Posting 2: Coffee with Integrity

I looked up from my magazine and saw the young man approaching our table. He was sweating from the brow as if he had rushed in from the heat just to be on time. I asked him if he wanted a coffee,  a soda, or ice-tea. He settled on a large ice water. We sat in silence for a good minute before speaking.

“So… whispering mystery man, how old are you?” I asked

“I’m 22.” He said ” I find it funny and odd that you ask my age before my name. Would you be offended if I did the same to you?”

I laughed.” Sorry. I guess that was pretty rude. We didn’t really make a proper acquaintance did we?”

“Your funny. I mean the way you phrase things. Do you always talk this way?” he asked

“I don’t know. Never thought much about it. I guess I read a lot, and I am eighteen years your senior. Now you are making me feel really old!” I replied sweetly with a grin.

“ just did it again. Eighteen years your senior? I don’t know anybody who talks like that. Not even my own mother!” He said as he grinning back at me.

His smile was his best attribute. When he smiled it lit up the whole room. The two young girls sitting at the table next to us were staring at him. I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t been sitting with him, the three of them would have been hanging out for the day.

“Ok. So now that I know how old you are, and my guess was only off by three years, what is your name?” I prodded him

” Was your guess off on the older side or younger side? ” He asked

” No comment.” I said quickly.

“My name is Gage Williams.  Charles H. Mayo was my great, great-grandfather.  I live in Colorado with my mom. I work at the Museum of Natural History in Boulder. I basically build the displays for artifacts since I am good working with my hands. I go to the University, but I don’t know what I want to major in yet. My mom and dad were divorced when I was ten years old. My dad died in a boating accident when I was twelve.  He always wanted me to follow in his footsteps, but I just never felt the calling to be a doctor the way he did. My mom is also a physician, but she hasn’t worked in the past year because she has cancer.  That’s why we are here.” he said without reservation.

I looked into his eyes which were colored grayish green. I could see the sadness in them, but also the resiliency of youth. I appreciated our meeting, and I could sense he felt the same.

“Well, Gage Williams, my name is Guinn.” I said as offering my hand for him to shake.

He took my hand and shook it firmly. He had large hands which were calloused. I was surprised because he really looked quite refined and a bit spoiled. I tried not to let on that I noticed how rough his hand felt in mine.

“Sorry. I work with wood and tools all day, my hands really take a beating, but I love my work.” He said shyly.

” Guinn Ivy Fate. I’ll turn the big 4-0 in September. I have four children, all girls. Grace is sixteen, Charlotte  fourteen, Naima six and Khadeja is three years old. I am a stay at home mom, but I don’t stay home much. My younger kids go to daycare for three hours everyday so I can get a few things accomplished.I grew up in a small town twenty miles from here, but I call Rochester home. I’m sorry to hear about loosing your dad and your mom being ill. That’s a lot to deal with at any age.” I explained

“Thanks Guinn. I like that name. Never heard it before. It’s really nice and so are you. It’s so boring in this town. How do you handle it everyday?” Gage said and asked all in one breath.

” I guess I have had enough excitement in my life. I like it quiet. It’s relatively safe here for my kids, and I love having exceptional healthcare for myself and my family just blocks away from my home.  Thankfully, I don’t have to rely on it, we have been healthy so far, so we continue to count our blessings. I like how the old historic buildings are nestled up against the contemporary structures.  It is has a tight-knit small town community feel to it that reminds me of my hometown. I can go into the drugstore across the street which has been owned and operated by the same family  for years. They know me by name, and my children’s names. I like that. Some people call it “Minnesota nice”, I just think it is the way it should be.” I replied

“Yeah, I can see that.  It seems like people aren’t too much about the formalities, but would give you their shirts off their backs if needed. This is actually my first time coming to Rochester. My mom thought it was a good idea for me to look around and get a good dose of history. I think she hopes I will get inspired to go to medical school,  but I don’t feel that happening. What do you know about my great,great-grandfather?” he asked the question before I could ask him what he knew.

“We’ll lets just say it’s a long story.  Things are all connected. Sometimes we can’t see those connections until years down the road. Sometimes we never put the pieces together.  I have come to believe that we are all a part of history, we all play our part. The important thing is that we design the future based on integrity.  I will tell you my story, but it can’t be done in an hour over coffee.  Have you ever heard of a place named Ivy Lodge?” I asked of him.

“No. Is it named after you?” he asked

“Haaa. No. Not at all. It is a very special place. I will take you there tomorrow if you want to go.” I said

“Yes. Sure I want to go with you. What do you mean by integrity? I think I know what the word means, but what do you think it means?”  He asked.

” Good question. I think it means making the right decisions based on the information at hand. We are evolving  at such a rapid speed even our definitions, and language is changing daily to describe our environments and experiences.  Things such as quantum physics are being re-written as we speak. Our whole system of thinking  and being is changing. Science,technology, medicine, social cultures are all connected, a major development in one area, affects the others. This has always been the case, but different now because of our awareness in collective consciousness. In a few short years from now, we will have a totally different perspective about everything. ” I said, while pausing a few seconds.

“Integrity means staying open to new ideas, while remaining true to your inner guidance and voice. Integrity is thinking for yourself, and being strong enough to live your truth no matter what anyone else says or thinks. Forward thinking minds always operate from integrity, because they are already living in the future possibilities. The people who live in service to their fellow human beings, hold reverence for natural laws,and strive to do no harm are the leaders of our future. That’s my opinion anyway.  ” I said.

