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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



I have fond memories of growing up on the farm. Certainly more good than bad seeps into my memory from time to time. I stood at the kitchen window looking out the other day, thinking about those days. There in the back yard, I could see in my mind the old battered barn that stood there when I was little. The way the driveway curved back around it heading back to an old chicken house that sat farther back on the property and was home to a herd of cattle that were thought to be lost during one strong blizzard when I was young. To the south…I remembered the silo at the neighbors farm. The windsock one of the first things I would look up at every morning. Knowing that that house always was a safe place if ever I needed one.

To the north…the old farm. The site of my youth. The place of games in the hayloft, a summer project of cleaning out years of manure and muck to find the concrete floor, the large side yard garden where Mom would plant and tend the crops that fed a group of hungry young boys, and where I learned not only about happiness, but of sadness as well. It was there growing up that being a farm kid meant something special to me. The place where we would go to play in the pile of corn cobs after the sheller had been to the farm. The old chicken coup that had been turned into a fort. The trees and nooks and crannies of that farm that I had walked and run over time and time again.

Farther on past the grove of trees to my grandparents farm. I can still see the white barn there, the little brooder house so warm in the winter filled in early spring with the excited peeping of young chicks. I can remember the smell of the house, the way the basement always had a damp chilly smell. The door of my aunts bedroom bedecked with bumper stickers. The old apple tree that our elders played horse shoes by.

And on each small farm around me, I can remember the faces and the names of the people who would drive by our farm as we boys would wave from our games in the front yard. There was Cliff Stanley who used to drive so slowly by our house we thought he would never make it down the road. Howard and Ardis Walker, who lived in the big house up the lane across from my grandparents. I can still see Howards smile whenever we saw him. There was Allen and Marie Atherton our adopted grandparents, always there and always happy to see three rambunctious boys. Irene Schwenneker, who lived up the road by Virgil and Dorothy Sanborn. We loved Irene when she would drive by and honk at us, and in her later years would ask me to come visit with her on the porch. Virgil would come down and take us kids for a ride in his Model T, which was pretty exciting for us young boys. And Dorothy not only taught us about Iowa history and was our teacher but even today we know her as our friend.

I remember those fields, the ones I learned closely walking beans in. The places I learned first to drive a tractor then the old orange Chevy truck in. The pastures I walked and rode King the horse over until I knew every cow wallow and tile outlet. Those fields today seem less foreboding and smaller than I remember from my youth.

And as I look around I’m reminded of the change that has come in 40 years. The loss of some, and the addition of others. Today traffic is faster on those old roads, the barns and silos of my youth are gone, the names fading slowly into memory. But in those quiet alone hours all I need to do is to close my eyes and go back to those days, so very close in my mind and yet so very far away.

See you next week. Remember, we’re all in this together.