In Following My Dreams, Dr. Garland W. Yarborough, 72, recollects his boyhood memories of growing up in poverty in rural Oklahoma.
Shortly after the author was born, his mother, alerted by his shrieks, discovered a rat had gotten into his crib, chewing his thumb to the bone. He lived in a four-room house with his parents and sister, with no indoor toilet or running water. “The only necessity we had was electricity,” he writes.
Yarborough initially struggled in school, especially in reading and math. He recalls a teacher spanking him with a wooden paddle. Poignantly, he describes walking the railroad tracks leading out of his hometown of Salina, musing about whether the wider world might have more to offer him. “Every time that I got a beating at home or a paddling at school, I felt shame, unloved and violated. After each incident, I would go to the railroad tracks and river, trying to clear my head as to what had just happened.”
Despite setbacks, he eventually graduated from Oklahoma State University and was accepted to Wake Forest Medical School. That’s where this first volume, of what Yarborough promises to be a three-part series, concludes.
The narrative includes lively anecdotes here and there. But unfortunately, the book is burdened by bewildering statements that lack context and a meandering, stream-of-consciousness writing style, making it confusing, at times, to follow. For example, Yarborough writes: “Over a year period of time, I developed into a very good swimmer. Jeff (his stepfather) had something to do with the draft. He got paid very much for doing this. Generally, the train would stop in Salina, although occasionally, it did not stop.” Better editing is needed to eliminate such non sequiturs and improve narrative flow.
Such rambling reminiscences aren’t likely to hold the attention of general readers. But Yaborough’s family will surely treasure his recollections of his childhood and his extended family members.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.