by Chris Brockow
George Reeves was born George Keefer Brewer in Woolstock, Iowa on January 5, 1914.
In recognition of his 100th birthday, the citizens of Woolstock are celebrating George's birthday with events from January through June of this year. One particular upcoming event is "George Reeves Super Family Day" which will take place on March 22nd.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with local Woodstock George Reeves historian, Veronica Guyader about the Super Family Day and the late actor's hometown. Here is what she had to say;
Chris Brockow: What is the population of Woolstock?
Veronica Guyader: Founded in 1890, Woolstock has a current population of about 200 people. The greater Woolstock rural community is much larger, covering an area that is 6 miles (north/south) by 15 miles (east/west), stretching into more than 3 townships.
Brockow: Is Woolstock celebrating George Reeves' birthday all year long?
Guyader: No. There are events planned in and around the Woolstock area for six months; starting from his 100th Birthday anniversary that was on January 5th until the 55th anniversary of this death on June 16th.
In January, Friends of the George Reeves Memorial hosted the official George Reeves’ 100th Birthday Anniversary Open House Party at the Woolstock Community Hall. Three kiosks were set up visually depicting different stages of George Reeves life; his early history, his army films/episodes of THE ADVENTURES OF SIR GALAHAD, and three episodes of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN. A mini-display, similar to that found at the Heartland Museum in Clarion, Iowa, along with a ceramic bust of George Reeves and other items were on hand for the public’s viewing. The mayor and a member of the city council accepted a framed photo collage of George Reeves from infancy to adulthood, the house he was born in, a copy of his birth certificate, and a commemorative dedication from Friends of the George Reeves Memorial to the City of Woolstock.
Included was also a fan made photo of George Reeves as Superman flying over the city of Woolstock, with the Superman logo placed where Reeves had been born. A gift drawing was also awarded, including various items dealing with George Reeves’ connection to Woolstock, and newer Superman themed items.
Guests enjoyed birthday cake and free party favors. Just last weekend, we co-hosted with the Kendall Young Library in Webster City, Iowa, a presentation I put together for those that didn’t know very much about Reeves called, "FROM PRAIRIE TO PASADENA: A LOOK INTO THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF GEORGE REEVES."
Everything from genealogy of his family, his connection to Woolstock and Webster City, and his career and life in California was discussed. Members from the Wilson Brewer Park Museums and Visitors Center accepted a plaque from Friends of the George Reeves Memorial commemorating George Reeves 100th Birthday Anniversary and his connection to Webster City. Vern and Viola Ratcliff also accepted a commemorative plaque with photos of Reeves and his birth home, the home Viola’s grandparents owned when George was born.
Another gift drawing was awarded. Friends of the George Reeves Memorial donated monies collected at the event to the Kendall Young Library for their major digitizing project of all local newspapers dating back to 1857! Each month, at least one event will be held to honor George Reeves’ life and career, also his legacy. At each event, whomever co-hosts with Friends of the George Reeves Memorial, will receive all donations.
Each event is free to the public. But any free will donations will be given to the co-host. George Reeves was a very charitable man, and that legacy lives on as we celebrate him…paying it forward as he would have done. April and May have been tentatively set, and June’s celebration is in the works. Additional gift drawings have been awarded to members of our Facebook Group: "GEORGE REEVES’ 100TH BIRTHDAY – WOOLSTOCK, IOWA."
Brockow: How did March 22nd become the date for the "George Reeves Super Family Day"?
Guyader: I spoke with the President of the Board of Directors of the Heartland Museum in Clarion, Iowa, an organization we had worked with as co-hosts of our 2007 George Reeves Memorial: Heroes in the Heartland festival. I gave him a few dates, and he gave me a few dates that worked for them after it was discussed with the board. And voila... it was decided.
Brockow: Who organized this event?
Guyader: I am the main organizer. I used to be the Co-Chair of the festivals, and then became President of the George Reeves Memorial, but after the home was no longer available for restoration because too many people came into the home and vandalized it (becoming a great liability- according to the owners), and funds did not come in as expected, the organization became defunct. I remain the George Reeves Historian of the area, and a few us linger with the desire to remember him for his birthday, thus the name Friends of the George Reeves Memorial. Also, we did have some funds left over from past events, and thus those are the monies being used to hold these events. I feel all of those that contributed to that fund are part of the “Friends” part of Friends of the George Reeves Memorial.
Brockow: How many George Reeves Superman fans will be celebrating?
Guyader: No idea. With all the bad weather we’ve had for our past two events, both which had been rescheduled, but still on days that ended up being part of a Polar Vortex, or a blizzard, many people hoping to attend the other events, are excited to join us at this SPRING time event! We are hoping that the weather will cooperate so we can get more than our highest number thus far of 70 attendees. We’ve asked for those who can, if they could confirm their attendance on our events section of the Facebook Group we have. Knowing a rough number does help us plan accommodations in the seating and viewing areas.
Brockow: Are they looking forward to this event?
Guyader: Many have indicated to me that they are not only excited to see episodes of "The Adventures of Superman", but also to go through the Heartland Museum where we have our George Reeves items on display, both on the 1950s Street and the Woolstock Booth, and also, in their Wright County Historical Society Library, located in the museum.
Brockow: Besides watching the episodes, will there be any other events?
Guyader: Obviously, we and our co-hosts would like to see attendees visit the museum. Not only to see our George Reeves displays, but also, all the other wonderful exhibits and displays housed at the Heartland Museum; including, the International Teddy Bear Festival Collection Room, The Iowa Hat Lady Room, and many period rooms and displays, but most especially, the Heartland Museum is home to one of the largest tractor and farm machinery collections in Iowa.
It’s really a jewel basically in the middle of nowhere that should be visited more and appreciated as well. For this event in particular we are encouraging Grandparents to introduce their Grandchildren (in some cases Children and Great Grandchildren) to THEIR Superman. There will be a kids section in front of the screen, where kids can lay down on mats, rugs, or blankets. A seating area will be set up for those wanting to sit in chairs with the adults. We also are encouraging those who want to dress up as Superman or Lois Lane to do so. Prizes will be given out, and a drawing will be done for adults/kids gift combo. And maybe a few other things too, but I am still working out the kinks with others who have volunteered their time. We are also accepting material donations before March 22nd for the museum’s library. If anyone is interesting in donating films with George Reeves, or sets of "The Adventures of Superman" DVDs, or any books written about him, please let me know, that way there are no duplicates. If you have some other donation, also let me know at the Facebook group by personal messaging me. As mentioned before, there are other events planned for April, May, and June.
But those events will have different themes. Some won’t deal with his Superman era at all. That is one thing we have always tried to do concerning George Reeves’ memory, is to celebrate ALL of his life, not just the Superman era.
One thing we know from testimonies of his friends and family is that George didn’t want to be stereotyped as Superman. Though he loved the character he portrayed, he was talented enough to play other roles, which often times was denied of because his image is what American’s considered to BE SUPERMAN. He was essentially Superman THE ICON, and couldn’t get away from it to do other work he wanted to do. So we won’t do that to him. He IS George Reeves. There is more to him, than Superman.
Thank you very much Veronica. This sounds incredible.
If you are planning on going to the "Super Family Day" on March 22nd, please let Veronica know by going to the Facebook Group: GEORGE REEVES’ 100TH BIRTHDAY – WOOLSTOCK, IOWA