Kane, Hidy stories come at right time
One of the pitfalls of working in the newspaper business is getting a little cynical from time to time.
I was heading in that direction last Saturday. Election time can do that.
Then I heard Lee Kane at the Parsons College Wall of Honor ceremony Saturday morning and met Gerald “Skeeter” Hidy Tuesday evening. They were just the “pick-me-up” I needed.
Kane earned his place on the Parsons wall of honor by overcoming a tough childhood in Fairfield during the 1940s. He was moved around from foster homes in Fairfield and Mount Pleasant before living with his sisters’ families for a couple of years before graduating from Fairfield High School in 1951. Alice Ferrell and Dorothy Schenk still live in Fairfield. Kane now lives in Urbandale.
During Saturday’s acceptance address, Kane talked about a Mr. Metz from the Western Union office and Kenneth Smith of Fairfield Flower Shop being mentors who helped him through school years. But it was sports that became his ticket to success down the road.
He earned a scholarship to Parsons to play basketball and run track. It was an opportunity for a college education he would not have had otherwise. His son, Jeff Kane, proudly introduced his father at the ceremony and talked more about sports activities influencing their lives.
A long insurance career came before teaching and coaching at Urbandale schools later in life. Then there’s an Iowa Senior Olympics Hall of Fame honor featuring 132 medals primarily for basketball shooting accuracy, published poems and various civic duties in Urbandale.
All in all, his journey took him a long way from Fairfield in the 1940s. But the foundation was laid there. Proud family members still living in the Fairfield area beamed in the audience Saturday.
In my career at the Ledger, I never crossed paths with Gerald “Skeeter” Hidy. Tuesday, Monte Humble at Fesler Auto Mall said the dealership was hosting a reception for Hidy’s Ford Model T Club Friday night. He said there might be a story there.
A quick call to Hidy led to an uplifting visit to his farm near Batavia. We took a chilly ride in his 1916 Model T. I tossed a chunk of wood his German shepherd retrieved about 30 or 40 times.
He talked about the Geri Hidy Memorial Tour rides for his Iliamo Model T Club around Fairfield this weekend. The tour was planned to observe the one-year anniversary of his wife’s death. His long white beard, wisecracking, mechanical know-how, long-time Batavia heritage and interesting collections make him one, unique character. It was hard to get in my car and head back to the Ledger.
Just about the time a newspaper guy thinks he’s heard all the stories and met all the interesting characters, it’s time to learn different. That’s fun.
Jeff Wilson is publisher of The Ledger.