October 24, St. Louis
Chris and I may have to change our opinion of Herbert Hoover. How is that for a catchy phrase to begin this post?
Some people think our extensive trip planning means we cannot be spontaneous. Far from it. Discipline leads to creativity and exploration. Today we canceled our plans to visit the Mark Twain Museum in Hannibal Missouri in favor of visiting the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and Presidential Library in West Branch Iowa. We spent two hours learning about Pres. Hoover and could have stayed longer. We don’t intend to write his biography today, but to give several salient points that we had forgotten, and which have been overshadowed by his connection with the Great Depression.
We visited the two room cottage where Hoover was born in 1874. He was raised in the Quaker faith. By age 11, he was an orphan and sent to live with relatives in Oregon. He graduated from Stanford University, as a member of its inaugural class begun in 1891. At Stanford, he met his wife Lou, the first female geology graduate at Stanford and the only female geology major for the next 20 years. She has her own record of amazing contributions.
Hoover became a mining engineer and executive and amassed a fortune through his abilities and hard work. For our purposes, his accomplishments really began after this point. For instance:
a. At the beginning of World War I, he organized a relief effort to bring stranded Americans back home from Europe when all travel was impossible.
b. After the First World War, he was chairman of the American Relief Administration which fed hundreds of millions of people in European countries.
c. During WWI, he was responsible for the relief of starving Belgians.
d. As Secretary of Commerce for seven years, he made major changes in radio broadcasting, drove successful efforts to increase home ownership, instituted improvements to the census, forged an agreement about how to allocate water rights that led to the building of the Boulder (later Hoover) Dam, and provided personal oversight for massive relief efforts after a record flood in the lower Mississippi River in 1927.
e. As President, he instituted numerous improvements in the administrative activities of the US government.
f. Truman called upon Hoover again after the ending of WWII to organize relief efforts in Europe.
g. Chaired two Hoover Commissions, one under Truman and one under Eisenhower, to restructure the U.S. government and eliminate waste and inefficiency.
Of course the Library-Museum is focused on Hoover and the accomplishments he and Lou made during their years. Even so, the depth and breath of their activities is amazing and inspiring. So, next time you are driving through east central Iowa, stop in West Branch. By the end of this Trip Eight, we will have visited three presidential libraries, planning to see the Clinton Library in Little Rock, and the Truman Library in Independence, MO. Hopefully they will be as enlightening as Hoover’s.
West Branch was only a half hour drive from Cedar Rapids where we had spent the previous evening. The rest of our day after the Hoover National Historic Site was spent in driving to St. Louis. We drove by Hannibal, but did not stop there. We began to see increased fall colors as we started moving south through Missouri.
Our evening dinner in St. Louis was spent with Bob and Bonnie Wendt. Ed met Bob through work and appreciated the opportunity to catch up. We had a delightful time and will need to schedule another opportunity to continue our conversations about travel.
Ed and Chris Oct. 24 10 pm