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A farmer’s journey

By Staff | Aug 17, 2009

CONRAD – The phrase, “You should write a book,” gets said to someone who has expressed something interesting and is known for making memorable comments. For the many times those words are said, most of the time the words pass and nothing is written.

However, Robert Prosser of Conrad did take those words to heart and decided that he would write a book – the story of his life. He had a reason for getting his book into print. He wanted to pass the book out to family members at the gathering for the 75th wedding anniversary celebration for he and his wife Mary.

The Prosser’s wedding anniversary was November 15, 2007 and on November 24, 2007, Robert Prosser had 100 books ready for distribution to family members that included a compact disc along with his description of growing up in the Marshalltown area and in Michigan, farming and raising a family.

In the book, Robert Prosser, now age 95, acknowledges he has always had a good memory and that made writing the book much easier. The book got its start as Robert would tell his recollections and stories to family members. After seven years of telling about his youth, farming and family with family members saying, “I wish I had a tape recorder,” he decided he would write a book.

Robert Prosser starting keeping a diary in 1939 but quit after 3 months. He resumed making entries in 1945 and made it part of his routine. Surprisingly, Prosser did not use any of his diaries in preparing his book. To go through his years of writings, he said “was too time consuming.” He relied on his memories of his life for material.

ROBERT and Mary Prosser’s wedding anniversary was Nov. 15, 2007 and on Nov. 24, 2007, Robert Prosser had 100 books ready for distribution to family members that included a compact disc along with his description of growing up in the Marshalltown area and in Michigan, farming and raising a family.

Much of his first work was done by writing his thoughts on paper as they occurred to him. Prosser did this in long hand and later transcribed them to a computer. To do this, Prosser had to learn how to use a computer to make his thoughts appear on a screen and then save them.

He had some assistance from his family members. His daughter Diane, whom Robert Prosser describes as “conscientious,” was the grammarian and she “cleaned up the copy.” Diane’s daughter Gretchen was schooled in journalism and she made sure it was in a readable form. Together, the three of them created a manuscript that could be readied for a printer.

This was not a small job and Robert Prosser said that during the last year of its preparation, the book became almost a full time job for him. A printer was contacted in the neighboring town of Ackley to finish the job. The actual printing was done in Minneapolis and the printer became personally involved to make sure the book was ready by the family deadline.

Prosser’s book reads easily as his life is told in chronological order and reflects his matter of fact way of expressing himself. The reader is left appreciating a way of life when things were not easy, even if it was a simpler time. Prosser’s life story about the “good old days” includes events that were not so good and captures an honest description of life in the Midwest in the decades preceding and following World War II.

Prosser said the total cost of the100 copies of the book was $2000. He has about 14 copies left and he has started donating them to libraries in the Conrad area.

Robert and Mary, now age 93, continue to live in their own home just west of Conrad. Robert Prosser mows the lawn, tends the flowers and keeps everything working around their homestead.

Contact Clayton Rye at crye@wctatel.net

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