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Room Histories

The circus has a long and colorful history in Iowa. Beginning with "Buffalo" Bill Cody's birth in 1846 in Le Clair, Iowa, some of the greatest shows and circus workers marked their beginnings in Iowa. While all five Ringling brothers hailed from Baraboo, Wisconsin, where the Ringling Bros. Circus was founded is 1884, the Ringling Bros. Circus and Comedy Concert Company (the precursor to the "Greatest Show on Earth"), found its start earlier in McGregor, Iowa. The Yankee Robinson Show, owned by Fred Buchanan of Des Moines, wintered in Dallas County while W.W. Cole, creator of the knife board, called Adel, Iowa, home. By 1928, Fred Buchanan would own the Robbins Bros. Circus which Perry claimed at its own. Each circus season would get off to a start with a circus parade which The Perry Daily Chief described as having " lemonade that's the best in the world and the tastiest peanuts and the poppiest popcorn!"

But the greatest Iowa's native born circus men, and one of

Perry's claims to fame, was Robert Mitchel (R.M.) Harvey.

Born in Sidney, Iowa on 2 June 1869, Harvey stumbled

into circus work by accident while attending boarding

school and college at DePauw University. In the course of

serving meals to fellow students for $2.10 at Harvey's Club,

he made the acquaintance of Ben Wallace, then owner of

The Great Wallace Show. Harvey's drive and salesmanship

convinced Wallace after one meeting that he would be a 

success as a circus agent, and so he was. After seven

seasons with The Great Wallace Show, Harvey moved on 

to the Barnum & Bailey Circus, where he spent seven years,

one as contractor and one working exclusively with Buffalo Bill. (It was during these early years in the circus that Harvey and his brother Allen bought The Perry Daily Chief. He was also instrumental in the building of The Grand Theater in Perry.) Following Barnum & Bailey, Harvey met his next challenge with newly merged Hagenbeck-Wallace Show were he stayed for four years.

At this point, Harvey took a break from circus work to assemble a troupe of performers which became the highly successful Harvey's Greater Minstrels. Harvey followed his success with the minstrels with a stint as general agent and director for the American Circus Corporation and later saw duty with the Miller Bros. 101 Ranch Wild West Show.

During his 60 years in the circus business, Harvey could boast of being the manager and producer of the first indoor circus and counted major circus owners and personalities, including the famous clown Emmet Kelly, as friends.

RM Harvey
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R.M. Harvey

Marching Band

Marching Band
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The high school experience would not be complete without the memory of football games every Friday night in the fall. Crisp air, hot dogs, hot chocolate, pompoms, cheerleaders, and huddling together under blankets in the bleachers to keep warm.


This memory would be missing something if the high

school marching band was not a part of the picture.

Energizing the crowd during the game and entertaining

them during half-time, the marching band is an integral

part of all American's high school experience.

Nowhere is this more true than in small-town Iowa. The

high school football season marks the end of summer,

kicks off the school year, and ushers in cool temperatures

and the holiday season. In cities throughout Iowa, high

school football is THE event on Friday nights. In the

bleachers at the high school stadium is where you will

find all segments of society, brought together by the unifying forces of children and sports. The music supplied by the marching band at these events provides the atmosphere necessarily to complete the experience.

High schools have not always been the only institutions to have their own marching bands. Many towns like Perry

and organizations within the town, such as the Elks or Moose Lodge, maintained their own bands which

performed on holidays and participated in parades.

As marching band is made up of the wind instruments and other instruments that musicians can carry including

the flute, piccolo, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, tuba, drums, and cymbals. The uniforms worn in the 18th and

19th centuries by British and French soldiers.

Over the years, intricate marching formations have developed and been perfected by high school and college bands. These formations require extensive practice and memorization not only of music, but of marching and

positioning. Electrically lighted instruments and flag teams have ben included to add to the spectacle and

festive atmosphere that marching bands add to American sporting events.

