By Sherry — who in this heat wave is contemplating a move to a cooler climate
I’m giving away a set of Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries — details at the end of the post.
They say you can’t go home again, but I did last week and it was fabulous.
When All Murders Final! came out I knew I wanted to do a signing in my hometown of Davenport, Iowa.
When most people think of Iowa they think of cornfields, small towns, and flat land. But Davenport is a small city, 100,000, in a group of small cities with a population of around 400,000. Since it sits on the Mississippi, river it’s anything but flat.
I’ve only been back twice since my parent’s moved away in 1991. But every time I go back I’m struck by how lucky I was to grow up in a place with great schools, lots of parks, a museum, an art gallery, and so much more.
I’m not crazy about doing signings alone so I asked my friend Matthew Clemens to do the signing with me. Matt graduated the year after me from the same high school but with classes of over 700 we didn’t meet until a couple of years ago, first via Facebook and finally in person when he was in DC doing research. Matt might not have known me, but he had my dad as a math teacher in seventh grade.
I had two other purposes for the trip: to spend time with high school and college friends, and to show my daughter the places that influenced what made me, me. Since my husband was in the Air Force, my daughter had only been to Davenport twice — when she was one and six.
The first part of the journey was meeting my friend Carol in the Atlanta airport. She was the one with the short turn around time and I was the one that was supposed to throw myself in the doorway of the plane to hold it until she got there. Of course nothing ever goes as planned so her plane arrived thirty minutes early and I ended up running through the airport as our plane boarded.
Carol’s brother picked us up at the airport and entrusted us with his car. He also took us to a beautiful restaurant on the Mississippi for dinner.
We stayed at Hotel Blackhawk which back in my teen years no one would have gone to. It’s been restored, is stunningly beautiful, and has a bartender that makes the most amazing dessert martini’s.
It even has a bowling alley! (And our last night there we bowled.) The next day more sorority sisters joined us and there was talk, laughter to the point of crying, and more martini’s.
A classmate told me that Cary Grant is supposed to haunt the Hotel Blackhawk. He had a massive stroke there right before he was going to do a performance at the theater next door. He died at the hospital. One of my friends and I were sitting in her room. There was a knock, knock, knock on the door but no one was there or in the hall.
Maybe Cary stopped by to say hello.
The day of the signing dawned. I always get nervous. What if know one shows up? What if I let the store down? So Carol and I walked around downtown reminiscing about high jinx, talking about the windows of department stores at Christmas, and how much downtown had changed.
Matt and I met at Barnes and Noble (him cool, calm, collected, me — not so much). But then people started to arrive, classmates, teachers, family friends. It was amazing. Time flew by.
We stayed longer than the two hours, and barely had time to speak to each other. It was interesting to see where our lives intersected, who Matt knew that I knew. It almost seemed impossible that we’d never met.
After the signing we adjourned to The Filling Station, a place I spent a lot of time in my late teens and early twenties. Lots of people came and it was like a mini high school reunion. It was so great to catch up with friends.
Sunday was the day to show my daughter around. The two houses I lived in growing up. The second one was built by my father and some of his fellow teachers.
We also drove by the schools I attended and where my parents taught, parks that I played in, and the beautiful old homes in East Davenport.
Monday morning we left to visit Kirksville, Novinger, and LaPlata, Missouri and then St. Louis but I’ll leave that for another post.
But the glow from my wonderful time is still with me so to share that glow I’m giving away a set of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries: Tagged for Death, The Longest Yard Sale, All Murders Final. Leave a comment for a chance to win.
Readers: Where is home for you? Can you go back?