Saturday, October 2, 2010

Glenn Miller

The Cranky Old Man is on the road again, this time traveling to Allendale in Worth County, Missouri.The Old Man is searching for the family homestead of Josie Brewer who was Robert Van Huss' grandmother. Josie was the youngest of nine children. From 1865, the date of her birth, until 1880, she lived with her parents and siblings on a farm near Allendale before the family packed up its belongings and moved to homestead near Beaumont, Kansas.

You can find out more about Josie's family tree at the Family Tree Maker posting by Stephen Verden.

Garmins are not infallible. I drove up to Allendale from Kansas City yesterday. I left Kansas city at 5 p.m.. The trip, by Garmin reckoning, should have taken two hours and put me in town at about 7 p.m.. The sun set at about a quarter to 8 and I was still on the road. This is farm country, which means that towns are scarce and hotels more so. I flipped on the Garmin hotel locater and got the bad news that there were no hotels within 20 miles. So, I picked one with a pleasant sounding name, Homestead Inn or something like that and off I went down an old county road. There were two other cars taking the same road, so I felt safe. Soon however, the cars turned off and I was alone with the stars, the dilapidated old farms and a narrow two lane road that hadn't seen any repair work in 20 years.

A half hour later I pulled in to a town that did not advertize its name, drove down a couple of streets that looked deserted and pulled up in front of the Homestead Inn. The Inn was closed and shuttered.At 9:50 I find a Super 8 in Calindo Iowa. It is full. The clerk tells me that he just gave out the last room. But I am in luck, just down the street is the Celebrity Motel where I get a comfortable room at $66 for the night.

Oh, and you are probably wondering what Glenn Miller has to do with this blog. Clarinda, Iowa is the birthplace of Glenn Miller, who was one of the most famous band leaders of the Swing Era of the 30's and 40's. Glenn was born in the house at 601 South Glenn Miller Avenue. Every year during the second week of June, the town celebrates the music of Glenn Miller with a festival.

Glenn must be the namesake for the Celebrity Hotel, although it is doubtful that he ever stayed here. Like the music of the Swing Era, the hotel is nostalgic, a throw back to the time of family run hotels and not the bleak and austere corporate ones like the Super 8. The guests of the Celebrity Hotel today are mainly truck drivers who like the convenience of the hotel to Highways 71 and 2. The truckers are polite and intelligent, traits necessary to their trade since they have to get along on their own for the most part.

And, by the way in 1942, Glenn Miller, at the height of his fame, disbanded his orchestra and joined the army to support the troops with his music. In 1944, he took off from England in a single engine plane to fly to France ahead of his band. The plane with Glenn Miller aboard was never heard from again. The navigation on the plane was not a Garmin, but it goes to show that we are all at the mercy of electronics, the elements, and fate - even a Cranky Old Man.