The Ripest Moments: A Southern Indiana Childhood

--by Norbert Krapf


Indiana Historical Society Press

$15.95 cloth, ISBN 978-0-87195-262-2

175 pp., 5 X 7, 74 b/w illustrations

late April, 2008




In the 1840s and 1850s, thousands of German families left Europe for a new life in America. Hundreds of these immigrants eventually settled in the Dubois County community of Jasper, Indiana, the county seat.


Surrounding the town were dense hardwood forests that provided the raw materials for craftsmen to begin the furniture-making firms for which the area became well known. Two of the German families that put down roots in the Jasper area, the Schmitts and the Krapfs, produced a son who today remembers those days of close ties to family and the land.


The Ripest Moments: A Southern Indiana Childhood is a prose memoir by noted Indiana poet and essayist Norbert Krapf of his childhood and growing up in Jasper. In the book Krapf, who was born in 1943 and whose poetry has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, recalls his rural, small-town upbringing in the German-Catholic community and unearths the distinctive place and culture in which he lived. As Krapf observes, “Behind this book and my collections of poetry is a conviction that an awareness of individual and collective origins can enlighten, nourish, guide, and sustain us and those who come after us.”


Krapf’s childhood memoir is divided into 42 short chapters, organized loosely around chronology, but also according to clusters of rural activities and customs. For example, some of the chapters are titled “The Music of the Grandfathers,” “Summers on the Farm,” “Sundays at the Lake,” “The Labor Day Boxes,” “The Garden and the Strawberry Patch,” “The Parish Picnic,” “Boy Scout Activities,” “Sunday Morning Baseball,” “The Little St. Joseph’s Church,” “The Woods Behind the House,” “Popcorn, Hickory Nuts, and Walnuts,” “Holiday Hunt,” “Hauling Hay,” and “Invitation to a Family Picnic.”



Former U.S. Poet Laureate William Jay Smith has said, “Not since Theodore Roethke has any poet handled so successfully the subject of youth and adolescence.”




Direct orders should be sent to the Indiana Historical Society Press, Indiana History Center, 450 W. Ohio St., Indianapolis, IN 46202-3269, tel. 800.447.1830, fax 317.234.0562.  Orders from individuals must be prepaid; check, credit card and money orders accepted. Make checks payable to the Indiana Historical Society.  Include $6 shipping and handling for the first item, plus $2 for each additional item. All shipments sent via UPS ground or equivalent. Members of the Indiana Historical Society receive a 10% discount; educators receive a 20% discount.


Sales contact: Becke Bollinger, 317.234.3683 or

Media and review copies: Amy Lamb, 317.232.1878 or


June issue of Indianapolis Monthly. Back Home Again: A Hoosier poet returns to his roots after three decades spent in NYC. Guestbook responses to the memoir