Recently I reconnected with an old business competitor and dear friend from my hometown of Ames, Iowa named Rich Weiss. He made a comment about my writing from overseas, saying, "You’ve become my personal Al Bell and I find your insights quite interesting."
When I asked, "who is Al Bell?" he replied with this:
“What do you mean "who is Al Bell?” Didn't you grow up in Iowa?
Oh! I get it! This is your way of pointing out that I am much older than you.Al Bell and his wife traveled around Iowa, visiting elementary schools, giving “assemblies” to the students on trips they had taken to exotic locations around the world. They would take a new trip each year and then spend three seasons going around, showing native items they had brought home and showing us a film about their trip. This was big stuff to Richie Weiss in Miss Frederik’s 2nd grade class in 1962.Here are links to items about Al Bell. I found the first one about 4-years ago when my son was living in Hong Kong and I told my daughter-in-law that she was my Al Bell. I hadn’t thought of him for 35-years and did a Google search. The other links here are to an assortment of stories about him from bloggers or area newspapers. He was a very colorful man who was known by virtually all small-town kids in Iowa in the 1960’s.
Did You Know Al Bell? (The comments are the best part of this one. We all remembered the same things. Mine is on page 1)
Al Bell Brought the World to Rural Iowa
Assembly Program comes to Goldfield, Iowa (column 2)
Lecturer Al Bell Bitten by Mad Dog in Alaska (bottom of the page)
Al Bell ~ An Iowa Legend
If you’ve read the links, you now understand why you’ve become Al Bell in my eyes. Your words take me to all these wondrous, mysterious locations. You let me see the sights, smell the bread, taste the coffee, meet the people and feel like I’ve been there myself. Thank you."Wow, what a compliment to be mentioned in such august company as this distinguished gentleman who shared his travels with rural Iowa farm kids. Just reading the comments on link one, it shows the journey communication has taken in one lifetime. While the ease with which we find out information about points unknown has changed, what hasn't changed, is our own awe and wonder at the diversity of the world and our love of seeing beyond what we know to places unknown.
Readers, did you experience an Al Bell or someone like him? Who made you wonder about parts unknown as a child? Who makes you wonder about parts unknown as an adult?
You might enjoy these other posts about Iowa:
Talking About "My People," Iowans, to the Travel Junkies
Enjoying Hometown Friends in Istanbul
Dvorak Embraced Spillville, Iowa; Spillville, Iowa Embraced Dvorak
UNESCO Names Iowa City, Iowa a 'City of Literature'
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