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Local Editorials

Mason house miracle

Chuck and Joy Hanson own the Mason House Inn in Bentonsport, an historic, rustic village along the Des Moines River in Van Buren County. On July 18, Chuck was making a bed when he was overcome by a coughing fit. He began to feel light headed and dizzy. He felt himself falling, but there was nothing he could do about it. That’s the last thing he remembers.

Chuck came to in a tripod position with his knees on the floor, his rear end in the air, and his head on the floor. In falling, he had slammed his head against the wall.

Chuck’s head and the back of his neck hurt. He stumbled around in a confused state trying to figure out what happened. He could feel a lump forming on the back of his neck. He called out to Joy to bring him an ice pack and hot pad, that he had a whiplash injury. He laid down on the bed with the ice pack, the intention being to alternate cold and heat.

After about 30 minutes, he was feeling worse.  He got up from the bed, and walked out to the kitchen where Joy was.  He told her he had no feeling in his arms and legs.  Joy didn’t mess around.  She would drive Chuck to the emergency room in Keosauqua. Joy was scheduled for neck surgery later in the month and was wearing a soft neck collar. She took the collar off and put it on Chuck.

In Keosauqua, Chuck walked into the emergency room. An X-ray revealed that 60-year-old Chuck had fractured cervical vertebrae C1 and C2 at the base of his skull. Chuck was air-lifted to the University of Iowa Hospital. 

The doctors and surgeons were stunned. They had never seen a situation like this. Fractures of C1 and C2 usually result in death, at the very least, paralysis. That Chuck was able to walk into the emergency room was unheard of. It was a miracle.

They also determined that Chuck’s loss of consciousness was the result of a vasovagal attack brought on by coughing. His heart had stopped momentarily, but Chuck had not had a heart attack or stroke.

Back to Joy. Joy had been scheduled for neck surgery at the University of Iowa Hospital. Yep, you guessed it. Chuck and Joy both had neck surgery, one day apart, at the U of I Hospital — a first, the hospital claims, for a husband and wife. Joy had C5 through C7 fused, while Chuck had C1 through C4 fused to his skull. Chuck and Joy were in rooms several floors apart — Joy in neurology, and Chuck in orthopedics. The hospital staff arranged for them to have “dates” — where they wheeled one into the room of the other. Chuck and Joy were both released on the same day, both in almost identical neck braces.  

Now for the rest of the story. The Mason House Inn is quite well known for being haunted, or inhabited by friendly spirits. It once was a Civil War Hospital.  (see and read “Joy’s Notes.”) Ghost hunting classes are conducted at the inn, and Chuck and Joy are well-known speakers at paranormal conferences.  

When Chuck fell, the spirits where aware of it, but were powerless to prevent the fall. They did help lower Chuck to the floor, and knew that he was out for 11 minutes. They were with Chuck on the helicopter (“flying contraption”), helped stabilize his neck, and were with Chuck and Joy at the hospital.

It is a miracle Chuck survived, and Joy and he both believe he is alive for a reason. They have been blessed. In the meantime, the Des Moines river rolls on, past the Mason House Inn, collecting tales, and repeating them, quietly, softly to those who will listen. 

Have a good story? Call or test Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at, or visit his website at Curt also reads his columns at        

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