CEDAR FALLS — Bess Streeter Aldrich is being celebrated this month as part of the year-long Cedar Falls Authors Festival.
She is the last of five nationally known, best-selling Cedar Falls authors being feted throughout the year. Aldrich joins the list of Robert James Waller, Nancy Price, James Hearst and Ruth Suckow who have put the community on the literary map.
The new elementary school in Cedar Falls is being named in her honor.
On Sunday from 2 to 3:30 p.m., characters from Aldrich’s novel “Song of Years” will come to life at the Hillside Cemetery on East Lone Tree Road.
The story is based on the settling of Cedar Falls and is hosted by the Cedar Falls Historical Society.
Key characters from “Song of Years” are buried here, and actors will bring their stories to life.
On Monday, Aldrich’s “The Woman Who Was Forgotten,” a story adapted for a live radio-style show, will be performed at 7 p.m. in the Cedar Falls Public Library meeting room.
In the 1920s, a teacher faces the prospect of an unaffordable retirement. What’s to be done after a career of sacrifice leaves her broke? That’s the premise of Aldrich’s story.
In this free public performance, UNI English graduate students will adapt the beloved story into a radio play with sound effects, historical display of period artifacts and a discussion and reception.
“This event is a great way to recognize one of Cedar Falls’ most popular female authors. The performance aims to capture what made Aldrich’s writing so popular in its day, while representing the work for a contemporary audience,” says Jim O’Loughlin, a University of Northern Iowa professor who is working with students on the event.
More information and a link to print as well as audio versions of the story are available at: langlit.uni.edu/woman-who-was-forgotten.
During the first half of the 20th century, the Cedar Falls-born Aldrich (1881-1954) was one of the highest-paid authors in the U.S. She wrote 13 novels including “Miss Bishop” and “Song of Years,” both set in Cedar Falls.
The first novel (set at Iowa State Teachers College) was made into the Hollywood movie “Cheers for Miss Bishop,” which premiered at the Regent Theatre in 1941. Aldrich is now in the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame.
She also wrote 200 short stories.
On Oct. 22, the movie “Cheers for Miss Bishop” will be shown at 4:30 p.m. at the Oster Regent Theatre.
Miss Bishop, a Midwestern woman, overcomes many challenges before she can become a college teacher. In the film, the Iowa State Normal School (now the University of Northern Iowa) fills in for the college.