Plains Folk

The Archives

Plains Folk, a commentary devoted to life on the great plains of North America, is now a special weekly feature on Main Street. Written by Tom Isern of West Fargo, North Dakota, and read in newspapers across the region for years, Plains Folk venerates fall suppers and barn dances and reminds us that “more important to our thoughts than lines on a map are the essential characteristics of the region–the things that tell what the plains are, not just where they are.” You can hear Plains Folk once a week during Main Street, weekdays at 3 pm CT with a repeat at 7 pm CT.

To read more Plains Folk commentaries, click on the “archives” link.

Recent Shows

  • Bad Water

    When I was a kid, it was polio. Although I went to a little country school with fewer than a dozen pupils, I knew two kids who were stricken by infantile paralysis. Country museums still today exhibit iron lungs, and to view such artifacts is chilling, if you remember their history. For earlier generations on [...]

  • Sanitary Home

    When I mention the title of a magazine launched by North Dakota Agricultural College in 1899—Sanitary Living—people look at me funny. The periodical was the creation of the crusading chemist, Edwin L. Ladd – later president of NDAC and also United States Senator. Ladd and his associates in North Dakota, it turns out, were right [...]

  • Long Freight of Autumn

    This is the season for Tom McGrath’s poem, “Beyond the Red River.” “Now the long freight of autumn goes smoking out of the land,” McGrath writes. “My possibles are all packed up, but still I do not leave. / I am happy enough here, where Dakota drifts wild in the universe, / Where the prairie [...]

  • Hedge Apples

    Every autumn for the past decade they have arrived in grocery stores of the northern plains, labeled as “hedge apples,” not for culinary use. Once I encountered a bin bearing the legend, “Nature’s natural bug and pest control, DO NOT EAT!” I have read, too, that these knobby green fruits have been sold for household [...]

  • Jacksnipe

    It still happens at summer camps, bonfire parties, and other such places where gathering darkness, absence from home, and willing suspension of disbelief come together: the snipe hunt. Generally it involves a gunny sack and a flashlight. Often it also involves bogus calls and other odd behaviors that ostensibly will attract the elusive snipe.   [...]



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