Field Of Dreams

//Field Of Dreams

Field Of Dreams

“If you build it, he will come.” A memorable quote indeed, from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams. It’s about building something outrageous in a cornfield. Oh, and prior to that, believing in the impossible. And after that? Keeping creditors at bay long enough to witness magic.

Of course, being from Iowa, my husband B’s favorite quotes from the movie are between Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, and his deceased dad, John:

John: Is this heaven?
Ray: It’s – it’s Iowa.
John: I could have sworn it was heaven.
Ray: Is there a heaven?
John: Oh, yeah. It’s the place where dreams come true.
Ray: Maybe this is heaven.

Honestly, the only difference I see between Southwestern Ontario and Iowa – well, besides they’re in two different countries – is that the cornfields are bigger and the cornstalks grow taller. I measured the great stalks at the edge of my property one year, then jumped into the car with B and his son, then measured the greater stalks at the edge of Davenport, B’s hometown, as soon as we arrived. My point? Money could have been saved by filming in Canada, the camera angle could have enhanced the height of the corn and Ray could have said, “It’s – it’s Southwestern Ontario.”

Three years before Field of Dreams debuted, it’s possible my late husband Hugh, beating Ray Kinsella at bat, heard a voice. If you build it, he will come. We were looking for land on which to build a house. We’d sold our small bungalow in Wellburn, near St. Mary’s, and wanted to live closer to The Other London. In our late-20s, our two daughters, Jetanne and Randelle, just 3 and 1 respectively, we didn’t have much money then. To be more precise: the bank might have backed us in purchasing a piece of land in the country north of The Other London, where Hugh insisted on living, but definitely wouldn’t have extended the funds needed to build a house on it. Meaning? We’d have had to live in a tent for a very long time.

In the midst of that affordable land search, I met Hugh at his dad’s farm one day after they were done training horses. He walked me out beside the barn and swept his arm in a wide graceful arc over the cornfield that extended acres beyond the racetrack.

Hugh: Do you see it?
Me: What? I see corn.
Hugh: Right there. In front of the bush.
(A bushlot divides the two 100-acre parcels of land.)
Me: Huh?
Hugh, beaming: Our new house.
Me: I don’t see it.

But Hugh was a man who paid attention to his dreams, or voices. So, there we were a few weeks later in the pre-summer heat staking out the location of our dream home in the corn. The house that eventually sprouted from the bent cornstalks was modest and incomplete. A story-and-a-half. Only two bedrooms (huh?) on the second floor, a cheater en suite between. Two-car garage. Two full bathrooms – one up, one down. An unfinished room above the garage that might become Hugh’s pool table room. An unfinished basement. Credit ran out before the lights and flooring went in, but Hugh managed to scrounge from somewhere because I refused to move in minus these “necessities”. When we moved in just before Christmas, interior doors were hung, but there was no trim around them. On the outside? No porches, just construction stairs. As Hugh and I slept on the floor that first night – the heater to our water bed was broken – the furnace backfired. The girls’ white socks turned black the next day as they ran around investigating their strange new world.

Getting back to the “if you build it, he will come”, Shoeless Joe never did emerge from the nearby cornfield, but the following fall a shoeless baby we named Jay was born.

Potential. Hugh’s cornfield dream had lots of potential, into which labor and love and money has been poured. I was once a realist who struggled with dreams and visions. Seeing was believing for me. Several years after the house was built, Hugh and I sat one morning, sipping coffee on a Westover Inn, St. Mary’s balcony, the romantic sound of Frank Sinatra’s voice floating up from the café below. I’d kidnapped Hugh from work the night before for his birthday, blindfolded him, drove him to this sanctuary. A brief parental respite from young children. The grounds of the estate spread out below us: lush green lawn, squirrels scampering under sprawling trees, wrought iron fence beyond. The idea struck us at the same time.

“We could do this!” we declared, both convinced that if we worked hard our cornfield dream could one day look like this.

And that day has come. A wrought iron fence borders the property. Stone gates. Four bedrooms – Hugh’s pool table room given up to create two more bedrooms. A huge three-car garage – the two-car was an office, then a rec room, then after Hugh died, my Jazzercise studio. Five bathrooms. A finished basement. Trim and fine furniture and quality lighting and ceramic tile and hardwood. Squirrels scampering on a lush lawn under sprawling trees.

I have a friend who is a realtor. She says, “You can’t afford to get emotional about a house.” So, the “For Sale” sign goes up and the comments come in. I cringe, but I must accept. The original dreamer is gone. The most recent dream that the cornfield house fulfills for me, the “if you build it” one? For over 11 years now, happy, inspiring, energetic ladies have been coming to my studio four times a week to workout. We’ve shared love and laughter, weathered storms of life together. You just can’t put a price on that.

I’m a lucky girl. I’ve spent 30 years in heaven, making dreams come true. I have to believe that another dreamer will come along, see potential, make their own dreams come true here on this little piece of heaven built smack-dab in the middle of a cornfield.





  1. Tracy June 22, 2016 at 9:56 am - Reply

    Love the field of dreams Blog.
    I love how your posts, while i am sitting at my crazy desk, take me somewhere else for a few minutes!

  2. Teresa June 22, 2016 at 10:04 am - Reply

    A beautiful and heartfelt story of vision, dreams and love. You built it, you shared it, you loved it…Treasure your memories and remember…They will come because you’ve loved it.

    • Rita Hartley June 22, 2016 at 10:08 am - Reply

      Thx Teresa. This is so true of any dream. Believe, build, something good will come . . .

  3. Marilyn June 22, 2016 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    So bittersweet but a new chapter opening up – So happy for you

    • Rita Hartley June 22, 2016 at 2:05 pm - Reply

      Thx Marilyn. It’s so hard when losing something to see that room is then made for something new. Appreciate the reminder!

  4. Evelina June 22, 2016 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    I have so many wonderful memories of that house!!! And the people in it 🙂

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