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Memoir describes Iowa rural boyhood
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The Farm at Holstein Dip: An Iowa Boyhood by Carroll Englehardt will be available Aug. 15, from the Bur Oak Books series of the University of Iowa Press.
Engelhardt’s parents grew up in homes without electricity on farms without tractors. He began farming in the same way. As a farm boy in northeastern Iowa, he thought that history happened only to important people in earlier times and more exotic places.
After decades of teaching—he is an emeritus history faculty member at Concordia College, in Moorhead, Minn.—he perceived that history happens to us all, and he began writing this book.
The book provides personal contexts for the technological revolution in American agriculture, the Second World War, the Cold War, and the emerging culture of affluence.
Engelhardt writes about growing up in a spacious farmhouse where life was centered in the kitchen, and frugality dictated that every purchase be weighed carefully.
His chores grew up with him: He fed chickens and gathered eggs at age six, rode a horse on the hayfork at nine or 10, milked cows by hand at 11, and hired out to other farmers to load bales in the field and worked in the haymow at 15.
His book explores the simple pleasures and predictable routines of a Saturday night at the movies in nearby Elkader, Pioneer Days on the 4th of July, Confirmation Sunday, class picnics, and baseball and basketball games play out against a background of rural decline. This alternates with the economic uncertainty and prosperity, and Cold War anxiety—next to polio, the most feared Communist subversion and atomic blasts. The values and contradictions imparted by this evolving mix of international, national, and local cultures shaped his coming of age.
Larry A. Stone, the author of Gladys Black: The Legacy of Iowa’s Bird Lady, wrote, “A farm boy turned history professor, Carroll Engelhardt brings authenticity and meticulous detail to his descriptions of 1940s and ‘50s rural Iowa. His stories, from swimming in the creek to the politics of school reorganization to Saturday nights in town to adolescents at church camp, will charm anyone with memories of—or curiosity about—that era. And we share his lament that ‘a world has vanished in my lifetime.’”
The book will be available at bookstores or from the UI Press, 800-621-2736 or www.uiowapress.org. Customers in Europe, the Middle East, or Africa may order from Eurospan Group at www.eurospanbookstore.com.
Books in the Bur Oak series represent the UI Press’ dedication to celebrating the literature, history, geography, and culture of the Great Plains with an intense focus on natural history and environmental issues.