Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

A classmate says, “Elkader will always be a special place. It was a very good time to grow up.” Writing about her Ames girlhood, Susan Allen Toth explains what made the forties and fifties special. We grew . . .

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Introduction

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pp. 1-13

During the mid-twentieth century, many Americans regarded the Middle West as “keeper of the nation’s values.” Rural rootedness of place gave meaning to the life of residents, which may be why columnist . . .

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1. Home

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pp. 15-56

On Monday, September 15, 1941, Mother’s labor began as she helped neighbor Elsie Felker serve the noon meal to silo fillers. She came home and summoned Dr. P. V. Hommel from Elkader just one mile away. . . .

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2. Farm

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pp. 57-87

The jingle of harnesses hooked to singletrees awakened me from a nap in an upstairs bedroom on a sultry afternoon. I sat up and looked out onto the mostly red-painted buildings that dotted our farmyard. I . . .

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3. Town

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pp. 89-124

Every Saturday evening, Mother heated water on the woodstove, put a galvanized tin tub on the kitchen floor, and bathed me until I grew old enough to wash myself mostly. Compelled by ingrained Norwegian . . .

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4. Church

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pp. 125-144

In the living room of our farm home on December 14, 1941, the Reverend Paul Kitterer baptized me as Carroll Lee. Grandparents Adolph and Ruth Olson were sponsors; brother Don, perched on Uncle Kenny’s . . .

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5. School

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pp. 145-184

On Tuesday, September 3, 1946, Mother and I entered the northeast door of the Elkader Public School to be greeted by the pungent odor of cleaning chemicals and the sight of freshly waxed floors that I . . .

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Conclusion

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pp. 185-192

Literary giants John Steinbeck and Thomas Wolfe concur in saying, “You can’t go home again because home has ceased to exist except in the moth balls of memory.” Yet reminiscence can be a “pilgrimage . . .

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Family Trees

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pp. 193-194

My great-great-grandparents Ole Pederson Lerkerud (1807–1890) and Anne Marie Iversdatter (1807–?) married on June 7, 1837, at Rakkestad, Norway. Their son, my great-grandfather Johan (John) Christian Olson (1840–1890), . . .

Notes

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pp. 195-213

Bibliography

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pp. 213-221

Index

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pp. 223-229