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One of Us

May 9, 2008

Who was it that once said, “Culture is what you need to know to be one of the folk”? The saying is, strangely, ungoogleable, so I can’t tell you. It might have been historians David Kyvig and Myron Marty. In any case, my thoughts about being a Midwesterner begin with this notion.

The Indiana Humanities Council, in the person of former senior program officer David Hoppe, once convinced Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., to write an essay entitled To Be a Native Middle-Westerner. Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis. I was born in Chicago, on account of a history that begins in a WWII internment camp. So what do we have in common?

Vonnegut says it’s an understanding of the inevitability of rain, of rivers, water that we are gifted with here at the crossroads of (natural waterways in the original) America. I agree. My brothers, living in southern California, would be quite unable to comprehend a land where you never have to water your lawn, all summer long, but just trust that this year there won’t be a drought. We don’t put pipes under our lawns to insure against dry conditions; we just hope and wait for the sky to darken. It’s what we learned as children.

What you need to know to be a Midwesterner. Our culture.

This entry was posted by: Nancy
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