A Boyhood Well Worth Remembering

You know when you're reading, and suddenly you're in a movie with the author, his parents, his brother and sister and his pony -- well, that's how it is when you read "The Old Man and Me" by RC Larlham.

Told in a voice that's as pure Americana as Twain himself, "The Old Man and Me" brings the reader back to a time when life was simpler, yet harder.

The iceman delivered blocks of ice, and radio was the only form of electronic entertainment. The night of the author's birth was a doubly memorable occasion -- for not only was the author born but the author's father had suffered a workman's accident and had sustained a concussion.

The author's mother was a nurse and his father was a welder, and if you never lived on a farm or had grandparents who grew up on a farm, then you'll see how America came to be a great country of people who worked hard and who valued what they had, in spite of tornados, an attack by a goose, and a curious method from Farmer Black to increase milk production in his cows -- using truckloads of soured mash from a nearby brewery to enhance the mash fed to the cows.

Around this time, they went to a farming exhibition from the olden days, where they enjoyed a steam threshing machine that winnowed the wheat from the chaff. Such ventures made everybody appreciate modern conveniences.

His mother worked the night shift at the County Infirmary, and Uncle Ike, a long-lost relative of the author's mother, came to live with the author's family and somehow convinced the author and his siblings to help pick dandelions, a fact that shocked the author's father, when he realized his kids were helping Uncle Ike make dandelion wine.

The author took to reading early, and his teacher didn't believe that he'd read the entire Dick and Jane book (you have to read the book to find out what happened) but music was another story that years of piano lessons couldn't fix.

But wait! There's more. You must read the book to find out about the piano, and the goat. Did I say goat? Yes. Most people haven't seen goats outside of petting zoos, where you're not actually allowed to pet the goat -- and for good reason -- for this goat thought he could butt Granny and get away with it.

We're still squarely in the Ike presidency, and the farm is in full swing, and the family obtains a pony -- a blind pony -- they love -- ... and the savvy neighbor girl who...

Puberty arrives and the author celebrates his last birthday for a dozen years -- at 12.

The author's remarkable memory for details brings to life realities that really weren't so very long ago -- chronologically speaking -- but in this 21st-century reality of blindingly fast technological development -- dipping our toes into a few decades before current time seems erroneously like an era long before now -- but the author has enveloped us in his spell, and we are thrilled to be part of the ride that has now imprinted itself on our souls.

And for this we thank the author, RC Larlham.
Kathryn Esplin




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