Monday, July 23, 2012

Heading Back to my roots this week

Tomorrow I head out on another adventure.....this one with my mom. We are on our way to the Vanden Bosch Reunion in Sioux Center, Iowa - right smack dab in the middle of farm country. Memories come rushing back as I think about all the trips we made to Iowa as kids. They were the highlight of our summers - a week spent in the fresh air, going from cousins to cousins homes to spend a day here and a night there. Even the tiny one traffic light town of Rock Valley holds memories since we always made a trip to the bakery and the penny candy store. My grandparents lived a few blocks from town, once they retired, and we could walk which was an adventure in itself. Wide tree - lined streets, just called for you to walk down them. On Sundays we always walked to church - hearing the bells calling attention to the time. The creaky floorboards in the old church drew attention to each family as they walked to "their" pew and you could always count on a dutch peppermint passed down the aisle in a knotted handkerchief when the sermon started. Then the best part was cake and coffee at grandma's, various aunts bringing other sweet treats along, followed by a large Sunday dinner. You could pretty much say Sunday was a day of rest and feasting. We ate all day. Of course the other six days of the week were similar too. Farmers were hungry guys - they were always ready for breakfast, lunch, dinner, lunch, supper, lunch and less you think I jest - that is how we ate when we were there and let me tell you - those aunties could cook. "Lunch" was really just a mid morning and mid afternoon and mid evening break and might consist of a ham bun and a slice of cake or a handful of cookies. Of course a full morning or afternoon of work made that extra meal worthwhile and the calories were easily burned off in the barn or the field. We children always played outside all day long. All manner of games (Red Light, Green Light, Red Rover, Tag,) kept us active long into the evening. Grandpa had a giant rope swing that could seat about 20 cousins on it - guaranteed to give you at least one splinter or rope burn per summer. Uncle "Dutch" had the sack swing - an old feed sack stuffed with hay tied by rope to a tall tree. One had to jump off an old barrel and then swing until you were ready to jump off. Always better to jump when the swing still had some momentum than to just drop off - that almost always was followed by "rug burn" somewhere you rather not have to deal with. Even better were the summers as teens when we got paid to "walk the beans" (about 25 cents an hour) or to detassle corn - a few more dollars. This city girl was shocked to find out there were male and female ears. I worked one summer for a feed company and stayed all summer with one of my favorite cousins. We had sun burn blisters and itchy scratched up arms to show for it but a nice little chunk of change to set aside too.
So I eagerly anticipate the dusty dirt roads, the squared off miles, slow moving farm vehicles riding down Main Street and family. There are still 8 aunts and uncles left and since we started out with 52 "first" cousins there are hundreds of those to choose from when you count spouses, children and grandchildren. I am one of the younger bunch of grandchildren so a reunion is bound to have 4 and possibly 5 generations present. The first reunion was in 2000 - there were over 300 present at the main event. Numbers have dwindled over the years - we meet every three. Many of the generations have spread further and further out from the family home of Rock Valley, Doon, and Sioux Center areas even though all but one child of my grandparents raised their families within a few miles of the original homestead. I am sure the area has changed since I was last out there five years ago but I'm hoping that every little town still has a bakery and serves up some "banquet" (bon - ket) or almond patties, as they have been anglicized, now that the community is no longer all Dutch.

Hopefully my mother will break into song at least once with "You ask which land I love the best, Iowa, oh Iowa. The sweetest land in all the west" get the picture