A debut author recounts her life in Tennessee, from a Depression-era childhood to her 70th high school reunion.
Coulter can remember growing up in Memphis at a time when “anyone could walk around the block after dark without feeling afraid; most children lived in two-parent homes; children walked to neighborhood schools.” Throughout her childhood, just before and during the Depression, Coulter watched her grandmother wring chickens’ necks for dinner, saw the arrival of the first electric refrigerator, and disrupted school with her rambunctious twin brother, Jim. After her high school graduation in 1945, Coulter married a man named Thurman in a home wedding ceremony. Four children later, she would come to realize that Thurman was both unfaithful and abusive. By 1958, she had divorced her husband and struck out on her own with three of the children (the fourth was enrolled in college): “I listened to his excuses, alibis, and promises, all of which I had heard before.” As a 30-year-old single mother, Coulter attended Memphis State College to become a teacher and moved her family to the small town of Lepanto. “Small towns were something at that time,” she writes of starting work as a teacher without even a college degree. But it ended up being a great decision in her life—eventually she would earn a degree and go on to become a principal. The author follows her story all the way through the sad loss of one of her adult children, her adventures camping across the country, and her 70th high school reunion, offering some rich details and a scattering of photographs. But Coulter’s short, sweet book covers so much information over so many years that it starts to feel more like an overview than a true memoir: “It was a very busy year. Wayne and his girlfriend, Sandy, got married; I had two new grandbabies; I attended a three-week workshop; and my father passed away.” Though her prose is always endearing, Coulter never strays too far from the facts, sometimes leaving out the emotions of her incredible tale.
A concise memoir that relies more on main points than engaging memories.