Iowa’s Nevada Is ‘Nee-Vay-Da’

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann on the 94th stop of her 99-county tour in the run up to the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. (Photo by WEBN-TV via Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0 >>)

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann on the 94th stop of her 99-county tour in the run up to the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. (Photo by WEBN-TV via Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0 >>)

NEVADA, Iowa — It’s hard to talk about small-town Iowa without getting into some of the would-be presidential candidates that spend a considerable amount of time — and money! — across the state in pursuit of a crucial win in the first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucus.

And in this crossroads town, just east of Ames and the giant Barilla America pasta manufacturing plant, nailing the proper pronunciation is important.

Don’t confuse it with the state of Nevada. (I’ll be there soon enough.)

Iowa’s Nevada is “NEE-Vay-da.” When presidential candidates, their campaign operations, reporters, television crews parachute into Iowa every four years, there are renewed reminders about how to say it properly.

Nevada is where Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann ended her 10-day bus tour of all of Iowa’s 99 counties in her ultimately unsuccessful quest for a big Republican presidential caucus win in Iowa. She had won the Ames Straw Poll that August and wanted to be “America’s Iron Lady.”

But her presidential campaign was falling apart in dramatic fashion and remains a subject of lingering intrigue

Slate’s David Weigel detailed the scene at the Snack Time Family Restaurant in Nevada on Dec. 21, 2011:

Bachmann enters the diner, gets handed a giant serrated knife for cake-cutting, and waves it around for cameras.

Welcome to Nevada, Iowa. (Photo by Michael E. Grass)

Welcome to Nevada, Iowa. (Photo by Michael E. Grass)

“This is what I’m bringing to the White House!” She cuts a few slices, repeats the “Iron Lady” line and a short stump speech, then apologizes: She has to speed out for an interview with Simon Conway, another sympathetic radio host. “I have to do it in studio,” she explains. The floor is ceded to Tamara Scott, Bachmann’s Iowa co-chair, who recently warned that gay marriage could lead to legal marriage between people and “Eiffel Tower”-like objects. She talks for 20 minutes about how, despite what people may think, it’s all right, as far as the Bible’s concerned, for conservatives to elect a woman president. “Think of Queen Esther,” she says. “And Jesus was revolutionary in the way he treated women.”

Bachmann finished last in the Jan. 3, 2012, caucus and left the presidential race. In May, Bachmann announced her planned retirement from Congress, amid an ongoing congressional ethics inquiry into her campaign’s spending.

***

Sixth Street is the main drag in Nevada, Iowa (Photo by Michael E. Grass)

Sixth Street is the main drag in Nevada, Iowa (Photo by Michael E. Grass)

Nevada is just like any other small Iowa town that works well as a backdrop for the national television cameras and the inevitable national spectacle that plays out in incremental detail during caucus season.

Many national political journalists and presidential campaign veterans have war stories from Iowa, using including tales of traveling on rural roads in miserable weather. Quickly crisscrossing across the state is a required skill during the heat of the hustings.

The Niland Cafe is located in a restored gas station at the junction of the Lincoln and Jefferson highways near Colo, Iowa. (Photo by Michael E. Grass)

The Niland Cafe is located in a restored gas station at the junction of the Lincoln and Jefferson highways near Colo, Iowa. (Photo by Michael E. Grass)

One important central Iowa crossroads is just east of Nevada and adjacent to the town of Colo. This is where the Lincoln Highway meets the north-south Jefferson Highway, today’s U.S. 65.

At this junction, called the Reed-Niland Corner, is the historic Niland Cafe and Colo Motel. I stopped by briefly on my way to Ames.

According to its Facebook page, the cafe’s specials that day were country fried steak with mashed potatoes, country gravy, green beans and roll or smoked turkey with Monterey Jack cheese, tomato, lettuce or spinach, mayo or a housemade dill spread on croissant served with fresh fruit cup.

But lingering, unfortunately, wasn’t in my schedule, which involved many more hours behind the wheel. Time to continue westward …

One thought on “Iowa’s Nevada Is ‘Nee-Vay-Da’

  1. It’s a shame you have to hurry along. That’s the curse of the scheduled traveler, I suppose.
    Your posts get me thinking about how, despite how large and diversified the country is, we are all so interconnected. I’ve never been to Iowa and certainly don’t share political leanings with many folks there. But I eat their crops, send them what I produce, vote in the same elections, snack on the same potato chips and share a zillion other things. The train the rolls through Colo today might pass though my town tomorrow.
    There is a lot of complaining these days about how dysfunctional the government is. But all in all, I see America as a frickin miracle.
    Carry on!

Leave a Reply