Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Farm At Holstein Dip

The Farm At Holstein Dip

An Iowa Boyhood

By Carroll Engelhardt

Published by Bur Oak Books/ University of Iowa Press

Carroll Engelhardt, a Professor of  History at Concordia  College, Minnesota, grew up on a farm in the 1940s and 50s without the benefit of  the modern conveniences enjoyed by many other farming communities during the same timescale; his farmhouse home had no indoor plumbing, electricity or functioning heating, yet his childhood was filled with hard work and many happy memories indeed.

 Descended from Norwegian and German immigrants who settled in the beautiful and fertile Clayton County, a strong Protestant morality and work ethic dominated both the area and his own family.

Professor Engelhardt covers five main topic areas: Home, Farm, Town, Church and School, recounting his recollections and experiences relating to each. I had to smile at the description of his exceptionally thrifty, almost parsimonious father at home:
"Father feared additional fees for drilling a new well and excavating through limestone to install the septic system. This seemed so daunting that he refused to act. Living in the house for nearly four decades without running water, a water heater, and a modern bathroom inconvenienced Mother more than it did him."

The incredible details about farm life in Chapter Two will stay in my mind for a very long time; vicious bulls escaping, animals being slaughtered on the farm and daily seeing procreation gave him respect for all forms of life. Saturday nights saw them trooping to the local town of Elkader, whose delights constitute Chapter Three and lead naturally into school and church attendance and their impact on his life, covered in Chapters Four and Five.

This is an absolutely enchanting book, perfect for anyone who enjoys history, sociology, memoirs and/or rural life, and the stunning photos - especially of his grandparents and parents - give an evocative glimpse into a long-gone era.

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