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Ryan Dennis

Ryan Dennis is the son of a New York dairy farmer and a literary writer whose early essays were originally published in Progressive Dairyman.

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When I was in seventh grade, I picked up a book laying in the corner of a classroom called A River Runs Through It. The first paragraph was short and about a boy growing up with religion and fly fishing, and how in his family there was little distinction between the two.

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I have no doubt that, like every generation before us, we will judge the next generation to be spoiled or clueless. Nonetheless, whatever does become of them, I hope that the next generation holds us accountable and thinks for themselves.

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It was the usual rite of a rural upbringing, and the time had come for my father and me to take part in it ourselves. When I was 11, he took me to the end of the cornfield, set up a hubcap and had me shoot at it.

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Of all the things a place can be known for – famous bands, art museums, sports teams – the small town of Geel, Belgium, is world-renowned for its mentally impaired residents. In the center of the village stands St. Dymphna’s church, supposedly containing the saint’s remains.

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“I would like a wurst,” I said in German.

The vendor’s face immediately changed. She now scowled. She pointed at the register and held up two fingers. I gave her a two-euro coin. She didn’t say thank you.

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If there ever was a movie that captured the American spirit, it was Rocky. A no-name working class guy from the streets of Philadelphia goes up against the heavyweight boxing champion of the world.

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