On Monday, March 9, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed a Proclamation declaring March 18, 2015, “I Grew Up Country Day” – in Iowa and wherever food is produced.
Haven’t heard of “I Grew Up Country”? Let alone a day to celebrate it? Not surprising. The day and the concept are brand new, the brainchild of fellow author Shirley Hershey Showalter and myself.
Last fall, Shirley and I shared the podium for a reading from our memoirs at Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City. Afterwards, over a latte, we discussed the fact that every time we shared our own stories about growing up on farms in the 1950s, people were eager to step up and tell us their stories.
Readers of my memoir Growing Up Country told me the stories made them think of their own growing up years; they also told me reading these simple stories made their own lives and their memories more important somehow. Shirley heard from people who read her memoir Blush and remembered butchering day, baling hay, milking cows, swimming in farm ponds, and downing food from tables loaded with fresh produce, meats, and homemade desserts.
We agreed we needed a place for all these people to find each other, to share their stories, to take pride in their collective appreciation for the country way of life.
The seed of an idea began to germinate. Over the weeks it took root, and this month, Shirley and I are kicking off “I Grew Up Country,” an initiative to encourage, collect, and celebrate stories of growing up country.
Here’s how we’re spreading the news:
- Governor Branstad had the convening power to draw attention to the initiative by signing the Proclamation.
- Millie Kalish, author of critically-acclaimed, New York Times-reviewed Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression joined our effort, bringing star power and high energy to the effort.
- A new “I Grew Up Country” Facebook page provides a platform for people to interact and share their stories. To find it, just type in the name or click here.
- Media interviews and social media outreach will help spread the word.
We’d like to hear from you.
Our collaborator Millie had a great idea. She encourages any one who grew up country, to tell us how you’d complete the sentence:
“I know I Grew Up Country because …”
She even suggested a few answers, which brought smiles of recognition from Shirley and me. Here’s Millie’s contribution to start us off.
“You know you grew up country: If you bring home more stuff from the dump than you went with … Or you know you grew up country if you can sew on a button or hem a skirt … Or, You know you grew up country if you have ever stood barefoot in a garden eating a sun-ripened tomato — the juice dripping down your arm and off your elbow.”
Leave a message here and click on over to Facebook to meet other country folks and share your stories there. And, please, spread this news to anyone you know who grew up country.