Marcus, Iowa Memories, published by the Marcus Historical Society
Five out of five stars
Marcus, Iowa is a town of approximately 1,100 people in northwest Iowa, and that number has not varied for almost a century. The census population of 1920 was 1,091 and the number for 2010 was 1,117. While the numbers have not changed, the lifestyles certainly have and many of those changes are recorded in this book.
It contains a collection of short personal accounts of people that lived in the area of Marcus, many were farmers at a time when farm life was primitive. Water was taken from a well with a hand pump, there was no electricity and toilet facilities consisted of pots in the house and a small building out the back. Many of the contributors talk about their experiences and the amount of work that they had to do.
Most of the people worked on farms or had jobs related to agriculture. A small number owned businesses in the town, but very few. There are memories of country school life, Saturday night trips to town for supplies and socializing, attending church and surviving wild weather extremes.
Although each person’s life is of course different, the experiences recounted tend to be similar to what others growing up in the Midwest experienced. When I was growing up, neither of my grandparents homes had indoor toilets, although one had electricity and running water. However, the house of my paternal grandparents did not have electricity or running water. I remember kerosene lanterns, wood burning stoves and running a hand pump to fill a bucket of water. In retrospect, like the accounts in this book, we just accepted things the way they were.
There has been an enormous amount of change in the past 100 years, personal stories like this demonstrate how people lived their lives, they did all the things that people do. In many ways things are better, yet in one way they are not. Decades ago, children simply said they were going to go play and off they went, not to be seen or heard from for hours. We swam in the creek, climbed trees, built forts, explored wooded areas, flew on what we called Tarzan swings out over deep ditches and in general had a rousing good time. Even though they worked hard, so did the people featured in this book.