Robert Cole Currans den Hartog

“My first choice is to be a political analyst on NPR, but I’ll probably end up going into the U.S. Marshals,” says Robert Cole Currans den Hartog, an eighteen-year-old freshman at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. “NPR is really hard to get into,” he says, “and the U.S. Marshals takes six weeks of training.”

            Currans den Hartog is majoring in mass communication. He has an interest in media and politics, but it seems his true passion and perhaps the purpose for which he was put on this earth is to apprehend dangerous fugitives.

            He tilts his head forward, exposing the black, beady eyes behind his large sunglasses. He gazes intently and says, “The U.S. Marshals are bad asses.”

            According to Currans den Hartog, the primary criteria for a bad ass are more than met by a U.S. Marshal. For example, no bad ass is without possession of a shotgun. Accordingly, a U.S. Marshal packs a 12-guage in the backseat of his black armored suburban, a vehicle Currans den Hartog, a lover of the Old West, dubs “the horse of the U.S. Marshal.” Because most bad asses have a susceptibility to being shot at by dangerous fugitives, they must also wear a bullet-proof vest. Naturally, a U.S. Marshal proudly, albeit covertly, sports a bullet-proof vest while on the job. Lastly, and probably most importantly, a true bad ass has immense power over the average, non-bad ass citizen. According to Currans den Hartog, a U.S. Marshal can arrest anyone.

            Currans den Hartog looks very much a teenager, pale-skinned and baby-faced. He’s about 5’9’’, a bit scrawny and lanky. He has shaggy black hair, moussed to appear wet, slightly parted at the middle. There are faint, blackish hints of a peach-fuzz moustache over the top of his lip, and even fainter traces of hair on the tip of his chin. He’s well-dressed: a white cotton button-up shirt tucked into black slacks. The only item that seems out of place is his large sunglasses, which he wears slightly lowered, resting over the middle of his nose, so that sometimes his black, beady eyes are visible.

            Currans den Hartog was born on Thanksgiving Day of 1992, which happened to be November 28 that year. He is his parents’ first child, and was to be followed six years later with a younger brother. He grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. His curious last name comes as a result of having an Irish mother and a Dutch father. When the two joined in marriage, they both kept their respective last names, but passed both names on to their children, hence the Irish name Currans and the Dutch name den Hartog.

            Not surprisingly, Currans den Hartog’s father sells insurance in Des Moines. His mother used to practice law, mostly in real estate, until complications evolved with their second child, David.

            “My brother’s autistic,” Currans den Hartog says. “He got diagnosed with Ausberger’s when he was two. Now he’s twelve. It’s severe, but he’s functional.”

            The amount of attention and care required by David forced Currans den Hartog’s mother to quit practicing law and tend to her youngest son. This began a ten-year workless stint that still continues today for her.

            “I love my brother,” says Currans den Hartog, “but I wish he wasn’t autistic. He’s very stubborn and throws several fits every day. He’s ruined lots of vacations.”

            The trouble at home as a result of an autistic younger brother was echoed at school as Currans den Hartog entered Des Moines Roosevelt High in 2006.

            “I didn’t like high school,” says Currans den Hartog. “The majority of people were mean and didn’t talk to me.”

            However, this volatile social climate did not stop him from becoming involved in various extracurricular functions.

            “I was on the debate team and competed against some of the top debaters in the state,” says Currans den Hartog.

            Charlie Bass, also a freshman at Morningside and one of Iowa’s top debaters a year ago, recalls seeing Currans den Hartog at a few of his high school debate meets.

            “He was pretty good,” says Bass. “I remember him have a very distinct vocal utterance and a commanding, emphatic tone of voice.”

            In addition to the debate team, Currans den Hartog also took part in student congress. Serving as an integral member of the Student Congressional Committee, Currans den Hartog was central in advancing some of the committee’s most important agendas. For example, in 2005, he drafted an essay on the eradication of the penny from the United States currency.

            “Pennies are useless,” says Currans den Hartog. “They literally are not worth the material they’re produced on. A lot of people don’t know this, but it costs 1.17 cents to make a single penny.”

            Currans den Hartog was also acute to some of the social problems that plagued his high school.

            He says, “Roughly speaking, Des Moines Roosevelt is about 70% white, 15% black, 10% Hispanic, and 5% everything else. It was probably my sophomore year when I first noticed that some of the teachers seemed to yell at black students much quicker than they would white students. I discussed this observation with some of the other students and they corroborated it. So I wrote an article for the school paper presenting this issue. Let’s just say it was not well-received by some of the teachers.”

            Unfortunately, no faculty of Des Moines Roosevelt High School could be reached for comment on this issue.

            Beyond just the issue of racism, Currans den Hartog also focused his attention on gender inequalities.

            “There was this girl who always wore a beret to school everyday,” he recalls. “Like most schools, Des Moines Roosevelt had a loosely enforced no-hat policy. But this girl was never ordered to take her hat off. Yet any male who wore a hat was promptly instructed to remove it from their head. So I wrote an article in the paper highlighting this observation.”

            Though it would seem sexist to allow the girl to continue to wear her beret while not allowing the males to wear hats of any kind, that’s exactly what happened.

            Despite Currans den Hartog’s numerous successes in Student Congress, his attitude towards his high school days is perhaps best expressed in the final article he wrote for the paper entitled “Goodbye. You Won’t Be Missed.” Currans den Hartog’s articles can be read at

            Fortunately for Currans den Hartog, the transition from high school to college has gone smooth.

            “I love it here at Morningside,” he says. “It’s a perfect fit for me. I fell in love with it right away. The teachers are really nice. I’m making friends. And I love the food. It reminds me of my grandmother’s cooking.”

            Currans den Hartog is currently a movie reviewer for Morningside College’s student newspaper, the Collegian Reporter. He plans on expanding his role into the area of opinion writing.

            “You see,” he says, “my perspective on society is different from most. I occupy the space of an outsider looking in. I’m more jaded and cynical than your average college student.”

            Politically, Currans den Hartog ambiguously describes himself as “very liberal,” though still identifies himself as a Catholic. However, his attendance at Mass has virtually stopped entirely upon attending college.

            “I have better things to do than be told how much of a sinner I am,” he says.

            As for the future, Currans den Hartog plans on completing a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication at Morningside College. It is highly probable that he will end up serving in the U.S. Marshals. Ideally, he would like to be located in the Black Hills and be stationed out of Rapid City.

            “I see myself as a cowboy,” he says. “I love to wear Stetson.”

            After laughing, he goes on, “I’m a modern-day cowboy. I have that desire to be out on the open road.”

            He pauses, then sighs. “I’ve only ever felt at peace in the Badlands or in the Black Hills,” he says. “I just love the untamed West and its beautiful landscape.”

            For future reference, watch out for Currans den Hartog tearing down the interstate in a ’67 Shelby GT-500, his dream car.

            “It’s the car that got me in to cars,” he says. “Mark my words, I’m going to get one. I’ve wanted one since I was 12. I’m going to get it armored. I’m going to soup up the engine. And you better believe it’s going to be in mint condition.”

One Response to “Robert Cole Currans den Hartog”

  1. Michelle says:

    I loved your description of him, it was funny yet accurate. I was really interested in what he would write for his school newspaper.