.

I know the street as a solid river. Bricks at the north end of town convert to concrete and black top for the remainder of the distance. To me, the unevenness and the coloration of the bricks add warmth to the cityscape. Rainy days accentuate the paving patterns.

Even after the brief interval of a decade, I am aware of the resilience of urban settings. Cities are built, grow, decay, disappear, to be reborn in new forms at new times, in repeated cycles. The city, as an outcropping on this small crumb of a small planet. The street, as a river of stone and wood and humanity, flowing through time.

I know I will return on foot many times to a street where, in Jacobs' words, the walker experiences the city as a theater in which to be both actor and audience. There is a thereness there. It is in the city's bones.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

No Mashed Potatoes for Lunch
by Willa Jones

Upon reading the menu
For the week of May 10th
I found disappointingly
I must go the whole length
With no mashed potatoes.

There are red potatoes, no potatoes, oven browned,
Seasoned, boiled, baked and sweet potatoes,
But there are no mashed potatoes.

Woe is me! What to do!
Go to Hy-Vee and buy a bag
Of unwashed, unpeeled, uncooked potatoes?
And a box of dill dip to stir in.
To make my own mashed potatoes?

But then, I'll miss out on
The meat loaf, the fish, Swiss steak, chicken,
Pork chops, soups, salads, desserts.
Not to mention all the table talk
With friends old and new.

Woe is me! What shall I do?
Go with the variety
Or mash up a few?
Make all the mess
Wash mash and pan
And eat just potatoes
Again and again?

I guess I've decided
To go with variety.
It may turn out to be nice.
Maybe next week they'll serve mashed twice.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Oaknoll Resident Honored For His Life Time Achievements

Oaknoll resident John Nesbitt, Professor Emeritus of Health and Sports Studies, Recreation Education, and Therapeutic Recreation at the University of Iowa, was recently honored and recognized by the State of Iowa, the University of Iowa and the City of Iowa City for his lifelong passionate work on behalf of persons with disabilities.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Delivering Newspapers to Iowa City by Rail in the 1950's

by Rudy Schulz

The possibility of again linking Iowa City with Chicago by rail passenger service has received a lot of attention in the media and in our state legislature. Hopefully, we will again have rail service between Iowa City and Chicago in the not too distant future. With all the attention that the renewal of rail service between Iowa City and Chicago has received, I am  reminded of a time when the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad linked the two cities on a regular basis. Iowa City's rail depot was the place where we first greeted colleagues, friends, and family when they came to visit Iowa City. Also, it was possible in those days to leave Iowa City on a Rock Island "Rocket" for Chicago in the late afternoon and have a delightful, unhurried trip to Chicago. On the ride to Chicago, you were treated to Grant Wood scenery, you could enjoy a dry martini in the parlor car, you could have a delicious dinner in the dining car and you arrived at LaSalle Street station in Chicago in the early evening rested and refreshed.

I have memories too of that same Iowa City depot at an earlier time, a number of years before I would reside in this beautiful city, indeed before I even knew anything about Iowa City beyond its location. When I was a college student at Northwestern University in the middle 1950's, I worked on trains during the summers to raise money for the upcoming school year. My job was with the Railway Express Agency (REA) as what they called an REA Messenger. I traveled throughout the Midwest filling in for the regular messengers when they took their summer vacations. The REA was an earlier day UPS. People sent freight and packages by Railway Express to everywhere since at that time trains still went everywhere and fast. A messenger's main job was to unload and load parcels and freight from the Railway Express car at the front of the train at each stop made by a train on the route to its destination. Out-of-town newspapers (e.g., New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, etc.) were also delivered via Railway Express. Such deliveries were routine most of the time; but the newspaper deliveries to Iowa City on Saturday nights, actually very early Sunday morning about 2AM, were definitely anything but routine.

