Skip to main content
The largest online newspaper archive
A Publisher Extra® Newspaper

The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa • Page 10

Des Moines, Iowa
Issue Date:
Extracted Article Text (OCR)

Six months of dead ends in Johnny Gosch search Chuck Wood and West Des Moines Detective Sgt. Lyle McKinney, who have coordinated the investigation, is that the many searches have produced nothing. If there was a body to be found, by this time something likely would have turned up. The National Unidentified Dead file, organized and maintained by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation at Denver, has 766 entries from 43 states. Three of the entries are from Iowa; one from Clinton, another from Rock Rapids, the third from Des GOSCH Please turn to Page 8B of Criminal Investigation.

Of that number 12 are on the agency's endangered list, cases in which the DCI suspects foul play is involved. Only one of them is a juvenile: John David Gosch. Said Gerald Shanahan, DCI chief, "We haven't had a case like this. Usually, when there are missing persons, you have something to go on. The most striking thing here is the lack of evidence." But there is a growing feeling among investigators now that the youngster is alive, although they say there is no basis for that belief.

The reason, suggested DCI Special Agent filled with an unbroken bundle of newspapers. His dog returned home. Numbing Investigators now admit they can't explain what happened. Not a shred of good information has emerged from a numbing investigation that has extended into Canada, to a blood-soaked car wash in Des Moines, and into the mind through hypnosis. Hundreds of fliers telling of the youngster's disappearance, sent by the parents, hang in restaurants, motels, truck stops and police stations across the state and beyond.

There are 286 missing persons in Iowa today, according to the Division frustrating dead end. John David Gosch, as newspaper carriers were doing all over the city, stepped out of his house early on the morning of last Sept. 5 to deliver the Des Moines Sunday Register, his wagon and small dog, Gretchen, in tow. Shortly afterward he vanished without a trace. Today, six months later, the youngster, who would be 13 years old now, remains missing gone on that 70-degree morning from the sidewalks of the quiet, tree-lined neighborhood where he lived in West Des Moines.

His wagon was found a block away, IV A hp) Ky UULrd By FRANK SANTIAGO Rttfifar Staff writer When a caller said he knew where Johnny Gosch was, police were cautious but inter ested. So a meeting was arranged and the rnrvt waited and fl waited. The caller 51 didn't show and the cops soon learned whv: He had been admitted to Broad- awns Medical Center for psychiatric care. That lead, as have scores of others before and after, ended at yet another tlcsittoMC! Simbay ftccitetcr Copyright 1U, DM Mtkwt RtgUttr and Tribune Company March 6, 1983 Explaining By ROBERT HULLIHAN Rtotsttr Staff Writer If the term "Southern oscillation" sounds to you like a chicken wing fried in lard, perhaps you simply aren't ready for the scientific explanation of Iowa's astonishing weather now and this past winter. In that case, let's examine the romantic explanation first.

This draws in William Greer, a 48-year-old student mechanic living in Maxwell; the archangels Michael and Azrael; and Dr. David Weltha, an associate professor in the school of family environment at Iowa State University in Ames. (Those of you who think a classy angel like Azrael would refuse, point blank, to come to Story County may jump directly to Southern oscillation.) Greer is the man who, last October, claimed to control the weather in this part of the country. While experts promised a terrible winter, Greer A JOHNNY GOSCH kitj.j r- iowa boy: There's only one L-Ranko TOLEDO, IA. For those of us who travel Iowa, there is a wide selection of places to stay.

We've got all the Marriotts, Hiltons and Sheratons. We've got the Ramadas, Holiday Inns and Best Westerns. In Toledo, an east-central Iowa town of 2,445, we've got Motel L-Ranko. I've always been taken by that name, L-Ranko, especially for a motel. It sounds like someone whose Spanish isn't too good is trying to say that something is nasty or raunchy, doesn't it? The big convention hotels and motels wouldn't get named L-Ranko.

Only a mom-and-pop motel would get named L-Ranko, and probably only if the pop happened to be a man named Loren Rank, as was the case here. In the late '50s, he built this dandy, 25-unit motel from what had been one tiny little hatchery building. When it came to a name, he decided he could take his first initial and his last name, add an on the end and have a delightful play on the words "El Rancho," which was a trendy name for motels back then. As Mildred McKale, now 65, who, with her husband, Don, became the second owner, said, "There are a lot of El Ranchos, but there's only one L-Ranko." Mildred and I have made our peace now, but for a while, she was most perturbed at me. You see, I once offhandedly referred to the L-Ranko as the second worst-named business in the state.

