Park Perks in When Love Calls

aviary2At the turn of the century, a city’s park system was of upmost importance. Our country begun a move toward an urban society, but people still craved open spaces. New technologies had given families more free time, and a favorite place to spend that time time was at a park.

Des Moines, the setting for When Love Calls, had a beautiful park system. I wanted to highlight that in the book. Today, I’d like to share a few photos of some of the things I discovered in the city’s parks and mentioned in my book.

I’ve been asked if there really was an Amerian Circle Swing Company. Indeed there was! Below is photo of the swing in Des Moines’ Union Park.

Circle Swing

Besides the swing, the park also boasted an aviary. One of the oldest aviaries, the Raven Cage, is at the London Zoo. It’s dated 1829, but it was the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair that sparked a national interest in aviaries.

The St. Louis Zoo is still home to this aviary. In 1904, it was the largest aviary every build at 84 feet wide, 228 feet long, and 50 feet high.

The aviary in Des Moines’ Union Park (pictured below and at the top of this post) was considerably smaller.


Since I live near Omaha, Nebraska, I’ve had the opportunity to visit Henry Doorly Zoo’s Simmons Aviary. Opened in 1983, it’s one of the world’s largerst free-flight aviaries. Wouldn’t Hannah Gregory have loved that!

Another Des Moines park mentioned in When Love Calls was Ingersoll Park. Below is a picture of the bridge mentioned in the story.

ingersollpark bridge

And here’s the scene that happens on that bridge.

A look that gave Lincoln goose bumps crossed Hannah’s face. She moistened her lips with the tip of her tongue, and he could no more keep from kissing her than keep her from taking chances. His lips claimed hers in a hot, velvety moment. Could she feel his love? Did she realize he’d do anything to protect her? Would she ever trust him with that corner of her heart just beyond his grasp?

He wrapped his hands around her waist, drawing her closer, letting his lips say what his words could not. He dotted kisses on her jawline, and she tipped her head, giving him access to her neck. His lips moved restlessly across her neck, and he felt her body shudder against him.

Drawing on every ounce of self-control, he cupped her face in his hands and pulled away. Her flushed face and swollen lips made him want to take her in his arms all over again, every day, for the rest of his life.

She looked bewildered at the loss of his kisses. Lincoln smiled. Hannah had no idea what she stirred in him.

He touched his lips to her forehead and drew her against his chest. The almond scent of her maple-syrup-colored hair reached him. Gently moving his thumb, he drew circles on the back of her neck.

When had she won his heart? That first day they met, when she so bravely spoke to him? When she came to ask for help for her friend? When she pulled him into the lake?

It wasn’t one moment. It was a hundred little ones. And he hoped there’d be a lifetime more to come.

One of my favorite parts of writing is imagining the things I find in these old photos alive once again with people enjoying them. Times may change, but people will always find time to laugh, love, and play outdoors.

What are you doing this summer to enjoy the outdoors? What’s your favorite way to “play” outside in the summer?