A Place Called Iowa

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In addition to characters that we can love, the second thing a good book needs is a place. A setting. I have always loved small towns – which to me meant 15,000 people or so. I remember road trips in California and Montana and Idaho and driving past dinky little towns in the middle of nowhere with a population of 1,203 and I would feel so sorry for the people and think, “Who would ever want to live in a town that size? And why would anyone EVER want to move there?”

So when my sister and best friend asked me to meet her in a tiny town in in the middle of nowhere in Iowa to check out a house she found online, my first thought was, “Yay! We’ll live close to one another – only seven hours apart!”

But then I came here, and I saw their house – they purchased it on the spot – a bona fide mansion in a very small town – and I witnessed their happiness and found out that there was a Target store less than an hour away, I became obsessed with moving there myself. Even more so when I found a house that I absolutely adored, just sitting there, empty. For years.

It was a 1913 Sears House with all of the original woodwork and it still even had its wavy glass windows and wood siding. Nobody wanted it because it needed repairs. A “Sears House” is a home that would arrive by train in several crates “and with a hammer and an allen wrench you can put it together yourself!” Well, not quite, but it’s unbelievable that regular people would simply put them together. It’s the ultimate DIY. To the right is a copy of the catalog page from the Sears Roebuck catalog.


Note the mention of
“Priscilla windows” in the attic. They strongly come into play in my book.


Hollyhock House

I loved the house. My sister was moving to this town, we would be blocks apart. Was this something I could do, leave everything, my security and all else behind?

Reader, I did. And the rest, as they say, is the Present, Past and Future.

And for good measure, below is Miss “Oh-look-at-me-I-can-draw” Nina’s version.

Nina's Illustration of Hollyhock House





Sears catalog page used with permission, Homes in A Box: Modern Homes from Sears Roebuck, courtesy of Schiffer Publishing Ltd.

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4 Commentsto A Place Called Iowa

  1. Nancy From Food Ave Target Kirkwood. says:

    Just like I thought it would look.

    • Ruth says:

      Hey dere, Nancy!

      Send me your email addy, I won’t post it of course, and we can write proper.



  2. Nancy From Food Ave Target Kirkwood. says:

    How wonderful! I love a porch.

  3. Nancy From Food Ave Target Kirkwood. says:

    What a beautiful Home!