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Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl Kindle Edition
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I loved every one of the stories, except for the one about the cow with milk fever and the last one. But such is life, and the bad times are not papered over. I came to know Carol, her two sisters, two grandmothers, mom and dad, and her schoolmates and Mrs. Fowler almost as if they were my own neighbors. Carol, or Squirt, took me through her lessons, mischief, trials and accomplishments. My chest fill with pride when Squirt accomplished her goals, whether it was lifting a milk pail, or selling her radishes, and I felt keen disappointments at her setbacks, especially the 4H club, the bet, and the carny.
This book was so rich and filled adventures and historical information, I wouldn't be surprised if it were read in history classes. It went beyond farm life to the way people lived, interacted, hoped and feared during the pre-Sputnik times. Carol combined the voice of her childhood with her wiser adult voice looking back in a seamless manner. It's incredible how much detail she remembered from fifty years ago. What a wonderfully nostalgic view of life in time and place that no longer exists. Carol has done an excellent job of preserving it, much like her mother preserved vegetables, she preserved memories.
I never did get that porch with the swing seat but, now, thanks to Carol Bodenstiener, I can get to have that warm, fuzzy feeling all over again. Her book, Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl, is the closest thing I think I’ll get to that Walton experience. Bodensteiner’s beautifully written book recounts her life growing up with her sisters and parents on an Iowa dairy farm in the Sixties and Seventies. It is a life that is certainly seen through rose-tinted glasses, but it is all the better for that because Bodensteiner captures it perfectly.
This is a charming book, full of great descriptive writing in a series of short stories that encapsulate life in those times. Life in the Bodensteiner childhood wasn’t short of chores – from killing and plucking chickens to bringing in the hay or milking the cows. However, it was also a life filled with love – both for the work itself and for those doing it.
A good author, I feel, is one who can make passages seem economic and effortless. Bodensteiner achieves this with aplomb. She is a very gifted writer and one who can put you in a scene immediately.
My stomach rumbled and my nose twitched as I practically tasted the homemade pies and smelled the fried chicken as it cooked in her childhood home. I’m a city boy and don’t know one end of a cow from the other but such is the skill of Bodensteiner’s descriptive writing that I think I could have set up my own milking parlour by the end of this book.
If you want to escape the pressures of your daily life and get away from the rat race, this is a must-read book. You will feel all the better at the end of it and will lament its passing almost as much as you will regret the fact that you never got to taste some of that Iowa farm home cooking.
And that is the gift of this memoir, the perspective that is given and the vision of a time in history that is mostly gone now along with the way of privately held farms. I so enjoyed my visit through the pages. If you're looking for something to read that's heartwarming and endearing, a book to tuck up with on a Sunday afternoon, or any afternoon, I highly recommend this one. You will love it.
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