The Oxford Project by Peter Feldstein and Stephen Bloom

Mar 15, 2010

“I like Oxford. You can trust everyone in this town-from Highway 6 to the Interstate. But one think about Oxford is that if you’re and outsider, you don’t wanna cause any trouble. You mess with Oxford, you’re gonna have problems.” –Bob Lindley P. 42.

Everyone has a story. And none of them are just ordinary, although many of the residents of Oxford, IA might tell you they are just ordinary folks. In 1984, photographer Peter Feldstein invited all 676 residents of Oxford to come have their picture made for free and by late summer almost everyone had been photographed. Twenty years later, Feldstein decided to look up all those Oxford, IA residents that he could find and do it again. This time he was joined by writer Stephen Bloom who interviewed each participant. The result is a fascinating glimpse of life in small town America. Remarkably honest, poignant, sometimes sad, sometimes funny, the narratives fill the pages along with the photos showing each in 1984 and again in 2005-2007.

“My Mom left me at a church when I was three. She used to travel with the carnival, and the carnival ended up going broke in Iowa. ….She pinned a note to my shirt that said, “Please take care of her. We can’t any longer.” Brianne Leckness. P. 53

Anyone with an interest in people’s lives, small towns, the Midwest, and/or Iowa will find this an enjoyable read. And you will come away with an appreciation for the diversity in one small community, and maybe a deeper understanding of why these folks like the small town life and why some have moved away.

“I have a no-fail piecrust….My favorites are chocolate ice cream pie, coconut cream pie, and a sugar-free apple pie. I use Golden Delicious apples, Healthy Choice apple juice, cinnamon, tapioca, dot it with butter, and put in a tablespoon of lemon juice.”P. 60

I’m having to restrain myself from telling you about everyone in the book - Just one more.

“I’m an artist. I get into real fine detail. Some of it is fantasy, some is realism…..I’ve had offers to move to New York to be an illustrator….I want to do art that’ll get people’s attention. I want people to think their world isn’t what they think it is…” P. 175

Written by Sandra S.


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