All Posts By

James C. Schaap

Essay

Home-Schooled

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…
Essay

Tests

"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…
Essay

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…
Essay

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…
Essay

What’s still there

https://youtu.be/17l2wM33ysE 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…
Essay

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…
Essay

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.…
Essay

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…
Essay

The “Indian problem”

Ft. Laramie Treaty In his statement, Chairman Frazier cites the 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty that says “no white person or persons shall be permitted to settle upon or occupy any portion of the same; or without the consent of the…
Essay

Two Roads

I didn't know her well, just enough to tip my hat maybe, if I’d ever worn one. Probably said "hi" is all. She lived on the southwest corner of the block, a widow, her husband gone before we'd moved into…