In this debut memoir, a Canadian physician looks back on his childhood, youth, and schooling, recalling a way of life that has largely disappeared through modernization.
Hodder’s journey started on the southern coast of Newfoundland in the community of Creston South in 1939. The setting’s isolation in the 20th century will likely astound readers. Most buildings, including the local schools, had no electricity, indoor plumbing, or running water. Electricity didn’t reach the area until the ’60s. Therefore, the author grew up on the family farm in a manner befitting the Canadian novel Anne of Green Gables. His parents placed an emphasis on education for their children, wanting more for them than manual labor. The local schools were all church-affiliated and did not even employ certified teachers. But Hodder completed the available course work and became qualified to teach school at age 15. By 16, he was attending Memorial University of Newfoundland. This was a church-affiliated college whose applications asked, “Are you saved?” After his freshman year, Hodder briefly returned to teaching before joining the Salvation Army Officers’ Training College for further education. Eventually, he entered a pre-med program that led to a long career as a physician. Hodder’s childhood is indeed historically intriguing, mostly for how out of touch his small island community was with the outside world, whose technology and educational system had left it far behind. This portion of his story is extremely engaging, with rich details about Creston South. But it makes up less than a quarter of the volume (which includes family photos). Then the book devolves into anecdotes and family history that will most likely only interest the author’s relatives, friends, patients, and colleagues. This includes sections called “Meet My Ancestors,” 33 pages of genealogy and family background; “Coping With Grief,” a recitation of children who died in his care; and 26 pages of writings for Kiwanis Club meetings and newsletters. The work loses its momentum at this point, abandoning Hodder’s unique story and becoming a catalog of random thoughts and observations.
An uneven account of a doctor’s early experiences and lengthy career.