The Leora Stories at the Perry Public Library on November 11

Perry Public Library Welcomes Iowa Author Joy Neal Kidney Saturday, November 11, 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM, Library Community Room. Free Art on the Prairie Event

Art on the Prairie, Perry, Iowa

Join Iowa author Joy Neal Kidney at the Perry Public Library as she shares her experiences writing Leora’s Letters, the story behind the brothers remembered on the Dallas County Freedom Rock® at Minburn, Iowa.


I’m looking forward to telling stories in the town which is the setting of so much of my family history, history that began before World War II.

When Clabe and Leora Wilson became tenant farmers at Minburn in 1939, they did most of their trading in Perry, just a few miles north. My mother, Doris Wilson, became a waitress in Perry, at the McDonald’s Drug Store, which also had a restaurant area and soda fountain. She was serving Sunday dinners there when radio music was interrupted for the announcement of the Japanese attack of  Pearl Harbor.

After all five sons had left home to serve in the war, Clabe and Leora bought an acreage SE of Perry. Most of the terrible telegrams were delivered there. Junior Wilson was buried in Violet Hill Cemetery in 1945. Clabe died of a stroke and a broken heart in 1946.

One stone in the cemetery remembers Dale and Daniel Wilson, so I took for granted that all three brothers were buried there. Every Memorial Day during my childhood, and several times as an adult, I “helped” Grandma, Mom, and Aunt Darlene arrange flowers at the cemetery.

Having lunch and shopping the Perry during the 1950s was a special occasion for these ladies at other times as well, and fun for two young sisters who got in on memorable outings.

Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II is the family story, which needed to be told so their great sacrifice will be remembered.

After Grandma Leora died, I had to find out what happened to the three sons she lost. What Leora Never Knew: A Granddaughter’s Quest for Answers, is my journey of discovery.

Both books are full of stories from the delightful northern Dallas County town of Perry, Iowa.


  1. Sounds like a really neat opportunity, Joy! I like that it will be on Veterans Day, too. Thank you for keeping history alive. Please let us know how it goes next weekend!

  2. We try to visit every town named Perry in Canada and the USA. Even with the added inducement of being able to meet you and hear your talk, it’s a long way away from us. Perhaps there will be another opportunity! Have a terrific time!

    • What fun! It’s also their big Art on the Prairie weekend, which they host every year. Maybe you could plan a trip there for next year, and stay at their historic Pattee Hotel. We stayed there for our 50th and 55th anniversaries.

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