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A Stunning Story of Love, Death, and Survival on the Kansas Prairie
On Ash Wednesday, 1926, a young couple, Alex and Theresa, left their six children home on the...
A Stunning Story of Love, Death, and Survival on the Kansas Prairie
On Ash Wednesday, 1926, a young couple, Alex and Theresa, left their six children home on the farm. They drove through heavy rains to attend Mass in town. That's when the temperature dropped fast, and the heavy rain became a snowy windswept blizzard.
Only one of them would survive that night.
The terrible loss upended the lives of this working-class family in ways no one could have expected. Through it all, the ironclad bonds of love held them together as they endured the Great Depression and an unceasing string of trials, losses, and hardships.
Based on actual events, When I Was a Child documents the inner strength, courage, and sheer grit that steadied the couple's children through loss, economic crises, tornados, dust storms and war. Focusing on the extraordinary life of Louis Pfeifer, this vividly rendered book juxtaposes vignettes of a tragic past-the loss of a mother, father, and grandmother-against Louis's harrowing experiences as an 82nd Airborne paratrooper and prisoner of war during World War II. What emerges is an inspirational story of love and family bonds as Louis and his siblings grow up to become devoted, successful parents-despite all odds.
Powerful, honest, and unflinching, When I Was a Child is about the suffering that life inflicts-and the bravery that gets us to the other side, becoming much wiser and stronger along the way.
Posted June 8, 2011
Wow! The author did a wonderful job of writing about his family. What a horrible life these poor children ended up having!
The story is very powerful and feature the Author's Uncle Louis and his Mom Jerry. Jerry has been a friend and and a Mother figure to Louis from the day their Mother tragically dies. Jerry is 4 years and Louis is 2. These two little children are then sent to live with their Grandmother CC, and she is a wonderful blessing in their young lives.
After Grandma CC is unable to take care of them and passes away, they are sent back to the farm to live with their other siblings, there are 6 children. There their oldest sister Martina takes over Mothering them. Growing up during the depression years, these children are provided for by their father's gambling and bootlegging.
After it is brought to the attention of the Authorities that Alex, their Dad has been abusing Martina, the Children are taken away and sent to an Orphanage. Back in the thirties this wasn't an ideal place to be, but the Author does provide a few funny happenings. Jerry is able to leave first when she is 12 and goes to live with her Aunt...again not an easy life for her.
After his brother Gene marries he bring Louis home...again not a good set up for him. Don't know why Irene treats him so shabbily, but he was a nonperson in her home! Again your heart will break for what these poor Children go through in their lives. Finally he is sent to live with his beloved sister Jerry.
His life does change some and he gets a job, and is able to give back to his sister.
Louis enlists at 17 in WWII...and is a paratrooper! D-Day approaches and his flight and jump is way off course! He ends up in the German hands, from here we are told the story of his again horrible life as a prisoner of war. Through all of this they keep their faith in God and family.
This book is a page turner and I highly recommend reading it, the only problem I had with it is the repeating of the same thoughts, sometimes in the next paragraph or chapter.
I was provided with a copy of this book by Readers Favorite, and was not required to give a positive review.
Posted May 19, 2011
This interesting book is about a rather large family as told through several generations through the eyes of Terry Louis, named after his Uncle Louis. As young Terry and his family are on their way home from a July 4 celebration, Terry has a toy parachute that he is holding out the window watching it billow as the air fills it while the car goes along. But, as boys will do, he lost that parachute by not holding it tight enough. He wanted his dad to stop and get his parachute but he refused until Uncle Louis told his dad to stop and retrieve that parachute because it might save his life some time. Little did young Terry Louis know what a parachute would mean to him during World War II. The above is just the introduction to the book but it grabs your interest immediately. Louis was loaded into an airplane with other paratroopers preparing to be flown into German controlled French territory for the D-Day Normandy invasion in June 1944. As they approached the landing zone behind the invasion front, the flak became terrible to the point that all of them wanted to get out of that plane sooner rather than later. Several of the C-47's, including the one Louis was in, were hit by the ground flak making the paratroopers jump before their targeted area, sending them into an unknown area quite far from their planned drop. The story then takes you back to 1926 cold and snowy Kansas where Terry Louis's parents were growing up in a family atmosphere on their farm. His parents had driven into town but their return home was halted by a huge snowstorm as their car became stuck, forcing them to try to walk home. Terry's mother didn't make it, freezing to a barbed-wire fence as she tried to follow that fence home. It got too cold and the snow was piled too high to make any progress. His father made it home but in very bad condition and, probably not knowing his wife had not made it. Switch back to France where Louis was trying to find others from his jump group. None of them knew where they were or if there were any friendly people nearby. He and James, another paratrooper, met and started a dangerous trek to hide from the Germans but also trying to find someone that would help them. The story switches back to Kansas as the family tries to figure out how the mother died and questioned if the father did all he could to save her. The story does switch in flashbacks from the Kansas area to the French/German area but the switch is told in a very easy way to understand. The author had a family story to tell and he has done it remarkably. James and Louis are eventually captured by the Germans and placed in a concentration camp where they had little food, clothing, blankets, shoes, and almost nothing but their will to live. The past great relationship between Louis and his sister, Jerry, kept his mind occupied and as alert as possible. Louis could speak German but that knowledge he did not allow the Germans to learn. In some of the flashbacks he remembered the Kansas dust-storms, tornados, the depression and the terrible economy it created, and knowing that only the love and tightness of family got them all through just as he would get through this confinement in such a terrible place. As the generations had passed so did the lives of some, but the memory never passed even though the names changed through marriage. T.L. Needham's family presented him with a great family tale that he tells so well. As with all families,Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 1, 2011
I just finished "When I Was a Child." Each chapter, each page, made me want to read more. It is a compelling story of a young man who grows up in western Kansas, loses his parents, is separated from his siblings, and eventually serves as a paratrooper in WWII. Ironically, it is his love of family that is the cornerstone of his life and the driver of the story. Having served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division myself, I was especially intrigued by the war scenes, but this is not a war story. It's a human story, and the combat experience is merely one of the challenges in Louis Pfeifer's tumultuous life. Knowing that Louis was a real person, and that this is an account of his actual experiences, makes the story that much more engaging.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.