On Country Lanes

Grandma and Grandpa Thelen’s Home Place, west of Breda, IA, in the 1960’s. I spent so much time here with my Aunt Nancy and cousins galore.

There used to be a farm that is now no more. Over and over, many farms are now no more.

It must be that as we get older, things from the past become more valuable, like my childhood farm, near here.

I pride myself on not being too nostalgic. The present is just so exciting!

We chose this quote for our water bottles at Cupcake Island, in Omaha, in 2006.

I thought of this quote, (along with the more familiar “You can’t go home again”, from the Thomas Wolfe book title) as Dan and I searched this past August for the farm of my youth, near Breda, Iowa. Our family moved from there in 1961, to Carroll, about 15 miles away, when I was in 4th grade.

We didn’t find it. I was so disappointed! Still, it was a gorgeous day, and worthwhile for the change in scenery.

We did see the land where my grandparent’s farm was. All that’s left of it today is everyone’s favorite tree. I think it was saved by the farmer (a relative) for our enjoyment.

The tree, looking to the west, from the road by the Snappy popcorn bins.
Another view of the tree, along with a windmill, from the north, near where the lane used to be, judging by the mailbox.

We also saw a familiar farm, now planted with exquisite wildflowers in a huge swath of it.

Nice work!

I knew the farm (and the lane) we were searching for was nearby. Dan patiently tried so hard to find it for me. We drove around in circles (squares actually). He remembered every intersection, telling me often, “We’ve already gone that way.” Patience was wearing thin, so we called it a day, and moved on.

Later, I asked Nancy, who lives nearby, “Will you please check out our old farm? And, do you know if the lane is still there?” She soon reported back that the lane is gone. The crops have taken it over.

Next, I enlisted my younger brother, Ed, to help. He would remember our years there. The first thing he did was to sketch out the location from the flower farm. It was so close, 1 mile north, and 1/3 mile west. Dan said, “We didn’t go that way.” I couldn’t believe it!

Ed’s sketch. Color markings are mine.

Then, Ed showed me a website that had a Historical Aerial Photo Project, and he found our farm! This was fantastic! Warm feelings ensued as I saw the very long lane leading to the cluster of farm buildings in 1960.

From the Iowadnr.gov website

Here is something I wrote on July 1, 2012:

This is the lane that our Aunt Janet called a “roller coaster” lane for its hills and valleys. Back then, in the 1950’s, it seemed so long!

On Friday (June 29), my brother, Ed, and I drove onto that lane and it didn’t seem so long. But it was a country lane packed with memory and emotion.

This is the lane where a parade of honking, headlighted cars came down on a July night long ago to surprise Mom and Dad on their anniversary (July 2) and to celebrate in the yard, where I saw Mom and Dad kiss for the first time, ha ha!


This is the lane that Dad carried me down in multi-foot deep snow to catch the car pool to school for first grade.

This is the lane that the oil man came down to deliver our heating oil, and to give us kids candy or gum. His name was Woody. My brothers and I would run up to him, shouting his name. We were so excited to have this visitor arrive!

Now, with the lane being no more, these stories, (and more), are just a memory.


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