On Saturday nights, the Sunday newspapers, 20 to 25 bundles of papers, for Iowa City, came out of Chicago by Railway Express on the Rock Island line. Sunday papers were fat back then too. Having fat papers on Saturday night isn't what made their delivery unusual. What made the delivery unusual is the fact that papers arrived in Iowa City on Sunday morning on-the-fly, as the method of delivery was called. The train that delivered the Sunday papers to Iowa City was one of the Rock Island's so called crack trains, the Golden State Limited. The Golden State Limited did not stop at Iowa City; it went through Iowa City nonstop and fast. I was a messenger on that train; it was one of my assignments to deliver Iowa City's papers. How do you deliver papers under these circumstances? Not without considerable difficulty.

Here is how it was done. I would arrange the bundles of Sunday papers in the open door of the express car east of Iowa City. As the train approached Iowa City, I got ready to make delivery. When the express car was opposite the REA Office on Dubuque Street, east and across the street from the depot, I kicked the bundles of papers out of the door of the express car. This kick was the crucial element in the on-the-fly delivery method. With good luck and a proper kick, the papers landed, bundles intact, at the door of the station ready to provide the fine citizens of Iowa City with Sunday morning reading pleasure. With bad luck or a poor kick, the bundles would exit from it, would hit the signal pole directly in front of the depot, split open, bounce off the signal pole and land under the wheels of the speeding train where they were instantly shredded and ground into a large volume of confetti. The turbulent air surrounding the swiftly moving train then scattered the shredded papers all over the station and for a block along the railroad's right-of-way beyond the station. Sorry, Iowa City readers, no paper from Chicago this Sunday!

Please remember this all happened almost 60 years ago. I hope it was Iowa City where I delivered those Sunday papers on-the-fly. If not, the confetti landed elsewhere in Iowa. I know it was Iowa!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Tragedy of War

by Bob Laudie

War creates many strange and odd situations as I found out on my arrival in England in May, 1943. I was a Bombardier-Navigator on the six man crew of a Martin B-26 bomber named, "Little Lulu." We were "Marauder" men, as the bomber was called. It had other names: "The Widow Maker," "The Flying Coffin," and "The Flying Prostitute" (because it had no visible means of support due to it's small wing surface).

Twenty-nine crews of us left Barksdale Field, in Shreveport, Louisiana, the late afternoon of Sunday, May 2, 1943, for the long hot train trip to Savanna, Georgia. The train was old, humid, crowded and dirty, and the soot filled smoke from the engine fogged into the open windows. We finally arrived at our destination at noon, Tuesday the 4th, tired, sweaty, dirty and excited. We were off to new adventures and uncharted, unknown places. I had conned the engineer of the train to let me ride in the engine with him one day on the long trip which was fun, however.

We dubbed our assigned, brand spanking new Marauder, Little Lulu. Friday, May7th, we headed north to Presque Isle, Maine, and WAR. Little Lulu's crew did manage to stay in Time's Square, New York, for four days on the way because the crew made certain, or thought they saw saw a "cloud" over the hotel, and so better to wait a few days. We finally left New York and spent two days in Presque Isle while we waited for the weather to clear for the next leg of our long trek to England.

Sunday, May 16, we flew the few hour trip from Presque Isle to cold, snow covered Goose Bay, Labrador. After much scrutiny of films, maps and briefings, we departed for BWI, located on the glacier ice cap at the end of a long narrow Fjord in southern Greenland. Finally, the weather was right and we were cleared to fly over the ice cap and on to Meets Field Iceland. The last stop on our way to Harham, England was Prestwic, Scotland. Little Lulu's crew was sent on to Rovington, north of London for a week to become familiar with British communication systems and it was here I experienced by Tragedy of War.

One evening while exploring the local area, I happened on a festival of some kind with dancing and a small bar with chairs or stools next to the bar. Wanting to learn more about the activities in progress, I sat down next to a man in a British uniform and struck up a conversation with him. We exchanged the usual small talk that people engage in first meeting such as exchange of names and where you are from. I had expected a location in England from him so I was very surprised when he said he was from Poland. As we sat drinking our warm English mild and bitter beer, he continued his story. He was in the Polish Army when the German tanks rolled through and overran the Polish Army on September 1, 1939. He had been captured and conscripted into the German Army. In time, his unit was sent to North Africa with Rommel's divisions to fight against the British forces there as France and Great Britain declared war against Germany when Poland was attacked.

As his bottle was now empty, I bought both of us a new warm beer and urged him to continue. It was in North Africa in late 1942 and early 1943 that the Allied Forces finally defeated the German military and captured many of the units. My new beer drinking friend was on of those rounded up and in time offered to don a British Army uniform and fight against the Germans again.

He had fought against, with, and now against the German forces. I asked him if this had created a problem of loyalty for him as I guessed it would have. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a very worn, faded picture of a pretty young woman and a young baby. "This is my wife and baby-I have not seen them since I was captured in 1939 by the Germans," he answered in a soft voice. "I will fight in any military just to get this war over so I can return to my wife and daughter. That is my loyalty!"

I had no answer but I understood, and have wondered many times if he ever returned to His Loyalty.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Love a Parade

by Pat Brokaw

With the annual Homecoming Game and Parade coming in a few months, I began to reflect on the many parades I have enjoyed over a period of more than 80 years. As I think back, I have only a hazy memory of most of them, but they certainly were an important and interesting part of my life.

The Macy's Thanksgiving parades have a long history, and many people all over the country have been able to enjoy them since the TV screen has been displaying spectacular floats as the bands and marchers make their way down the streets of New York City every Thanksgiving Day. I grew up in East Orange, New Jersey, and an associate store of Macy's in Newark matched its NYC counterpart with a parade of its own. Bamberger's Department Store was a very popular store in Newark, and people from neighboring cities and towns turned out to watch the local marching bands and floats for many years while I was growing up, and even when I married and had a family, we continued the tradition since it was a great introduction to the Christmas season. Also, all that fresh air stimulated our appetite for turkey dinner! I guess the local parade faded into extinction once Macy's was shown on national TV.

In 1954 we bought our first house in Edison, New Jersey. Nearby Metuchen had its own parade to introduce the Christmas season, and we excitedly lined the streets downtown on our first holiday season there. The parade lasted about 10 minutes. We were terribly let down. Somehow things improved greatly in the ensuing years, and it became an exciting event in our own lives for a long time.

Then, of course, there were the 4th of July parades, when Brokaw girl and boy scouts as well as Little Leaguers marched on a sunny (hot) day, and we parents cheered them on. Dad usually had a tear in his eye and a lump in his throat as the young people marched by. the United States flag had the same effect on him (probably because of his four years in the Marine Corps).

Our youngest child, Jean, took baton twirling lessons while we lived in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and, of course, there were weekly parades all summer long in the nearby towns on Friday afternoons. The marchers had to be very careful when they followed the horses that sometimes participated in the parade!

When we moved to Iowa City in 1976, we were introduced to the University of Iowa Homecoming Parade. While the children were growing up, we faithfully attended those parades- sometimes in the cold or rain- and kept our tradition alive.

Now that I am living at Oaknoll, our group of 13 or so goes in style on the Oaknoll bus, attends the Chili Supper at the Methodist Church, then sits on folding chairs (brought along on the bus) and eagerly awaits the start of the parade. One year the groups that usually decorated a float with "disposable" theme-oriented items, voted to do something different. With the theme "The Excitement is Building," each float contained a section of wall, which would later be donated to Habitat for Humanity to help victims of the recent flood. This seemed like an inspired way to participate with a purpose.

What makes parades so unique and exciting? Is it the band music, the marchers' enthusiasm, the fresh air, the candy thrown to waiting but impatient children, or the general atmosphere of celebration? I would guess it is a little bit of each!

