Postcards from Iowa #13

Copyright: Joan Liffring Zug, photographer.

Reverse side: Made by Dexter Press, West Hyack, New York. Published by Mennonite Historical Society of Iowa, Kalona, Ia. 52247. Old Order Amish and conservative Mennonite daughters wear traditional plain homemade dresses familiar throughout 450 years of Anabaptist history. These are the children of a buggy maker living and working near the Kalona Cheese plant of Twin County Dairy, Inc., Highway 1, Kalona, Ia.

Two girls posing for a photographer who had permission to take their picture. There has been more than a little controversy about photographing Mennonites and Old Order Amish. It is permissible with the former, and against views about graven images with the latter. The images are well-circulated.

I used to visit the Twin County Dairy when bicycling from Iowa City. Cycling alone for the exercise, I would stop and buy cheese curds at the dairy. That is, if it were open. Often my trips were predawn when the glow and flicker of kerosene lamps came from house windows and the doors of barns. I no longer travel to Kalona as I learned how to produce almost everything I formerly bought at Stringtown Grocery and other shops scattered in the rural area.

Twin County Dairy, established by a group of Amish and Mennonite farmers as a cooperative in 1946, was shuttered in 2014. Kalona Creamery, a part of Open Gates Business Development Corporation bought it the following year. Their businesses included Kalona OrganicsĀ®, Kalona Farms, Farmers Creamery, Awesome Refrigerated Transit of Iowa, and Provision Ingredients. I don’t know if they have a retail store that sells cheese curds. Since there is a creamery a few miles from home, I have no need to go and find out.

Author David Rhodes wrote about the area in his novel Rock Island Line. I have a library copy of the first edition, published in 1975. No doubt I bought it at a thrift shop. There is a rubber stamp inside the front cover that reads, “Outdated Removed from Circulation.” Young girls in the Mennonite community and their photographs won’t become outdated any time soon.