I did this in a story about how the first worst-named business, Shady's Auto Repair, an Oxford Junction garage owned by a chap named Shady, had gone belly-up. Mildred didn't care for the association there and wrote me "the meanest letter I could think of to write." I'll just say I knew I'd been scolded. Mildred and Don are retired, having turned the motel over to daughter Georgia, 47, and son-in-law Ordell Matzdorff, 52. The whole bunch is happier with me now, because, as I explained to them the other night, I've come to think of L-Ranko not as a bum name but rather a distinctive name. In fact, I put the L-Ranko right on top of my list of distinctively named motels in Iowa.

The list includes such folksy mom-and-poppers as: The Sandman, Eagle Grove. The Dream, Fairfield. Shangri La, Boone. Horn Inn, Leon. (This is operated by the Horn family, of course.) Ho-Hum Motel and Sleep Mor Motel, both in Denison.

Pink Elephant, Marquette. Sleepy Time Motel, Waterloo. Freeborn Motel, Grinnell. (Family named Freeborn has this one.) And the Pull 'R Inn, Kalona, built by a guy big on tractor pulls. Now, at Motel L-Ranko, accom modations are inexpensive.

I stayed for less than $20. The rooms are large and clean. Mildred agreed that "we probably couldn't get away with a name like L-Ranko" if the place was actually rank There is still a warm, charming feel of the late '50s, and I like that. You get it from blond woodwork and from pink ceramic tile. You get it from Ordell Matzdorff's flattop haircut, surely one of the last in America.

You get it from the 25-foot tall sign out front, a real work of neon art. Orange letters six feet high spell "Motel." Pink letters six feet high spell "L-Ranko." Above it all, a gold star flashes on and off. The clientele is regular. "Your Home Away From Home," the L-Ranko business cards boast, and indeed, customers see it that way. "I stayed there 20 years," said Jim Printup, of Minneapolis, a recently retired traveling salesman.

"They were so damned friendly, I wouldn't have considered staying anywhere else when I was in the area." L-Ranko? Hey, muy buenot Chuck Offenburger Ordell Matzdorff Behind the innovative inn A Watching the early birds Ignoring gloomy, rainy skies, noted Iowa ornithologist Gladys Black observes birds returning in early migration from her spot overlooking the Runnells Flats area of the Lake Red Rock wildlife refuge. The unseasonably warm weather has brought flights of waterfowl such as Canada geese, blue geese and wood ducks to the refuge area. Black said she also spotted several bald eagles. "If heaven isn't as nice as this, I don't want to go," said Black of her observation spot. At left, gulls swoop across the open waters of Lake Red Rock near the Runnells Flats area.

SECTION Lavmakers turn foloYa jobs problem Ironic twist: Democrats eye Fitzgerald plan By TOM WITOSKY and DAVID YEPSEN Ratfitar Staff Wrttars Democrat Jerome Fitzgerald may not be governor, but he may find the centerpiece of his jobs-creation campaign approved by the Iowa Legislature anyway. That possibility emerges as lawmakers begin this week to wrestle with a host of proposals to improve the jobs picture for the ranks of Iowa's unemployed, which included 110,900 people in January. Jobs constitute the biggest issue of the session, according to House Speaker Donald Avenson Oelwein), so it will occupy much of the lawmakers' time over the next several weeks. "When you've got 8.3 percent unemployment, that dictates we take action. What we do to begin alleviating the state's high unemployment will be the standard by which the Legislature will be judged," Avenson said Friday.

To pursue that standard, Democrats are studying jobs proposals ranging from a (200 million bonding measure for road construction to job training for single women and spending $3 million for weatherization of city-owned buildings. In addition, some Senate Democrats are considering using state funds to reduce interest rates for state-financed home mortgages and small business loans an idea espoused by Fitzgerald in his unsuccessful run for the Democratic nod for governor. "We are looking at everything and anything," said Senate Majority Leader Lowell Junkins Montrose). "We must have a broad-based jobs policy that must be more than spending money to attract high technology or just to build roads." Avenson has scheduled a full week for jobs bills, beginning March 14 in the House. House members must spend much of this week putting the final touches on proposals to prepare for the concentrated effort.

Avenson and female lawmakers are scheduled to meet this week to forge a "women's jobs program" tailored to the job problems faced by women. Avenson devised the program after his idea for a $200 million road-building plan was criticized as aiding unemployed male construction workers but few women. The women's plan would include more money for women training at Iowa's community colleges for skilled high-tech jobs or to re-enter the workforce after they've raised a family or their husband dies. By including women in the Democratic jobs package, House leaders hope to win the votes of women lawmakers for their construction bonding program. Senate Democrats aren't as flamboyant as Avenson, but they also say creating jobs and improving the JOBS Please turn to Page 5B THE IHDEX Greatest show in Iowa Betsy Ross, a "haunted" house and the Ringlings swing to and fro on a trapeze of rumors in a Fort Madison estate case that has turned into a three-ring circus Page 3B Demands for action Public meetings demand foreclosure moratoriums and minimum farm prices Page 3B Where to find it: Weatlwr Pgt 2B Dateline Iowa Psqt 3B Obituaries Page 7B REGISTER PHOTOS BY DAVIO PETERSON quick," said Greer, seeming to grow impatient with the talk of archangels.