So, I hope parades will continue to thrive and give old and young alike the thrill of bands and marchers.

Monday, July 18, 2011


by Jonni Ellsworth (excerpt from her memoirs)

I have always lived in or near hospitals and sometimes it seems my life has been ruled by them. I was born in February, 1944 in the Philadelphia Naval Complex at the shipyard as my father was in the Navy. It would be over a year before he returned from the World War II pacific theatre. He had been educated first at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and then medical school at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec and residency at Cornell Medical Center in New York City. When the war broke out he was working as an internist at the state tuberculosis sanitarium in Ithaca and not so long after I was born, my mother and older sister, age 2 1/2, returned to Ithaca to live.

When he returned in the summer of 1945, we moved from our apartment on Buffalo Street to one attached to and opening into the hospital and he resumed work with TB patients. I remember little of this period up to that apartment but I do remember it. By then, I was 2 1/2 years old and walking and talking. I discovered-most likely by following him- that he sometimes didn't pay attention to quiet children below a certain height and that exploring the wards and getting to know the patients was a matter of staying close to the high desk that the receptionist sat in at the hospital's front hall so she couldn't see me and when she was distracted, darting through the glass doors into the wards. I usually didn't get very far until one of the orderlies spotted me and I was escorted firmly back to my apartment. The patients who were contagious were kept behind locked doors in separate wards so I wasn't in any real danger but I became quite used to large people in white coats, the smells of the wards and labs with their interesting equipment.

What I didn't become familiar with was other children my age to play with except when my mother made the effort to contact the families on the grounds for a play date. Most of their children were older so often my sister Ann (11 months older than me) and I played with each other. When she went to kindergarten, it was pretty lonesome. Mom would read to me and I could go visit the head of the hospital maintenance who lived in a building we called the "H" building. He had a female beagle who regularly supplied the hospital environment with puppies. The visits were cut short when one of the physicians acquired a German shepherd trained as an attack dog to, "teach his son responsibility." The dog was disposed of after it bit a policeman called out to investigate and had to be euthanized.

When I was old enough to attend kindergarten, my life perked up a bit.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jazz in the Afternoon

Photo essay by Claudine Harris
(taken at the Iowa City Jazz Festival, July 3, 2011)

 They came early, well prepared to wait.

 The main stage struck a sharp silhouette.

 Listeners clustered under the trees, sprawled
 on blankets, chatted with friends, wandered over
 to the many food stands on Iowa Avenue, . . .
...or found a shady ledge for a musical snooze

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Oaknoll's Crabapple Tree

by Sam Becker

I sit in your courtyard
An ever-changing life- an ever-changing show,
Reminding you of all lives' constant flow.

In spring I don a colorful cloak
To brighten and cheer your days,
To show the beauty of life's ways.

In summer I turn a mass of green; lo,
A shelter for birds within,
And shade for Oaknollians below.

In fall new colors show
Tan and orange and brown.
Slowly, my leaves drift down.

In winter I stand and gaunt and bare,
Arms stretched out as though in prayer.

Like you, I need some time to rest.

But then spring comes again,
I waken, return to life refreshed.
God-blessed by sun and rain,

The cycle starts again.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Books of My Childhood

By Kay Green (excerpt from her memoirs)

I have been a reader ever since my early childhood. Plus, my mother read aloud often. I have felt sorry that many of the so-called "series" books have disappeared from current usage. I know that many of today's children's books stir the imagination.

My childhood favorites often taught history or geography or good moral values. Of course, Elsie Dinsmore was a stupidly moral tale which I could not stand.

One of the earliest ones I remember was Honey Bunch, Her First Trip on the Great Lakes (geography, even though the book wasn't too marvelous, I learned all about the five lakes).

Then there were the Twin books. I still have a copy of The Dutch Twins somewhere. The Belgian Twins depicted a child's view of some of the effects of World War I on the village where they lived.