William Morris

"We should have nothing in our houses which we did not either know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." This was William Morris' response to the mass-produced factory furniture prominent in England in the mid-19th century. William Morris -- an English born, Oxford educated

writer/painter/architect -- and a group of artists and engineers

formed Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Company. Armed with 

nothing more than ideas and some contacts in the

architectural world, these men and women set about designing

and making murals, carvings, stained glass, metal work, 

wallpaper, and furnishings that would usher in the Arts and 

Crafts Movement. Also playing a strong part in the

development of this taste was the pervasiveness of Gothic

and Medieval styles, found predominantly in churches, on the 

middle class mind. Morris felt this influence strongly from the 

time he was a small boy.

Although Morris' interest in textiles began as early as the

1860s, he wouldn't begin seriously experimenting with designs and colors until the dying process was honed in the mid 1870s. At that time, weaving and designing carpets and tapestries began in earnest. Morris was adamant that "everything designed by the firm be manufactured by the firm" and this naturally applied to weavings.

Owning to his interest and talent as a writer, Morris established Kelmscott Press in 1891. In the last years of his life, this endeavor proved to be a comfort and allowed him to pursue again his youthful hobby of collecting old books and manuscripts. True to Morris' high aesthetic standards, the books were printed on linen with ink imported from Germany and bound in vellum. Morris carved the type-set blocks himself. The books never made money. As he explained himself in 1895: "I began printing books with the hope of producing some which would have a definite claim to beauty, while at the same time they should be easy to read and should not dazzle the eye, or trouble the intellect of the reader by eccentricity of form in the letters..."

This aesthetic moved across the Atlantic Ocean and by 1910 had taken up residence in the United States, influencing such masters of design as Gustav Stickley, Frank Lloyd Wright, and the brothers Greene, Charles and Henry. Its lasting affects can be seen in the furnishing of this room, from the wallpaper to the draperies. This room serves to honor and celebrate William Morris, his words and designs.

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William Morris

Barry Kemp

Barry Kemp

Most people will find Barry Kemp's credentials familiar - writer for the hit television show "Taxi," creator of "Newhart" and "Coach," owner of professional hockey team, the Long Beach Ice Dogs. Fewer people are as familiar with Barry Kemp's originals - distinctly Midwest.

Born in Hannibal, Missouri and educated at the University of

Iowa, Barry Kemp spent more than two years (1963-1965)

living in Perry and, for a short time, called the Hotel Pattee

home. In 1963, Barry's father was transferred to Perry to 

head the Oscar Mayer meat processing plant. While waiting

to move into their new home on Willis Avenue, the family took

up residence at "The Hotel" as Barry remembers it. Only 13

at the time, Barry familiarized himself with the town through

self-guided walking tours. "The hotel was very old, I 

remember there was a kind of musty smell to it. I remember

the transoms above the doors and the carpet was kind of 

flowered. It was a very old hotel," Barry remembered. "We 

ate in the Pattee Hotel at night... It was kind of cafe style and as hotels have a tendency to do there tended to be mostly older people that were there. It wasn't really frequented by businessmen or things like that downtown. It tended to be people who retired that would come in. Guys who were retired would sit in there and have coffee and talk or they would sit in the lobby and talk and it was summer and it was hot and not everything was air-conditioned but the hotel was. So I think it was a place where people could come in and get cool. It was a little bit of a gathering place from that standpoint."

During his early years in high school, Barry took part in such theater productions as "The Wizard of Oz," "Thurber Carnival," and a one-act version of "Inherit the Wind."

Barry honed his burgeoning talent into a degree in Speech and Dramatic Arts from Iowa and just six years later was writing for "Taxi." In 1981, Barry created a show for Bob Newhart called "Newhart" which earned him two Emmy nominations. Then, in 1988, Barry had another hit on his hands with "Coach" which continued to score in the Neilsen Top 10. Barry purchased the Long Beach (California) Ice Dogs, the result of a lifetime love o sports, cultivated in the Midwest.

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