Ah, I’m just joking with you. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that Meredith Willson’s The Music Man is not based on the life of my great-grandfather, G. Oliver Riggs. But, if you keep reading, you will learn how I connect the two men at the end of the tour.
Let’s pick up where I left off: Day 4 of the tour was Tuesday, the day I gave my presentation at Iowa Wesleyan College. The previous night, my parents and I had stayed in the home where Warren Beckwith grew up – the same Warren Beckwith who played in G. Oliver’s Iowa Wesleyan Cadet Band and later eloped with Abraham Lincoln’s younger granddaughter, Jessie.
|The house where Warren Beckwith grew up, in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.|
|G. Oliver and I pose before the presentation.|
|This is a display of the museum’s music-related artifacts.|
|G. Oliver revisits the Harlan-Lincoln House.|
|My parents, G. Oliver and Lynn on the front porch of the Harlan-Lincoln House.|
|The exterior of the chapel at Iowa Wesleyan College.|
After a picnic lunch at Coralville Lake and a visit with friends in Cedar Rapids, we stopped briefly in Cedar Falls to take a photo of the bandshell there. G. Oliver did not direct a band in that town, but I thought he’d enjoy the visit, since the town is home of the oldest municipal band in Iowa. The Cedar Falls Municipal Band gives free weekly outdoor concerts at the bandshell in June and July.
|The Cedar Falls Bandshell was built in 1996.|
Willson was 30 years younger than G. Oliver; he grew up in Mason City and began playing the flute at age 10 in the Mason City Municipal Band. He later played flute in John Philip Sousa’s Band and for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra before moving on to radio work and fame in Hollywood. His show The Music Man opened on Broadway in 1957, 11 years after G. Oliver died. I’m not sure that Willson and G. Oliver ever met, but they did know some of the same musicians and no doubt had some things in common.
I had a great time on my five-day tour of Iowa. As the song from The Music Man says (altered slightly to reflect my itinerary):
“You really ought to give Iowa
Des Moines, Albia, Centerville, Mount Pleasant, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls, Mason City
Ought to give Iowa a try!”