All Posts By

James C. Schaap


Father Baraga on shore

You’ll drive a long way to find a sandy beach on Minnesota's north shore. That humpy stuff roiling beneath your feet looks and feels like lava, which it is, surprising as that may seem with not a mountain anywhere close.…
October 16, 2020


Truth be told, there weren't all that many people around. I was a little disappointed in the size of the crowd--three or four dozen, most of them, like me, decidedly on the far side of their forties. A pandemic is raging…
October 2, 2020


A couple of weeks ago, out west on the Oregon Trail, I couldn't help being astounded by both the clockwork and the sheer number of Union Pacific long-haulers passing, one after another after another, on their way east, each heavy…
September 18, 2020


"It was a test," he told me, after pulling me aside. "It's a story I thought you'd like, a story I wanted to tell you." We were in the den, a couple rooms away from the jabbering coming the family…
September 4, 2020

The story of the story

Found it. I just hadn’t read the small print. I had turned right off the gravel road and headed to the scruffy Cather Township cemetery where a number of Cathers are buried. Not Willa--that I knew. But I was hoping…
August 21, 2020

Church Visitors

We were blessed to get into the place. The blasted Covid stuff is closing everything these days, and with good reason. But our permission to enter had some contingencies: "you can come and I can let you in, but if…
August 7, 2020

What’s still there It was, I'd like to believe, at least something like this rendition--big choir, lots of folks on stage. I was a boy--kindergarten, first grade or second--and it seems to me that the woman who ran the whole pageant that…
July 24, 2020

John Henry Kok — 1948-2020

He was a colleague, my boss, my editor and, for a long, long time, our neighbor and good, good friend. From just across the street, we watched him grow up as a father with all those kids—six of them—some of…
July 10, 2020

Blowing in the wind

The land out back is vacant, all flood plain.  Nobody will build behind us, so we’ve got an acre of grass, native flowers, and Russian thistles, who get my daily attention. It’s wide open, the horizon yawning out for miles.…
June 12, 2020

Silas Soule and Fortitude

As much an adventurer as anyone else from out east, Silas Soule went west when what was back home wouldn't cut it any longer. He was just a kid, but he knew--his abolitionist father told him--that what was out there…
May 29, 2020