The political, social and economic environment in Iowa deteriorated substantially over the last few years. What I mean is the 87th Iowa General Assembly was a pisser. What’s a person to do?
First thought was to chuck it all and move near our daughter in Florida. Father attended Leon High School in Tallahassee, and I worked for several months in nearby Ochlocknee, Georgia. I became enamored of the Spanish moss hanging from trees lining Highway 319 as I drove back and forth to the Tallahassee airport. “You and mom wouldn’t like it here,” our daughter wisely said.
If the sunshine state is out, what about Minnesota? It’s not far away and we have family roots there. They also have Democratic U.S. Senators — what’s not to like about that?
Our family doesn’t know much about why great, great grandfather left the Pennsylvania coal mines and moved to Lincoln County, Minnesota in the last decades of the 19th Century. Maciej Nadolski bought land from the railroad and settled a couple miles west of Wilno where he would go to town, drink adult beverages, and sleep in the wagon as the horse took him home. He did so even after his spouse joined him from Poland.
Wilno was the creation of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, the Polish National Alliance and the Catholic Church, according to Wikipedia. It seemed a lot like Iowa. I visited Saint John Cantius Church (established 1883) after Grandmother died and met briefly with the parish priest. He mailed our grandmother’s baptismal record. I drove the route the horse took to the home place where the then current owners let me look around. People in Ivanhoe, the county seat, weren’t wealthy and a bit scrappier than in Iowa. I was related to a number of people I met — shirt tail relatives were everywhere.
A few stories about farm life survived through family oral history. We know farming did not work out for the large Nadolski family. After 20 years in Lincoln County, they moved north near Argyle and tried it again. After ten years in Argyle, most of the family moved near LaSalle, Illinois.
Other parts of Minnesota might not be so bad. Grandmother worked as a maid in Minneapolis when she was young. We don’t like city life so much, but there are small rural cities like the one we live near today. Why not Minnesota?
I’ll tell you why. I was born in Iowa and this is my state. If the political, social and economic climate is not to my liking, I’d better damn well get busy and work to fix it. Thing is, my values are not that different from the values of most people I know. This creates an opportunity for change.
If my first reaction to the 87th Iowa General Assembly was “Nuts! I’m moving to Minnesota,” it is natural to revert to who we are in crisis. Now that we’re home, it’s time to get up from the wagon, sleep off the booze, and get busy building the environment in which we want to live. It can be done, it should be, and we’re up to the task.