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Re(love)utionary background

 

Rick's great-great-great-great-great grandfather fought in the Revolutionary war. On the right side. So did that grandpa's father (add another great). There's a decent chance Rick is also related to Benedict Arnold, who fought on the wrong side, since Rick's maternal grandmother was an Arnold and her ancestors can be traced back that far, too. Perhaps this is why Rick always seems able to see both sides of an issue (with a few notable exceptions).

Moving along the time line of history to those relatives Rick actually grew up with, his father's parents were from Wisconsin and lived on a small hard scrabble farm near Delavan. Grandpa Stewart had to help make ends meet by working as a traveling salesman – think Music Man. Grandma Stewart taught at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf, where her father was the Superintendent. Unfortunately he was also the philandering type and, after running away with one of his paramours, his wife committed suicide. This part of the story was never told to Rick until the family thought he was 'old enough to know,' when he was 58.

On the maternal side Rick's grandparents lived in Keokuk, where Grandpa Merriam ran the hardware store he inherited from his father. You can still see the words G.W. Merriam painted on the side of the wall, right on Main Street. Grandma Merriam was a housewife and wore the pants in the family. During WWII they lived briefly in Ottumwa, where they were neighbors with Richard and Pat Nixon.

Rick's parents Bill and Helen met while both were students at Iowa State University. Helen saw stars in the skies and dropped out of her PhD program to follow Bill to his first teaching job (Vocational Agriculture) in Pella, but not before she acquired her Masters Degree in chemistry. A few years (and one child - Andy) later Bill got a job in Postville, and shortly thereafter boy number two arrived on the scene. On August 3, 1951, to be precise, while Bill was picking sweet corn, Helen pushed Rick out into the world.

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