' ' Cinema Romantico: What Is Iowa's Greatest Claim To Fame?

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

What Is Iowa's Greatest Claim To Fame?

This past weekend I was back in my home state of Iowa for a friend’s wedding. And while I have come to adore Chicago so much that now whenever I return to Iowa I automatically get itchy for the Windy City after about 48 hours, well, I’m still proud of my Iowa heritage. I always will be. And one of the many random conversations I had this past weekend sparked my interest in regards to one particular topic – namely, what is Iowa’s greatest claim to fame?

Hmmmmmm. Is it Des Moines' unmistakable gold-domed capital that so often twinkles in the dusk like those cliched shots of cornfields everyone uses to establish the fact that "Hey, we're in Iowa now!" Is it the Travelers Insurance sign lighting up downtown at 5th & Grand which, every time I pass by it, briefly makes me believe I'm in a Model T on my way to the speakeasy to get blotto? Is it RAGBRAI (i.e. Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) that draws people from every walk of life and corner of the world each summer to take to their bicycles to pedal from the Mississippi to the Missouri or vice-versa?

Nope. Sorry it's none of those things. I mean, Iowa's got a whole lot more going for it, don't you know?

Iowa's got the 31st President (i.e. Herbert Hoover) and the 33rd Vice President (i.e. Henry Wallace) and Capt. James T. Kirk (born, of course, in Riverside, Iowa). Iowa's got Glenn Miller and Frodo Baggins (i.e. Elijah Wood) and I suppose it's got Marion Morrison (i.e. John Wayne) but Cinema Romantico would prefer to have Montgomery Clift instead. Iowa's got Tom Arnold…..wait……withdrawn! Iowa's got Grant Wood and his American Gothic (okay, actually Chicago has American Gothic at its fancy-pants Art Institute, but still…). Iowa's got the Field of Dreams and those covered bridges down there in Madison County. Iowa's got the Writer’s Workshop and the Caucuses and The World’s Largest Truck Stop (shoot me in the face). Iowa's got Nile Kinnick’s Heisman Trophy and  Shawn Johnson’s Gold Medal and Shawn Johnson’s Dancing With The Stars Championship Belt (shoot me in the face again). Iowa's got six-on-six girls basketball. Iowa's got Raccoon River Vanilla Cream Ale and Zanzibar's Coffee. Iowa's got sweet corn and pork tenderloin so good it will make nations bow down.

Yeah, Iowa’s got all that, but you do know what else Iowa’s got? I’ll tell you what else Iowa’s got.

Iowa’s got Donna Reed’s Oscar.

And that just ain’t any ol’ Oscar, homey. That’s the Oscar Ms. Reed earned for playing Alma “Lorene” Burke in “From Here To” Freaking “Eternity.” Ya dig? If there are levels of worth of particular Oscars – and we all know there are – then Ms. Reed’s Oscar is as righteous as Mother Teresa.

Donna’s our girl and her Oscar’s our guy. Literally. The statuette itself was bequeathed at her request to her hometown of Denison, Iowa following her death in 1986 where it remains displayed at the W.A. McHenry House.

Thus, in my completely unofficial and totally subjective capacity, I hereby declare Donna Reed’s Oscar to be Iowa’s Greatest Claim To Fame. Word to the New Congress Club.


Daryl said...

I don't think you have to worry about the Iowa Board of Tourism trying to hire you any time soon....

SJHoneywell said...

Iowa, specifically Marshalltown, Iowa, is also the birthplace of Jean Seberg.

Just sayin'.

Nick Prigge said...

Daryl: Are you sure? I mean, I don't want to live in a world where The World's Largest Truck Stop gets more pub than Donna Reed's Oscar. Wait, what? We ALREADY live in a world where The World's Largest Truck Stop gets more pub than Donna Reed's Oscar. (Sobbing.)

SJ: Is that right? I had no idea. The famous Iowans lists I consulted as "comprehensive" research didn't list her, but I guess that's not surprising. It's funny, though, because the same friend I discussed Iowa's greatest claim to fame with ALSO had a conversation this weekend about "Breathless."

I like and really respect "Breathless" but I don't particularly love it. At least, not like how I love "From Here To Eternity."

david said...

The Butter Cow doesn't even get a mention!?

Nick Prigge said...

Butter Cow. (Shoot me in the face a third time.)