Don't Tell Anyone Where You Are GoingThis is a story about an explorer… Not Columbus, who sailed over 4,000 miles to reach the new world, nor Magellan who covered over 42,000 miles to circumnavigate the globe, nor Neil Armstrong, who in Apollo 11, traveled nearly a million statue miles to reach the moon and back. No, this is a story about a four-foot eleven-inch woman who traveled, over a 40-year period, within a 9-mile radius within one county in southern Iowa during the first third of the 20th century.

This is a story about a woman who was born in 1893 in Ringgold County, Iowa; a woman who survives, at the age of five, a near death experience but whose younger brother does not; a woman who never has a loving relationship with her father because of his accidental death shortly after her birth; a woman who gains eight new family members after her mother remarries; a woman who mourns the deaths of family and friends from two World Wars; a woman who struggles to earn a living with her husband from farming during the great depression and the devastating dust bowl; a woman who wrestles with depression without access to the numerous treatments afforded people today; a woman who lives with no security of home ownership, moving 34 times in over 40 years; a woman who raises two sons who graduate from college although she attendes high school for only two years; a woman who lives out her Christian faith with a faithfulness that stretches over 80 years; a woman who has 12 grandparents, 84 aunts and uncles, 1 stepfather, 1 step-sister, 2 half-brothers, 5 half-sisters, over 100 first cousins, 2 sons, 5 grandchildren, and 9 great grandchildren; a woman who remains married to the same man for 55 years and then lives the next 22 years as a widow; a woman who is known by her friends as Sylvia Glendenning Lay; a woman who is known by her family simply as “Gram Lay”.

This is her story, written in her own handwriting nearly fifty years ago, of her adventures beginning at the end of the 19th century in southern Iowa. Her story, hidden in a box in the basement of her youngest son, Paul, was discovered by her grandson, Douglas, only days after Paul’s death in 2011. Douglas has spent the past five years editing, researching, and preparing Sylvia’s amazing story for publication.

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