a friend, whose style i like, told me i should visit sisters' garden and bloom, side-by-side shops
in nearby kalona.
so that's where we went on our road trip
wow. i fell in love. repeatedly.
unlike anthro, sisters allows photos.
click on them for a better view.
here's the porch:
i looked around for a minute,
and knew immediately i was in a place
like no other in our area.
the creativity of barb, the owner,
is absolutely endless.
one of the sights that greets you inside the door.
umbrellas co-exist with architectural salvage.
one example of barb's wonderful sense of
restraint, as she layers texture, shapes and color.
these gorgeous, vintage-inspired wrapping papers
are used here as ceiling decor.
who knew a brass chandelier could look so chic and modern?
one of my favorite corners of the store,
with circles repeated in the clocks, paper balls, candles--
the gorgeous berry color just makes you smile.
surprises like this await you at every turn.
a gorgeous monet-like painting on a stair landing.
roy called this the "obama chandelier"--
thought it was reflective of the economy.
be sure to click on pic and look at it up close.
this incredible mosaic follows you up the stairs.
vintage mirrors hang along the stairs too.
i really, really want this display case.
the yard is a store unto itself, with doors, windows,
urns, metal furniture, yard ornaments, all laid
out with barb's wit and artistry.
close-up of some salvaged treasures.
adorable matching bird paintings--brilliant red
amidst white textures.
another fascinating wall treatment: buttons and bits,
underscored by a handwritten french composition.
the selection of chandeliers runs the gamut
from old to new to invented.
vintage lab bottles line a shelf.
the masking tape trail left on the sign
is yet another character-adding touch.
totally 100% in love with these.
they're haunting me.
a cheery, seasonal and soothing tabletop arrangement.
a multi-layered view to the porch
from the other side of the arrangement above.
this incredible tree was ripped apart last summer
by a tornado. barb told us before that happened,
it looked like a giant gargoyle.
the stores occupy two delightful cottages,
one of which was the home
of two sisters for many years.
barb honored their story
by naming the shop for them.
the day we visited, the store was full
of shoppers, many of them repeat customers.
in any direction, your eye lands on a treasure
or a surprise, layer after layer.
it's urban country style.
it's better than anthropolgie, since it's one of a kind,
not made in china, and the prices are great.
(sorry anthro...i love you but i don't always like you)
and sisters has been around since 1994.
both houses have upstairs spaces.
you'll find a gift for anyone here.
it's a must for that hard-to-shop-for friend.
find children's books, toys, soaps,
jewelry, perfume, candles,
flora, antiques, cards, cupboards,
vintage farm furniture, signs,
and...as it says on the business card:
of course i won't let you go without
showing you what i brought home.
not shown: the divine lilac soap.
if only macdear had a scratch-n-sniff app.
His parents both immigrated from Ireland and settled in New Haven.
He was a unique character.
He was funny, athletic, handsome, smart, and really sweet.
He died in 2003.
Here's a story about him from the local paper.
It tells you a lot about him.
By DOUGLAS BURNS Times Herald Staff Writer Tom Sheehan, a player-manager for the only professional sports enterprise in the history of Carroll, the baseball Merchants of the early 1950s, is one of those rare people who seemingly enjoyed universal respect, friends and associates say.
“The essence of Tom Sheehan was that he liked people and people liked Tom,” said James B. Wilson, publisher of the Daily Times Herald and a close Sheehan friend.
After a long bout with Alzheimer’s Disease, Sheehan, 80, passed away in the early morning hours of The Fourth of July, a fitting departure date for this product of the Greatest Generation, a man who served in World War II, came back and played baseball both at the college level and professionally and then, as a salesman, helped build Farner-Bocken into a
regional distribution powerhouse.
Mr. Sheehan was born on August 13, 1922, at New Haven, Conn., the son of Thomas and Bridget (Cull) Sheehan, Sr. An Irishman with more than a little touch of superstition, he always told people his birthday was Aug. 12 because he never wanted to mark a year’s passing on a dreaded Friday the 13th. He graduated from Hillhouse High School in New Haven with a scrapbook of newspaper clippings attesting to his athletic achievements and then attended the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. He entered the U.S. Navy in 1943 and served during World War II in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater. He was honorably discharged in 1946 and returned to Notre Dame and graduated in 1947.
Tom, Notre Dame graduation 1947
At Notre Dame he was an All-American Baseball Player and team captain, as well as a member of the basketball team. “Tom was really a hero at Notre Dame,” said Fred Dolezal, a Carroll insurance man who also graduated from that prestigious university. “That was in an era when the boys were coming back from the Second World War. That was a golden era for Notre Dame sports.” In fact, Notre Dame baseball mentor Jake Kline said in the early 1940s that Sheehan was the best college catcher in the nation. “Three major league clubs want him but they won’t touch him until after the war,” Kline told an East Coast reporter. “The boy’s not only a great catcher but a good hitter. He hit a homer against Great Lakes in the spring and I’m sure he’ll make the grade if he ever goes into professional ball.”
Tom and Jake Kline, Notre Dame c. 1947
Tom Sheehan did in fact sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates before being lured, remarkably, considering today’s Major League Baseball salaries, by more money in Carroll.
Dolezal, who spoke earlier this week at a prayer service, says Sheehan’s name is featured prominently at Notre Dame landmarks. While in South Bend, Sheehan developed lasting friendships with some Fighting Irish legends. He roomed with Johnny Lujack, the Heisman Trophy-winning running back who went on to play for George Halas’ Chicago Bears. Now living in Arizona, Lujack called the Sheehan family this week to offer condolences on the death of his college chum. “A lot of Tom’s stories had to do with Notre Dame,” said Dolezal, whose own son, Tim, a Kuemper Catholic High School graduate, was Notre Dame’s valedictorian. “I know some of you got tired of the Notre Dame stories but obviously I didn’t. I enjoyed them all.”
