He Aint Heavy – Day 63

He Ain’t Heavy

Day 63 – June 2, 2003 – Monday

I saw the Bridges of Madison County, Iowa today, but the highlight of the day (and a highlight of the trip) was my tour of Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska. One of the boys, Vu, gave me a wonderful tour. What a special place! I also enjoyed two delightful meals with especially nice ladies. I had pie for breakfast at Wes’ Restaurant in Oskaloosa, Iowa, and I had a fabulous dinner at Misty’s in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Additions to the World’s Largest List include the world’s largest ball of postage stamps at Boys Town and the world’s largest coffee pot — also in Omaha.

Nebraska was state #19. In terms of mileage, I estimated that the trip is probably half over. We have now visited 1,185 towns.

Sandy at the Comfort Inn joined Pat in recommending Wes’ Family Cafe as the place for me to have breakfast and pie.

I checked out of the hotel and drove immediately to Wes’ Family Cafe. The restaurant burned down and had just recently rebuilt. It was packed with locals, and everybody knew everybody. Great place! The manager at Wes’ Family Cafe took excellent care of me. I had Coconut Cream Pie and Raspberry Pie. Both were excellent…even if it was breakfast.

I left Oskaloosa bound for Winterset, Iowa. John Wayne was born in Winterset. I photographed his boyhood home.

Winterset is the county seat of Madison County…as in the Bridges of Madison County. This was another highly anticipated sight to be seen on this trip. I enjoyed speaking with two nice ladies in the Madison County Visitor’s Center. I got the scoop on the bridges, the movie, as well as directions, and off I went.

Originally boasting 19 covered bridges, only six remained. All are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridges were covered by order of the County Board of Supervisors to help preserve the large flooring timbers, which were more expensive to replace than the lumber used to cover the bridge sides and roof. Usually, the bridges were named for the resident who lived closest. “The Bridges of Madison County” was made on location in Madison County, and several covered bridges and various buildings and locations were used in the movie.

Roseman Covered Bridge

Built in 1883 by Benton Jones, it is 107 feet in length and sits in its original location. Roseman was renovated in 1992 at a cost of $152,515. In Robert James Waller’s novel The Bridges of Madison County and the movie of the same name, Roseman is the bridge Robert Kincaid seeks when he stops at Francesca Johnson’s for directions; it is also where Francesca leaves her note inviting him to dinner.

Also known as the “haunted” bridge, Roseman is where two sheriff’s posses trapped a county jail escapee in 1892. Uttering a wild cry, it is said the man rose up straight through the roof of the bridge and disappeared. He was never found, and it was decided that anyone capable of such a feat must be innocent.

Holliwell Covered Bridge

Built in 1880 by Benton Jones, it is the longest covered bridge, measuring 122 feet. It remains in its original site over the Middle River southeast of Winterset. Holliwell was renovated in 1995 at a cost of $225,000. It is featured in The Bridges of Madison County movie.

Cedar Covered Bridge

Built in 1883 by Benton Jones, Cedar bridge was 76 feet long and was the last bridge open to vehicles. It was built over Cedar Creek north of Winterset on what is now U.S. Highway 169. It was moved to its present location over the same creek in 1921. In Robert James Waller’s novel The Bridges of Madison County, Cedar Bridge is where Francesca Johnson goes to meet Robert Kincaid to help him take photographs. Cedar is also the bridge on the novel’s cover. It was renovated in 1998 at a cost of $128,073.

Cedar Bridge was destroyed by an arsonist on September 3, 2002. I was able to photograph some of the charred wood that was in a pile where the bridge used to be.

For more information, see www.cedarcoveredbridge.com.

Cutler-Donahoe Bridge

Built in 1870 by Eli Cox, the Cutler-Donahoe Bridge is 79 feet in length and features a pitched roof. It was originally located over the North River near Bevington. It was moved to its present site in Winterset’s City Park in 1970. Cutler-Donahoe was renovated in 1997 for $35,538.

Hogback Covered Bridge

Hogback Covered Bridge was built in 1884 by Benton Jones; it measures 97 feet, and it is in its original location in a valley north of Winterset. Hogback gets its name from the limestone ridge which forms the west end of the valley. It was renovated in 1992 at a cost of $118,810.

Imes Covered Bridge

The oldest of the remaining covered bridges, Imes Covered Bridge was built in 1870 and is 81 feet in length. It was originally located over the Middle River west of Patterson. In 1887, it was moved to a spot over Clinton Creek southwest of Hanley. Imes Bridge was moved again to its present site over a natural ravine just east of St. Charles in 1977. It was renovated in 1997 for a cost of $31,807.

About “Bridges Of Madison County:” When her family is off at the state fair, vaguely discontented Iowa housewife Francesca Johnson (Meryl Streep) meets National Geographic photographer Robert Kincaid (Clint Eastwood), who is in Madison County to photograph Iowa’s covered bridges. What begins as a guarded friendship soon erupts into an intense affair that rekindles Francesca’s forgotten passions, but she finds her emotions in conflict when the time comes to choose her future. The movie was adapted to the screen by Richard LaGravenese from Robert James Waller’s novel, The Bridges of Madison County.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, produced by Eastwood and Kathleen Kennedy, it is the visual representation of two people coming to terms with their own lives through each other. The film is a narrative about love and choices and consequence.

A reconstructed farm house provided the key set, with additional sequences shot in the towns of Winterset and Adel, along with the actual covered bridges.

The Northside Cafe — In existence since 1876, is the restaurant in the film where Robert Kincaid stops for coffee and offers Lucy Redfield a stool. You can still take a seat where Clint Eastwood sat; it’s the fourth stool from the front of the restaurant.

Stone Bridge — The gracefully arched stone bridge in a park where Francesca and Robert go for their “getaway” picnic is actually located right in Winterset’s City Park, just south of the Cutler-Donahoe covered bridge. I visited each of these spots, and I had lunch at the Northside Cafe. The cafe was packed, but the staff wasn’t particularly friendly, and the Blueberry Pie was the worst pie on the trip. It was like someone took a purple magic marker and rubbed it between a pie crust. Bad pie, but a good movie.

Next stop: Nebraska. I drove to Omaha and Boys Town. I had emailed with some folks at Boys Town, so they were expecting me. It was important to them for me to take a special tour that they had arranged for me.

Vu was one of the boys at Boys Town, and he gave me a wonderful tour of “Girls and Boys Town.” He explained the history, the rules, took me on a special tour of Father Flanagan’s former home, showed me the various facilities, and accompanied me through the exceptional museum. Girls and Boys Town, the original Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home, is a leader in the treatment and care of abused, abandoned, and neglected girls and boys. Since 1917, the nonprofit, nonsectarian organization has provided these children with a safe, caring, loving environment where they gain confidence to get better and learn skills to become productive citizens.

Vu was an outstanding tour guide, and what a fine young man. Boys Town is a very inspirational place, and I encourage you to see it when you get anywhere near Omaha, Nebraska.

I took some great photos at Boys Town. The “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother” statue is a really well-known statue.

Vu also took me to see the World’s Largest Ball of Postage Stamps at Boys Town. Built in the 1950’s by the Stamp Collecting Club at Boy’s Town, the World’s Largest Ball of Stamps is very impressive. The Leon Myers Stamp Center is a museum and office located at the Visitor Center. The Stamp Center promotes stamp collecting among youth and adults and supports Girls and Boys Town programs by selling many donated stamps. Exhibits in the museum show stamps designed by kids, children on stamps, and children’s fairy tales on stamps, and a variety of educational and philatelic topics.

As I drove out of Omaha, I saw the World’s Largest Coffee Pot.

I drove to Lincoln, Nebraska. I checked into the hotel, and I asked Beth at the front desk where I should eat dinner. She suggested Misty’s Restaurant. She explained that she was a college student paying her way through school, so she couldn’t afford to go there herself, but she assured me that she had heard many times that Misty’s is great.

Misty’s Restaurant in Lincoln is a landmark. There can be up to a four hour wait on football weekends. Bob and Grace Milton began Misty’s as a “bottle club” in 1963 known as Club 63. When the liquor laws changed in 1965 allowing restaurants to sell liquor by the drink, a small propane grill was added. The restaurant grew, and it was named Misty’s Restaurant, named for Bob and Grace’s favorite song, “Misty.” Misty’s may be the original “sports bar.” The Miltons’ support for the University of Nebraska Cornhusker football was huge, and the restaurant was filled with Husker memorabilia.

The bar is shaped like a football. There was an original Leroy Neiman painting on the wall, which I was told was insured for a lot of money. The restaurant has booth seats that have very fancy tufted leather, and Bob paid $3000 each for 12 of them many years ago. He said when he saw them he saw 12 cars because you could’ve bought a really nice car for $3000 when he had those made.

The food was wonderful; I had a filet. The flavor was as good as I’ve ever had. It very much reminded me of Del Frisco’s (one of the best steak houses in America) in terms of the quality. I had cheddar potatoes that were delicious; my Caesar salad was probably the best I’ve ever had. I had a spinach artichoke appetizer that was wonderful. I would say it was the best meal of its type. Certainly one of the two best meals when you take into account all meals, but Lambert’s is in a different category.

The staff at Misty’s was a delight. I met Laverne, Colleen, Melisha, and Toni at Misty’s. Toni was one of the best waitresses on the trip, and the dinner was fantastic — nominated for Best Meal.

I had some fun today and saw some interesting sights, but my thoughts at the end of the day were how in the world anyone could abuse, abandon, and neglect children is just the saddest of thoughts.

The Daily Journal of Round America:

Each day, we collect our thoughts on a web page just like this. We drop in some of the photos from the day. Our goal with the Daily Journal is to write about the towns we visit, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat. We write about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going, but we also make observations about what we’ve seen and done as well as about life in general.

You can follow our travels from the Daily Journal section of this website. Other pages of interest include the running report of “vital statistics” on the Trip Scorecard, our nominations for the Best & Worst of the trip, as well as a rating of the pie we eat. If you’d like to see information for a specific state or town, click here, and then click on the state of interest, and the full itinerary is shown.


More Information on the Sights Visited Today:
Wes’ Family Cafe — John Wayne’s Childhood Home — Bridges of Madison County — Northside Cafe — Girls and Boys Town — World’s Largest Ball of Postage Stamps — World’s Largest Coffee Pot — Misty’s Restaurant