Book Report: Over the Hill and Past Our Place by Harold Warp (1958, 1976?)

Book coverThis book tells some of the early life of Harold Warp. Who is Harold Warp? He was a farm boy who grew up on a farm in Nebraska in the very early 20th century (no electricity, no internal combustion engines). After he his father died when he was three, his mother ran the farm until she passed away when the boy was eleven. The book collects memories from that era, an era that saw radical changes to the farm. In those eight years, the house got a telephone, animals were replaced with gas engines, and his brother got a car. It’s a fascinating read.

In his 20s, Warp patented Flex-O-Glass and started a company to manufacture it. That went very well. The company, Warp Brothers, is still in business. Warp did so well with it that he donated the land and materials to start Pioneer Village, which is still in operation, near his old homestead.

Warp’s story, included as a couple of photocopied things in the back, is as fascinating as the book. Especially when you think in the sheer number of technological changes wrought in the fifty years between Warp’s birth and the book’s initial publication. I mean, he started out in an environment where his mother spent all night repairing clothing by the light of a coal oil lamp and where he and his slightly older brother were allowed to get their own rifle when they were about 10 as long as they would hunt jackrabbits to eat. When I think about the changes I’ve seen since my early days in the 1970s, we’ve got, what? Oh, the “Internet,” which is an extension of computer networks I was using when I was twelve. So we’ve got all the LOLcats we want, but on the 1970s, men were walking on the moon. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?

At any rate, the writing and presentation of the book are a bit slapdash in spots. Sometimes, the chapters collect unconnected incidents and musings where stray sentences of unrelated memories just sort of drop in and then go, almost as though this was dictated while his mind wandered and no one edited it. But overall, it’s a cool book, and at 73 pages, it’s an easy read in one sitting. The book was published and kept in print in association with the Pioneer Village, so you can probably pick one up if you’re in Minden, Nebraska, on vacation. Which I have considered, briefly, on the weight of the book.

Books mentioned in this review:

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