I Love You, Miss Huddleston: And Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood

( 16 )

Overview

With his ear for the small town and his knack for finding the needle of humor in life's haystack, Philip Gulley might well be Indiana's answer to Missouri's Mark Twain. In I Love You, Miss Huddleston we are transported to 1970's Danville, Indiana, the everyone-knows-your-business town where Gulley still lives today, to witness the uproarious story of Gulley's young life, including his infatuation with his comely sixth-grade teacher, his dalliance with sin?eating meat on Friday and inappropriate activities with a ...

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I Love You, Miss Huddleston: And Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood

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Overview

With his ear for the small town and his knack for finding the needle of humor in life's haystack, Philip Gulley might well be Indiana's answer to Missouri's Mark Twain. In I Love You, Miss Huddleston we are transported to 1970's Danville, Indiana, the everyone-knows-your-business town where Gulley still lives today, to witness the uproarious story of Gulley's young life, including his infatuation with his comely sixth-grade teacher, his dalliance with sin—eating meat on Friday and inappropriate activities with a mannequin named Ginger—and his checkered start with organized religion.

Sister Mary John had shown us a flannelgraph of the apostles receiving the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. They looked quite happy, except that their hair was on fire. . . . I was suspicious of a religion whose highpoint was the igniting of one's head, and my enthusiasm for church, which had never been great, began to fade.

Even as Kennedy was facing down Khrushchev, Danny Millardo and his band of youthful thugs conducted a reign of terror still unmatched in the annals of Indiana history. With Gulley's sharp wit and keen observation, I Love You, Miss Huddleston captures these dramas and more, revisiting a childhood of unrelieved and happy chaos.

From beginning to end, Gulley recalls the hilarity (and heightened dangers) of those wonder years and the easy charm of midwestern life.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Nostalgia is the one thing we all share, the one topic that brings together people of disparate temperaments and social classes. Last year, Philip Gulley's I Love You, Miss Huddleston crept into our hearts with its gentle confessions of adolescent ethical dilemmas and predictably unfulfilled crushes. Somehow, young Philip navigates through his problems without the benefit of laptop counsel or Twitter consolation. Now in paperback. (Hand-selling tip: The reviewer who compared the tone of these remembrances to the writings of Mark Twain and Garrison Keillor hit a bull's eye.)

Indianapolis Star
“In the fashion of Mark Twain and Garrison Keillor, Gulley has crafted a book that is great fun, but fun with a message beneath the surface.”
Booklist
“Flat-out hilarious.”
The Miami Herald
“...a positive, feel-good escape in times that aren’t so simple anymore.”
Jay Allison
“Philip Gulley’s memoir is sweet and funny - funny enough that you’re tempted to read parts aloud just to amuse yourself further.”
Doug Crandell
“Gulley has illuminated a childhood where risk and frivolity are combined into one. An engrossing and propelling story that never once lets the reader forget that it’s our youth that makes us all what we are….”
Carrie Newcomer
“A wonderful account of the treasures, trials and plain old wackiness of growing up in small town Indiana. Gulley tells his stories with a bright intelligence, a wry wink and warm-hearted good humor, which are at the same time tender, thought provoking and downright hilarious.”
Thomas Lynch
“Philip Gulley gives us the good laugh, the good cry and a good read of a world still in reach through faith and family.”
Publishers Weekly

