Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Iowa on my mind

David Seaton's News Links
Awhile back I wrote:
My grandfather was an Iowa farmer who lived on a farm almost exactly like the one in Grant Wood's famous painting and wore Levi bib overalls just like the ones in the picture and pitchforked the same stuff that the farmer in the picture presumably pitchforked with his pitchfork and...
Iowa is deep in my subconscious, I went out there hundreds of times when I was a boy to visit my grandmother who had sold the family farm and moved into Burlington
when my granddad died a couple of years before I was born. They're both buried out there and so is my dad... and so are all of my paternal relatives going back to before Iowa was a state. Great, great uncles and grandfathers of mine served in the Iowa regiments during the Civil War.

My father used to take me out to visit the farm, which was owned by then by the son of a family friend and we used to take the farm tractor and cruise around the fields while my dad told me stories about their life on the farm. The cold (which I have experienced) of the winters without central heating (which I haven't) and the steam heat of the summers near the big muddy. What it's like to plow with a blind Percheron named Jimmy and to clean the shit out from under forty cows at five o'clock on a minus ten morning, before walking through snow drifts to a little red school house.

The last time we went out there, the farm had been sold to an agribusiness and my dad could only locate the place where he was born with a compass taking his bearings from the CB&Q tracks which bordered the property. Nothing was left, not a tree, not a stone, nothing. This is the sort of thing that Europeans only experience because of war and even then they lovingly reconstruct the ruins, but I think most Americans over the age of fifty have a story like this... I've never been back... but I'd like to before I die.

I can live a million years in Europe, learn languages, work on the economy etc, marry a German girl (which is very traditionally middle western thing to do, come to think of it) and still be American down to the ground because of those Iowa roots (ruts). It is a place that leaves fingerprints that just never wash (warsh) off.

It makes me happy that every four years all the men and women who would like to be president have to traipse around Iowa's endless plains and talk to its citizens one by one and drag all the cameramen and journalists cursing the cold behind them. I'm proud that the ground that holds the bones of so much of my DNA is chosen to influence so mightily the history of the world. DS


Anonymous said...


You are a fantastic writer.

Best Regards,

David Dahl

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Thanks Tocayo*

*"Tocayo" is Spanish for somebody who has the same name as one has.

kelly said...

I saw that Huckabee won Iowa and I couldn't resist to take a peek here again - and your website reads like a fulfilled book of prophecy this morning. Thanks!

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Glad to have you back Kelly.