Kurt Meyer writes a weekly column for the Nora Springs – Rockford Register, where this essay first appeared. He serves as chair of the executive committee (the equivalent of board chair) of Americans for Democratic Action, America’s most experienced liberal organization.
I led a life-long learning class at North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City this month. My subject: “Midwestern History as Told by Midwestern Authors,” a topic I selected last fall, when pandemic-limited plans prompted me to read (or re-read) various regional writers.
My premise has always been that history is much more than just key dates and major events. We benefit from knowing how previous generations lived, what they valued, and how they engaged in society. Greater understanding gives us a more enlightened perspective while strengthening our community ties. This doesn’t generally come about by reading history tomes – since most of us won’t – but rather by reading authors who set their fictional or autobiographical works in the Midwest.
In preparation, I stumbled upon a story that ran in the New York Times last December, although I missed it at the time. It involves North Iowa’s own Meredith Willson.Continue Reading...