Saturday September 2, 2023 Cedar Falls, Iowa

Downtown Cedar Falls
Downtown Cedar Falls
Starbeck’s Restaurant

This morning we joined Jenifer for breakfast at a local greasy spoon restaurant called J’s Homestyle Cooking. The diner had an eclectic crowd of folks from college kids to the elderly and everything in between. They served all types of eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, pancakes, omelets and more.

After breakfast we returned to our guest room at Jenifer’s complex for a little rest before heading to downtown Cedar Falls. The main downtown shopping district has been beautifully renovated with wide sidewalks, lush trees and landscaping and the store fronts appear to mostly be occupied. You can find hair salons, restaurants, a vintage hotel from 1910, coffee shops, popcorn, a theater, jewelry shops, banks and more.

We meandered the shops munching on Reese’s peanut butter cup popcorn in 96-degree weather. For lunch we ventured into a Mexican restaurant where we enjoyed chips and guacamole, tacos, enchiladas and chimichangas. After lunch we continued our stroll down the other side of the avenue stopping in many shops to take advantage of the air conditioning.

By mid-afternoon we visited the James and Meryl Hearst Center for the Arts. They currently have an exhibit of the Thursday Painters of Cedar Falls who meet every Thursday to support each other’s art pursuits. The exhibit included watercolors, acrylics, oils and ceramics. The Thursday Painters have been gathering for 75 years this year so it was only appropriate that they honor the longevity of the group. Some of the painters are very accomplished while others may only be beginners.

James Schell Hearst ,whom the Center is named after, was a native Iowan who at the age of 19 had a swimming accident that paralyzed him from the neck down. After two years of physiotherapy James was able to regain the use of his arms. James began reading many books and began writing poetry and stories during the winter months when he was not assisting his family with the family farm business. In his mid-twenties he was published and paid for his writings. This encouraged him to continue his writing. Over his lifetime he would go on to write over 600 poems, mostly a realistic picture of life on an Iowa farm. He wrote 12 books of poetry, several books of prose and an autobiography. His work appeared in hundreds of periodicals, including the New York Times, Saturday Evening Post and Ladies’ Home Journal.

For dinner we ate at a local barbecue restaurant called Starbeck’s. They have great ribs, pulled pork, burgers and more. The décor of the restaurant both inside and out is very eclectic with old road signs, neon business signs, vintage farm equipment, etc.