Amy R. Harper - circa 1921

Amy R. Harper – circa 1921

To the other side of the family today…my maternal grandmother, Amy Ruth Harper Taylor (1903-1993).  In 1986 (at the age of 83) Grandma took a creative writing class through the local community college and wrote several short essays about her life.  What follows is “My Disastrous Date” recalling events that took place while she attended college in Cedar Falls, Iowa in the early 1920’s.

My Disastrous Date                 

By Amy R. Taylor

I had casually met this young man on one or two previous occasions, but I was rather surprised when one Sunday, after church, he asked me to go canoeing with him that evening.

Of course I agreed to go, but I could never understand why I did.  I knew nothing about a canoe and also, I was deathly afraid of any body of water, deeper than a few inches and wider than I could step across. Under those circumstances, I should have known better than to accept.

That evening, we arrived at the edge of the Cedar River, where his bright, shiny canoe waited for our journey.

I was almost beginning to enjoy the ride, when the lights of Cedar Rapids came into view, and he suggested that we anchor the craft and go to a small café nearby, for lunch…and that’s where I met my “Waterloo”.

He pulled over to the bank, jumped out and quickly moored the craft, then held out his hand to assist me.  By that time I was standing, “wobbling” this way and that, wondering how on earth I was going to get my feet on solid ground.

Finally, I stepped on the edge of the canoe, which immediately tipped sidewise, lost my balance, missed his “helping” hand and landed in a foot or more of water.  To say I was embarrassed is putting it mildly.

Of course that cancelled the trip to the café.  He quickly returned me to my dorm, where I could dry out.  Luckily I didn’t meet any of the other girls rooming there.

We had a few more dates, but never another canoe ride.  At the end of the term, he left to enter Princeton University, and I returned to my farm home in western Iowa.[i]


[i] Amy R. Taylor, Pages of “Memories”, unpublished manuscript, 1986. Privately held by Marcella Smith Garnett, 2013.

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