Picture with me if you will the year 1907, in a small rural farming town of Winterset Iowa. Forty Two minuets from the capital city of Des Moines Iowa, the population of Winterset was at that time around 3,039 residents in the town.But who would have ever guessed that the living legend larger then life american hero would come from such small upbringing?He was born Marion Robert Morrison on May 26, 1907, the son of Clyde and Mary Brown Morrison.
His father Clyde was a pharmacist who worked on the south side of Wintersets town square. In his youth, Clyde attended nearby Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. John Wayne described his father as “the kindest, most patient man I ever knew.”Wayne’s mother Mary was of Irish descent, and Duke said “she was a tiny, vivacious red-headed bundle of energy.”Step back in time and picture the life of a young midwestern boy and his family near the turn of the century. This modest four-room home has been restored to reflect its appearance in 1907, the year of Duke’s birth. An impressive collection of John Wayne memorabilia includes unique items such as the eye patch worn in the movie True Grit, a hat worn in Rio Lobo, and a prop suitcase used in the film Stagecoach. Hundreds of rare photographs of Duke are on display as well as letters from such notable stars within there own right most of which were friends of Dukes’s including Lucille Ball, Gene Autry, Maureen O’Hara, Jimmy Stewart, Kirk Douglas, Bob Hope, Ronald Reagan and George Burns.
Since its opening, the childhood home of John Wayne has been visited by over one million people, including many celebrities and dignitaries. On November 3, 1984, President Ronald Reagan commented that” the John Wayne Birthplace is an inspiring tribute to a good friend and a great American.” But in reality it is much more then that. It is a chance to see a glimpse in Duke’s life that we the fans have maybe only heard about or even read about in fan magazines or even in books.But why would the writer of this blog be advertising the birthplace to already a huge Duke Fan Base? most of which may already know or even some of us have visited before? For the chance to revisit the birthplace look at in a new light, a way that we have or may not have noticed. I for one try and visit there at least once a year if I can and each time a tear swells up in my eyes as I picture young Marion running around the front lawn.