Edward J. Meyer
Posted By: Errin Wilker (email)
Date: 2/19/2013 at 21:21:11
New Albin News - by Mrs. Walt Breeser
Ed J. Meyer Makes Trip to Alaska at Age 89
Ed J. Meyer, 89, of New Albin, made a trip to Alaska recently. He flew to Anchorage and visited a friend, Evelyn Skadsem, and toured that city. He also took in the sights at Mt. Alyaska and the Kenai Peninsula. On day 3 he went downtown in Anchorage and visited factories and museums. On day 4 he saw Matanuska Valley farming and a view of Mt. McKinley. On day 5 he took an early morning wilderness tour of Mt. McKinley, arriving late at a Fairbanks hotel. On day 6 at 9 a.m. he took a tour aboard the Discovery boat on the Tanana and Chena Rivers. On day 7 he left Fairbanks with stops at North Pole, Santa Claus Village and an Eskimo village. He lunched at Delta Jct. and visited husky kennels. On day 8 he viewed Tok visitor’s center, Alaska, and the Yukon border. He traveled the Alaska Highway to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory. On day 9 in the morning he left Whitehorse on a narrow gauge railway Trail of 98. He lunched at Lake Bennett. He arrived in Skagway at 7 p.m. and boarded the Matanuska. Staterooms were assigned. On day 10 he cruised. On day 11 he went through the inside passage with stops at several ports and he arrived in Prince Rupert. On day 12 he saw the Canadian Rockies. On day 13 he motored southward to beautiful Banff, where they had lunch and saw Lake Louise. He arrived in Calgary late. On day 14 he saw local sights. On day 15 he traveled eastward and saw oil wells near Medicine Hat in Alberta. He arrived late at a hotel in Regina, Saskatchewan. On day 16 he left Regina and saw crops that looked good. He crossed the border near Estevan and lunched at Minot, N.D. He toured that prairie state and arrived in Moorehead, Minn. On day 17 he left early and had a coffee break in Alexandria, MN. He arrived in Minneapolis at noon and got to La Crosse at 4 p.m.
~Allamakee Journal, Lansing, IA, Hand-Dated 1981
At Age 90 … He’s a Traveling Man, and He’s Been in All the States
For Ed J. Meyer of New Albin, 1982 has already been a memorable year in more ways than one. A confirmed travel buff, Ed recently returned from a trip east where he set foot on Delaware soil to complete an itinerary spanning all 50 United States in over 30 years of hitting the road.
The other milestone was reached in February, when Meyer turned 90. All of his trips have been solos since his wife of 63 years, Lucy, died five years ago.
“I felt the same as always,” Ed said of his jaunt to Delaware which completed his U.S. stopover list. “I had a hard time making it there, because no tours were going to that state.”
It was Meyer’s grandson; Dr. Philip Meyer of Philadelphia, PA, who made sure grandad got to the Diamond State, but that trip won’t be the last if Ed can help it.
Already he’s anticipating a journey to the 1982 World’s Fair, slated for Knoxville, TN, this summer. Ed’s departing from New Albin, alone, May 30. “I just like to see different places, and see how different people live,” Ed said of his travels. “But to tell you the truth of it, there’s no place like home. I’m always glad to get back.”
Ed has lived in New Albin his entire life, from 1892 on, and claims his memory is so good he can recall events from his second year on. He says he began working for his father in the family meat market when he was seven years old. Meyer kept that up for another 20 years, before setting up a general store where the present IGA stands in New Albin.
Ed remained in business for 50 years, “never really retiring,” until selling out completely to son-in-law Pete Hartley in 1972.
There are many marks of stability in Meyer’s life. For instance, he has lived in the same house since his marriage in 1914. His mother-in-law gave the newlyweds some pole beans to plant in their new garden that year, and Ed’s been saving seed religiously over the years. “I’ve been planting the same damn beans in the same place all these years,” he laughed.
One of Meyer’s pet projects over the years has been recording the annual rise and fall of the nearby Mississippi river. The high-water mark in his memory dates back to April 23, 1965, when the river stage stood at 22’6”.
Nowdays, Ed spends his days in New Albin “visiting, mostly” and helping some neighbors tend his garden. For a person of 90, he’s remarkably self-sufficient. As he notes: “I do everything…the cooking, the washing, the preserving.”
Despite all his globe-trotting, Ed says that “when everything gets in bloom here, we have just as nice a scenery as any place; it’s just not commercialized.” “I could take you to a balancing rock, show you sand dunes, cliffs and nice caves,” Ed said of his native region. “But no one around here pays much attention to it.”
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
But when the urge strikes, Ed sets off for points unknown, although there are few places he hasn’t seen at least once.
A regular talking travel guide, Ed listed as his favorite trips over the years tours to the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, Key West, Florida and the Tennessee River valley. In the early years, Ed and Lucy went everywhere by car. “I’d do all the driving, and she’d keep an eye out for motels,” he said. An example of a “short trip” taken by the Meyers in 1953, included stops at International Falls, MN, Lake Winnipeg, Canada, back to the headwaters of the Mississippi near Grand Rapids, MN, and back on home.
More recently, Meyer has taken to joining travel tours. A couple he rated highly were a trip to the Holy Land in 1978, and one to Alaska last year.
A stopover in Rome proved interesting for Meyer, with a chance to visit the Vatican. “The main cathedral at the Vatican must be 12 times bigger than our church here in New Albin,” he said. Ed attended the Catholic church in New Albin for over 30 years before becoming a member.
Ed recalls the catacombs of Rome as “spooky damn things. You go in, and the walls are only this far apart,” he said, spreading his hands about three feet apart. “People are buried in the walls right beside you. And to think people used to live there when the Christians were being persecuted.”
A stop at the Israeli port of Haifa reminded Ed of the only time he’s been guarded: “It was near Lebanon (and there was fighting going on). They had guards at the gates of the hotel so no one could come in and get us.” He was denied a chance to see a local point of interest there, because a bus had been firebombed shortly before, with guides wishing for no more repeats.
Another thing Ed found intriguing about the Holy Land was a visit to the mosque of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem: “They had a big rock in there with a footprint in it. They said it was Jesus’ footprint.” Muslims also believe the footprint may have been that of Adam or Mohammed.
The highlight of his Alaska trip was being there during the longest day of the year. “The sun set at 11:30 that night,” he recalled. “We walked around for a while, ate some ice cream, and looked at our watches. It was two in the morning, but still light enough to see. I went to bed about three, and got up at six. Some of the younger people were exhausted the next day, and it took me a while to get used to it, too,” he chuckled.
Ed prefers simple souvenirs of his travels, chiefly pictures and natural objects such as rocks. “When I was in Hawaii, they told us we weren’t supposed to pick anything up and bring it back, but they wanted five dollars for all these small rocks, so I just went out to the beach and picked some up,” he smiled.
His long life has been something of a surprise to Ed. “I didn’t think I’d make it to 60,” he said. “I’ve lived here for 90 years, and there has been only one man who was over 100, and he died in 1903.” Ed says he doubts if he will live another 10 years.
That doesn’t stop the travel planning, however. Ed hopes to get over to Europe sometime in the next year or so. And then, there is that trip to the World’s Fair this summer. Going to a World’s Fair won’t be a novel experience for Ed. He visited the 1933 fair in Chicago.
~Source: Waukon Republican-Standard, Waukon, IA, 29 April 1982 (the photo was with this article)
~Ed died 21 Feb. 1983 and is buried at St. Joseph's in New Albin.
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