Homespun local history out of small-town Pennsylvania during the first half of the 20th century.
The Great Depression and World War II serve as backdrops for much of the author’s story of growing up in a family of 11. Thomas was the last of the brood, so the years that the family spent working a handful of neighborhood farms came filtered through the eyes of his siblings–simple tales of farming life, family feuds, bartering for goods when the cookie jar was empty, the unfortunate circumstances that led to the selling of the family farm. The narrative picks up when the family moves to Dewart, Pa., and renovates an old house. The town was safe (â€œThere were older bullies to avoid but no perverts”) and sleepy, and Thomas took every opportunity to explore. There were places to go (the junkyard, the icehouse, the railroad station, the creamery), plenty of holes in the ground in need of examination, popsicle sticks to be checked (in case they carried a â€œget one free” stamp). And there always seemed to be a BB gun around to shoot at more or less acceptable targets. Thomas displays a light touch as he ranges between the highly personal (sexual adventure) and how the town of Dewart compared to the national picture in terms of economic desperation. A $48 annual mortgage was a serious burden, as were the burdens of war, recalled here with the arrival of the Western Union man, who notified Thomas that his brother had been killed in Luzon–still a terribly vivid memory, 60 years later.
A humble slice of Americana.