An Iowa Diary, January 1981

Introduction. Over the years, I have been amazed at some of the unexpected finds in items I have purchased at auction, at a thrift store or at a garage sale. My most recent find is a few (too few) diary pages of an Iowan’s diary, plus some interesting letters. They were in one file folder of a file box, full of empty folders, that I purchased. The second I read one particular line from one of those items, I knew that I had to share my finds with you. We won’t reach that particular one today, but I think you’ll still like what you’ll find here. We start with one part of the diary. I have changed all names. Any similarity to a name you may know is purely coincidental. Some exact information including ages, addresses, and jobs, is changed into generalizations, with that information in brackets. An ellipsis shows the omission here of something in the diary.

[An Iowa Town] Jan. 1, 19870 [1981], Thurs. I am going to attempt keeping a diary this year. I usually start one, but it kind of fades away, as the year goes by. There were so many significant events in 1980. I wish I had written all of them for Annie, so when she is older (if we’re still around) she can read about them.

As 1980 [1981] begins this is how the Ben Cook family stands. Ben is [well under 40] years old. He works for [a meat processor]. He started there [last year], after being unemployed for [some] months. We found out only yesterday that he was promoted to [an important position].

I am still babysitting. Here is a list of the children I watch. Bea Ent [a pre-schooler], Fran Gelf [a toddler], Hugh Iaims [not yet a toddler], Jade Karm [not yet a toddler], Linda Miltz [a toddler], Ned Ott [a baby]..., and Peg Ent [a baby], (Bea’s sister), she’ll start in [a few weeks]. Keeping all of these kids keep me very busy.

We are both overweight and hope to lose a considerable amount of weight in 1981. We are both in the church choir.

Annie is [a toddler] and is as slick as a whistle. She’s a smart little kid and is growing more precious every day. That is not to say she is perfect; so at times, disciplinary actions are taken. She is very involved in having a good time and enjoys having Bea and Fran over here. She started taking ballet lessons last fall. She really enjoys it and is learning a lot.

This is what is happening with our families. Ben’s dad passed away [last year]. Ruth and Sue live in a trailer on [a certain] side of town. Both of them accepted Christ [last year]. Ruth is managing [a place of business, at [an indicated location]... . Sue is a first grader.

Tina Cook and Vic Wallace are still living together. They live on [a certain side of town]. Neither of them have accepted Christ. ... . 

Abe and Carol Bentz live in [an Iowa town]. They accepted Christ in 1979 and are active in [a church there]. They have 5 girls [names, and ages, with the eldest a teen-ager, and the youngest of preschool age]. Abe still drives a truck ... but is looking for something else. Carol babysits.

My parents still live in [an Iowa town]. Daddy ... still works for [a particular employer] but he really hates it. Mamma ... isn’t working. She is having [a health problem], which she is seeking help for. They attend [church] with us and Daddy is in the choir. They mean so very much to Annie.

Karl and Megan Lange (my sister) live [address]. They bought a cute house [last year], when they found out they were expecting their first child. ... . We’re betting it’s a girl. ... .

Nolan Ing (my brother) is [in a branch of the military, and where he is stationed]. He’s going to come home for a visit this spring.

We have 3 goals for 1981: (1) Adopt a baby boy, (2) Ben to get down to [a certain weight] and [I] to get down to [a certain weight], and (3) To buy a new car.

We woke up around 10 a.m. Annie slept until 11. We got up and watched the Tournament of Roses Parade. Ben worked on a presentation he has to give ... tomorrow. I worked on a crocheted crib blanket that I’m making for the Lange baby.

This evening we went over to Pete and Rose Quick’s. We had some homemade pizza and watched “The Goodbye Girl” on HBO. Got home after 10 p.m. Got Annie off to bed and then we went.

It’s getting colder. Had been up in the 40’s, but supposed to get down in the teens.

We now live at [address]. We live in a large ... house that sits on [size] of land. We bought it [last year]. It’s an older house. We’ve started to do some work on it - have begun stripping the wood work, landscaped the back yard and poured a patio. We have some neat ideas. Hope we can do them!

Afterword. The next entry I have from the writer’s diary is for January 20, 1981. It was an important date, and the writer has some perceptive comments about two of the events that happened that day. I don’t want to wait in presenting her excellent viewpoints to you, but I must.


Last Thursday, I arrived home, tired and weary from too much work, to find a bag hanging from my basement door, and the only door I use at my house. Looking inside, I found three garden-ripe tomatoes, nestled in cute little basket. No name--Drats! But I certainly enjoyed those tasty tomatoes as part of a very late supper. If my guess as to who gave the tomatoes right, I am doubly appreciative of the gift.

As fate would have it, entry into my house that evening was with a bit of rather unwanted comic relief. As I opened the inner door, it fell off its hinges. You have complete freedom to laugh at my surprise. I didn’t laugh then, but at least no damage was done to the tomatoes.

Tomatoes mature rapidly. Mine were that day on the verge of providing their bounty. By Sunday morning I had a surplus of my own, far beyond what I could use myself. Inspiration struck, although with considerable hesitation about what I was doing. I picked a good number of tomatoes, put them in a large colorful plastic bowl, and topped off the bowl with plenty of cherry tomato bunches. They went to church with me that day, to be free to anyone who wanted. The hesitation? The church is a country church, with most of its members good, industrious country folk. Would they all have gardens of their own, and my gifts of tomatoes find no home? To my immense pleasure, I came home with an empty bowl. Not everyone took some, but others appreciated them a lot. Small pleasures are indeed important.

I lost track of how ripe my white peaches are getting. On Sunday evening I looked, and found the ground under the tree littered with fallen peaches. I gathered up a few, and put them out at my place for anyone who wanted them. Someone did! And I still had a supper of peaches and milk. I don’t yet know how, but I’ll give the ground falls to people who want them. Then I’ll do my big, and much shortened, Walt’s Annual Great Peach Giveaway. Don’t wait. Contact me NOW for your own small white peaches. They won’t last very long. They are already fully ripe. They are badly blemished by the hail. But they taste mighty good.