All Posts By

James C. Schaap

Essay

The Purple Church

St. Charles Borromeo Church, St. Francis, Rosebud Reservation, SD It's purple. Well these days, some twenty hot years of Dakota sun later, St. Charles Church looks a bit pink; but originally it was purple. May well be the only purple…
Essay

The Ruth Suckow Park, Earlville

One of the cement plates standing in the park holds an image of the house she lived in here in Earlville, a little white house long gone, although things likely haven't changed much in the small town where Iowa novelist…
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The Pastor’s Guns

Religious visions were everywhere in the years preceding the Civil War. Boom towns out west here may have been hell holes for a time, but they were also peopled by starry-eyed believers who claimed their marching orders came from on…
Essay

The Story of Academy

Out in the middle of nowhere, the old white frame building is all that remains of a heart-felt dream that, as an answer to prayer, opened its doors in 1893 to frontier kids who wanted the kind of education not…
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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…
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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,…
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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…
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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…