The small town of Berea, Kentucky is the focal point of this memoir, which captures the life and times of its residents during the Great Depression. Author George Kilbourne spent his formative years in Berea, eventually joining the Marine Corps during World War II, graduating from the University of Michigan with a mechanical engineering degree and later pursuing a law degree at Berkeley, where he had a law practice for the balance of his life. This time capsule was written, he says, “to record, amuse and perhaps befuddle younger generations.”
Throughout, he recounts his and other family members’ recollections on wide-ranging subject matter, everything from hog killing to outdoor plumbing, food preservation, moonshine, house building and even schooling. (In his mother’s one-room school, her teacher read so poorly that the teacher pronounced horseshoes as “horse’s hoes.”)
Kilbourne’s book offers limited appeal to readers outside his extended family, as it clearly makes highly personal references (for example: “Pauline’s brother, Othar, was married to a cousin, Ethel Parsons, Uncle Boss’ oldest.”) However, it does contain several interesting historical details on Indian lore and how the Civil War impacted the area. Illustrating the area’s remoteness, Kilbourne notes that though the townspeople were shocked to hear that Pearl Harbor was bombed, no one seemed to know where it was.
Overall, the book is intelligently written with an occasional repetition of details and minimal drama. Yet it holds a wealth of personal information for family members to enjoy and pass on to future generations.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.