Book Report: The Bittersweet Ozarks at a Glance by Ellen Gray Massey (2003)

Book coverI borrowed this book at the library this weekend because I was running short of things to read around here. Actually, no, I have this tendency to stop by the local history section at the Republic Branch of the Springfield-Greene County library and check something out in spite of having enough to read. This particular volume is a collection of photographs taken as part of an Ozarks studies class at Lebanon High School from the 1970s to the early part of the 21st century.

That lends the book a certain double effect narration: Some of the photographs are themselves history, as many capture not only the old timer residents of the area wearing their horned rim glasses unironically, but also some of the students are captured in their flared bottom pants, also worn unironically. Sometime in the 1980s, old people stopped looking like these vintage old people, didn’t they? I have some pictures of my great aunts from the late 1980s with the horned rim glasses, and they looked old. In contrast, I have a grandmother and a friend approaching 90 and a mother-in-law approaching, well, maybe I shouldn’t use her as an example since she sometimes reads this blog. But some of the photographs in this book are of people who fall between those ages, and they look older than the aforementioned people who will unfriend me on Facebook for mentioning their ages. Maybe it’s that I’ve gotten older, but it’s not exclusively that, is it?

So I enjoyed looking through this book while watching a Cardinals game. The photographs capture some of the natural beauty of the region as well as some of the residents of the area who were farming it before electricity reached them (in some cases, as late as the 1960s). Although the pictures of the native fauna was less impressive since I’ve snapped most of them myself in my backyard.

A side note: you know, one can easily dodge high school literary works as subpar (come on, they’re just learning). However, one overlooks high school history programs at one’s own risk. This is pretty good stuff, much like Webster Groves High School’s In Retrospect series that started in the middle 1970s, too.

I recommend the book. Of course, instead of going to the library for it, you can order it right off the Internet from the link below. Or, if you’re like me, you can get it from the library and then scoop it up later after you’re sure of it’s worth.

Books mentioned in this review: