Barack Obama has spoken in many venues -- high school gymnasiums, college basketball courts, union halls -- but none has been as unusual as the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, where he talked to a group of Iowa Democrats last week.And what do they think of a candidate who gives a speech here and doesn't mention him?
The Surf Ballroom is the scene of the last concert played by rock 'n' roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson just hours before they were killed in a plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959.
And it is a place frozen in time with wooden booths, a linoleum floor and murals of palm trees and beaches.
Obama didn't mention the '50s rockers in his speech, but earlier this summer former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee came here and made a video commemorating Holly, Valens and The Big Bopper. It can be seen on YouTube....
The walls are filled with photos of Holly and include many of his gold albums.
The piano once used by Ellington has been preserved. The Pepsi machine used by Waylon Jennings (who played in Holly's band and gave up his seat on the plane to the Big Bopper) remains in the kitchen. The phone Holly used to call his wife, Maria Elena, in New York is still there, and so are the sinks in the green room Holly used before making his appearance on stage.
"That'll be the day" anything changes in this cultural mecca still cherished by Iowans and others who revere Buddy Holly.