A Laine Study in Irony

This July, we Iowans lost our beloved former governor, Robert Ray. Ray was governor from 1969 to 1983. He was very popular among the people of Iowa.

I work at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines. Almost 20 years ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to meet and be photographed with this former governor when he stopped into our office.

A ceremony was held in the Iowa State Capitol, prior to Ray’s funeral, at which time the former governor lie in state on the first-floor rotunda. I was asked to attend and document the service by photographing the event.

Recently, I began to reflect about the day I met this former governor. Thinking back reminded me of something that had happened about the same time, which turned out to be quite ironic.

In July 2000, I was to be interviewed by Jimmy Marino for the Frankie Laine documentary. Since I was going to travel to San Diego for the interview, I asked Jimmy if he would schedule a meeting with Frankie and me while I was there. I very much wanted to visit with my pal again.

My future wife, Marlene, and I decided to travel to sunny San Diego together and make a vacation out of it, taking full advantage of the beach while there. And I would be able to introduce Frankie to her.

A project of mine during this time was to meet and then to have my photograph taken with the governor of Iowa and each of the state’s former governors still residing in the area.

To my delight, I discovered that Leo Hoegh, who had served as Iowa’s governor from 1955 to 1957, was still alive and living in Colorado Springs. I thought it would be wonderful if I could meet him on our way out to California.

My enthusiasm was dampened upon telephoning the former governor’s home. His nurse answered, informing me that he was seriously ill and had brain cancer. She added that his doctors didn’t expect him to live much longer. According to the nurse, the former governor wasn’t able to recognize people or speak. I felt sad.

I figured fate had dictated that I should try to meet him. In my Frankie Laine collection, I have an old radio program on tape from the series Stars for Defense. On the tape, Frankie is the guest host. The radio show had been produced during the era when there were various public service announcements regarding the use of fallout shelters in the case of a nuclear attack. After leaving the Iowa governorship, Hoegh became director of the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization in the Eisenhower Administration. During breaks in the taped radio program, Hoegh speaks about civil defense.

The inclusion in my collection of this radio program with both Frankie Laine and Leo Hoegh on the same broadcast was ironic, considering we’d planned to visit the former governor on our way to San Diego before learning of his rapidly declining health.

The fact that this governor had been in office the year both Marlene and I were born added to the irony. During our brief stay in San Diego, Marlene and I learned that Leo Hoegh had died.

My entire Laine association and Laine collection are such a treasure to me. Included are wonderful recollections over the years. But this particular memory is, indeed, a study in irony.

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About the Author:

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Craig Cronbaugh, Director of the Legislative Information Office with the Legislative Services Agency at the Iowa State Capitol. As famed singer Frankie Laine’s special friend and a collector of Laine’s recordings and career memorabilia, Craig has written articles; has written, produced, directed, and hosted a distinctive radio program; and has appeared on Iowa statewide television regarding his Frankie Laine avocation. Craig has been highlighted briefly and has been given a research screen credit in the 2003 internationally distributed documentary Frankie Laine: An American Dreamer. Craig’s book, a memoir, Reaching for a Star, featuring his friendship with Laine, was published in 2005.