June 14, 2015 – Cotton candy clouds, 75 degrees
Miles Today: 61
Miles to Date: 2,335
States to Date: 13
I woke early and climbed, climbed, climbed out of the Mississippi River Valley to the high plateau that is Iowa. Monona didn’t offer much for breakfast, so I had a snack and pedaled in the narrow zone between the rumble strip and the gravel on to Postville. I didn’t expect much more in this sleepy town on a Sunday morning, but was intrigued by the highway sign’s hyperbole proclaiming Postville, ‘Hometown to the World’.
Main Street looked shut tight until I noticed lights in Glatt’s Supermarket. I entered the store. An Orthodox Jewish woman carrying a baby stood at the register; three small children popped their heads out of the next room to see the strange, bright man. I opened a soft drink and asked about Postville’s ‘Hometown to the World’ slogan. Shaindy Glatt explained that people from all over the world lived in Postville – Orthodox Jews, Ukrainians, Somalis, Mexicans, Germans, Russians, Hispanics – mostly due to the world’s largest Kosher slaughterhouse located there. Her description triggered a news flash. “Is this the place.” “Yes,” I didn’t need to finish; “this is the place where there was the big immigration raid occurred a few years ago.” From Shaindy’s perspective, the raid was overblown, and the resulting justice unfair. The Orthodox Jewish plant manager got 27 years to life in prison, while the banker in cahoots got a wrist slap and a fine. “Before the raid, everyone got along. We had festivals with tents and everyone had their respective foods. We haven’t had that since, although things are getting better, slowly.”
I left Glatt’s and discovered a Mexican cantina on the main corner, settled in to write through the hottest part of the day and had fantastic fajitas for $6.95. My Mexican waitresses kept my water glass and chip basket full, but they didn’t venture into the politics of Postville. Later, however, a man of German descent took a different tack from Shaindy Glatt. “What that guy did was inhumane, working people in slave conditions.”
Since it was Flag Day, and I was in Iowa, in a melting pot no less, I decided to fulfill my promise to contact all the candidates running for President in 2016 and ask them my question. It took a few hours to figure out a comprehensive list, navigate their online personas, and determine how to best contact each one.
Based on web searches alone, I made a few observations:
- Ted Cruz’s website is in all capitals – it even transcribed what I inserted into all caps. Everything must be very important to that man.
- Carly Fiona, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul’s sites are impenetrable; there is no way to contact them except to give money, not even through facebook. I resorted to asking my question via tweet.
- Mike Huckabee scores points of humor, his ‘Human Validation’ is not some odd array of characters, but a check box that says, “I am not a robot.”
- Marco Rubio really ought to answer my question, since his Facebook page sports a faded picture of Hillary with the headline, “Yesterday is STILL over”. A guy so sure of yesterday must have the pulse of tomorrow.
- The best website, by far, is Lindsey Graham’s. He not only has a press contact section, but also a button called ‘share’. That is so refreshing after so many buttons with variations of ‘fight’. Hillary Clinton’s website proclaims ‘four fights’. I am so tired of the ‘fight’ word. I’m considering casting my vote for any candidate who expunges that word from his or her rhetoric. About as much chance of that happening as GM or Exxon offering to sponsor my trip.
After noting the ‘not yet official candidates (I’ll ask Jeb in a day or two after his hoopla settles), I cycled 20 miles past beautiful farms where all the cows turned their heads to watch me pass, and small towns where the local folks sitting under the canvas tents set up in front of their garages did the same. I passed a parade of old tractors and another of vintage autos. Cycling on a Sunday requires a lot of waving. In Calmar I shifted to the bike path to Cresco. I don’t know why the bike path is paved while the adjacent county road is dirt. For once I got a smoother ride than the pick-ups along my side.
Cresco, like so many Iowa towns, could have been the setting for The Music Man. Harold Hill could parade along the wide main street with its rows of American flags. Marian would be quite at home in the stately public library on North Elm Street, the town’s most prosperous. My warmshowers host, Duane, offered me a tasty Greek salad and a beer, good conversation, and a welcome bed.