Legends of John Karras and fortune cookie

WASHTA, Ia. — The intersection of 330th and C 66 streets a few miles west of Washta doesn’t looked like most of the other turns along Sunday’s route. But Eleanore Lewis, who lives in nearby Correctionville, identified it was the site of RAGBRAI lore.

The Lewis family, clockwise from left: Bob Sr., Christie, Tracy, Eleanore and Bobby Jr., better known as Lewy. (Michael Morain/The Register)

The Lewis family, clockwise from left: Bob Sr., Christie, Tracy, Eleanore and Bobby Jr., better known as Lewy. (Michael Morain/The Register)

It was here on the first ride, in 1973, where co-founder John Karras took pretty serious spill. Had it been worse, who knows whether he would have finished the ride? And then who knows what would have happened to RAGBRAI as we know it.

Lewis heard the story first-hand years ago from an eye witness named Betty “something-or-other,” who helps with the antiques show at the Woodbury County Fair.

Lewis set up a lawn chair early Sunday morning to watch the riders and hand out free (reporter-tested and -approved) watermelon. Her husband, Bob, sat nearby with their three grown kids: little Bobby “Lewy” Lewis, Christie Lewis and Tracy Lewis of Des Moines.

Together they told the tale of RAGBRAI XVIII, when Eleanore Lewis typed 50-some messages to slip into handmade fortune cookies she sold from a stand at the Methodist church.

Many miles down the road, Tracy Lewis, who rode that year, sat next to a couple at a park in Anthon and overheard them read the fortune aloud: “Welcome to the Little Sioux Valley. And if you see little Bobby and Tracy, tell them hello.”

The man who read it said something like, “Yeah, what are the chances of that?” — until Tracy Lewis introduced himself. He had to show the couple his driver’s license to make them believe it.

“I’ve told that story probably 30 times and it always gets a laugh,” Bob Lewis Sr. said.

“Only on RAGBRAI,” Tracy Lewis said.

 

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