Mistaken for a King: Sketches of a Small-Town Boyhood

Mistaken for a King: Sketches of a Small-Town Boyhood

by Dan Kellams


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“Exacting, unsentimental, and profoundly humane”– Anne Pierson Wiese, author of Floating City: Poems

Mistaken for a King evokes the life of a small-town boy in the middle of the last century. The book distills the essence of childhood in a series of finely honed and often funny essays, recounting memorable events and adventures that occurred between the ages of five and twelve.

Kids roamed free as sparrows in Marion, Iowa, during the 1940s. Untouched by television, they created their own amusement wherever they found it, in backyards, side streets, alleys, and pastures. Some readers will be transported to their own childhoods; others will be charmed by the recollections of young lives lived so spontaneously. Many will ponder what has been lost.

The book “sings with crisp wit and gentle wisdom” writes poet Anne Pierson Wiese. Author Kellams patrols his old haunts, recalling memorable characters and adventures in his neighborhood, in elementary school, at the movie theater, the town park, the swimming pool, and the root beer drive-in.

He writes about gun ownership at a time during World War II when every boy expected to grow up and fight for his country. There are delightful stories about his dog, Spike; about glorious summers at camp, where he swam in the muddy Wapsipinicon River; the tribulations of being a newspaper delivery boy, and the joys of learning sports in backyards and vacant lots.

There are profiles of his parents, patiently dedicated to their two sons, and recollections of such local characters as Old Lady English, who hated to see kids in her yard; Harley Breed, a cigar-chomping barber; Snake Palmer, serpent-catcher extraordinary, and Charlie Carrington, who flooded an entire business district with the seductive smell of popping corn.

“Although the book is about the life of a boy—a rather shy boy—it is in many ways a tribute to my parents,” Kellams says. “They granted my brother and me a great deal of freedom to pursue our interests and supported us even when they didn’t approve of the directions our whims led us.”

The title comes from a triumphant event the author experienced in fourth grade, but also suggests the lasting treasure of a joyful childhood.

“The very stuff of an American experience” – Ben Miller, author of River Bend Chronicle

“Kellams is a wonderful storyteller” – Jim Ecker, Metro Sports Report.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780692729762
Publisher: Dan Kellams
Publication date: 07/05/2016
Pages: 244
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.55(d)

About the Author

Dan Kellams is a freelance editor and writer with more than fifty years' experience serving national and international clients. He is the author of two books set in his Iowa hometown, a memoir entitled "Mistaken for a King: Sketches of a Small-Town Boyhood," and "A Coach's Life: Les Hipple and the Marion Indians," the biography of a tough coach in a small town. (www.acoachslife.com)

A native of Marion, Iowa, Kellams is a graduate of Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Iowa, and holds an MS degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York City. In a varied career, he was an information specialist at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York, an editor for Radio Free Europe in Munich, Germany, and as a public relations executive in New York City promoted a wide range of sports and adventure activities, including mountaineering and jungle expeditions. He has written and created publications for such clients as American Express, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Citibank, Reebok, the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, Moody's Investors Services, R. J. Reynolds, and many other organizations.

After living in New York City and rural Connecticut for five decades, Kellams and his wife, Elaine, moved to Arizona in 2015.

Table of Contents

Author's Note: Predicament on a Roof I. Margaret and Stanley A Love Story II. Around the House The Homestead Spike, Donald, and a Cat Learning to Ride A Father and Son Talk III. Around the Neighborhood Surviving Grade School Fancy Free Old Lady English IV. A Year in Cooper An Accidental King V. A Gun at My Side Shots in the Dark One Boy's Arsenal Rites of Passage VI. The Run of the Town Double Feature Haircut Charlie's Song Memories of Water Root Beer: Sweet and Bitter VII. Summers on the River Wapsipinicon Years VIII. All in a Day's Work Extra, Extra Tough Route Seven Collection Day Night Moves IX. Growing into Sports Inheritance Home Field Advantage That Championship Summer In Lyle's League The Boxing Club Jackie Robinson Epilogue: What Happened to . . .

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