Some kids were evidently not unhappy growing up, but they can still get pretty good childhood memoirs, especially if they are honest about exaggerating. Quaker pastor-author Gulley (the Harmony series) writes a low-key Hoosier who's who in this memoir set in Danville, Ind., where youthful acting out takes the form of hurling tomatoes and detonating cans of bug spray. Danville includes Quaker widows aplenty, pals named Peanut and Suds, an arthritic and deaf police dog and a mousery that provisions Indiana's homegrown pharmaceutical manufacturer, Eli Lilly. Gulley has no shortage of material, and the teenage years naturally bring an attack of hormones that prompts pathetic, doomed crushes. We even manage to learn a few facts about the humorist, such as that Gulley grew up Catholic. His chief object of fun is his youthful self, which takes the edge off his views of other characters from his youth, many of whom are relatives. Humor beats nostalgia and drama; this stuff is a laugh-out-loud tweaking of a not terribly misspent youth. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Gwynne Spencer
In addition to his delightfully re-readable books about "Harmony" (Home To Harmony, Almost Friends, Christmas in Harmony, Just Shy of Harmony, Signs and Wonders, Life Goes On, A Change of Heart), Gulley is the author of several books of essays (Front Porch Tales, For Everything a Season, Porch Tale, Hometown Tales, If Grace Is True, If God Is Love). This is his first set of memoirs, in the spirit of Bill Bryson's "Thunderbolt Kid" stories. In twenty-three chapters plus an epilogue, Gulley tells tales of small town Midwest childhood adventures that will encourage writers to set pen to paper to tell their own true stories—it is that inspirational. In the preface, Gulley says "memory is the story we tell ourselves about the past, full of distortions, wishful thinking, and unfulfilled dreams." This is his version of his adolescence, and I warn you not to eat or drink while you are reading it or you may have milk shooting out of your nose. Gulley is a superb storyteller, a reweaver of facts into a comforting blanket of possibility. If you have not discovered his writing, this is a great introduction. My only regret is that he does not write books for kids (although this would make a terrific read-aloud start for an autobiography unit for middle- and high-schoolers.) He is an American treasure. Reviewer: Gwynne Spencer
Kirkus Reviews
A pastor recalls his idyllic youth in America's heartland..As Quaker Rev. Gulley (Porch Talk: Stories of Decency, Common Sense, and Other Endangered Species, 2007, etc.) admits, his "is not a careful narrative" of the good old days in a small town down the road a bit from Indianapolis. Danville was evidently a sister village to that depicted in Thornton Wilder's elegiac Our Town. The Hoosier hamlet also boasted its native "Doc Gibbs." Corn, cattle and laboratory mice were its chief products. In the style of the late Jean Shepherd, though Gulley is a tad more mannerly, the memoir speaks of bicycles, dogs, an outhouse or two, Halloween mischief, the local funeral parlor and the 4-H Club carnival. His hometown was populated with pals like Suds and Peanuts, relations like Cousin Pooner and sister Chick, assorted citizens like Officer Charley and Orville the grocer. Dad was a gregarious sort and a great bug-spray salesman. Gulley, better known as "Norm and Gloria's boy," mowed lawns for Quaker widows, waxed Dad's car, played pranks, daydreamed about teacher Huddleston and beheld, in awe, the girls of Danville. During those summers past, the latter-day Little Rascals grew into teens with the attendant difficulties of pubescent celibacy. In characteristically candid terms, the author speaks of the lads' concerns about their "winkies." He was the bespectacled skinny kid with the big ears, and this regular, everyday boy presents a regular, everyday bucolic confection..An agreeable text of easygoing humor that reads like it was written down in a spiral-bound notebook.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060736590
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/14/2009
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,421,629
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Gulley is a Quaker minister, writer, husband, and father. He is the bestselling author of Front Porch Tales, the acclaimed Harmony series, and is coauthor of If Grace Is True and If God Is Love. Gulley lives with his wife and two sons in Indiana, and is a frequent speaker at churches, colleges, and retreat centers across the country.

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Read an Excerpt

I Love You, Miss Huddleston LP
And Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood

Chapter One

My Perilous Start

When I was four months old, a few days after a photographer had taken my baby picture, my father lost his job. When the photographer returned bearing the proofs for my parents to choose from, they could no longer afford the photos. The man took pity and gave them a proof for free, which my parents displayed on our living room wall, alongside pictures of my siblings. I wore a cute little Onesie. My right hand was extended in a posture of blessing, a beatific smile lay upon my features, purple ink etched the word PROOF across my belly. Adding to this indignity, I was afflicted with cradle cap, which, in combination with a stray shadow, gave me the appearance of wearing a yarmulke. I looked like a miniature rabbi whom the Lord, in that fickle way of the Divine, had placed among the Gentiles. Like my brothers and sister, I was baptized Catholic, though I now believe that was done to throw me off.

