I grew up on farms in southwest Iowa not far from the “Bridges of Madison County.” The composite picture above was taken on a farm once owned by my great-great uncle. On the hill to the right there was a store where Jesse James and his gang shopped. There were no other stores in the area at the time. Believe it or not, this is a credible story. The river and surrounding timber would have made good cover for the gang when they robbed the train at Adair, Iowa, and returned to their homes in northern Missouri as well as on other treks north. On an Iowa map, look for a river that crosses U. S. Highway 34, just west of the Adams County line. The river and surrounding timber go all the way to Missouri. (It just happens that that river where it crosses Highway 34 is on land my parents owned, part of which I still own!)
I attended rural one-room schools through the eighth grade. My parents were both active readers, and they read aloud to my brother and me from the time we were born. They also took us on car trips around most of the U. S., including a trip through the South in 1946.
After I graduated from college in 1961, I spent a year as a high school librarian in Sidney, Montana, and three years as an assistant high school librarian in Minot, North Dakota. I can tell you that walking to work at 52 degrees below zero in Montana is every bit as unpleasant as walking to work at 100 degrees above zero in South Carolina!
By 1965 I had saved enough money to go to the University of Washington to earn my Masters in Librarianship. Seattle is beautiful and a wonderful place to be if you can tolerate long stretches of cloudy, rainy weather. After I finished my degree, I returned to Iowa to work in various positions in the library at Iowa State University. I worked there until December, 1973.
I decided library administration was not the way I wanted to spend my life. I preferred teaching. In January 1974 I began work on my PhD at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. By the summer of 1977 I had finished my dissertation research and most of my analysis and writing, so I interviewed for teaching positions. I accepted the position offered me by the University of South Carolina, and I’ve been in Columbia ever since.
I met my husband, Bill, here. He was a senior NCO in the U. S. Army stationed at Fort Jackson’s Moncrief Army Community Hospital. Later, he had orders to Fort Sam Houston, Texas. During those years, I packed up my laptop between university sessions and headed for Texas. We married in 1991, and Bill retired in 1992. He has a son, Todd Hall, who lives with his wife, Renae, in Illinois. They, of course, are special to me.
So what am I doing in retirement? Well, I still make occasional guest appearances in classes at SLIS, and I still do occasional workshops at USC and elsewhere. I’m working on the Linda Lucas Walling Collection. I am also studying tai chi and chi gong. I do circuit training and other “workout” activities regularly. I’ve taken some art lessons, and I write some haiku-style poems, I do some bead crafts, and I design my own Christmas/holiday cards. I still own two small farms in Iowa, and we have several relatives and good friends in Iowa, Illinois, and surrounding states. I make regular Iowa trips at least once a year. Bill calls me a fax and phone farmer because that’s how I stay in contact with the neighbor who farms the land with me on the shares, the businesses that I buy from and sell to, and the Adams County USDA. (Of, course, we also e-mail.)
I still enjoy reading, both junk and more serious books. I especially like crime/detective novels (John Sandford, for example) and humorous crime stories by Donald Westlake, Carl Hiassen, and Janet Evanovich. I read a lot of tai chi books. I also like to read about quantum physics. My science background is weak, so I don’t understand all I read, but I still find it fascinating. It turns out that the scientists don’t understand it either. All in all, I’m not a person who is bored in retirement!