February 26, 2013

In and Out of the Quad-Cities

Contributed by Gail McPike and Toni Hall

Most of the folks who read our monthly reports in 50+ Lifestyles are totally convinced we are some of the hardest working cubs on the reporter beat. These fine ladies and handsome gentlemen expect us to endure great pains to bring home the scoop. Whether on the trail of the Presidential wantabes at the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames, or tip-toeing through the meadow muffin marked sheep barns behind the fairgrounds, we are bent on bringing the whole story your way.

If dedicated is our middle name, then our first names must be down and out. The old reporter business isn’t as lucrative as back in the days when Studs Terkel and Mickey Spillane were rapping on a vintage Remington (typewriter). Nowadays, a faux news team has to have a sideline, an alternative source of dough. So, after careful deliberation, we decided to do celebrity appearances.

Think about this; all the big celebrities are cashing in on the appearance market. Professional athletes are shaking hands for a cool thousand bucks an hour. Current Trophy Husband Frank reports that former heavy weight boxer Leon Spinks is making a living just sitting around a souvenir shop in Las Vegas, and we’ve got at least double the front teeth of Mr. Spinks. So, why can’t we break into this lucrative sideline? Gail and Toni, celebrity reporters of magazine and internet fame (check out www.50pluslife.com), appearing live. We thought we would give you a quick status report.

We targeted our first attempt at this celebrity status thing for the Area Welcome Club Luncheon on February 7. The
setting was perfect. The brand new Fountains Senior Living Community out near 53rd Street was the venue, and we
pictured last summer when the lavish fountains rose from the lake to create a majestic environment. The place just screams celebrity, and here we were, ready to take advantage of the whole deal.

Our plan was laid, the trap about to be sprung. But, we found ourselves upstaged by someone with a better spiel. Bettendorf native, Ruth Baylor, is The Hanky Lady. She collects old time hankies – the kind your grandma used to wipe your face with in church back in the day. Only, hers are special.

In the first half of the last Century, everybody carried a handkerchief. From the kid heading off to kindergarten to the farmer out framing a barn, everybody had one. Think about it. Kleenex wasn’t even invented until after World War I, and back then, only movie stars and cigar-chomping tycoons could afford it. So, people used hankies.

Ruth has over 2,700 different hankies in her collection. She has Valentines’ hearts, holidays of every kind, state commemorative and special gift hankies. Not only does she collect these woven bits of history, she shares their origin. She tells of their making and their background. What can we say? She stole the show. Everyone was so darn fascinated by Ruth’s discussion, not a single one meandered over in hopes of buying an autograph or some bit of G&T memorabilia. But, we’re plucky gals from “where the winds come sweeping down the plains,” and we weren’t going to give up.

Our next stop – the Des Moines Civic Center located in the very shadow of our State’s Capitol. Years ago, Ernest Borgnine did a trip to this venue, where he stood at a podium and told stories for an hour or so. He walked away with 10 grand. We figured the people in Des Moines were free with their bucks, and we would rake in some money.

Unfortunately for us, everyone there seem preoccupied with the touring troupe doing the Broadway hit Book of Mormon. Now, imagine a Broadway musical that is based on an irreverent cartoon program, which is equally noted for offending and amusing its audience. Apparently the combination works, because the show won nine Tony Awards and has Hollywood clamoring for the movie rights. Basically, our celebrity status went unnoticed again. Oh well, try, try and try again worked for others. We decided to give our plan one more attempt.

Meet me in St. Louie, Louie. Meet me at the Fair. St. Louis is home of the Jefferson Memorial Gateway Arch, the Cardinals, Anheuser-Bush and America’s Second Largest Mardi Gras, we’ve been before. Certainly, they’ll recognize our celebrity status there.

For this trip, we gathered up Current Trophy Husband Phil and Frank, along with our pals from Ames, Mark and Cathy. With this size party, and the copious bags carried by big name reporter gals like us, we needed to rent big car; a vehicle equally qualified for car or battle ship status. We’re talking about something capable of hauling a party, but we digress.

We arrive in St. Louis, and the Mardi Gras was in full swing. We didn’t score tickets to the Mayor’s Grand Ball, which we chalked up to tickets lost in the mail, but we did get a great spot on the parade route. Suddenly, our celebrity appearance thing started to pay off. It seems like the people riding the floats wanted to befriend us. They tossed beads, doubloons and scarves our way. We left burdened with the weight of hundreds of strands of fine Spanish beads.

Have a great March. If you see Robin Leach, tell him where we live…