But he promised to keep up the westerly flow and the fine weather. And now, the scientific explanation, Southern oscillation, also known to some as "El Every few years trade winds blowing over the Pacific Ocean weaken. This permits warm surface water to surge back east. Some of it also flows south to bury the cold Humboldt Current flowing north along South America. This, somehow, triggers the Southern oscillation, causing a vast shift in air currents.

Part of the shift this year is the direct west-to-east air flow over Iowa, abnormal in winter. Abnormal, that is, if you don't count William Greer. And Michael the archangel. And Azrael. of the firm, said Nishna Productions operates no differently from Chrysler or Lockheed or any other government-supported company including grocery stores, which are reimbursed for food stamps.

"They complain that now we're going into private enterprise," Lapitz said. "Well, we are private enterprise." Non-profit Workshop He described the company as a non-profit sheltered workshop that provides work and training for mentally retarded and physically disabled clients. Most of the agency's 90 to 100 clients, he said, have been referred by GROCERY Please turn to Page 6B of Iowa's mild winter directs the flow of weather. But Weltha is willing to believe that it's exactly what Greer is doing, "lacking any proof that he isn't." Weltha thinks it possible that Greer is being assisted by "guardian angels disincarnate intelligences." He mentioned Michael and Azrael. "They may be doing it for him," said Weltha.

"Archangels can change the weather. They are especially good with electricity Greer denied that there were any guardian angels helping him. He won't discuss his methods but he isn't ready to share credit not even with Azrael. Weltha says Greer would not necessarily know about any help he may be getting from archangels. "They might be just responding to his thoughts," Weltha said.

"I could turn it into winter real mechanics promised to keep it mild. "I tinkered with it a long time," he said, quietly serious during a break in his classes Friday at Lincoln Technical Institute in West Des Moines. By "it," he means the world's weather systems. He finally got the hang of "directing where weather goes" and arranged for a "westerly flow" of air into Iowa last June. He has simply kept it up all winter, he said.

What about that one big snow in February? "Well, I just screwed up," said Greer with the soft laugh of a star performer glad to be reminded of his humanity. "But this is the first time I've set a westerly flow and tried to keep it that way," he explained. "A first time and there's things you don't know." Greer will not discuss how he doctors and Lutheran's administration formed a volatile mix that exploded in a series of decisive actions by the hospital board and angry reactions by physicians last month. Fallout Continues The fallout continued last week: More than 200 staff physicians were polled about whether they would support legal action against the hospital board. And the administration sent doctors copies of a report strongly suggesting 24 changes in policy, procedures and record-keeping, if Lutheran wants to remain fully accredited.

The turmoil, on top of 174 layoffs LUTHERAN Please turn to Page 5B Grocery employs retarded: Competitors say it's unfair The Lutheran Hospital feud: A complex political struggle By KEN FUSON RaoJsMr Staff Wrttor Some Shenandoah business owners are crying foul over the recent opening of a grocery store that employs mentally retarded workers. At the center of DES MOINES Shonandoah) "7 mis question: JOO fajr allQW Nishna Productions a Shenan-doah-based agency that receives tax dollars for training mentally retarded and physically disabled clients, to compete against private enterprise? "I think it's unfair competition," said Darwin Dixon, owner of Ardwin's Food Market. "They're using tax dollars and donated funds and they don't have to make a profit. They also don't have to pay as much for labor." But John Lapitz, executive director By GARY HEINLEIN RtoHtar Staff Wrlttr "Renegade doctors" became so powerful they were running Iowa Lutheran Hospital and they had to be stopped, according to one version of recent events there. Hospital President James Anderson is making a bold grab for power, the opposing version holds.

Dr. John Nanson, new chief of the medical staff, characterizes the situation in broader terms: Conservative physicians are fighting the rules, red tape and competition being forced on them by efforts to control health care costs. "What they're really saying is that they don't like the forces to which they are being subjected," said Nanson. Those "forces" and the feud between an undetermined number of.

Get access to

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 300+ newspapers from the 1700's - 2000's
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra® Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the The Des Moines Register
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

About The Des Moines Register Archive

Pages Available:
Years Available: