A Few Of My Favorite Places

The Reverb Broads are at it again! Our goal: three blog posts a week based on prompts from our fellow bloggers.

Where is your favorite place in the world? What makes it so special?
I’ve been on the planet nearly 59 years (counting womb time), and in that time, favorite places have been many and varied (starting with that cozy little womb!). At this point in my life, one of my all-time favorite places is my back porch, which is screened against bugs and has a beautiful view of the Apple River and our garden. I could ramble on about the pleasures of having my morning coffee there, enjoying a good book or a really awful one (that’s how a really nice location can affect your tolerance for bad storytelling!), watching swans take flight in the spring, and geese take naps in the waning sunlight of a fall afternoon. I could . . . but this has me remembering other favorite places.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which is the mothership of my people (the Oswald family). I didn’t get to live there long as a child, but we went back for many visits and I never lost the feeling of “coming home” when we were there. Terrace Park was just a block or so away from our grandparents’ house, and it was beautiful and exotic (although a little run-down in the 1960s), with stone steps, the terraces for which it was named, and stone pagodas built at intervals along Covell Lake. The Phillips mansion on the property served as a community center and was where we kids could learn to make leather lanyards and play board games on rainy days. In the winter, the garage behind the mansion housed lions from the zoo, and we loved to roar at them through the bars, although we couldn’t get one single adult in our family to believe they were actually there!

A view of the stone steps and terraces for which the park is named. All that stone reminded me of castles and royalty, which made for some fun games of pretend.
The stone shelters, like this one, had fallen into disrepair by the 1960s, when I used to play at the park, but they were restored to their former glory (and then some!) in the 1980s.

Many of the pagodas that had been built by the lake were vandalized or destroyed during World War II, when anti-Japanese sentiment was high. When I was little, a few still remained, and I loved their exotic beauty. New pagodas, like the one above, were added to the Japanese Garden in the 1980s.

The old movie theater in Bismarck, North Dakota. The seats were plush, the walls decorated with ornate light fixtures and velvet curtains . . . and the movies they showed could bring a young Catholic child to say three Hail Marys in gratitude for a ticket to see “Mary Poppins”. In that very special theater, I saw my father get tears in his eyes during “South Pacific” and I jumped and cheered with my very best friends when the Beatles’ “A Hard Days’ Night” came to town. The next year, we jumped and cheered in our fathers’ shirts, which we had decorated with song titles in honor of the showing of “Help!”
White Point/Royal Palms Beach in San Pedro, California. When we first moved to Lomita, California, in the late 1960s, this beach was a wild, rocky place to explore tide pools, watch surfers who braved the rocks, and see Catalina Island when conditions were right. It’s undergone a lot of changes in the years since, with a paved area for picnic tables, restrooms, and parking. But the tidepools remain the same, with star fish and sea urchins living their lives just inches beneath the surface and pelicans that make their stately flights within a few feet of visitors. I love the sound the waves make as they hit the rocks and stir the pebbles to a song like no other music.

Jason (Ozzie) was seven when he was introduced to the magic of the tide pools at White Point. We spent a delightful day exploring there, holding live starfish and provoking anemones to squirt us. Our day ended when we got drenched by a huge wave when the tide came in (Yes, it can happen that suddenly there!).
This is a photo from a trip to White Point in 1993. I am in the foreground, just behind the tide pools, relaxed because the waves are breaking far from where I was sitting!


The Canal Park in Duluth, Minnesota. Birthplace of my husband, Duluth offers many places that I love. Some of our best memories, however, were made at the Canal Park, where one can watch big ships navigate a narrow canal and head out to Lake Superior and big waters beyond. Chris taught me the trick that captivated me and which we shared with our son and his cousins. Within the Canal Park is a lift bridge that traverses the canal. When ships leave the port, a whistle sounds and counterweights lift the center portion of the bridge, which is an interesting sight in itself, but the illusion Chris taught us brought a whole other aspect to bridge watching. Once the bridge had reached the top and began to descend, Chris grabbed my arm and gestured for me to lay my head and shoulders back on the wall that borders the canal. Eyes focused on the descending bridge deck, I got a sense of falling, and as it got closer, it seemed as if it wouldn’t stop until I was pinned to the wall. It’s very exciting!

The lift bridge at sunset. My son, Jason and our two nephews, Jason and Jerome were with us.

This was taken directly under the bridge, recording the boys’ reactions after we did the “lift bridge trick”. The bridge had just been settled into place and cars had begun traveling over it again as I took the picture.