This has been a cold winter in Iowa. I have been very content to stay in our warm home by the SIDE OF THE ROAD and watch our neighbors go by. But I haven't been idle! I have been searching my digital photos for pictures with a common theme. Of course--you know me--each of these pics come with a story. Here goes!

My View for the Month: Throughout my school and working years, my academic interest pointed toward math and science. But, I was fortunate to have a great literature teacher at Anthon High School. I still remember excerpts from some of the things she taught me 60 plus years ago. Example--a few lines from a poem by Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)."Let me live in a house by the by the SIDE OF THE ROAD--where the race of men goes by-the men who are good and the men who are bad-as good and as bad as I." For me that has a real life application that emphasizes my photos and stories above. In my retirement years I enjoy sitting on our deck or front porch watching the neighbors go hither and yon. With this pandemic thing, I feel like I've been cooped up these past couple of years. So now,  I appreciate getting out to the coffee shops or sitting on a bench during my morning walk and watching people  go by.

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity. (NIV) (Psalm 133: 1)                         


Look above, the cat is out of the bag. My stories this month are going to relate to my Des Moines area coffee shop visits this past fall. LEFT--I have to get this show on the road with a stop at my long time favorite, Smokey Row in Sherman Hill, Des Moines. I'm at my outside table looking across the street at the beautiful Kathedral Church (NRHP) and the international flags in the adjacent park. I could sit here all day, but I think I will just have my coffee and eat my  tiramisu and move on. MIDDLE--This place is close to our home--Friedrichs at 86th and Meredith. When I finish my coffee, I will walk to the produce truck/tent in the parking lot. There, I will buy sweet corn and farm fresh tomatoes and head home. RIGHT: I am at the outdoor patio overlooking the lake at Jordan Creek Mall, West Des Moines. Most malls are struggling now, but this area is a hub of activity.

LEFT: The Trellis Cafe is located in the Des Moines Botanical Garden at 909 Robert Ray Drive, Des Moines. The big indoor garden makes me feel like I'm on a tropical island. However, today we are eating on the outdoor patio watching the people on the walking trail by the Des Moines River.  MIDDLE: This pic makes me think back to a great travel adventure. In 2008 and again in 2015, our son Trent and I took a 3 day vacation to New York City. Each day we stopped for a bagel at our favorite NY deli and looked up at the tall buildings everywhere. Well, today I stopped at Five Burroughs Bagel in Clive. I looked across the street at an Iowa suburb version of a New York "skyscraper." I enjoyed our short excursions to the big city, but remember--I'm an Iowa boy--this place better fits my lifestyle. RIGHT: Freedom for Youth--I'm on the patio over looking Hickman Road in Des Moines. It is much more than just another coffee shop. This great faith based organization helps many young people get and/or stay on the right path. Your time and money spent here can be a treat for you and a triumph for them.

LEFT: My favorite Starbucks is at 50th and University in Clive. I take my lemon bread and coffee to the patio and watch all of the traffic pass by. This is a rural Iowa view. I am looking across the street to the Living History Farm. This is a bright spot for me as I think back at the simple life in the days of my youth. MIDDLE: The outdoor deck at LaMia Bakery in the Roosevelt Shopping Center is often jam packed, as it was today. Every seat was taken, but my new friend, Dennis, asked me to join him for lunch. Here again--a rural reminder. When I do a day trip to an Iowa small town or a tractor-machinery show, I love to be invited to sit at the community table. I do more listening than talking, but I learn a lot of good Iowa info--sometimes it's the price of soybeans or maybe about their kids wrestling match. You know--good Iowa stuff!  Having lunch with Dennis was a big city example of rural Iowa camaraderie. RIGHT: Today I am at the Gateway Market in the historic Sherman Hill District. There is a lot of Iowa history in this area, but what is especially meaningful to me is thinking about the times our grandchildren have joined us here for lunch.

LEFT: Palmer's Deli, just a short distance from our home, is my longtime favorite lunch place. It is always good food and I usually see someone I know, so that is an extra bonus. Today, I ate lunch inside but enjoyed my coffee and cookie on the patio. MIDDLE: Wow! There is almost more here than I can handle. Grounds for Celebration is located at 66th and University in Windsor Heights. This pic kinda tells a life story for me. I am sitting on the spot where Linn's Super Value was when I first came to town in 1961.Then straight ahead by the intersection was Harder Pharmacy. That is where I worked for 30 happy years. I was blessed to work with great people.  I do not remember a major conflict in all of those yeas. How many people could say that? Yet, there is a sad note here--of the 10 or 12 full time co-workers, I am the only one still alive. But the best part was the adjacent city park where we had many family picnics. I could go on and on, but now you know a few of the reasons why this photo is such an important part of my life story. RIGHT: I am sitting on our deck looking across the street watching the people go by. I think I could have skipped the rest of the story because my IOWA cup tells it all!

Last paragraph of this short five stanza poem, "Let me live in a house by the SIDE OF THE ROAD and watch the race of men go by. They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong, wise, foolish--so am I. Then  why should I sit in the scorners seat, or hurl the cynics ban? Let me live in my house by the SIDE OF THE ROAD and be a friend of man." (Sam Walter Foss).     

Views of a Farm Boy--Dedicated to promote Iowa agriculture and Iowa values--Robert Vaughn--Urbandale, Iowa  EMAIL: