Sunday Afternoon on the Porch: Small Town Iowa, 1939 — 1942


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Photographs by Everett W. Kuntz; Text by Jim Heynen


If you find yourself getting more and more interested in “recent” history as you get older, if you prefer the clarity of black and white photos, and if you are one of many fans of Jim Heynen’s writing, you will truly appreciate this book of wonderful, “lost” photography by Iowan Everett W. Kuntz.

I had the privilege of meeting Kuntz’ greatest fans, his wife and son, and heard their stories about their husband and father. Just before graduating from Ridgeway (IA) High School in 1939, Kuntz spent his entire savings of $12.50 on a 35mm Argus AF camera and made a case for it from a worn-out boot, scraps from a tin can, and a clasp from his mother’s purse. Wherever he went for the next several years, around his parents’ farm or to town on Saturday night, his camera was his constant companion as he captured rural and small town life in the 40s. Kuntz, however, didn’t have the money to print these photos, but in time he was able to buy bulk film used for movie reels. He then rolled his own camera film, and developed it in a closet at home.

Kuntz eventually married, raised a family, and worked as an electrical engineer in the Twin Cities, while over 2000 negatives remained undeveloped in a box. When he became ill with cancer in the fall of 2002, sixty years after he had developed the last of his bulk film, he opened his “time capsule” and finally printed the images from his youth. Kuntz brought his childhood and hometown back to life, just as he was to depart from it. He died in 2003 leaving the rest of us a great treasure.