Small Town Iowa

 Small town Iowa. Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, living 10 miles from nowhere; we had to find things to occupy our time. In today’s era of Covid it seems as though it’s a snapshot back in time for many families that have school age children. The question is what do we do with all our time? Here are some of my memories.

We would spend hours climbing in our hay mow making forts and jumping into the broken bales of hay. When the sows were farrowing, we would pretend that we were watching a movie.  We spent the dog days of summer in the cow tank cooling off only to drag out every clean towel in the house. This always delighted my mom when she got home.

Kendra and I spent countless summer days with my dad building fence or hauling big round bales of hay home for winter. I remember Saturday mornings were not spent watching cartoons as we were expected to clean farrowing crates, castrate baby pigs; and ring sow noses so they could be turned out to pasture. We were not shy towards manual labor, scooping 15 tons of pig feed a week and forking more cornstalk bales than I can count.

We would play hide-and-seek tag with the 3-wheeler until one night we tried to play in the dark and Amy, my little sister, got ran over. We played baseball, ghost in the graveyard, and road our bikes.
We spent hours on our horses riding down the dirt road to play in the creek. Our parents would not know where we were for hours until we would come home when we were hungry or thirsty. 

Mom would always plant a large garden every year, nearly 100 tomato plants! Wow!! We would sneak out to the garden and eat all the cherry tomatoes. Only in the months that had the letter R in them, we would help grind horseradish. We collected honey from the beehives and butchered our own meat.

Our vacations were spent at the county fair and the state fair, working as a family to show case how hard we had worked all year.

The phone hung on the wall; it was mustard yellow with a long cord that you could twist around yourself after you rotary dialed grandma. Anyone could listen in on your conversation by picking up the other phone sitting on the bedroom dresser.

Time seemed to stand still, back in the day.
By: Gretchen McLain


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