Full Circle Back To Colorado

The past month has been head spinning and I hardly know where to begin.  But first of all I should say my mother is recovering from her heart attack and is feeling a little better all the time.

The last time I wrote we were soon to leave Branson, Missouri on our way to St. Paul, Minnesota to pick up the mattress we had ordered. That task is done and it was worth every single mile as we are now sleeping well again.

On our way through Iowa we stopped briefly in McCallsburg. My father was raised on a farm there and several uncles are buried in the local cemetery. McCallsburg was always a small town, population maybe 500, but now the downtown is just about gone. All that is left on the main street is a one employee post office, a city hall that is not staffed full-time, and a co-op.


A pretty sad sight compared to years ago when there was a general store, gas station, barber shop, gas station, boarding house, and more.


Mrs. Beales Boarding House at this site burned down years ago. One bachelor uncle named Herb lived there until my father and I (at age 19) flew to Kentucky for my grandmother’s funeral and to bring back to McCallsburg another uncle named Glen that had always lived with her. He had never had a job other than taking care of the farm and his 5 younger brothers in Iowa. When my father returned from WWII he was stationed in Kentucky and my grandmother packed up and moved there with Uncle Glen to be close to my dad. They lived in Kentucky for 20 years until her death.

Uncle Glen knew how to talk but he just never did. We could ask him a question and he would not answer. My dad and I, plus Uncle Herb could not get him to leave my grandmother’s house after the funeral. We had packed up a trailer with her furniture and hour after hour we pleaded and cajoled for Uncle Glen to get in the car for the drive to Iowa. Finally around midnight, without a word, he got up from his chair and walked out to the car. We had not packed any of his clothes and didn’t want to take the chance that he would change his mind so we left immediately. Around 3 am we became lost in Indianapolis and while we were trying to find our way Glen started saying “don’t go back to Louisville” over and over. Those were his first words. We stopped for breakfast early in the morning and he wouldn’t leave the car to eat. We arrived in the next biggest town to McCallsburg about the time the stores opened and Glen agreed to go into a general store where my dad and Uncle Herb bought him some clothes and a wallet that they put money into.

When we drove into McCallsburg we pulled up to the barber shop where some retired farmers sat on a bench out front visiting with each other. Glen got pretty excited then and walked over to them and just started talking. Then he got himself a haircut and chatted away with the barber. We were flabbergasted at this new-born version of Glen. He walked up and down main street taking it all in while my dad, my uncle, and I got him a room in the boarding house and unloaded some of the furniture for his room. I still remember fixing his room up all in greens and blues and later proudly showing it to Glen who just beamed. Glen was happy for many years at the boarding house. Mrs. Beale took care of the 10 or so elderly people who lived there and made sure they took their medicine if need be.  After several years the state shut her boarding house down because it didn’t pass safety inspections. Glen and other residents were sent to a nursing home 40 miles away. Glen stopped talking again.

For years I wondered why it took so much persuading to get Glen to go with us to Iowa when all along that is where he wanted to be.  A few years before my grandmother’s death, Uncle Royce that lived in Kentucky put her in a nursing home. That only lasted a few days and she was kicked out for being hard to handle.  I now believe Glen thought we were trying to trick him and that we were really going to take him to a nursing home.


All the old businesses are boarded up and painted with orange and yellow stripes.


My father’s school one block over from the main street still looks the same


Bottom: Herbert, Royce, Ray, Lula (Higginbotham) Conley Back: Frank, Glen Conley

Bottom: Herbert, Royce, Ray (my father), Grandmother Lula and in back:  Glen on the left and Frank on the right. Missing is Craig who was killed in WWII the year before and my grandfather who was killed in a train accident when the boys were young.

Iowa is a nice state for camping as there are many city and county campgrounds with reasonable prices. We stayed in several and our favorite was the city campground in Marshalltown called Riverside Park.  It seems that we are always under a time crunch when we find a place where we would like to stay longer.

On the morning we had to get our new mattress we disassembled the Sleep Number Bed. It is just a glorified air mattress with a hefty price!  What a job though because the pump was in the forward part of the bed’s platform and Steve had to take that apart to get to it.  Then we had all the many parts to the Sleep Number Bed piled in the back of Tracker and on the sofa as we drove to Kansas. I stayed there one night and then drove the Tracker back to Colorado while Steve stayed in Kansas waiting and waiting for the long drawn out delayed funeral.

I stayed at mom’s for 9 days trying to help her out with driving and cooking and not being too successful. She told me she would rather not eat at all than eat a veggie burger. So now Steve is back in Colorado with me and we are at an RV park and plan to leave in a few days.  We gave up on Kentucky and Texas. The west is best anyway!


  1. What a fascinating family story! Thanks for sharing! Was there any particular reason they painted those colors on the closed buildings in town? You certainly made the best of a difficult month- so glad you like your new mattress. Hope the funeral went well and provided some closure for Steve. Your Mom is a hoot. Knowing how stubborn (in a good way 🙂 ) you are, I wouldn’t wait her out either on the veggie burger- but good try! 🙂


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