"An inherently riveting read from cover to cover, The Northeast Quarter clearly demonstrates author S. M. Harris as a truly gifted storyteller, and his many layered, deftly crafted novel certain to be a highly popular addition to personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections."
-Midwest Book Review

About Northeast Quarter

The Northeast Quarter is an epic story of the power of family, the complexity of human greed, and the pursuit of justice during the early 1920's in an America defined by the aftermath of war and the onset of The Great Depression.

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Hot Times In The Heartland

I was having breakfast a local diner a few days ago when I happened to overhear part of the conversation in the booth behind me. The people were going to visit relatives in Des Moines the next day and they were checking the local weather. “Holy Polar,” one person exclaimed. “Says it’s 72 right now but feels like 90.” “What’s the full prediction?” asked another. “Holy Polar,” he said again. “Says it’ll be high 92 but feel like 111.” I could identify because right now we were going through a heat wave of our own here in New York – caused as much by humidity as high temperatures. Even so, it got me to thinking. Were there ever times in the heartland where the temperature got as high as 111? Turns out there were. I looked up in Infoplease and discovered that the highest Iowa temperature ever was in Keokuk

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Fireworks In The Heartland

It is July 2nd and I was reading through some of the articles on the Des Moines Register website. Came across an article by William Petroski and Brianne Pfannenstiel which caught my eye. It was examining some of the issues likely to spark debate this year in the Iowa State Legislature. Among them was a debate over holiday fireworks. I have always felt that denying fireworks on New Years Eve or July 4th is like telling a mud slide to turn around an go home. People are going to have fireworks. Last year both house passed a bill which legalize fireworks in Iowa and this year there is a movement which would permit the sale of such retail fireworks items as roman candles. Didn’t realize this – but up until now roman candles have been banned in Iowa for seventy years. Why the push now? One thing the article mentioned

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Computers In The Corn Field

I was reading through some of the articles in WIRED.com and I came across an article by Kyle Wiens which caught my eye. The title was New High Tech Farm Equipment Is A Nightmare For Farmers. He describes cases where farmers are working with new high-tech tractors or combines. The equipment is top of the line and while it is working, everything is fine. But what happens if something breaks down? Mr Wiens cites an example where a minor hydraulic sensor blew in a farmer’s tractor. Consequently , the onboard computer shut down the tractor engine and the farmer in question had to wait for two days beside his shut-off machinery and unplowed field until a replacement part arrived. How computer-savvy does a farmer have to become? In this day and age, it would seem quite alot.

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A Downside Of Progress

I was reading some articles on the Radio Iowa website and came across an entry by Matt Kelley. Got me to thinking. Kelley said that many farmers are facing issues involving allergies and hearing loss. We have had friends and family in Iowa for years. Unless it is a serious illness, they never even mention the word “Sick.” So what about this new development? One answer might be that this is part of the downside of progress. Farming machinery has gotten bigger and more sophisticated. In the old days a horse and plow or even a tractor were relatively quiet. But today the newer models of tractor, truck and combine, while not screechingly loud, still provide a constant (possibly negative) effect on the hearing. As for the allergies, this same machinery kicks up more dust than a horse and plow ever did. It looks as if ear plugs and sinus

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The Past And The Present

Was looking through articles in Iowa State University Extension News and came across an article called What Is The Farm Problem? by Mark A. Edelman. Granted, it was written back in 1999, but much of its content struck a personal note for me. First paragraph was called The Historical Farm Problem – Overcapacity, Low Prices and Farm Income. What he describes is part of the historical background of The Northeast Quarter. He mentions that following WW1, as Europe got back on its feet, European food production began to improve and American farmers were caught with fewer markets to sell their crops. This created an agricultural depression which hit the heartland long before the advent of The Great Depression in 1929. The Hawley-Smoot Tariff of 1930 did nothing to improve matters – for it cut off both import and export possibilities. As a result, many farmers lost their land. It has

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Saving The Life Of The Farm

I was reading the home page of Beginning Farmer Center when an article caught my eye: Upcoming Event – Returning To The Farm Seminar. A 4 day event to be held in Ames, Iowa in January 2017. It finishes with the words “All family members are encouraged to attend.” The purpose is to encourage the children of farmers to return home and work the family farm after their parents are gone. In most cases the kids grow up and when they’re of age, they leave the small town for the big city. Over the passing years the small towns have grown  smaller, businesses have closed  up and places resembling  Grover’s Corners in  Our Town  have turned  into facsimiles of   the Texas town  The Last Picture Show.  Survival is a serious business  and I wish them all the luck in the world.

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