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Snapshots of A Changing Iowa

Updated: Oct 16, 2018

In November of 1983, when I finally loaded up my beige, bondo-ridden 1972 Toyota Celica and headed for sunny Southern California, full of hope for a thriving music career, I left an Iowa known for its corn and beans (cornfields are the tall plants, the shorter ones were soybeans), annual bike ride across the state, the cow sculpted from butter at the state fair, and friendly white people.

Lesser known were the thriving black music scene in Des Moines, the rich roots of Hispanic culture since the early railroad days, and general attitude "live and let live".

Northeast Iowa was entirely different. My mother grew up in the small Mississippi River town of Lansing.. The center of the "driftless region" (the area the two retreating glaciers did not flatten; see Kansas for contrast) Lansing felt like the town that time forgot. My grandfather and my great uncles were commercial fisherman in the summer, trappers in the winter. Their existence seemed much more 19th century than 20th. The

African-American people had not been seen here since they unloaded cotton off the barges in the 1930s. Not that diversity wasn't acknowledged: there were Lutherans, Methodists and Catholics.


The hills and bluffs made farming impractical,

1. The Buddha Comes to Northeast Iowa

2. Boats and Marinas

3. Nate the Rapper

4. Cart beers and wineries

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