After reading The Last Resort, Bob Patrick of Georgetown, Ky., shared these memories of his youth spent roaming the fields near his home in Iowa City. If you would like to share your reflections about the book, contact us here.
Reading the book reminded me of my own father who spent a lot of time outdoors in northwest Iowa up until high school. Born in 1913, he completed college and dental school before WWII, when he served in the Army Air Corps as a dentist, all of it stateside. He returned to Iowa City to establish a dental practice. He died in 1953.
The Last Resort also brought to mind memories of hiking with my friends along Ralston Creek, which flows through Iowa City on its way to the Iowa River. There were about five of us, and this all took place when we were in middle school, possibly freshmen in high school. We did not have guns (the turtle population had nothing to fear) and there was no cabin. But on weekends we would hike along the creek to the north through farmland toward its source. We would fish for crawfish, catch the occasional frog. Once I found the upper jaw of a squirrel, which I kept for a number of years. Sometimes we would build small campfires using dried grass and twigs. We even hiked in the winter, wearing galoshes and parkas, being careful not to break through the ice and get a "shoe full" of cold water.
During one Christmas school break on one of these hikes, my brother and I cut down a small scrub pine, perhaps 2 feet tall, and carried it back home, where we put it in some type of pot. My mother allowed us to place it in a front window and decorate it with Christmas ornaments. I remember the needles were quite sharp, making it difficult to decorate.
[Pud Goodlett] had that Jeffersonian trait of not only noticing the environment around him, but writing down what he saw. His field notes for his publications were, no doubt, even more detailed than his journal observations in the book. And I would imagine he retained a sort of practical outlook often found in people who grew up in small towns and more rural settings.