Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thelma and Lousie Part Two AKA Buttercup and Daisy :)

Mary Ingalls. Laura's older sister.

OK me and "Butter" slept late cuz we had an exhausting couple of days( not sure what our excuses were the rest of the trip) But we new our next destination and that it would not take very long to get there.

It was The Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, which in Laura's Little House books was referred to as the Blind School in Iowa. They all saved their money and went without many necessities so that sister Mary could attend, after going blind from what was probably encephalitis or meningitis.(although in the books Laura said Measles)

It's in a lovely little town in Northern Iowa called Vinton. The people of the town were very nice. Vinton is located on the Cedar River which had some flooding problems this year.

Another little quirky fact about Vinton is that the Courthouse was featured in the 1996 John Travolta film called "Michael"! along with a few other rural scenes. Since I don't know the movie it doesn't mean much,but I intend to see it now if I can rent it!

This is how the school looked at the time Mary attended, which is not a great deal different from how it looks today.

They have changed the name to The Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School. The "Sight Saving" is because they evaluate children and see if they can be fitted for glasses that can help them and a few other medical procedures.

We did not go in to the School since it is out for the summer. (Probably would not if it had been open) but I think if we had to do it again we would be braver and ask if we could go in and look around. This was our first "official" stop and we were not as sure of ourselves as we got at the weeks went on :) We knew by the internet that there were no "official" tours.

The School was open in 1852. Mary attended between 1881 and 1889 missing one year because of illness or lack of funds. She was never well and suffered facial pain and after completing college she was taken to Chicago to relieve it. She suffered many strokes and eventually died after suffering one when she was in her early 60's.

Contrary to the silly way she was portrayed in the TV show Mary was a very serene serious young woman, who accepted her fate with great courage. Laura always looked up to her. She helped support the family by giving music lessons and making things with beads that she learned at the Iowa Blind school.

She lived with her Mother until her mother's death and then went to sister Carrie's home but suffered several strokes and within a few years of losing her Mother, Mary also passed away.

I loved the pattern and the old bricks that this school was made of. Every view was something to look at, something very pretty. There was some construction going on but you could still vision Mary walking those grounds and around the walk way.

We had our own picnic lunch at the Kiwanis Club park which is right by the school.

He joined us for lunch :)

I have read since returning that there is a chance this school could be closed, along with the School for the Deaf. I hope that doesn't happen.

And after our picnic we were OFF! and we landed in.................... INDEPENDENCE ~

I wonder how many Independence's their are in this country, I know we were in two! Actually I do know, there are 16!

This Independence is one of the coolest little towns we stayed in. The first thing we did was go to a fast food place and in came a young Amish couple with a baby. I had to hang on to Buttercup cuz she WAS going to snatch that baby! She was dressed like you would dress a doll to look like an Amish baby. I think what I loved most was her little black socks and her chubby bare legs under her little blue dress. Unlike the Amish baby in the following picture, OUR baby had a white bonnet on and she had little black ringlets on her forehead. So cute we could not take our eyes off of her! And then they got up and left with her!

The Wapsipinicon River flows thru the heart of Independence. The legend of the River's name is a love story similar to that of Romeo and Juliet. A young Indian brave named Wapsi and an Indian maiden named Pinicon from opposing tribes fell in love. They tried to run away. When they were about to be caught they jumped to their death. "The murmuring river was singing their funeral chant. Without a word, the devoted lovers plunged into the river. Her father arrived to see them struggling in the water, sinking and rising and with one last gasp they sank"

The Wapsinpinicon River and dam.

The Wapsinpinicon Mill is located on the dam. It is celebrating it's 150th anniversary this year. I think the festivities were in a couple of weeks. Seemed like we missed every celebration! Which was really ok, it was very hot!

They make poultry and stock feed. It is on the National Registry of Historical places. There is also a museum there.

Because we stopped early enough we went walking down by the River and to the little park. I really beautiful little park.

The Motel that we stayed at was certainly not the fanciest but you could tell they had at some point tried to make it a lovely place. It still was but needed a little TLC.

We found out later that Independence has one of the largest Conservative Amish groups right outside of town. But we didn't know that so we didn't get to go see them :( Although on our trip we saw several.

There is also an old hospital that opened in 1873 under the name "Iowa Hospital for Insane" and they have tours! I can't believe Buttercup missed THAT opportunity!


  1. I told YOU to grab her and I would be in the car with it running! I think we need to go back! I would like to tour all the towns we went through now.

  2. I can't believe Nikki missed the tour for the insane too!! Tisk...tisk ladies!