Date of this Version
Great Plains Quarterly 33:3 (Summer 2013)
In Time’s Shadow, Arnold J. Bauer has chronicled his family’s small farm in Goshen Township, Clay County, Kansas. Like many farm memoirs chronicling the middle years of the twentieth century, its value and interest lie in its capturing a place and way of life far removed from our experiences in the twenty-first century.
Bauer effectively highlights the issue of distance and its significance to his childhood. His family’s farm in eastern Kansas was fifteen miles from Clay Center, a distance that seems laughably small from today’s perspective. In the years before World War II, however, that was a long expanse, not one that rural people traveled casually. Chores and bad roads kept people closer to home. Country schools kept farm children in rural neighborhoods. When Bauer began high school in Clay Center, he felt as if he belonged to a culture completely different from that of his town-raised peers. His clothes, his pastimes, and the demands on his time were different. He never felt at home with them. The homogenization of culture accompanying the introduction of television and the Internet along with the spread of school consolidation in the last half-century has largely closed this particular country-town gulf.