Tag Archives: Des Moines history

Saying goodbye to 715

The Des Moines Register is moving out of its big, flagship building on 715 Locust down the street to Capitol Square. I can understand the need for the move, but I am prone to nostalgia.

Even though I only worked at The Register for about three and a half years, it will always have a huge place in my heart. It was the magnet that drew me to Des Moines in the first place, my first job and it’s where I met Joe*.

It’s not just like the building is significant only to me. It’s where dozens of Presidential hopefuls have come seeking endorsements, where reporters have captured decades of history, where RAGBRAI gets planned and thousands of other things to other people. I imagine our house ancestor, Sec Taylor, walked through the same doors we did.


A page from the 1929 Register and Tribune Promotional Book, featuring Sec! Joe and I are talking about turning our spare bedroom into a mini Sec Taylor museum, after we finish the nursery.

The Register is sharing some of this history in fun, interactive ways, and the massive globe from the front lobby is going to make its way to the State Historical Museum, where our neighbor Leo is the new curator!


*Did I ever share the story of how Joe and I met? Maybe not, because I know I come off as a creep.


One of our fun engagement photos

We sort of met at an employee benefits meeting – you know, where they tell you about health insurance plans and whatnot. I still remember that I was wearing a yellow and black polka-dot shirt. I read all of the nameplates of the people who were supposed to be at the meeting, and was amused by the name Joe Jayjack. The letter J is one of my favorites to write. I secretly hoped he’d be a dashing guy about my age – but what were the odds?

Joe used to work late at night designing pages, and he moseyed late into the meeting after having overslept. I was instantly smitten, but Joe has pretty much zero recollection of me. We worked on separate floors, and I would find reasons to walk past his desk for the next few months, and asked Cara’s husband to fill me in on whether or not he was cool, because they sat near each other in the newsroom.

Joe’s more reserved with strangers (although I think that’s definitely changing), so it took awhile for us to connect  me to figure out how to invite him to a party. Turns out, his personality was just as awesome as I’d hoped, based on his black frame glasses, pearl-button shirts and shy smile. I had no idea in that benefits meeting that I’d be semi-introduced to my best friend/lifemate, and I know that story sounds borderline stalkerish of me, but I like to think I just have a trusty radar.

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Filed under I love Des Moines

House history in a Younkers box

Our backyard neighbors were doing some cleaning and came across a Younkers box full of clippings and letters from our “house ancestors” the other week, so they literally passed it over the fence for us to check out. I don’t think “house ancestor” is a real term, but that’s how I like to think of Sec Taylor and his wife, who I’m pretty sure was named Hazel. It also helps justify my curiosity as I went through the letters, articles and photographs.

Scan from the Des Moines Register archives

Joe and I have known about the Taylor connection since we first spotted the house on Zillow in 2009. Sec Taylor was a longtime sports editor at The Des Moines Register and Des Moines’ Iowa Cubs stadium was originally named after him, so he was a local celebrity about town, especially in the first half of the 20th century. Having a kind of house ancestry is one of the reasons I fell in love with our home in the first place, in addition to its cuteness, built-ins and our location on a leafy central Des Moines boulevard. We found a few photos of Sec in the Register’s archives when we worked there, and did a tiny bit of research on him and his work at the Des Moines Public Library. (They have some great local history info online.)

The box contained some mundane but fascinating correspondence among Sec’s siblings about what to do with a farm in Kansas that their father had passed on without a will (and under which there was the possibility of an oil strike), and fun surprises, like a photo of Sec Taylor and some Milwaukee Braves players, one of whom happens to be Hank Aaron. Or so thinks Joe, because I have no idea.

There were also clippings from Helen Hazel Rex’s society page writings for (we think) the newspaper in St. Joseph, Missouri. “Will you stand for a bit of scandal? I’ll try you one…” It’s funny stuff I can’t believe she got away with writing in such a small city. She would have been one snarky blogger.

The box also contained some glamour shots of Miss America, 1954, and photos of Sec at various hob-nobby looking functions with people holding an Oscar and in front of a model horse track. I think the Braves photo will go in a frame near our Iowa Cubs art, but I’m not sure what we’ll do with the rest of it. We’ll have to talk to Leo, our next-door neighbor who is curator for the Salisbury House!

Do any of you know the stories of your home’s ancestors?

Baseball photo update from Leo: ‎”44 is definitely Hammerin’ Hank. 21 is Hall of Famer Warren Spahn, 41 is HoFer Eddie Matthews, and only player to play for Boston Braves, Milwaukee Braves and Atlanta Braves. Pretty sure Frank Torre is on the left, possibly is 1957 or 1958 World Series.” I’ll tell you, having a museum curator/bacon expert as a next-door neighbor never fails me. Thanks, Leo!


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