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Small Wonders
  • His simple grace became legendary, so that a man named Martin was somehow moved to place Dutch Fred's remains where, he thought, they should be, where they are today: on a hill beside the Little Sioux, on land he always dreamed of. An immigrant. An American immigrant.
  • If you can believe it, once there were two churches here: "the high church," sitting atop the bluff behind the one we're looking at, and this one, "the low church," both of them both old and Danish, and each as bull-headed as the other. Religious fights are never all bucolic. Typical better describes.
  • The inescapable premise here is that mother and father, on a trail to Zion, on their way west will carry immense grief, and that what they’re suffering can be bested only by hope. Grief and hope. We live by grief and hope.
  • Margaret F. Kelley came to Fremont, NE, in May of 1870 and settled on a farm on Maple Creek. Four years later, she and the family were visited by grasshoppers. "I had never formed an idea of anything so disastrous," she wrote in her memoir. That's just another way of saying that, to her, the grasshopper plague was beyond unimaginable.
  • There's no sign, near or far, but every last soul in the region knows the intersection of the major two-lane-ers in the county--highways 75 and 10--is, was, and has been for as long as anyone can remember, the "Million Dollar Corner." It lays out there on a low plain all by its lonesome, closest burg is a little town named Maurice, three miles south. Was the construction of the infrastructure a government boondoggle?
  • From Alton to Waverly the fields all around looked absurdly abundant, rich black soil much of the world would die for, perfectly manicured, all that ground now seeded and embarrassingly bare naked, Dutch-Cleanser clean, gorgeous black dirt, all in place, things ready to grow.
  • Born in 1895, he was the child of a mixed marriage. His father's people were immigrant Dutch, his mother's immigrant German. He spent his boyhood in Hospers, a village on the seam. When he served, he did so in a fashion that suitably represented all, I'm sure. For forty years he held elective office, in D. C., from 1942-1965. Eleven times he was voted back into the House . Eleven times. Just about made him an institution. Some called him "Mr. Republican."
  • Now Iowa has holy places galore, but only one Grotto. Its ancestors are all in Spain or Portugal. No matter, let's go on a road trip, a little architectural tour. Come on along.
  • Not unlike Spirit Mound really, save in size. Drive a couple miles north from Vermillion, and there it is, growing as if out of nowhere, towering above an endless stretches of crop land in all directions, a sweetly climbable hump of earth, a grassy bee-hive with no reason whatsoever to be there--there stands Spirit Mound as if the entire seventh grade decided to build a massive model volcano.
  • Next time you’re in Kansas City, stop by the Negro Baseball League Museum, right there on 18th and Vine, a historic little neighborhood where once upon a time jumpin’ clubs up and down the street wrung out late-night blues like nowhere else. There’s a jazz museum right next door, too. Don’t know jazz all that well? A few hours in that interactive place, and you’ll come away knowing much more than you dreamed to know or hear.
Dr. Jim Schaap doesn’t know what on earth happens to his time these days, even though he should have plenty of it, retired as he is (from teaching literature and writing at Dordt College, Sioux Center, IA). If he’s not at a keyboard, most mornings he’s out on Siouxland’s country roads, running down stories that make him smile or leave him in awe. He is the author of several novels and a host of short stories and essays. His most recent publications include Up the Hill: Folk Tales from the Grave (stories), and Reading Mother Teresa (meditations). He lives with his wife Barbara in Alton, Iowa.