In 1950, Sheehan was hired to be the catcher/manager of the Carroll Merchants semi-pro baseball team. Carroll played in the Iowa State League, a circuit that enjoyed success in the early 1950s before television dominated leisure time. And in this league Sheehan was the star. Former Carroll Daily Times Herald sports editor Howard Brantz wrote in a column that fans from area teams went after Sheehan in much the same way they now taunt Major League players who bat .359 — as Sheehan did in 1950 for the Merchants when the team won the league pennant. “The Carroll manager is our candidate for the best drawing card in the league,” Brantz wrote. “You ought to hear the fans in opponents’ parks. It sounds more like they come out to ride Sheehan than see the game. That’s no alibi for Sheehan or the Merchants. In fact, Tom laughs about the fans getting on him.” Sheehan told Brantz, “When the fans are on me they give the umpire and other players a rest.”
It is that sort of self-deprecating remark that friends say revealed much about Sheehan’s character. “As many of you know from his obituary Tom had a remarkable athletic career before he arrived in Carroll as manager of the Carroll Merchants baseball team,” Wilson said. “But he never seemed to crave attention because of his exploits nor boast of his accomplishments at Notre Dame or later. He could tell stories for hours about his days in athletics, but they were almost always about others, not about himself.”
Very simply, Sheehan was a modest man. Wilson recalled taking a plane into Chicago a number of years ago and boarding a bus for downtown. Wilson found himself across the aisle from George Connor, the legendary Notre Dame all-American tackle, Chicago Bear and member of the National Football League Hall of Fame. “He was returning to Chicago from New Jersey where he had done color commentary for the Notre Dame-Rutgers football game the day before,” Wilson said. “We started visiting and when I said I was from Carroll, Iowa, he immediately asked me if I knew Tom Sheehan. Connor related several stories about Tom at Notre Dame and I filled him in on his life in Carroll, both enjoying hearing the other talk about our friend Tom.” Wilson said he and Connor could have sat in those two seats telling Sheehan stories all day. “As we left the bus Connor’s final comment was, ‘Tom was a really good guy and a darned good athlete to boot,’” Wilson said.
For Sheehan, sports proved to be an arena for forming life-long friendships.
It’s also how a 50-year marriage started. Sheehan’s wife, Betty, a Nevada native and the long-time former Carroll County Recorder, met Tom while she was working as a clerk for the City of Ames.
"I went to a baseball game at Clear Lake, and this ballplayer saw me and said, ‘Hey! Who’s that good-looking chick over there? I’ve got to meet her,” Betty recalled with her usual dry wit, in a 1992 interview with Times Herald reporter
Butch Heman after her retirement from the Courthouse.
Tom was married to Betty on Oct.10, 1953, at Nevada.
The couple then made their home in Carroll and Mr. Sheehan was a
salesman for the Farner-Bocken Co., from that date until his
retirement on Jan. 1, 1992.
During those years, Sheehan, the father of two children, Dan and
Kitty, was a frequent contender in local golf tournaments, and was
always a supporter of local youth sports.
Dolezal recalled asking Sheehan for advice before church at St.
Lawrence one day. Dolezal wanted to know how to work with a Little
League catcher who couldn’t pull balls from the dirt.
Sheehan — always the catcher at heart — said he would help, and
clearly spent some or all of the Mass thinking about the problem. He
found Dolezal after church and said, “Instead of getting on that
catcher, you should teach that pitcher not to throw the ball in the
Dolezal, Wilson and others say Sheehan was a rarity, a star athlete
and raconteur also known for his humility.
Former Daily Times Herald Sports Editor Dennis O’Grady, a
living archive of local athletics, said this week that Sheehan was one
of the more impressive sports figures and people in the rich history
of Carroll athletics.
“He was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut, goes to Notre Dame,
and ends up in Carroll, Iowa, by way of semi-pro baseball and then
decides to stay here,” O’Grady said. “That’s sort of neat. Obviously,
he fell in love with Carroll, and vice-versa.”
My family 1958
I miss him a lot this time of
year, when everybody wants to be Irish.
I don't remember him ever being
mad at me, even when I deserved it.
The only time he was ever stern
with me was when I wanted to quit college. He listened to me wailing on the phone,
and said, "well, ok, get back to work now."
So I did.
Some things the newspaper story
doesn't tell you:
He used to make up stories full
of characters with nonsensical, double talk names.
He loved it when we jumped into
his bed on Sunday mornings and he'd read the paper to us and tell us stories
and play with us.
He taught me how to play golf.
He knew tons of poems by heart
and taught them to me.
His favorite was "Sea Fever"
by John Masefield.
He loved music, and played it
all the time when he was driving.
He sang along with the Carpenters
and Barbara Streisand but usually sang the wrong words. He didn’t care though.
He bought me 45 rpm records
every week, but I think it was so he could listen to them.
He loved "Georgie Girl." I think that was the first record he bought me.
He also loved "Downtown"
and "Band of Gold."
He used to stand in the doorway
of my bedroom when I was in high school, and he'd listen to my music. Sometimes,
as in the case of Bob Dylan, he'd say, "Who told that guy he could
He gave everyone nicknames, and
they had them for life.
He loved his cats, Lenny and Gracie.
He kept a brush by his chair so he could brush them whenever they'd let him. He
talked to them all day.
He talked about his brothers a
lot. He had two, also accomplished athletes.
And he talked about the war.
His only son, my brother Dan, died at age 22. He
never got over that.
Just thought i'd tell you about
him as St. Pat's day rolls around.
My best bit of Irish luck was to
have him as my dad.