YESSIR, I'VE BEEN HERE A LONG TIME: The Faces and Words of Americans Who Have Lived a Century by George Mitchell

YESSIR, I'VE BEEN HERE A LONG TIME: The Faces and Words of Americans Who Have Lived a Century

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KIRKUS REVIEW

These more than thirty interviews with and about very senior Americans (none born later than 1872) are not at first glance surprising in Mitchell's beautifully edited presentation. The elders recollect aplenty about their early childhood and, with a few exceptions, let the present lay by. There are reminiscences about farming, logging and even slave days--what it was like to pound snuff, to march with the anti-Yankee Red Shirts, to hitch rides on the rails, to go east from South Dakota to Wisconsin in a covered wagon, etc. And on the whole, these men and women are not too happy with the changes they've seen. The most pertinent, revealing and moving statements are made about loneliness, the shadow of death and their own relative immobility. Mr. Nels Nelson expresses it simply: ""My time is gone""; and Mr. Peter Nelsen says ""You can't do nothing alone."" Yet Mrs. Annie Christian asserts, ""I know there's something I haven't found out."" There are religious affirmations of resignation, but the general impression one has is of isolated human beings persistently, sometimes pathetically, attempting to retain their dignity and individuality by telling of accomplishments, hard times overcome and the pleasures which are so curiously hard to explain. Mitchell has used tapes with taste and discretion, allowing the elderly verbal repetitions, detours and exclamations (""Yessir"" ""By God"") to remain. An impressive group of people--Yessir With photographs.

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 1975
Publisher: Dutton