A Family Affair

You know that comic strip in the paper “Family Circus” that periodically shows the little kid being sent on some errand and traces his path over-behind-through- around-under-in-and-out of everything imaginable? That’s me when I am traveling. If you tracked my path some days it would look pretty crazy. For instance, yesterday I noticed one of my tires was low, so I stopped at a convenience store to ask where I might go to have it checked. The clerk was having a hard time giving directions, so another customer stepped in and said I should follow her as it was on her way back to work. As we started to pull out, I asked her to wait a second while I got out and gave her a postcard as a small thank you. She looked at it and said, “I think you just need to follow me to work!” She explained that she worked at the Muscatine Center for Non-Profits where they had recently established an Art Center and my project is just the kind of thing they would like to let people know about. I agreed to come by when my tire was repaired.  

When I arrived, they were expecting me, and I was introduced to Carlos Duran, the “Artist in Residence” who is organizing the Art Center. We toured the Art Center and the exhibits of local artists, including Carlos’ own excellent paintings. I was invited to come back at some point to exhibit some work. After we chatted a bit he said, “Muscatine needs to know you are here. I’m going to call the newspaper.” And so it happened, that a reporter and photographer from the Muscatine Journal visited me at the Strawberry Farm B&B where I was staying and this article appears in today’s newspaper – click here……because of a nail in my tire.

If you’ve been with me a while, you will remember the post back in Little Falls, Minnesota (click here if you missed it) where I was handed the keys to a huge mansion and invited to stay for the weekend.  That mansion and the one right next to it had been left to the town of Little Falls by Laura Jane Musser. When I saw the name Laura Musser appear here in Muscatine on the library and an Art Center, I was very curious about the relationship. It turns out that the Muscatine Laura Musser was aunt to Little Falls’ Laura Jane Musser, that they had been close, had visited often and were both musically talented and sang beautifully together. It’s a family affair! 

The staff at the Muscatine Musser home kindly arranged for me to get some photographs of the magnificent interior before I left this morning.

While we were working, the “Regina” played an accompaniment! I had never heard or seen such a thing, but it’s basically a huge music box. They have a collection of the 27” round metal discs punched with holes that play a variety of tunes. I recorded a bit of it for the slide show – so you can hear it too!

There is a small park on a hill in Muscatine called “Mark Twain Point” where a quote from Twain says that the sunsets here exceed any he had seen “on either side of the ocean”. I found my way back there at sunset and Twain’s promise was good.

I love that kind of pillow-top sky and when I had it again in the morning, it seemed perfect to top off one of the vast cornfields with it.

Movin’ on – see you soon!


About Gayle Harper

Travel Photographer and Writer
This entry was posted in IA - Muscatine and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A Family Affair

  1. Gerry Toler says:


    I am SO enjoying this conversation with you.



  2. Kristin McHugh says:


    It was a pleasure to briefly meet with you at the Muscatine History and Industry Center/ Pearl Button Museum this week. Best of luck with your journey!


  3. Marie Bintliff says:

    Mike and I loved the newpaper article! You are getting to be quite a celebrity. Again, thank you for sharing. I look everyday for an article from you and I do get sad when its been several days before you post another article. The sunset is beautiful! The mansion——-just went back in time. But the HUGE “music box” –that is my kind of music box! Can’t wait to see what holds in store around the bend……Marie

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