If you’re ever in Winterset, Iowa with time on your hands, and if you’re a big fan of John Wayne, then I recommend you visit his birthplace. Otherwise, not so much.
I paid my $6 in the gift shop and had 20 minutes to kill before the “tour.” I asked the woman behind the counter if I could take a picture with the chair on the porch and she said that would be fine. I found out later that the group touring the house at the time gathered at the window to watch me and try to figure out what I was doing. I apologized, but the lady smiled and said she was just worried that I had left my chair on the porch.
The house is tiny, with four tiny rooms. Two of the rooms are furnished with period pieces, none of which belonged to the Waynes. The other two rooms were filled with displays, most of which were promo photos from Wayne’s movies. They did have a few artifacts from the movies — an eye patch from True Grit, a suitcase from Stagecoach, a calvary hat from Rio Lobo and a panel from the pub in The Quiet Man. The guide knew her stuff and was pleasant, but there just wasn’t much to the place.
John Wayne’s real name was Marion Robert Morrison. His father was a pharmacist’s assistant in town. Wayne was born on May 26, 1907. Three years later, his family moved to a nearby town where his father opened his own pharmacy.