” That was not the answer I thought you would give. I thought you would just say something like “Integrity is doing the right thing.”  But I like it, I think I understand. I hope some of this humidity passes by tomorrow.” he said as checking his underarm perspiration.

“Haa. That would have been the simplest way to say it, and you would have been right. That is the dichotomy of life. There is right, wrong, up , down, polarity is everything, Learning to live in the duality, while remaining true to yourself is always a challenge. Giving up the need to be right is a big step in learning how to live authentically. It comes with personal experience, and studying the lives of those who have come before us.” I added.

Then I said, ” I’ll pack us a picnic lunch so we can talk over sandwiches by the river. Meet me here at ten o’clock a.m. tomorrow, okay?”

“I ‘ll be here. I’m really glad I met you. You are already making my trip here interesting. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, Guinn.” Gage said with that charming smile of his.

” It’s my pleasure. We can always take a dip in the river to cool down if it’s too uncomfortable tomorrow. It really doesn’t bother me. I like it this way. It usually cools down after the sun goes down, but not always. I’ll have you back before noon anyway, so assure your mom you are in good hands with me.” I replied

” Will do.Where is this special place? ” Gage questioned

“It is about four miles outside of town. Ivy Lodge is the name of the first home Dr. Charlie built. I’m sure your mom knows about it. Maybe you could talk to her about it tonight if she feels up to it.” I answered.

“Well, Guinn, how do you know about this place? Have you been there before? Is it like a museum or open to the public? ” He pressed

“Mr. Williams, just relax. You are the one that said to me an hour ago that nobody cares about history. I am going to show you tomorrow that you just met someone who does.  People tend to study and learn about that which interests them. I happen to have a connection with Dr. Charlie, Ivy Lodge, and medical history in a small way.  One last question and then I have to go pick up my girls. Are you related to Dr. Charlie on your mom’s side? I asked

“Yeah, why?” he asked me quickly

“Just want to be sure. I’m not very good with numbers, or figuring out family tree stuff. The whole second cousin once removed thing always messed me up. After a certain point, I like to just say we are all related by our humanity! See you tomorrow. It was really a pleasure to meet and talk with you.” I said while walking out the door.

“Yeah. You too. Have a good night with your kids. Hey, are you married?” He yelled to me  as I crossed the street.

“I’ll tell you tomorrow. Behave yourself. I’m too old and too smart for you anyway.” I yelled back.


Posting1:The Meeting

Dinner at the Big House is a fictional story. It is not endorsed or affiliated with any institution, facility, or particular family. It is a creative, fictional work based on some historical facts, people, and places.  -G.E. Cooper-

I have decided to write in a blog style fashion, which means I will be posting 1 new chapter per week. You can opt to have my blog posts sent to your email, for your reading convenience. Just sign up on my blog page:  (look to the right)

Please check out these 2 facebook links, and LIKE them! They are invaluable resources for those interested in preserving history.

Chad Johnson, a Rochester  native and photographer (the best around in my humble opinion), has offered links to his photos relating to this story. Enjoy and become inspired by the beauty and magic he captures through his lens.

Mayo Clinic –

Mayowood –

Judith Hartzell, author of Mrs. Charlie: The Other Mayo,  and I  Started All This: the Life of William Worral Mayo is planning  to follow the story and offer comments along the way. I am so honored to have her interested in the story, her books are exceptional! Here is a link to her website:

Thanks for reading and following. I truly hope you enjoy the story.

(This is my first attempt at fictional book writing…please bear with me as I am learning by doing)

G.E. Cooper

Posting 1: The Meeting

I was moved once again staring straight up at the magnificent structure that had only been added to the foundation a few years prior. Each time I walked past the Gonda building, I was compelled to look up while counting the number of floors. I guess it had become my  way of showing reverence to those who had gone before me, and those to follow. Looking up at the glass floors made me feel suspended in time, even if it were only for a few seconds.

It was a steamy July afternoon in the midwest. I had lived here all my life. I was accustomed to these humid days that some Minnesotans would deem unbearable. I loved it. It was similar to standing in a steam sauna, each breath feeling more pure than the previous. I was caught off guard when an unfamiliar voice whispered in my ear.

“My great-great grandfather would roll over in his grave if he could see this now.” the voice said softly.

I looked over my shoulder and saw a young, handsome man smiling at me. I didn’t know how to respond right away. I smiled back at him.

Then he said quite  bitterly ” Nobody cares about history anymore.”

I replied ” Hmm. I guess it depends on who you are talking with, and upon which subject is being discussed. I’m assuming you are speaking of your great, great grandfather’s legacy, and not the civil war. Correct?”

“Yeah.” he said “You are right.”

“Well, you just happened to whisper in the right ear today.  Would you like to cross the street, grab a cup of coffee and chat for a bit?” I asked

“Sure” the young man replied, “but first I have to check in with my mom. She had some treatments today and is resting in the hotel. I don’t want her to be worrying about me. That’s the last thing she needs. Give me about 10 minutes, okay?”

“Good man. I’ll wait for you inside the coffee shop. I’ll soak up some AC while I wait.” I chuckled

I felt a rush of warmth go through my already overheated body. I was sweating profusely, but I didn’t mind. I wasn’t trying to impress this boy. He was at least 15 years my junior, and I wasn’t feeling a bit cougar-ish.

I had a 16-year-old daughter who was closer in age to this young man than myself. Still, I couldn’t deny his attractive smile and dark summer tan. As I waited for him to return, I wondered how much history this boy knew himself. I was inclined to believe I had much to share with him.

Little did I know at the moment of our meeting that I also had much to learn. That’s kind of the way life goes. Hindsight is always 20/20.