All Posts By

James C. Schaap

Essay

It’s a jungle out there

It's not a particularly good picture, but it'll have to do. That's our house up at the top, maybe fifty yards or so away from the camera and me. What's between us is five years' worth of sweat and toil…
Essay

How to teach slavery

I don't know how exactly--or who--told me I had to read Beloved. I do remember having a single copy of three Toni Morrison novels--one of them was Song of Solomon--on my shelf, but I hadn't read it when Beloved was published. My guess is…
Essay

Sacred

George Catlin, Ioways--note feathered headman's pipe When you're nine, I'm guessing you don't think much about the word sacred. We were already on our way when it occurred to me that our grandson probably needed to know something of it. I'm driving,…
Essay

Treasures

Hattie says that just before her mother got married, she’d left the farm to start working in a grocery in Springfield, SD, where some young men “seemed suddenly to have a greater hunger for candy and cigars.” One of those…
Essay

Pig-headed in Hog Country

Let me tell you a story: Fifteen years ago, I was in line at a grocery store, behind two Hispanic men checking out. The clerk—a high school girl—got frustrated because her customers had trouble with the English language. That she…
Essay

Ghost Town Legacy

Buxton, Iowa Could be an early 20th century shot from a lot of places on the map. There's a hill up the street, but the place looks like any of a thousand small towns from almost any region of the…
Essay

Language and the Lummi

After just about forty years of teaching students from all over the continent, I came to believe, grudgingly, that no geographic group adored their "homeland" with more lovesick passion than kids from the Pacific Northwest. Hundreds, being away, brayed like…
Essay

All about D-day

I didn't know him--couldn't have. He was killed four years before I was born. For years I wouldn't have known his story any more fully than I might have known the stories of any other veteran who didn't return from…
Essay

Musical Bewonderment

Last night I couldn't help thinking of an old story told to me long, long ago by an organist--the organist, the very one who'd been asked to do a concert on a brand new pipe organ a country church had just…
Essay

Job in the Panhandle

Job's friends had his health in mind, but none of them, nor their arguments, could satisfy the emptiness in his soul. He'd lost everything, his family, his land, his enterprise, even his health in a tsunami of bad times unlike…