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A Step Back in Time


Fri, Mar 2nd, 2001
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Monday, February 19, 2000

The elderly lady behind the counter says, "Here are your tickets. You must go upstairs now and when you hear the bell, you must come down and begin the tour. No one is allowed into the Clock Museum without a tour guide."

Upstairs in this large old brick house is a museum commemorating the Czech composer Antonin Dvorak, who spent the summer here with his family in 1893. He had been away from Czechoslovakia for a year working as director of the New York Conservatory of Music and was homesick for his countrymen. A friend told him about the Czech village of Spillville, Iowa and this house, which he could rent.

Spillville is about 35 miles southwest of Mabel. Joseph Spielman, a German immigrant, founded it as Spielville in 1854. Today, the town is smaller than it once was. It has only one restaurant/bar, a biker hangout, where my husband and I have just had cheeseburgers, tater-tots and beer. It has one small grocery store and a public square with a bandstand built in honor of World War II veterans. St. Wenceslaus Church, built in 1860, towers over the town. Dvorak played the pipe organ in this church every day at Mass during his stay in Spillville.

Most mornings, Dvorak, a nature lover, rose before dawn and walked along the Turkey River on the east edge of town where he watched and listened to the birds. As he walked, he jotted down musical notes on his shirt cuffs. He incorporated the song of a scarlet tanager into music he wrote here and also used some of the music he heard at a nearby Indian encampment. While in Spillville, he found the inspiration for "Humoresque," did final work on his "New World Symphony," wrote his "American Quartet" and one quintet.

Before Dvorak's arrival, the town, which had a small orchestra, was already musically inclined. In 1893, using the manuscript score, three of the town's musicians and Dvorak, played the premier performance of the "American Quartet."

Later, the Bily brothers carved a clock in the shape of a violin as a memorial to Dvorak. I wonder what influence the composer had on the brothers, who were young boys during that summer of 1893. Frank and

Joseph Bily grew up and lived their adult lives on a farm near Spillville. Neither of the brothers ever married. In 1913, they developed their hobby of woodcarving to fill the hours of long winter days. In 1916, they completed the Apostle Clock, from which the Twelve Apostles appear on the hour. .....
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Beneath Tropical Seas

Fri, Mar 2nd, 2001
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Monday, February 5, 2001

Waves roll in and then recede, as the ocean endlessly caresses this lonely tropical shore. Shallow, crystal clear and deliciously warm are the waters of the all-encompassing sea. The white sand beach is deserted, polis ..... 
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Escape from America

Fri, Mar 2nd, 2001
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Monday, December 11, 2000

I guess Iím a snowbird at heart because every year about this time, once the temperature dips below zero and looks like itís going to stay there awhile, I start yearning to go south. Way south. All the way down to Ecu ..... 
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Pigs I have known

Fri, Mar 2nd, 2001
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Monday, February 26, 2001

I recently had the privilege of addressing the Fillmore County Pork Producers at their annual banquet. As a group they were very prompt, very polite, and I felt a little bad about keeping some of them up so late. Earl ..... 
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What island are you from?

Fri, Mar 2nd, 2001
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Monday, March 5, 2001

In the movie Cast Away, Tom Hanks, who plays a Type-A executive from Federal Express, finds himself alone on a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific after surviving a horrific plane crash.

It takes a ..... 
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Fri, Mar 2nd, 2001
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Fri, Mar 2nd, 2001
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Submit a Letter to the Editor here

Fri, Mar 2nd, 2001
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To the Editor,
Monday, March 5, 2001

I enjoyed Nancy Overcottís interesting article about the little town of Spillville.

I remember in the 1920ís when we stopped at the farm to see the Bily clocks. Showing the clocks were tw ..... 
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Henry Ulring

Fri, Mar 2nd, 2001
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Henry Ulring, 93, of Chatfield, retired manager of the Chatfield Creamery, died Tuesday, January 2, 2001, at Chosen Valley Care Center in Chatfield where he had resided since August 1998.

He was born March 14, 1907, in Webster, MN. On Sept. ..... 
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