When I was old enough to notice my picture, I asked why I was branded so peculiarly.

Glenn, my oldest brother, took it upon himself to explain this and other mysteries to me. "You're not one of us," he said. "Someone left you in a banana box on our front porch."

"We thought someone had given us bananas," my father said. "It was a real disappointment."

Shaken by this revelation, I looked at my mother.

"We love you just the same," she said, patting me on the head.

Thus, I was as Moses among the Egyptians, set adrift in the reeds, a stranger in a strange land.

As a young child I was prone to illness, lurchingfrom one infirmity to another. After one was healed, another rose and took its place. When I was finally healed of the cradle cap, my eyes became inexplicably crossed and my legs turned inward. My mother drove me to Indianapolis to the Shimp Optical Company, where I was fitted with binocular-like glasses. A few weeks later, splints were lashed to my legs and I lay on my back for several days, like a bug-eyed beetle stunned by a spritz of Raid, which is where I was when John F. Kennedy was shot. But I had my own problems and gave his predicament little thought.

In addition to my poor vision and limited mobility, I had a profound speech impediment and could barely make myself understood. My parents employed a speech therapist who came to our home each Thursday and had me repeat words with the letter r.

"The wed caw dwove down the gwavel woad," I would say, over and over again.

The therapist, a Mr. Wobewt Fowtnew, eventually diagnosed me with a weak tongue that couldn't curl sufficiently to make the r sound. He advised my mother to have me take up bubble gum and brought a bag of Bazooka each week for me to chew. This gave me little incentive to correct the problem, and I continued to suffer.

Suffering was the common theme of that decade—the 1960s. Although my parents tried to hide its more violent aspects from us, I sensed something nefarious was under way. It had been our custom to watch Walter Cronkite after supper, but more and more often my siblings and I were shooed outside to play, where we would consult with the other children about world affairs.

Tom Keen—who lived three doors down, was four years older than I, and knew everything there was to know—told us we were at war, fighting the communists in Vietnam. I wasn't sure who the communists were, but knew they were bad since we had drills at school in the event they attacked us. Ours was a passive resistance—we crouched in the hallway, hands over our heads, until the theoretical bombs stopped falling and Mr. Michaels, our principal, came on the intercom to tell us it was safe to return to our desks.

Mr. Vaughn, our immediate neighbor, blamed every social ill on the commies. I deduced from him that communists had long hair, didn't bathe, listened to rock music, and lived, not only in Vietnam, but also in California, which I looked up in the atlas my father kept next to his recliner. California seemed perilously close, less than a foot from Indiana. I would lie awake at night, worrying about the communists and their near proximity.

The communists weren't the only threat to our well-being. Mr. Vaughn also warned us about the Japanese. "Gotta watch those little Nippers. Turn our backs on 'em for a second and they'll sneak attack us. Feisty little devils, the whole lot of 'em." Mr. Vaughn had a German shepherd named King, ostensibly to protect him against the Japanese and communists. But I fed him dog biscuits through the fence and we were thicker than thieves, King and I.

Despite these threats to my well-being, I reached the age of seven and went with my father to the town dump on a Saturday morning in search of a bicycle. Doc Foster, our town's garbage man, guided us past heaps of trash, scavenging various parts of bicycles until we had enough components to fashion suitable transportation. It was, when we finished assembling it, an object of kaleidoscope beauty—a Schwinn Typhoon, consisting of a green, slightly bent frame, two tires of differing sizes, a blue back fender and a yellow front one, and Sting-Ray handlebars. The bike lacked a seat, adding to its uniqueness, so I learned to ride standing up.

Thus equipped, I set out with my brothers to explore our surroundings, riding east down Mill Street and north on Jefferson to the Danner's Five and Dime, where we visited the parrots and listened while hoodlums taught them dirty words. The hoodlums not only led the birds astray, they played pinball, an activity I have ever since associated with moral delinquency.

