All Posts By

James C. Schaap



Fifty years after it went out of style, he still wore his hair--great hair, by the way--in a duck tail. Had he let it grow a little longer, he might have passed for Sikh and never worn a turban. He…
April 20, 2018

What I learned on Spring Break, 1968

The night Dr. Martin Luther King was shot, four of us—small-town, small-college, white boys—were following the Gulf's eastern shore on an all-night trek from south Florida to New Orleans. It was spring break, 1968, only a few months from the…
April 6, 2018

The river in winter

The first matter of business when white folks came to the region was roughing out claims so they knew where each of the others was going to put down roots. Once that task was done, some of ye olde pioneers…
March 9, 2018

A Lenten Triptych from York, NE

Mildred Armstrong Kadish, in Little Heathens, her darling memoir of growing up on an Iowa farm during the Depression, claims that her family had only two oil lamps before rural electrification. It's unimaginable to think of how dark their world must…
February 23, 2018

Local Sodbuster Makes Good

When James Fenimore Cooper complained about the novel he was reading, his wife told him to put up or shut up, to just go ahead and write a better one himself. That tiff launched Cooper’s career, a novelist sometimes considered…
February 9, 2018

“An Outburst of Prayer”

__________________________________________ An Outburst of Prayer* at the coming of the locusts July 17, 1874 In the northern heavens something rises, from the horizon--fog maybe or smoke billowing so far up into the sky it takes my breath away, so high,…
January 26, 2018

Couteau de prairies

  I wasn't born and reared here. My home--I'm not sure how anyone finally defines that word--is really the western shore of Lake Michigan, where sunrise is almost always worth catching, but sunsets are, well, meh. When, initially, I lived out…
January 12, 2018

Massacre of the Innocents

Coventry, England, a city of 250,00 in the West Midlands, boasted significant industrial power when the Europe went to war in 1940, industries Hitler wouldn’t and didn’t miss. When the Battle of Britain began, a specific Coventry blitz started immediately…
December 29, 2017

Men Behaving Goodly

If I heard it once, I heard the story a dozen times. It was all about the gendered shape of conversation. Went like this. One of his early novels included a racy scene or two the relatives, his own kith…
December 15, 2017