My A to Z challenge has brought me back to America today … to a state that is near and dear to my heart mostly because it is where my husband Daniel was born and grew up!
I is for Iowa.
I am no expert on this state famous for its corn, soybean and pork production and the Iowa State Fair. In fact, before I met my husband during our Senior year of college in Tennessee, I had never even met anyone from the state of Iowa, and I’d never even been west of the Mississippi River.
(Western Iowa – summer 2008)
My first visit to Iowa was probably sometime around 1995, 3 years after we’d been married. And Iowa was everything I imagined: corn fields, wind mills, neat yards, Northern European influences, and really nice people. In fact, the slogan that greeted us on the Iowa border welcome sign said, “Iowa – You make me smile.” Apparently, it was a hotly debated slogan and was replaced with “Iowa – A Place to Grow”. Not sure what the state slogan is today (Melanie??), or if this one has remained.
(Daniel by the tall – though quite dried out corn stalks – in September of 2000)
Anyway, we’ve crossed the state of Iowa several times in the course of 21 years of marriage. Daniel’s mother’s parents lived in Western Iowa, and his paternal grandparents lived in Southeastern Iowa. Interstate 80 often took us from one end of the state to the other.
Incidentally, my husband is no Iowa farm boy. He was born in Western Iowa but because his father was an Iowa state trooper, his family moved all over the state, although he lived the longest in Ottumwa in Southeastern Iowa and graduated from high school there.
His maternal grandfather was a farmer, and the family still rents out the land that he owned. When my husband was in 6th grade, his family lived in the farm house for a year while his dad was stationed in Western Iowa, and they did experience life with no air conditioning and limited heat sources during that time so you can say he’s had some experiences many people of our generation have not! His paternal grandfather was a farmer-turned-pastor, who started and pastored a few Baptist churches in SE Iowa after he attended seminary.
A few Iowan points of interest that I’ve visited: Eldon, Iowa (above), which is in the same county as Ottumwa. The American Gothic house – made famous in a painting by Grant Wood – is located here. Daniel and I attempted to recreate the scene when we were there in the summer of 1995.
A side note is that actor/comedian Tom Arnold and his then-wife Roseanne Barr had a diner in Eldon from 1993 to 1995. Tom Arnold was originally from Ottumwa.
Pella (picture above) is a Dutch-influenced city in kind of south-central Iowa (Marion County). There is a little Dutch village to visit – complete with a windmill and a Tulip Festival in the springtime – and an opera house. We visited there in September of 2000.
Another town with a sort of famous windmill is Elk Horn, in Western Iowa. It is actually a Danish (not Dutch!) town with a windmill brought over in pieces from Denmark and rebuilt in the town center.
The Danish Immigration Museum is also in Elk Horn, and some of my husband’s paternal ancestors are listed there as first general Americans who came from Denmark.
The capital city of Des Moines has a lovely capitol building with a central golden dome (among 5 total domes!).
And that is just a very brief overview of the little bit I know of Iowa. I really used to think we should some day try to live in Iowa … but then again, I’ve never been there in the winter!! While the snowscapes look lovely on my Iowan friend Melanie’s blog, I do think we might need to consider the cold and snow aspect of this state.
Oh, and no blog post about my husband and Iowa mentioned in the same space would be complete without me saying: GO HAWKS!!!
(some information and picture of DM capitol from Wikipedia … Hawkeye logo from ncaa logo pic site)