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Rooftop car points to happiness

It was the spring of 1995 when my family and I decided to return to our home state of Iowa from Colorado. We were part of what was known then as the “Reverse Migration” — a phenomenon whereby people, having reached the western borders of the country and becoming disillusioned with life there, return to their roots. Colorado wasn’t the Pacific Ocean, but the Front Range where we lived was growing so fast, in a crazy sort of way, we wanted to return to the peace and quiet of Midwestern life and down-to-earth values.

A Lloyd Alexander on top of the Iris City Antique Mall in Mt. Pleasant, turns in the wind and points people in the right direction.

Strangely enough, we lived very near Highway 34 in Colorado. So, being in no particular hurry, we drove Highway 34, instead of Interstate 80, all the way back to Iowa, sightseeing the whole way and admiring the lush green countryside. In Western Iowa we drove by a three-story, all brick barn. We had never seen a barn built out of brick before. It was an amazing sight that filled us with the feeling that we were headed in the right direction.

As we approached the western edge of Mt. Pleasant, another sight greeted us that I still remember to this day. There was an automobile on the roof of the Iris City Antique Mall. It was a windy day and as we watched, in wide-eyed disbelief, like a weather vane, the car turned in the wind, its nose pointing in the direction the wind was going. On this day, the wind was out of the west. The car was pointing us into Mt. Pleasant. We knew without a doubt that Mt. Pleasant was the place for us.

We found a home, I found employment and we put our kids in the Christian school. Mt. Pleasant Christian School was just being organized at that time and we got in on the ground floor of helping build it. A vacant Pamida building was converted into a K-12 school. (We jokingly called it “Pamida High,” which isn’t all that odd since the name “Pamida” is taken from the first two letters of the founder’s kids’ names: Pat, Mike and Dave. A little trivia there.)

Our two kids thought we were wacky. They had attended a public school in Colorado and could not imagine life in a parochial school. They now thank us for it — because of the quality of education they received. Both of our kids went on to graduate from Christian colleges and now their kids (my four grandkids) also attend Mt. Pleasant Christian School. What goes around comes around, like the weather vane car.

Years, and a couple of homes and several jobs later, I find myself living in paradise with the love of my life. Guess that car on the roof knew where it was pointing.

What’s all this have to do with the automobile on top of the Iris City Antique Mall? Well, nothing and everything. In talking to the present owners of the Iris City Antique Mall, the car is English, a Lloyd Alexander, roughly 1957 vintage. The original owners of the Antique Mall put the shell of the car on the roof using a crane. It was orange then, but the color soon faded away. Lennis Moore, one of the previous owners of the Antique Mall, and CEO of the Old Threshers Reunion, repainted the car yellow. If you notice some letters on the door of the Lloyd Alexander, it’s because pranksters got up there and did a little handiwork. The car on the roof is a favorite subject for photographers, especially at Old Threshers time. People often ask, “Is it for sale?”

On any given day, if you’re looking for the right direction to head, go to the Antique Mall and see what direction the car, an icon of Mt. Pleasant, is pointing. It pointed us in the right direction years ago and it will for you, also.

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Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com

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