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.”