Dear Folks, an historical fiction, offers a wholesome peek into the year 1918, nearing the end of WWI, attractively interlaced with ninety-seven pages of classic war song lyrics, sheet music cover illustrations, original photos, and era memorabilia.
Earl Young’s world is both small and large. He works the family wheat farm in his small hometown of Brock, Nebraska, but he’s in the middle of World War I and German-American discrimination is spreading. Unquestionably, Earl’s first priority is wheat, but he must do his bit to defeat the Kaiser. His zeal lands him a chance to travel the States and across the pond to France, courtesy of the U.S. Army. Proud of his family, proud of wheat, Earl is now proud to be a soldier with the 401st Pontoon Engineers of the American Expeditionary Force.
The story hinges on letters Earl faithfully writes home to his folks in language that shows innocence of youth in a time when even travel across state lines was unusual for ordinary citizens. Dialogue with his new and “second best friend,” Morgan, drops us into the barracks playing checkers, takes us onboard the U.S.S. Mongolia, where a fight with Spanish influenza breaks out, and sticks us in a scuffle with mud and frogs in France. Earl never realized before that a back-woods-man from Brock, Nebraska, could ever be permitted to see so much of the world and get by with it.
Earl was a hero, not because he fought in the war but because he had a heart to defend his country. Not knowing the outcome, he went willingly, and exemplified the American pioneer spirit and determination that made this country great. From Trench cake to threshing bees, Earl shows us the fight of the farmer and the soldier: “Wheat and war! That’s all you ever talk about!”
Dear Folks beautifully displays as a reminder of both service and honor, character and spirit, while teaching a bit of yesterday. A feel-good, enjoyable read.