Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ruth Suckow Website Updated

Hi all,

With some help from Mike, I have added a few updates to the official Suckow website.

Some pesky pictures on the gravesite page now show up correctly! There is also a new section at the bottom, honoring Ferner Nuhn. We were able to go to the cemetary with Barbara and took some photos of Ferner's stone, just installed this Spring. It matches that of Ruth and her father beautifully. It brought all of us such a sense of satisfaction to see those three stones in a row, and FINALLY know that Ruth is buried between the two men who were so important to her in life: her father and her husband.

Notice too several updates on the home page:

First, we realized that the link for Country People was too big to download very efficiently. So, I broke it down into four parts, matching the organization of Suckow's book. The links are now posted.

Second, there is a link to Mike's new Wikipedia entry on Suckow under the Resource page link.

I will undoubtedly do a better job of posting on the blog and not make as many changes to the official website; however, it is wonderful to hear from people who discover our organization through both! I would like to think that Ruth--who was both pragmatic and a woman of her times--would approve.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Who was Ferner Nuhn?

Most of our members know Ferner as Ruth Suckow's husband. However, he was also a scholar, artist, teacher, writer and Cedar Falls native. I was intrigued to learn more about him when George Day loaned me a small booklet by Nuhn that included a two page biography. I knew that Ferner had been one of the founders of the Supper Club that Mike and I attend; he was good friends of James Hearst, and it turns out that Ferner also helped to found the Cedar Falls Art Association.

I found it rather romantic that he and Ruth met in 1926, after he read something she wrote. He visited her in Earlville, where she was taking care of her bees, earning money so that she could spend time writing. Both of them were writers and had stories or articles accepted by H. L. Mencken, the editor of The American Mercury. After a courtship of three years, Ferner and Ruth were married in California in 1929. They did a lot of traveling and lived in several areas of the country,including Washington, D. C., Cedar Falls, Arizona and California. They were heavily involved with the Quakers.

After Ruth's death in 1960, Ferner worked to ensure her memory,and her literary work, would endure. He helped to found the Ruth Suckow Memorial Association. In 1965 he remarried--his wife, Georgeanna Washburn Dafoe, was a cousin of Ruth Suckow. They lived in Claremont, CA for many years. I am looking for more informatin about their marriage, as well as about Georgeanna. All I know now is that Ferner died on April 15, 1989 at the age of 85. He was living in a retirement facility for the last three years of his life. Since nothing is mentioned of Georgeanna, I am assuming she preceded him in death. If anyone knows more, I would appreciate your help, because Mike and I are working on a wikipedia entry for Ferner.

I came across a reference to a book that Ferner wrote and ordered it online: The Wind Blew from the East was written in 1940 and published by Harper and Brothers. The subtitle is "A Study in the Orientation of American Culture." He meant it to be the first of three books, but I don't think the others were ever written. Once I've finished it, I will be sure to post a brief summary/review.

More Pictures of the Suckow Graves, Greenwood Cemetary

Michael took a series of pictures of the three tomb stones: Ferner's was just installed this spring and matches those of Ruth and her father.

To see his Picasa web album, click here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ruth Suckow Wikipedia entry is up!

If you're a wikipedia enthusiast, you will be excited to know that Michael has completed work on the Ruth Suckow entry for Wikipedia.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ferner Nuhn Tombstone

We've solved a mystery, folks! For several years I have been puzzled about where Ferner Nuhn is buried. Now we know, and I can't wait until my foot heals up enough to take a trip to Greenwood Cemetary so that we can take pictures of Ferner Nuhn's recently installed tombstone, thanks to his niece Barbara Comano.

As a fairly new member to the RMSA I didn't realize at first that Ruth was buried in Cedar Falls; once I did, I thought those of us who lived locally should be putting flowers on her grave each year on Memorial Day, so Barbara Lounsberry (President) and my husband Michael and I made it a tradition. However, Ruth is buried next to her father, but there was no sign of Ferner. There was an empty space next to Ruth

I knew that Ferner had remarried after Ruth's death, and assumed that he might be buried out in California. Then Mike found Ferner's obituary, revealing that he died in Claremont, CA on April 15, 1989, at age 85. He was living in a retirement facility at the time. He had been active in the Claremont Religious Society of Friends. After a service in California, his body was taken to Greenwood Cemetery in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

So, after TWENTY YEARS,now we know -- Ferner has been beside Ruth, his first wife, in an unmarked grave. For whatever reason, no one ever took steps to get a tombstone put in place. After Barbara Lounsberry contacted her about it, Ruth's niece took the matters into her own hands and offered to pay for the tombstone, which matches the existing stones for Ruth and her father.

