New book recalls Cooper in the 1940s

Cooper, Iowa, as experienced by a fourth-grade boy in 1945, is an important chapter in a new book about an Iowa boyhood.

“Mistaken for a King: Sketches of a Small-Town Boyhood,” by Dan Kellams, recalls the adventures and characters encountered by the author during the 1940s in Marion, Iowa, then a town with a population of less than 5,000.

The Jefferson Herald, Nov. 29, 1945
The Jefferson Herald, Nov. 29, 1945

But for the 1945-46 school year, the author’s mother accepted a teaching position at what was then Franklin Township Consolidated School in Cooper, said to have a population of 100 at the time.

Mrs Kellams, Danny and Peter lived in Mrs Ingham’s house for the year. Their father Stanley made occasional visits to Cooper, according to the Jefferson Herald’s Cooper correspondent.

The Jefferson Herald, May 23, 1946
The Jefferson Herald, May 23, 1946

In Cooper, Danny collected drinking water from the town pump, used an outhouse, began to cultivate a love of sports, and developed an unrequited crush on a beautiful classmate.

The title refers to an unexpected honor he received that year.

Available from Amazon
Available from Amazon

The book, which has been highly praised by readers and reviewers, will resonate with citizens who grew up in Greene County during the mid-20th Century.

Kellams has published two books set in his beloved hometown. The previous book, “A Coach’s Life: Les Hipple and the Marion Indians,” is the biography of a strict disciplinarian whose teams won 44 state and conference championships over a period of 20 years in football, basketball, track and cross-country. Hired in 1945 to bring discipline to the school, he was fired in 1965 for being too tough.

Kellams, who turned 80 in August, had a 50-year career as a New York City public relations executive and freelance writer and editor. He graduated from Marion High School in 1954 and Cornell College in 1958. He earned a master of science in journalism from Columbia University in New York the following year. After living in New York City and Connecticut for many years, Kellams and his wife Elaine moved to Arizona in 2015.


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