The Iowan Magazine has long been a fixture in the Midwest, telling stories and showing images of the best of our state. The publication got its start in Shenandoah in the early 1950s. Its creation is an important part of Southwest Iowa history. I witnessed its birth in the offices of the Evening Sentinel (now the Valley News Today) and I am happy to share this account of the creation of one of my favorite magazines.
I had been on the staff of the Evening Sentinel for several years, hired by publisher Willard Archie. His son David had left Iowa to attend Princeton University and then to pursue a publishing career in New York City after World War II.
David was a tall, well-built young man, personable, intelligent, and with an imagination that wouldn't quit. Along with those attributes, his experience in the East as a student and in publishing had helped him to speak in melodic tones that immediately attracted the listener.
He returned to Shenandoah to be part of the Evening Sentinel and to pursue an idea he had for a magazine. As he settled in at a desk in the newspaper office, he became an exciting presence among those putting out daily editions of the paper. He had inherited his father’s booming voice, and I sometimes wondered if that would be what God would sound like.
David threw himself into the early editions of his Iowan magazine and got them ready to be printed at Shenandoah’s World Publishing Company. He wanted the Iowan to be a collective venture that would include many Iowans offering their voices storytelling skills strong to illuminate stories of our state.
The first issue came out in 1952. The cover featured a color photograph of Lake Keomah at sunset, just east of Oskaloosa. The articles included one by Willard Archie about the Iowa Toll Turnpike that crossed the state from Davenport to Sioux City.
Carl Turk contributed “Five Kids vs. 210 Acres.” The children of the title were ages 17 down to five. After the children's parents both died, the youngsters did everything they could to stay together on the farm. Eventually their request was honored.
“Exchanging Recipes with Mrs. Guy Gillette” written by Blanche Bailey Reed described delicious dishes prepared by the wife of Senator Guy Gillette. The story included three recipes – Corn Oysters, Frozen Fruit Salad, and Glazed Carrots with Mint.
A final article, written by David Archie’s cousin John Esden, was entitled, “Our Hawkeye Heritage – the Revolutionary War Skirmishes.”
Advertisements in the magazine showed some of the interest of readers in the early 1950s. KMA Radio had a generous advertisement. Other ads included Perfex, Desorb, Dexol Powder Bleach, GlossTex Starch, and Shina-Dish.
The Sidney Iowa Championship Rodeo had an ad describing the upcoming 30th annual rodeo. A political ad for Herschel C. Loveless, a Democratic candidate for governor, showed that politicians have long been causing conversation around the state and the country.
The inside of the front cover was a message from David Archie that really was the new magazine’s mission statement.
“The Iowan represents not only four years of work and planning on our part, but also the efforts of scores of Iowans who have helped us through the difficult initial steps,” David wrote.“We greatly appreciate their faith, and that of our present advertisers and charter subscribers. I am confident that Vol. 1, No. 1, of The Iowan justifies the support that it has been given.”
He continued, “More than anything else, this magazine is an expression of our faith that Iowans are willing to support a quality magazine about themselves and their state. The proof of this belief is still to come. A great many people are betting against us. But we simply believe that if you give good people a good magazine that they like, they'll support it.
He explained that he did not mean for The Iowan to be a private dream. “Rather, I hope all Iowans will feel they are a part of an interesting and stimulating venture and join us in building a better magazine and a better Iowa.”
And so began The Iowan magazine with that first issue in 1952. The fact that Shenandoah's own David Archie had the foresight and the courage to act on his dream 65 years ago – and share his magazine with Iowa and the world – shows both his courage and his talent. We Iowans are richer for it.
Next week – some of the people of the Iowan remember.
The first issue of The Iowan included a recipe for carrots with mint. Here’s a simple variation of this recipe that I enjoy.
Carrots with Mint and Cinnamon
3 cups of peeled carrots, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon mint leaves (dried or fresh)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Boil two cups of water in a large pan
Add carrots to the boiling water
Simmer for about ten minutes, until carrots are tender
Drain carrots and place in serving bowl
Drizzle honey on carrots, and mix well.
Sprinkle cinnamon and mint leaves on top of carrots, and serve.