In this tender but unblinking portrait of his tiny hometown, Richard B. Ulmer Jr. describes an enchanted boyhood amid the creeks and cornfields of Yorktown, Iowa, where his father was superintendent of a two-room Lutheran school. With shrewd economy, Ulmer depicts a whimsical place inhabited by Midwestern archetypes: laconic farmers with seed-cap tans; a mayor tasked with plinking rabid dogs with his .22; a leading citizen who serves as "postmaster, slaughterhouse proprietor, butcher, grocer, and possessor of the fire truck's keys." Ulmer and his five sisters enjoyed childhoods guided by a common-sense credo: "Don't get a big head." They roamed a wilting hamlet that seemed a wonderland, with its public croquet court, mysterious "shivaree" rituals outside the homes of newlyweds, and a concrete bandstand in the middle of main street-"a looming liability in another time and place," Ulmer writes. "But Iowans were so good-natured, and Yorktown had so few assets, that no one ever sued."