Sunday, October 26, 2014

Meeting the Gusewelle family

Several weeks ago, we were watching a KCPT (public television) fundraiser featuring Charles Gusewelle, whose columns I have followed since the '70's.  I've always loved his style of writing.  He has the ability to paint pictures with his words that allow others to see things as he sees them and feel what he feels at any given time.  KCPT was showing a special in which Charles talked about his cabin in the Ozarks, one of many places he has written about over the years.  When they took a break to ask for donations, one proposition they offered was this:  For a donation of $160 per couple, you could go to his cabin and see it through your own eyes.  Cliff also admires Gusewelle and appreciates how much I like the guy, so he agreed to do this thing.  

We left yesterday morning in one of the most dense fogs I have ever seen, and it hung around for most of our trip, which wasn't the best thing for Cliff's spirits.  I had looked on Mapquest at home and, to my surprise, found out Appleton City is due south of where we live, and that by taking some county roads along the way, we could drive straight down there. 
 Unfortunately, our GPS refused to acknowledge that route.  "No problem," I said to Cliff.  "I'll just get Mapquest on my Ipad and it will tell us which roads to take."  

That's when I found we had no cellular service; the Ipad was useless.  Finally, rather than risk getting totally lost, we allowed the GPS to take us twenty miles out of our way in order to get to our destination.  Cliff's spirits sunk even further.  

We arrived at the city park a few minutes ahead of schedule in spite of the delays.  We were given a name tag, a wrist band, and some nice gifts:

A picture of Gusewelle, an autographed book, and a DVD of the show we had seen on KCPT.

And we got free donuts!  Krispy Kreme has nothing on LaMar's.  We never buy donuts because we can't stop eating them, so this was a special treat.  We did stop at one, but Cliff admitted he really wanted to eat more.  I reminded him that we were going to be fed lunch later on, and we needed to be hungry to enjoy that.  

At ten o'clock we boarded one of two school buses and were off to see the cabin.  There were actually seventeen no-shows for our group; I imagine the fog discouraged most of them.  Most Gusewelle fans are senior citizens like Cliff and I, and as people age, they are more intimidated by fog, slick roads, and anything else that might threaten life and limb.  

I took a picture of one of our group leaders taking a picture of us.  It's been a long time since I've been on a school bus.  

Charles and Katie greeted us as we got off the bus.  

Inside the cabin was one of the daughters.  There were many people at both the cabin and the lake who were there to answer questions or give instructions, and I found out they were all neighbors or personal friends of the family.  One man had an ATV and was offering rides to those who seemed to be having trouble walking.  "Are you a neighbor?"  I asked him. 
 "No, actually, I live in Greenwood, but Charles lets me hunt here.  I used to work on his car."  

Everyone had good words for the family.

Every inch of every wall of the cabin displays trophies collected by Charles and friends from all parts of the United States.  In the lower left-hand corner is a picture of Rufus, a bird dog that all readers of Gusewelle's columns learned to love.  We all grieved at his death.  That picture, Charles informed us, was the dog's "last point".

The pond below the cabin.

The tree house.   One year, Charles said, vultures took over the tree house.  This was something new to me:  if Charles wrote about it, I must have missed those columns.  I'm supposed to be getting the Star because I subscribed to the Odessan, but the local newspaper carrier is terrible.  When I tried to call the Star, the line was constantly busy and I gave up.  I'm forced to read the column online, and sometimes miss one.

Gusewelle chatted individually with everyone who approached him.  I reminded him of the time he made the news because the Star banned smoking inside the premises, so he had his desk and chair moved outside.  He said the boss told him to get his stuff back in the building or he would be fired, but he didn't do that immediately, and he kept his job anyway.  He does not, by the way, remember the poems I used to write and send him.  I quoted a little bit of one of them to him.  The man has written thousands of columns and traveled all over the world, so it's OK if he doesn't remember a few poems some stranger wrote him.  

After our visit at the cabin, we boarded the bus and went to see Lake Katie, named for his wife.  A couple of people brought their fishing rods along, and one man caught a couple of bass while we were there.  

The other daughter was at Lake Katie.  The daughters have lived far away for a long time, this one in New York.  Recently they've both moved back to this area, which makes me wonder if there is something up with their dad that nobody is telling. 

It was a perfect day for this event, and in spite of morning fog and a GPS that wouldn't cooperate, we had a lovely time.  The meal they served back at the Appleton City park was delicious.  

Of course I got my picture taken with my hero.  This opened up the floodgates, and then several others followed suit.  

It was one of those perfect days I will never forget.



What a wonderful day, indeed. I'm glad the fog didn't deter the trip and that you found your way there. He is a wonderful man, a great writer and I'm glad you got to meet him. GREAT photo of you and him. Also like the one with you and Cliff too.

Margaret said...

It sounds like it was well worth all the frustration to get there. There are many events like this, where you have to persevere to get to the wonders at the destination.

Average Jane said...

What a fun thing to do! I'm glad you got a chance to meet him and have a bit of an adventure.

Lori said...

Wow! What a great opportunity for you. The pictures of great, and it looks like the day turned out to be beautiful. By the way, I use Googlemaps instead of Mapquest. Mapquest seemed to always take me the wrong way, but Googlemaps is usually spot-on and often offers two or three route options. If I'm worried I might not have service where I'm going, I'll print out the directions from Googlemaps or write them down.