Robert J. Meindl
Bewildering Stories biography
Editor’s note: Professor Meindl is retired from the English Department at California State University, Sacramento. His specialty is medieval languages and literatures.
I asked Bob a kind of Twilight Zone question that I consider as something rather more than a conversation-starter: if you had to time-travel to any place or time in the past and start over, so to speak, with a group of like-minded people and what you know now, where would you go? Bob’s answer is hard to equal, let alone top:
I would go with my little band to northern Wisconsin in the period just before the Civil War, when the first German immigrants were beginning to appear, many refugees from the failed “revolution” of 1848. They brought with them inspiring values that were going to begin the transformation of Wisconsin into something like the Garden of the West that Jefferson had dreamed of, a world of independent yeoman farmers.
Among them were my mother’s grandparents from Pomerania and, a generation later, my father’s people from Bavaria. They were amazing individuals, ruggedly independent and communally-oriented, quick to assert themselves but also quick to work together. I was raised in the last generation of Wisconsin’s Germans, and I think of them like Rolvaag’s Giants in the Earth. I would go back to that world in a heartbeat.
I have been disappointed not to find those qualities in later generations. Back in Wisconsin in the 1960’s, I could hardly find a trace of the world I remembered from my childhood in the 1940’s.
Copyright © 2013 by Robert J. Meindl