After 1,995 miles we found Newton, Iowa. Wow! What a find! I’m being facetious. I really wanted to be farther along today, but we stopped in Omaha for 1), a pedestrian bridge across the Missouri River and 2), Boys Town. Keeping the peace is important. We stood with one foot in Nebraska and the other in Iowa on the bridge… whoopee. Boys Town, however, was interesting so it was worth the stop. Father Flanagan, an immigrant Catholic Priest, gave seven boys down on their luck a home in 1917 and it hasn’t stopped since. Now there is a large campus in Omaha devoted to making wayward youths, both boys and girls, into productive citizens and fulfilled adults. It was worth the stop. If you visit Omaha, take the self-guided tour.
We left Omaha around 2:00 P.M. and entered the great state of Iowa. We immediately noticed the difference; the speed limit reduced to 70 mph and the roads’ condition made that speed nearly unsustainable. Talk about pot holes, cracks and uneven pavement! I thought one or more of our tires were flat a number of times, but it was only the road. So, we drove carefully between 60 – 65 mph through Des Moines and arrived in Newton.
Newton is a town of about 15,000 and its only factory, Maytag, that employed 4,500 workers closed recently. Newton is depressed and it’s obvious. If the highways are bad, Newton’s streets are worse and parking lots and stores are rundown. I can’t imagine the rundown look happening only in the past year or so, however. Like Iowa, Newton has been neglected for ten or fifteen years. It's the neglect that happens when people don't want to pay taxes and politicians use taxes stupidly.
We ate dinner at Palma’s Steakhouse, a local restaurant with local fame. It, too, has been neglected and paint and a brighter dining room would do wonders; we ate on the patio and, except for a busy fly, it was just fine. Chris’ steak was excellent; a New York Steak, medium and as good as Dude’s Steakhouse in Sidney, Nebraska. I had Tenderloin de Bogna that, while good, wasn’t as good at the New York. I recommend Palma’s, but eat on the patio unless they’ve remodeled the place. The food was good.
Palma’s owner of 30 years is a Greek Lady with a heavy accent who is pessimistic about the future and said she is thinking of selling the restaurant and returning to Greece where she owns a home. She said she was tired of taxes and the government taking over. I wonder what she’ll find in Greece where the government really has more control. I doubt that she’s paying more taxes and her real complaint is her decline in customers; an effect of the economy, not a government takeover.
The young man who served us, mixed our Margaritas and talked had a much better perspective. He wants to buy the restaurant, remodel it and repair the neglect. I’d say that’s a better attitude.
I notice that the I-80/I-65 junction, where we turn south to Dan’s place in Lafayette, is only five blocks from Michael Jackson’s Gary Indiana home. We may drive by to see what it looked like.