A grandfatherly yarn about growing up during the Depression in a Northwest logging town.
Smith blends fact and fiction in this collection of essays, often making it difficult to differentiate between the two. The author recounts the standout moments of his youth in Mineral, Wash., in the ’30s. He richly evokes the quirks of small-town life: gossip that spreads like wildfire, larger-than-life characters and local traditions that bind time and place together. The book opens with a bang, as Smith recalls the fire and brimstone sermons the Reverend Knox regularly levied upon the town’s sinners. While Smith was too young to comprehend the impurities the Reverend was sure stewed in his parishioners’ lustful minds, the preacher made an indelible impression. Other personalities that fill the pages of Smith’s love letter to Mineral include the saintly Bill Hill, the grocer who carried most of the town through the Depression on credit; Toughy and Aggie Sooter, the bombastic couple who entertained the town with their marital drama; Mrs. Sievert, the town’s arbiter of all things prim and proper; and Smith’s parents. The author vividly depicts the time and place of his youth, with recollections that are infused with hindsight, seasoned wit and commentary on the vast differences between life then and now. He is explicitly conscious of the tricks memory plays on the mind, embracing them wholeheartedly, which only adds to the charm and credibility of the narrative. The author takes umbrage with those who characterize his work as mere â€œgrandpa stories”–tales of times gone by that play fast and loose with the facts and grow more grandiose with age–but that’s just what they are, in the best sense of the term. They convey a bit of truth about human experience and history and can only be told by those who lived to tell the tale.
Stories that stand the test of time.