I like a place where the weather gets “bad” by other people’s standards. I like a place where people are less sure of themselves than they are in sophisticated cities.

Marvin Bell
A Marvin Bell Reader It’s true that I was born in Iowa, but I can’t speak for my twin sister.

Abigail Van Buren
aka Dear Abby

Shoeless Shoe Jackson: Is this heaven?
Ray Kinsella: No, it’s Iowa.

Field of Dreams

When I was growing up I used to think that the best thing about coming from Des Moines was that it meant you didn't come from anywhere else in Iowa.

Bill Bryson
The Lost Continent

Peace on earth are cows in the pasture,
their bells and their breath,
their eyes miniaturing trees and sky;
the rhythm of their heavy heads
nodding to crop the grass,
or swinging back to rid soft flanks of flies
and leave shining festoons of silver saliva.

Van Meter Ames
Out of Iowa

Marguerite Young is an all-American type wearing a man’s blue shirt, taut across great breasts. She has a homely face alight with a mischievous vitality… Julian argues bitterly with Marguerite who is fervently pro-American and in favor of what she calls “the Iowa farmer.” Vehemently anti-communist she calls us communists whenever we disagree with her.

Judith Malina
The Diaries of Judith Malina

"Where?" The woman scowled, bewildered. "Iowa," Agnes repeated loudly. The woman in black touched Agnes's wrist and leaned in confidentially. She moved her mouth in a concerned and exaggerated way, like a facial exercise. "No, dear," she said. "Here we say O-hi-o."

Lorrie Moore
Birds of America

We have beaten you to the moon, but you have beaten us in sausage making.

Nikita Krushchev
In reference to the Sputnik satellite, while visiting an Iowa meatpacking plant

Steele (to Radar in formation): The Irish were rotten Indian fighters! (notices his corporal stripes) Non-coms—the backbone of the service. Where are you from, son?
Radar: Iowa, sir.


If Iowa is the leading U.S. hog producer, Iowa City can be described as pearls before swine. It is an oasis of culture.

Aharon Megged
“Iowa City: Meetings in the Middle West”
in Paul Engle, et al., The World Comes to Iowa
home President and Mrs. Coolidge, visiting a government farm, were taken around on separate tours. At the chicken pens Mrs. Coolidge paused to inquire of the overseer whether the rooster copulated more than once a day. “Dozens of times,” said the man. “Tell that to the President,” requested Mrs. Coolidge. The President came past the pens and was told about the rooster. “Same hen every time?” he asked. “Oh, no, a different one each time.” Coolidge nodded. “Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge,” he said.

Clifton Fadiman
The Little Brown Book of Anecdotes

Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.

Robert Frost
“Death of the Hired Man”

Every human being on this earth is born with a tragedy, and it isn’t original sin. He’s born with the tragedy that he has to grow up. That he has to leave the nest, the security, and go out to do battle. He has to lose everything that is lovely and fight for a new loveliness of his own making, and it’s a tragedy. A lot of people don’t have the courage to do it.

Helen Hayes

My father liked Iowa. He lived his whole life in the state, and is even now working his way through eternity there, in Glendale Cemetery in Des Moines.

Bill Bryson
Lost Continent

"What's the difference between a pigeon and an Iowa farmer? A pigeon can still make a deposit on a tractor."

Morris Udall

American English isn’t the British English that is spoken in southern Africa. I walked into a stationery shop [in Iowa City] and said to the man behind the counter: “I would like to buy a rubber, please.”
    The man said: “We don’t sell them in ones. We sell them in threes.”
    I said: “But I want only one rubber.”
    The man became hostile: “But I told you we only sell them in threes.”
    I said: “All right, I’ll take three then.”
    The man walked to the back of the shop and returned with a small packet of prophylactics that he handed to me. He had such a peculiar look in his eyes that I thought he believed I was a prostitute who had invaded Iowa City. Half fainting with shock I struggled to explain. “I mean the thing you rub mistakes out with.”
    “On,” he said. “You mean an eraser.”  

Bessie Head
“Some Happy Memories of Iowa”
in Paul Engle, et al., The World Comes to Iowa Above Proposed Iowa license plate (not adopted) by Kris Kroemer © 1991.
quotes about iowa
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