Friday, June 28, 2013

Almost President, Nose Twist & Mis-conceptions

One week ago today, on the last day of my daughter's week-long visit from Portland, OR, we had lunch in the Gathering Barn at the Wallace Country Life Center. This is the birthplace farmstead of Henry Agard Wallace. I have made several trips to the farm enjoying the beautiful flower beds, walking the path through the native prairie, seeing the sculptures and admiring the vegetable gardens. (
Kari and I had planned to walk around after our luncheon, but it started to rain so we headed for the gift shop inside the farm house.

I am always struck by how much this house reminds me of my own childhood home. It was while we were in the house that I related to Kari a mis-conception I had formed in my youth. In grade school I had learned that Henry A. Wallace, the one-time Secretary of Agriculture as well as Vice-President of the United States had been born near Orient, Iowa.

I attended an area youth fellowship meeting in Orient one Sunday. When we went past this stately home just west of the town, I got it in my head that this must have been the Wallace birthplace. Wouldn't a man of such stature have been born in a beautiful home like this? It was a long time before I knew he was born in that simple farm house which has now been restored.
(The above house is now a Bed & Breakfast known as Special Moments.)

The history of the Wallace family in Iowa is an interesting one - the first Henry Wallace was a co-founder with his sons, Henry C. and John, of Wallaces' Farmer magazine. He also helped establish Iowa State College as an important agricultural research institution.
Henry C. was a professor at Iowa State and the founder of the American Farm Bureau Federation. He served as Secretary of Agriculture from 1921 until 1924.

Henry A. was Franklin Roosevelt's Secretary of Agriculture from 1933 to 1940 when he became FDR's Vice-President from 1940 to 1944. Roosevelt dropped Wallace in favor of Harry S. Truman as his running mate in the '44 elections. So Truman became president when Roosevelt died in 1945 instead of Wallace. However, in 1948, Henry A. Wallace ran for president on the Progressive Party ticket. Their platform called for national health insurance, a guaranteed minimum wage, equal employment opportunities for women and equal pay for equal work. What would our country be like if he had become president?

Henry A. Wallace began experimenting with corn while still in high school. After college he continued his work developing hybrid corn and founded the Hi-Bred Corn Company - now known as Pioneer Hi-Bred - a company which now encompasses almost the entire town of Johnston, Iowa.

Wallace is such an interesting person I plan to get his biography, American Dreamer, the next time I go to the library.  -- and tomorrow more about the Nose Twist of today's post title.

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