Friday, August 24, 2012

Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl

Finally, a feel good read!  After the disasters of the Titanic and the Dust Bowl, I intentionally set out to find a book I could fully enjoy.  I found it in Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl by Carol Bodensteiner.

What a breath of fresh air -- and Iowa fresh air at that.  I love Iowa.  Both of my grandmothers were born there, and, like the author, my Grandma Jan grew up on a dairy farm.  Bodensteiner is about a decade younger than my grandmother, and her book includes childhood memories mostly from the 1950's. Still, many of her experiences reminded me of stories I have heard from my grandmother and the voice recordings from my great grandmother (which I am currently editing and preparing for my family history).

My grandmother had housework, cooking, 4H activities, etc. in common with the author.  Of particular interest to me were the details of farm chores on a family run dairy farm.  My great grandparents Arthur and Irene Beem ran a dairy farm during this same time and were even the highest producers in Iowa for a few years.

Some of my own Iowa farm people: including three generations of my family.
I had the great privilege of visiting the farm before it was sold out of the family, and those memories will remain dear to me for the rest of my life.  I may not be an actual Iowa girl, but I love Iowa all the same.  This book helped me connect even more with my roots.

Do you need to have a personal interest in Iowa or dairy farming to enjoy this book?  I don't think so.  The childhood memories are funny, entertaining, and all about growing up and taking on more responsibility joyfully.  I had to pace myself or the pleasure of reading this book would have been over too soon.

When the most distressing part of a story is when an almost 12 year old girl finds out Santa Claus isn't real, life can't be all that bad.  It was a bitterly disillusioning moment in the author's life and only compounded my resolve to teach Anna the joy of Christmas WITHOUT the deception of Santa Claus.  Jesus is more than enough to celebrate!  Besides the Santa Claus issue, I would give Bodensteiner's parents an A+ in parenting.

If you are anything like me, you will love this book!

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