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Crary, Margaret

SC56.1.Crary_Margaret.01Sioux City writer Margaret Crary authored nine novels for young people during her lifetime.  She received many awards for her literature, and several of her books became Junior Literary Guild selections.  Many of her books featured Sioux City history in their themes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs. Crary was born in Carthage, South Dakota on September 27, 1906.  She moved with her family to Sioux City in 1910.  Crary attended Sioux City schools, graduating from Central High School in 1923 and from Morningside College in 1926.  In 1926, she married Ralph Crary, who later became a district judge. In 1965, Crary was awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree from Morningside College.

Crary loved to write.  She took every writing and literature class that Morningside College had to offer, and she practiced her skills as a reporter for the Sioux City Journal.  She spent hours at her typewriter, pounding out many stories and articles and sending them to publishers. At first, she only received piles of rejections.  Then, she started writing plays.  Her first major published works were two plays for the Dr. Christian Radio Program in 1948. The first, “The Black Patch”, was the story of a war veteran who insisted that one of his eyes should be removed.  The famous character, Dr. Christian, consulted the veteran’s medical records and solved the mystery.   Her second Dr. Christian play was loosely based on a real life accident in Hampton, Iowa, in which four teen-agers were killed playing “chicken” on a highway. She followed that success with magazine articles, three high school stage plays and about twenty-five high school dramatic skits.

Then Crary turned her attention to writing novels for young people. 

2003.117.1Her first book, The Calico Ball, was published by Prentice-Hall in 1961. The book became a Junior Literary Guild book of the month selection. The story was set in the early days of Sioux City history, and Crary spent many hours in research at the Sioux City Public Museum.  The book included bits of history such as the first mail stage to come to Sioux City, the first retail store and even early Sioux City promoter James Booge

SC56.1.Crary_Margaret.02Crary’s interest in Sioux City history was evident in many of her books.  Secret of the Unknown Fifteen was based on the discovery of human skeletons near the Floyd Monument.  Her book, Rookie Fireman, was about the early days of Sioux City, when horses pulled fire wagons and terrible fires were fought with simple equipment. Pocketful of Raisins was based on the real life adventures of field trips led by Herrold Asmussen, a Central High School biology teacher.  The Secret of Blandford Hall took place at an English settlement that was established in Iowa City during the 1880’s.

Crary worked at a typewriter in her den, writing, editing, rewriting and polishing.  “Working writers know that writing a story requires much thought, research and mental gymnastics in getting it set down on paper properly.  It means drafting, redrafting, polishing and deleting,” she said.

She spent many hours researching each book.  Crary loved Sioux City and was deeply interested in its history.  She served for several years as president of the board of the Sioux City Public Museum.

 

 

Sources:

Sioux City Journal, March 21, 1986; August 31, 1952; December 15, 1963; February 7, 1965; May 8, 1966;

 

 
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