Book Report: Growing Up in the Bend by E.M. Bray (1998)

This book is a set of reminiscences about growing up in the bend of the Gasconade River in rural Missouri in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The author is the son of a small farmer in the region who attends the local one room elementary school at the time and occasionally takes in a film in a nearby town. Strangely, the stories seem more from the time of The Great Brain series (Utah 1898) than a more modern era. When you compare the films of the era, often set in urban areas and New York in particular with the life of a rural person (no heat, no electricity, and some people still travelling by wagon), you get a stunning juxtaposition and a reminder of just how much change some people saw in the 20th Century.

The book isn’t too long, but the narrative is a little disjointed, as each chapter is a discrete piece that relates stories or circumstances in the Bend in the year the author talks about. But it makes for some slow reading as each piece doesn’t lead to the next.

Still, I enjoyed the book and learned a lot from it. Mostly, I learned how little a city boy like me knows of rural skills, such as hunting, butchering, growing, and gathering. It makes me what sort of city boy skills I have taking their place in my palette of experience. Running a backwater blog for over half a decade might be it.

Books mentioned in this review:

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