If you’re a fan of “The Music Man” like I am, you are beside-yourself-excited at the thought of seeing Hugh Jackman bring Harold Hill back to life on Broadway in 2020. But before you head to the Big Apple to see the show, you should first visit Mason City, Iowa, where creator Meredith’s Willson’s story began. We actually think you’ll find the folks there pretty friendly, and not too Iowa stubborn.

Willson, creator of “The Music Man” was born in Mason City in 1902 and spent his youth there. A lifelong lover of music, he went on to study at Juilliard. He then was the principal flautist in both John Phillip Sousa’s band as well as the New York Philharmonic. Through all that, though, he never forgot his childhood and the excitement of the Wells Fargo wagon coming to town.

Meredith Willson staute

Willson began composing music in the 1920’s, including other broadway musical like “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” and “Miracle on 34th Street — The Musical.”

meredith willson piano

“The Music Man” is arguably the most famous of his musicals and it is performed in more than 300 communities each year. It ran on Broadway for 1,375 performances, and won six Tony Awards. It also inspired a hit 1962 movie starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones. I think I’ve seen it 100 times myself. I could pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, cheep, cheep, cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more about that show with anyone.

The Music Man Square

Willson’s childhood in Mason City, Iowa, inspired the fictional town of River City, where “The Music Man” takes place. Today in Mason City, you can visit The Music Man Square and take a walk down Main Street of an early 1900’s River City replica. It’s so realistic, you’ll be looking for Marian, the librarian, around every corner.

Music Man Square

They’ve gone to a lot of work to be sure to be true to the show and the details in it. And because of that, when you walk down the brick sidewalks, you really can imagine yourself out for a stroll in River City. One of my favorite pieces in the museum was the double-belled euphonium. I mean, have you ever seen one of these?

double belled euphonium

But that isn’t the only instrument on display. Indeed, they also have big bassoons, as well as clarinets of every size. What’s more, there are trumpets on which trumpeters could improvise…yes, even a full octave higher than the score!

Peek in the pool hall windows

Even more fun for me was the chance to stop and peek  through the window of the billiard parlor at the pool table. Yes, this is the very pool table that’s the cause of all of River City’s Trouble. That’s trouble with a capital T and the rhymes with P and that stands for pool! Yes, take one look at the table through that window and you’ll remember why the town was so desperate to have Harold Hill organize the River City Boys’ Band. Have you ever seen depths of degradation like this?

The Music Man Square in Mason City

Willson’s boyhood home

Next door to The Music Man Square is Meredith Willson’s boyhood home. Normally available for tours, it is closed right now for renovations, but should re-open soon. We had the chance to tour it a few years ago, and will say that it gives a little more insight into Willson’s early days. Who knows, when you visit, you might even find a copy of “Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang.”

Meredith Willson Childhood home in Mason City

Walk across the footbridge

After you finish your tour at The Music Man Square, head over to the Meredith Willson footbridge. This is the footbridge that we suspect inspired the famous love scene from the musical and the song, “Till There Was You.” And even if you don’t know the musical that well, you should still take a walk on the bridge, as the view from it is beautiful.

the music man footbridge

North Iowa Band Festival

You should know going in that Mason City takes its band music seriously. In 1928, they organized a band festival to honor the town’s 75th anniversary. In 1936, they held another, and it was so nice, they repeated it the following year. In fact, it has run every year since then except during WWII. I don’t think that 76 trombones lead the big parade each year, but do know that today it brings about 60,000 people to town to see dozens of bands march down the street.

Mason City Band Festival poster

Meredith Willson’s grave

There is one more stop to make while remembering The Music Man in Mason City. You can pay your respects to Meredith Willson, who, after a long career that ran from Broadway to Hollywood and back, came home to rest. His gravesite at Elmwood St. Joseph Cemetery is a peaceful place for a man who brought so much joy to so many people.

meredith willson gravesite


PIN FOR LATER

the music man mason city Iowa

 

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One cup of oatmeal cooked in water is about 160 calories (and a "green" food on our @noom weight loss app). We like to add a teaspoon of brown sugar, a little cinnamon, and lots of fresh berries. Other options are: bananas, nuts, nutmeg, diced apple, flax seed, or dried fruits. ⁣
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What is your go-to breakfast these days?
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See what we've learned about calorie density, exercise and ourselves in the process. We are so thankful for the resources that have helped us, including @noom and the @mayoclinic Healthy Living Program. (This is NOT a paid partnership) We feel like new people and hope our story will encourage someone else who wants to make a healthy lifestyle change. To stay up to date with our weight loss and healthy living journey, be sure to follow @PostcardJar on social media.
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Ann's grandma passed away several years ago. Each spring, these flowers bloom and remind Ann of her grandma and her beautiful soul.
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We know this is temporary and soon enough, we'll be traveling again. But for now, we are all staying safe at home and encourage you to do the same. And while you’re home, check out some of these influencers’ feeds for travel inspiration.
  • Last week, we had the pleasure of making handmade pasta (via the internet) with our friends, Deb and Massi, who were in their home kitchen in Italy. ⁣
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You can read all about it, and get the recipe, on our blog. Yep, you guessed it, the link is in our bio. ⁣
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We met Deb and Massi of @italyunfiltered a few years ago when they created an amazing food and wine itinerary for us. We've remained friends and it was so good to see them, even if they were a world away.
  • We were supposed to be in Rochester, Minnesota, this week for Ann to see a cardiac sarcoidosis specialist about some recent issues with her heart. Of course, we did not travel to Rochester for her scans and doctor visits because of the coronavirus outbreak.⁣
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Instead, her cardiologists called her from their homes and her scans and tests will likely be delayed until June or July. We'll keep in close touch with them if anything changes, as well. We are so grateful for all of the healthcare professionals who are continuing to work crazy hours from home as well as in our hospitals around the world.⁣
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This is such an unprecedented and stressful time for all of them. Words will never be enough to convey our gratitude for the roles they are playing in the battle against this deadly virus while caring for those with other diseases and illnesses at the same time. ⁣
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Every healthcare provider we've talked with in the last two weeks has had the same message for those of us who don't have to go to work at a hospital. ⁣
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Just. Stay. Home.
  • Yesterday was Day 16 of social isolation for us. Because of Ann's underlying heart condition and suppressed immune system, we've cooked all our meals at home (no takeout). We've starting to get more and more creative as time has gone by. ⁣
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Last night, we made chicken and shrimp vindaloo and learned online how to make homemade naan.⁣
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It wan't as good as our favorite Indian restaurant, The Oven, but it did satisfy the craving we've had for Indian food. ⁣
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What are you craving these days?
  • We moved our living room furniture around this week and put two swivel chairs near the sliding glass door. Each day, we take time to turn around, rest our minds, enjoy in the view, and just be. #webelieveinhome

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