This is my “I” contribution to the “A to Z Challenge.”
This may come as a shock to some of you, but I do actually love Iowa – the state where I was born and raised.
Even though I was born in the state capital, I spent the first 14 years of my life in small-town Iowa. When I say that, I’m being serious because it was a group of 200.
I gotta say, even though I grew up in a small town, it was really awesome. These are just some of the reasons why.
- You could see the stars at night
- Riding your bike over the “laying policemen” at the edge of town and trying not to get bucked off was a fun pastime
- You could bike across town without anyone being worried something would happen to you
- You could spend long hours at the public library
- We would play with post-WWII era school equipment because no one had “bubble wrapped” it yet. I’m talking giant metal slides (that totally faced the wrong direction), giant merry-go-rounds, teeter-totters and huge metal jungle gyms. All on top of concrete. It would give suburban SAHM’s today a heart attack.
- We lived in the flood plain of the Loess Hills – which are only found in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska (boo) and of all places, Germany
- We rode the bus ALL the way to the next big city to school every day
- You could watch the soybeans and corn grow right where your yard butted up to the farmland
- I discovered that bats look like cute little mice when they take up residence in the rafters of your clubhouse
- We were able to have outdoor/indoor cats
- We had to bus out of town for swimming lessons, so you’d be gone all day in the summer
- Everyone at church knew who you were, and all the old church ladies were super nice to you because your grandma was part of the church choir
- I could walk to the local gas station/mini-mart with a handful of cash and my red Radio Flyer wagon to pick up milk, and no one looked at me funny for it. Heck, they even helped me carry it out to my wagon!
- Catching fireflies, only to rip off their butts and stick them on your face and hands so you’d glow in the dark
- We had contests to see how many toads/frogs you could catch – bonus points if they were the baby ones because those suckers are FAST!
- My sister and I got real good at swinging a garden hoe as we walked to the swing set to protect ourselves from garter snakes
- Celebrating May Day with the neighbor girl down the street, then running away as fast as you could when she opened the door so she couldn’t kiss you (don’t ask)
- Having a neighbor down the street that raised peacocks
- Being able to sell snowballs to the neighbors until your parents made you give the money back
- No sirens or crazy sounds unless it was the tornado siren – and when that went off, you RAN to the basement with the flashlight (because it was a cement floor) and huddled with the dog and cats until the all clear while listening to the radio.
There were also a bunch of random things in Iowa that I enjoyed.
Like the fact that I lived just 30 minutes away from Trinity Heights after we moved – you know, the little known Jesus-themed roadside attraction where you could see a life-size wood carving of the Last Supper.
When we moved around winter break when I was 14, I was living in the Ice Cream Capital of the World.
It’s hard not to miss the Giant Statue of Pocahontas outside of Pocahontas, IA. Not to mention the Castles of Ida Grove. I remember driving past the Fighter Plane Park in Correctionville quite often as a kid.
So, for as boring as Iowa can be, it actually had quite a bit of history and some strange roadside attractions. If you want to know what they all are, I encourage you to take a look.
To close out this post, I’m going to tell you a true story. When I was about… 3, my parents told me we were going to Cedar Rapids, IA. Upon getting there, and being told “we’re here,” I guess I gave them a funny look which caused one of my parents to inquire what was wrong. I simply responded:
Where are they? I thought we were here to see ‘da rabbits?