Muscatine, Iowa was My Kind of Town
In the early 70’s my husband and our first baby, Angela, moved to Muscatine, Iowa, in the middle of the night, in the summer time. At 7:00 a.m. the next door neighbor rang the doorbell; she was astounded that the living room was totally put together, books in the book shelves, pictures on the walls, doilies on two small tables with trinkets on them, afghan on the couch.
“I came to invite you to breakfast,” she said. Then she gasped. “Didn’t you just move in?”
“At 11 p.m.,” I told her.
“And you are all unpacked?”
She was incredulous.
I invited her in.
You could see the kitchen; the toaster was plugged in, and there were no boxes in sight.
“Not everything,” I told her, “But I’ll have time to finish during the baby’s nap.”
I did not tell her how many times we had moved; it would have frightened her.
My husband and I were wanderers; the grass was always greener somewhere else. I had it down to an art now; my box labels read like this “Living room, right hand corner,” “Bedroom by the closet,” “Stuff from the silverware drawer.” It helped that we did not have a lot of things. Unpacking is a lot easier when you have 4 plates, 6 forks, 5 spoons, 3 knives, and only one small appliance – a toaster. When you travel lightly, you also have another advantage. Your kitchen is easy to clean; nothing in the drawers or the cupboards, minimal clutter.
Angela and I went to the neighbors for breakfast; my husband got ready for work. I am the token social person in the family. By 8 a.m. the neighbor had heard most of my family’s funniest stories. I thought I would be invited over more and more often, and we’d be fast friends. I was wrong.
I tried to get together, but she was always busy. She was a working mother, and had children who got carted to soccer games, basketball practice, band, and what knot. I soon latched onto the Ross’s, the friendly neighbors across the street. They were in their 60’s, kind, helpful, and ready to be substitute grandparents.
A month after we moved in my husband took another job, and was gone for the whole night. I was 21, young, and terrified; I had never been alone. I had not cared about curtains before this night, but now I wanted them.
Around 2 in the morning I was standing in the kitchen when I saw the doorknob to the backdoor move back and forth, as if someone was coming in. I did not scream. Instead, I grabbed the baby and called the Ross’s. Mr. Ross was over there in seconds, and the police were close behind. Mrs. Ross came to the front door, and hustled Angela and me out of the house, across the street, into their guest room.
Muscatine, Iowa was so friendly and kind. I was quite sad to leave three months later; but not sad to leave the raccoons who had been sitting on my garbage can, playing with the shiny doorknob.