I Love You, Miss Huddleston LP
And Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood
. Copyright (c) by Philip Gulley . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

Preface vii

1 My Perilous Start 1

2 Our New Digs 9

3 Dreams of Greatness 21

4 My Pointless Suffering 33

5 Big Business 45

6 Vacations 55

7 My Family Tree, Imagined and Otherwise 69

8 Miss Huddleston 79

9 Carnival 91

10 My Dalliance with Religion 103

11 Halloween 115

12 Old Men 123

13 My Many Shames 133

14 My Sporadic Uprisings 143

15 Bicycle Glories 157

16 Mildred 169

17 The Faith of My Father 181

18 Bill and Bunny 189

19 Government Work 201

20 My Grocery Days 211

21 Driving 223

22 The Blizzard 233

23 Leaving Home 243

Epilogue 249

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 16 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 17 of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2013

    Woahhhh

    This made me go like ummm tht is creepy wbu

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2011

    remommended

    Good childhood memories!

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  • Posted February 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Phenominal

    If you were born and raised in the 1950's, this is a must read!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2010

    Another Winner

    Once again Philip Gulley has come through for his readers. I thoroughly enjoyed this journey back into his childhood (as I am the same age I associated with many of his escapades). His characters are both endearing and hilarious. Only 2 regrets. I wish the pictures were easier to see and that he came out with books more often. An excellent look back for anyone who grew up in the 60's and 70's.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 29, 2009

    I Love You, Philip Gulley

    I am a Philip Gulley fan. I've read all of his fiction series about the small Indiana town of Harmony, as well as his nonfiction books. He has a voice that shines through whatever he writes, very dear, very down-to-earth, very funny. His books bring tears to my eyes in places and belly laughs in others. "I Love You, Miss Huddleston" is no exception. His description of his Indiana childhood and youth is the kind that you have to share: "Just listen to this story about what they did with his father's bug spray! . . . You've got to hear what he has to say about the family cars!" His stories touch us where we live and evoke our own memories. I'd recommend this book and all of Gulley's books to anyone who enjoys warmth and humor.

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  • Posted August 27, 2009

    Memories

    Everyone can find something to relate to. What a funny rememberance. I now have to read anything else he has written. This was really a fun book. Just seeing what some of the kids did was just great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    I Love You, Miss Huddleston

    I live in the real Danville, Indiana and I know Phil Gulley. The stories he writes capture Danville perfectly. His stories about the Haunted Bridge, White Lick Creek, the Blizzard of '78 and other events bring back a lot of memories.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 25, 2009

    A great read

    Phil grew up in the 70's, but he probably touched on the similar experiences of just about any boy's childhood decade. Hilarious, and at times touching, it's a great read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2009

    Best One Yet!

    I have read all of Philip Gulley's books. This one is the best, in my opinon. His usual droll style of writing is evident, but the subject matter is different than his others. It is about his childhood, growing up in Indiana.

    My own boys are Philip Gulley's age, and it brought back such memories. The clothes, the cars, the crazy things young boys do when their parents aren't looking all brought back memories for me.

    However, ANYONE will love this book! It is charming, sweet, and more than a little humorous. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I highly recommend it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2009

    Growing up in the best possible way

    Philip Gulley`s books are gentle reminders of what really matters in this life....Family, friendship and character...His account of growing up in Indiana is full of humor, mostly aimed at himself with life lessons that we should heed.
    Gulley`s books leave me feeling happy and content.

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  • Posted June 13, 2009

    Reminiscing...

    This book had me laughing out loud by page 2. I have many similar recollections from my childhood. Anyone who grew up in a small town in the '60s and '70s will probably feel like they're reading part of their own story. Great laughs, and great times.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2009

    Great book!

    Very funny book. My husband and I enjoy Philip Gulley's books, but this one may be our favorite.

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    Posted August 8, 2009

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    Posted January 5, 2011

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    Posted August 16, 2009

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    Posted December 25, 2011

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