Bismarck, North Dakota — Windmills are an iconic North Dakota landscape. Early settlers used windmills to pump water from wells for livestock and household use. By 1954, most farms in the state had electricity, and windmills began to be phased out.
But for the Pfeiffer sisters, who grew up near Menoken, the windmills on their farm were an important part of their lives and shaped many of their childhood memories in the 1950s. It was so influential that the family windmill inspired them to write a book.
What has happened since the publication of their book “Windmill Watching: Rural America in the 1950s” is good news.
Jackie Pfeiffer McGregor and Janine Pfeiffer Knop are passionate about the 1950s. In fact, this decade is the focus of their YouTube channel, “1950s Fun Chat.”
“Every week, Jackie and I record with people who lived in the 1950s or whose lives were influenced by the 1950s,” explains Knop. Their guests come from all over the world. “It’s just a delightful way to learn about what other people were going through in the 1950s,” Knopp said.
But the sisters have a soft spot for North Dakota. They grew up on a farm near Menorcan in the 1950s.
“The first 10 years of my life were spent in the decade of the 1950s,” Knope said. “It was imprinted in us, in our community, in our neighbors and in our lives at the time.”
Those memories and photos of their childhoods were the inspiration for their book, “While the Windmills Watched: A 1950s Rural America.” The book is written in four voices: each sister, sisters together, and windmill. There are many photos of my sister when she was a child.
“We realized we were lucky when we wrote the book,” McGregor said.
They share stories of their 4-H days, dance and piano recitals, and farm life. Their book recently won the National Independent Journalism Award for Favorite, and soon, it will be made into a movie.
“I think North Dakota in the 1950s was a really good time and a cool thing to capture in a movie,” said Daniel Belinsky, founder of Canticle Productions, the Bismarck company that will make the film. (Daniel Belinski) said.
Production is expected to begin in 2023. Meanwhile, the sisters will continue to share their memories of the decade that shaped them.
While the Windmill Watched is available at several Bismarck bookstores, the NDSU bookstore and online at whilethewindmillwatched.com.
The sisters will be on a book tour in North Dakota next week. You can find all the details of their site on their website.
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