Then we pick up some of the little maid books: The Little Maid of Old New York, Old Ft.The Little Maid of  Ticonderoga, and The Little Maid of Old Boston, give pictures of a child's view of events in the American revolution.

One of my favorites was The Little Colonel's House Party, which tells the story of a young girl's invitations to three friends to come for a month's visit in the home of the Little Colonel in Kentucky. The girls represent wealth, poverty but goodness, and a middle class artistic young lady from Kansas.

This story has some good sound moral values involved. One I remember was where Elizabeth had promised her godmother that she would mail a letter that must get on the evening train. They were all going to a picnic where games and fun were to be a part of the evening.

In the midst of the fun, Elizabeth remembers the letter in her pocket she had promised to mail. Slipping away quietly, she climbed on her horse to ride to the railroad station in the dark of night fearful of any who might accost her. The train whistled in the distance as she arrived at the station. The postmistress unlocked the mail bag and accepted the letter. Here was a clear example of a promise that must be kept.

Some other favorites were Heidi and A Little Princess. The latter tells the story of a child of a wealthy family whose mother is dead and whose father was somewhere in India. Her father had placed her in a private school where she was welcomed by Miss Minchen. When her father had apparently died, and her fortune was lost, all her luxuries were gone and she was reduced to the role of scullery maid and given a room in the attic.

My mom read aloud books like The Swiss Family Robinson and Robinson Crusoe. As I grew older, I read Louisa May Alcott's books, Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys, and Rose in Bloom, all of which depicted life in a different time and place.

I know that today's children would not be willing to read them, but I have done so several times, picturing in my mind the houses and scenes where they could have taken place. They have enriched my life so much and have reinforced my personal values a great deal. That's the viewpoint of a woman who has lived 87 years.

Monday, June 20, 2011


By Lois Muehl

(from her first collection of poetry, DARK/LIGHT, published by lulu press.)

Mind you, I wasn't
looking for a cat,
certainly not that scrawny
half-grown female
someone dumped on Friday.
I saw her first skulking
toward my bird feeder.
I knocked the window.
Cat froze. She blinked
her tawny eyes at me
but wouldn't move. I ran out
to shoo her off. Instead,
she arched around my feet,
purred to hint of a dish of milk,
a bite or two of chicken
would be welcome. So I fed
her hunger and my own,
once or twice stroking
her brown coat that, close up
seemed mixed of cinnamon,
nutmeg, cloves and saffron.
"Monday sure," I warned her,
"I'm calling the Shelter."
Sunday from the store
I brought home cat food
and a collar with a bell.
"Your name," I told her,
"is Spice."

Friday, June 17, 2011

An Introduction

Welcome to the Live Oak blog, a forum for Oaknoll residents and staff. This site gives us another opportunity to convey the one-of-a-kind active culture which thrives inside our home. As you’ll discover, it’s a culture we are proud of!

For those not familiar with Oaknoll here is a bit about us: Oaknoll is a stand-alone non-profit retirement community. It has been an active LifeCare community serving the Iowa City, IA area since 1966. There are currently 280 seniors who reside at Oaknoll within its LifeCare continuum (165 independent living apartments, 8 independent living houses, 33 assisted living apartments and 48 beds licensed for nursing care). The campus sits on approximately 7 acres of land on the west side of Iowa City and we are currently looking to expand so we can meet the needs of a rapidly growing waiting list.

Our residents and staff possess a diverse array of experiences which create unique life stories. We’ll reveal bits of these stories through memoirs, poetry, short fiction or non-fiction, and even recipes. You’ll also see our creative talent expressed through photography or art.

As always, we’ll respect the privacy of personal health information and we’re committed to maintaining our residents’ confidentiality. None of our posts will share information that our residents have not approved.

Please check in with us periodically as new posts appear. Some of you may recognize a photograph, family recipe, an author or the story they tell. Everyone should come away with a better understanding of why we are proud to call ourselves, “Oaknollians.”