While David Burrow was born in Illinois and spent two years of his childhood in Michigan, he spent most of his youth in Mount Pleasant, a small industrial city in the rolling hills of southeast Iowa. He fondly remembers the historic homes and commercial buildings in the town, the hills and the wooded countryside, and the spectacular Mississippi River, which was just a half-hour drive from his home.
The Burrows lived in a split-level suburban-style split-level home in a quiet middle class neighborhood in the southeast part of Mt. Pleasant. The three-bedroom house was large by the standards of its day, but it has been greatly expanded since the Burrow family moved away. The corner lot had a large yard with a terraced flower garden in front and a vegetable garden in back. Amusingly, the phone number that the Burrows had when he was growing up (319-385-4844) now belongs to a company that provides home health care and psychiatric services.
The house was full of stairs, which was a problem for Mr. Burrow's arthritic mother. The bedrooms were over a large garage, which the Burrows divided to create a family room. On the main floor was a large living room that was separated from the entryway by a bookshelf and couch. There was a formal dining area that the family rarely used. Instead they ate in a corner of the kitchen that later doubled as a laundry room. There was also a large and mostly unfinished basement that frequently flooded and served as a pantry and storage area. There was additional storage in an attic that could only be accessed through a hatch in the ceiling by the upstairs bathroom.
Every room in the house bore Betty Burrow's decorative touch, and the decor was very much of its era. Most of the rooms featured fall colors and an early American motif with lots of natural wood and faux brick. The appliances were coppertone or avocado, and they even had an avocado phone on the wall of the kitchen. Assorted knick-knacks from the family's travels and Betty's many penpals filled every corner of the home. Intentional or not, the decorations in Mr. Burrow's home as an adult look a lot like those in the home where he grew up.
In stark contrast to the rest of the house was the family room, which Betty had whimsically decorated in a Halloween-like orange and black color scheme with dark wood accents and weapons hanging on the walls. Far from being "homey", David Burrow always found the family room cold and unfriendly--unlike the rest of the house which enormous picture windows made bright and welcoming.
The Burrow family attended First United Methodist Church, where they always went to the early (8am) service. They sat near the front, because George Burrow had trouble hearing. In her later years Betty Burrow was unable to attend church because of the numerous stairs in the building, and a memorial money from her funeral was given to installing an elevator in the building. In addition to services, Mr. Burrow fondly remembers events such as the CROP Walk and going caroling at Christmas. However, he absolutely hated Sunday school and Methodist Youth Fellowship, which his parents made him attend.
Mr. Burrow was quite inept socially and very much a loner all through school. He was smart, he was bad at sports, and he never dated much--three automatic strikes in the world of a schoolboy in the '70s. The self-proclaimed "studs" of the school picked on him mercilessly, particularly in junior high. While he loved learning and was always a bright student, he hated going to school because of the constant verbal abuse.
Things came to a head his sophomore year in high school, when a bullying classmate challenged him to a fight. He didn't back down, and in fact Mr. Burrow surprised both himself and the onlookers by drawing blood and knocking the other boy down. While it may not have been the most morally correct thing to do, fighting and winning worked wonders. Things got better after that, and by the time he was a senior school was actually something he enjoyed. (Click here for high school yearbook photos.)
LEFT: David Burrow and his brothers with a bike in Olivet, Michigan
RIGHT: Steve and David Burrow with a Fred Flintstone punching bag on their front porch in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
21st Century view of 307 E. Green in Mt. Pleasant from Google Maps
The town square in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa features a steam engine from the Midwest Old Settlers and Threshers Reunion.
David Burrow on his brother Paul's shoulders
Links to other sites on the Web
NEXT (School Days)
Midwest Old Settlers & Threshers Reunion (Mt. Pleasant, IA)
Iowa Wesleyan University (formerly College - Mt. Pleasant, IA)
First United Methodist Church - Mt. Pleasant
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