In the years since my retirement in 2009, I have taken a great deal of time to look back on the past 81 years of my life. I have had an extraordinary variety of experiences going back to a world of almost no education in one-room schools, which I dropped out of in the fourth grade at age 15. We were totally dependent on the land because that is where we grew and harvested almost all of our food with the help of mule-drawn plows and wood burning stove to prepare what we ate. Even though I was born in 1935, the experiences of my life have spanned three centuries. During the first 10 years of my life, the way we lived was no different than the way my great grandparents lived who were born in the 1860s. There were no modern conveniences of any kind during the first 10 to 15 years of my life. Unlike most of what has been written about the Appalachian communities, ours was a cooperative barter society where people worked together and always helped each other when there was a need. I am extremely fortunate to now live in a world where I can speak my memories into a microphone and my computer automatically converts them into typed text. I have had the opportunity to know and work with many wonderful people down through the decades. Unfortunately, most of my childhood friends never had the opportunity to explore the world the way I have been privileged to do.
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An Appalachian Boy's Life: A Walk in Three Centuries based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite In a memoir as important to human history and understanding as it is to the specific locale’s true representation of human spirit, Flem R. Messer’s plain-spoken but deeply meaningful book, An Appalachian Boy’s Life, relates the tale of a time and place when self-sustainability was a practice, not a goal; when family responsibility and support were extended into something called neighborliness, not confined and hoarded selfishly; and when gratitude for the simplest generosities and gifts was profoundly felt by both children and adults. Mr. Messer’s recollections of this incredibly human time and place are told so matter-of-factly and with such straightforward candor and lack of guile that one finds oneself nostalgic for a past they never knew. Not for the hardships, perhaps, nor for the endemic episodes of violence, though they also created the neighborliness, gratitude, and generosity, but definitely for the enduring sense of family love and mutual cooperation they engendered. Mr. Messer is speaking of his childhood home: Appalachia. Well known for its often-desperate conditions of general poverty, Appalachia is less familiar for the strongly independent quality of its enduring people. In a quiet but persistently authentic voice, Flem R. Messer’s compelling tale of An Appalachian Boy’s Life does much to silence the ignorance of strangers while restating the source of humanity’s original greatness: an overriding devotion to family and community based on survival and self-sustaining independence. Mr. Messer’s later efforts to further the area’s educational and financial concerns are also well documented. This masterfully revealing book rightfully deserves a significant place among our national historical archives as well as serving as a sociological resource for understanding any dramatic cultural change.