Brooklynite arrives in Brooklyn: Editor bearing gifts basks in small-town warmth

Brooklynite arrives in Brooklyn: Editor bearing gifts basks in small-town warmth
The Brooklyn Paper / Gersh Kuntzman

BROOKLYN, IOWA — Brooklynites have opened their hearts, loosened their tongues and served up plenty of ham to their beloved brother from the East Coast.

This reporter arrived on Tuesday after a harrowing drive through snowbound Illinois and eastern Iowa and immediately basked in the warmth of small-town Iowans.

Then again, I came bearing gifts.

Hearing that I would be covering the first in the nation caucuses in the small town of Brooklyn (population 1,200), Borough President Markowitz wrote a proclamation declaring Brooklyn, Iowa, “the official Brooklyn of the Midwest” and asked me to present it to Mayor Loren Rickard.

Hizzoner was touched.

“That is very thoughtful and I promise to put it in a prominent place,” he said.

Markowitz also tossed in a dozen “Brooklyn” pins and a wool ski cap with the name of his beloved borough written out in a graffiti style.

Mayor Rickard wore it proudly to former President Clinton’s speech Wednesday night in Brooklyn’s public school.

After the speech, I was the guest of honor at a dinner at Rickard’s home.

“Do you eat ham?” Hizzoner’s wife, Jodi, asked me.

#8220;That depends,” this New York Jew answered. “Do you have a fork?”

In short order, I was filled in on Brooklyn Iowa’s big stories, including the details of a gunpoint kidnapping of the town’s most-prominent doctor in the 1970s (the gun-toting perp was his wife!); a fight between Brooklyn native John Wayne (yes, that John Wayne) and local bully Balzer Kriegel over Wayne’s given name, Marion; how the man behind the town’s famed display of all 50 state flags was actually conceived by a guy who had the monopoly on local flagpoles; and a 1979 love triangle bank robbery murder (alas, that crime was in a neighboring town; there hasn’t been a murder in Brooklyn, Iowa, since the stagecoach days).

And then there was the time two youngsters built a copulating snowman and snow-woman. Rickard said he was reluctant to use the powers of his office to remove the display.

“Actually, we marveled at the workmanship,” he said. “Besides, it melted.”

The Brooklyn Paper / Gersh Kuntzman