Annual Meeting -- Sat., June 12, 2010


Next year's meeting will be at the Cedar Falls Public Library; we will meet at 10 am on Saturday, June 12th, 2010. The next book to discuss will be The Kramer Girls; from my preliminary investigation, there are not a lot of copies for sale, so you will probably want to use interlibrary loan.

If you want to find out which libraries have copies of the Kramer Girls, go to the Waterloo Reference Department blog and find the icon for world cat

Annual Meeting Follow up

We had a great time on Saturday in Earlville, with 15-20 people from all across the state joining us for our discussion of Cora. President Barbara Lounsberry presided over the business meeting in the morning; we discussed ways to promote the RSMA as well as Ruth Suckow's writings, as well as other matters. After lunch, George Day led us in a lively discussion of Cora.

George found a wonderful quote about the main character of Cora: "Cora deserves to be numbered among the notable women in American fiction, for she is sharply realized in all her seeming contradictions. She is strong, but she has moments of weakness. She is capable and efficient, yet she can let herself be carried away by desire. Completely recognizable as a complex, modern woman, she is a vivid, compelling figure."

Monday, June 8, 2009

Country People to be added to site soon!

I had foot surgery a few weeks ago, and have been catching up on photo albums, reading, and family history projects. Michael found a great software package (Cute PDF) that lets you scan in a muliple page document as all one PDF. So I have been using it to archive some of my mother's old stories about the family. Then I found out that Barbara has been given permission for us to post Suckow's Country People, and she and I have been working on that project.

If you have not read it, Country People is a very special book. Answers.com describes the book as follows: "Country People. After being encouraged by H. L. Mencken, who helped publish her work in Smart Set and American Mercury, the Iowa native publishes her first novel, a realistic study of three generations of a German American family. Avoiding striking incidents, the novel is a restrained, documentary-like narrative that shows the writer's characteristic strengths of local color and psychological characterization."

As I have noted in other postings, I use one of Suckow's short stories in my Introduction to Literature class, and am always pleased to see that the majority of my students can identify with Suckow's characters and descriptions of small town life. This book includes many of the themes that Suckow is so well known for, with her depiction of life on the farm in the early part of the 1900s, the differences between the generations as children leave the farm and move to town, and the impact of the first World War on these German American farmers.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ruth Suckow news

As summer brings flowers and picnics,its arrival also signals that our annual meeting is getting closer--please check the announcement about our meeting in Earlville.

In the meantime, Barbara, Mike and are excited about our newest project--scanning in Suckow's Country People. We have received permision to post it on our official website. Since this is

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Ruth Suckow Society Annual Meeting

The 2009 meeting will be Saturday, June 13 in Earlville.

The Business Meeting will start at 10 a.m.

Lunch will be held at noon, followed by a discussion of Suckow's fourth novel, "Cora."

The public is invited to attend any or all events.

Suckow Society Member Publishes a Poem

Marsha Lehs wrote a poem about Ruth Suckow that was accepted for publication in Lyrical Iowa, 2008. This s the 63rd Annual Anthology of The Iowa Poetry Association.


With permission by the poet, here is her poem


Your Iowa-based novels sounded dated
until I read them.
You planted images of early Iowa German families,
small town lives, strong quiet farm workers
children forced to grow up fast,
characters torn between right and wrong.
You described native flowers, seasons,
crops, rural landscapes,
period events and timeless issues.
Though we were born fifty years apart
these are pages in my life, too
Your enduring images cycle
like a reseeding annual flower
from one native Iowan to another.
Thank you for sharing stories which forever
root me in this fertile Iowa loam.

Congratulations, Marsha!

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