in rural Paris, Iowa, and Wordpress

Stone City and Grant Wood

Where were we . . . ?

Ah, yes. We were speaking of Stone City.

After spending more than three weeks now cleaning out this old farmhouse, I sometimes feel like the last man alive on earth. Occasionally, I have bumped into a photograph of one of the dead that seems interesting and have posted it on the other blog without comment.

I can report this. If you are the last person alive on earth, you are not highly motivated to blog. I mean, if you are the last person alive on earth, what is the point of blogging? But now, having read some your kind comments on previous entries after logging in here for the first time in a while, I realize that I am not the last person alive on earth. Maybe.

Back to Stone City for whatever it is worth.

Stone City-093

This is the Stone City General Store today. The date on top is 1897. It has been through many incarnations. Years ago I saw Leon Redbone live there, one of the more entertaining and intimate concerts that I have ever attended. Now, it is a restaurant upstairs and a bar downstairs . . . for now.

Stone City-075
This is the rear of the general store as seen from across the river. The piers from the old bridge are toppling over. The new bridge is out of view immediately to the left. You can get drunk on that lower balcony on a hot summer afternoon and topple into the river yourself if you chose. The river is normally much higher. There has been a drought.


Here we have Grant Wood’s painting entitled Stone City 1930. The original hangs in the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, I think. I have never held out this blog as a reliable source of any information. In any case this is a good example of the Regionalist style he is noted for. He did spend his obligatory time as a young man in Paris doing derivative impressionist paintings. I have seen those. They are in the Cedar Rapids Art Museum, the only museum that would think of hanging them. The Stone City General Store is the building on the right end of the bridge in this painting.

Earlier I said that I have decidedly mixed feelings about this style, but what the last man alive on earth thinks about the art of Grant Wood is of no relevance whatsoever.

Stone City-084

It is called Stone City because a beautiful white limestone has been quarried there since time immemorial. This is the adit of one of the working shafts in the limestone cliffs today. Stone City limestone is shipped all over the world.

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This is the old Catholic Church in Stone City that is now closed, which was constructed of that limestone. My public vow that I would never publish another photo of a church in this blog applied only to Mexican churches of course.


This is the fireplace in this old farmhouse that my mother and father constructed using that same limestone many years ago. I have been amusing myself by burning certain books that I have always detested in this fireplace over the past several weeks. The last man alive on earth has that perogative. Some books stay on the shelves. Some books go into the fire. The last man alive on earth also has the perogative of putting his own portrait above the fireplace.

The last man alive on earth is now exhausted what with all this typing.

14 Responses to “Stone City and Grant Wood”

    • StephenBrassawe

      Maybe I am just grumpy, vera. I slopped some hot tea on my hand and scalded myself. I shall burn some more books tonight. That always cheers me.

  1. Angeline M

    But wait, if I am here too, neither of you is the last person left alive. This is rather embarrassing, isnt’ it? Here we all are. Somewhere.

    • StephenBrassawe

      Yet, how can any of us be sure that the others are really out there, Angeline? Some WordPress automated program may be sending me these comments to encourage me, along with their little messages congratulating me on how many posts I have now.

  2. michel pellerin

    Poor you… Maybe you feel grumpy! I’m sure you do. But reading your blog and the mail you sent to Ginette, I can’t keep from laughing aloud. You’re not only alone, you’re middle of nowhere… Hoping you get through this shit soon…

    • StephenBrassawe

      To tell you the truth, Michel, most have simply hung up on me after I identified myself as light-heartedly as possible. How can one mash the END button on a cell phone such that it sounds exactly like a receiver being slammed down? Does that require some special app?

  3. The Wanderlust Gene

    Caught in a time warp I think’s your problem Stephen! Walk on by and don’t stop for any more Regionalist pictures that drag you back to the 30s before your folks built their lovely limestone house ,,, and don’t fall off that pub railing and roll down the riverbank … Grumpy old thing, mumbling away at burnt books and scant sunshine. Get cracking and get out’a there 🙂

      • Bridget

        I’ve obviously missed something, this doesn’t appear to be Mexico, Toto. What happened?

        • StephenBrassawe

          I explained what is happening in reponse to you comment on “About the Blog,” Bridget. So good to see you. I am sick at heart here, but I shall rally and begin attending to my blog again.

  4. Jamie Dedes

    One week in ’86 I spent a year in a small town in Iowa. I wasn’t the last woman but I was the only short brown woman with a Bklyn accent, all of which combined to make me “exotic.” It would have been okay to be the last one on board.

    Curious about what books you are burning. Are you going to “share?” 🙂

    I love these photos, but who could blame you for wanting to get back to the warmth and color of Mexico? Wishing you a speedy return to your new home place …

    Queme los libros, Senor Steve, y este bien.

    • StephenBrassawe

      Books with titles like “Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit” and “Aging Well.” Title after title like that. It has been the blackest of black humor to check these out one by one just before they go into the fire. The apparent fadish nature of those sorts of books is really brought home. Thanks for the good wishes, Jamie.

  5. Mary Lou (Dolan) Cook

    A couple notes on Stone City…..Dan Fogarty & I were baptized in that Catholic church back in December of 1947. There was no heat in the church in those years and the ice on the holy water in the baptismal font needed to be broken to allow the priest to baptize us. I’m told that both of us screamed bloody murder from that cold water. Concerning the multiple uses of the General Store….. probably in the late 70’s or early 80’s, it was a recording studio for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. My husband’s oldest son worked for them in that studio shortly after he graduated from high school. Speaking of high school, our 50th reunion is next year. Can you believe that??? We must have been about 10 when we graduated, right??? Can’t be old enough to be out of high school that long. LOVE reading your blogs and LOVE your photos.


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