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“Mining companies piled trash coal in a slag heap and set it ablaze. The coal burned up, but the slate didn’t. The heat turned it rose and orange and lavender. The dirt road I lived on was paved with that sharp-edged rock. We called it red dog. Grandma told me, Don’t you go running on that red dog road. But I do.”
Gypsies, faith-healers, moonshiners, and snake handlers weave through Drema’s childhood in 1940s Appalachia after her father is killed in the coal mines, her mother goes off to work as a Rosie the Riveter, and she is left in the care of devout Pentecostal grandparents. What follows is a spitfire of a memoir that reads like a novel with intrigue, sweeping emotion, and indisputable charm. Drema’s coming of age is colored by tent revivals with Grandpa, poetry-writing hobos, and traveling carnivals, and through it all, she serves witness to a multi-generational family of saints and sinners whose lives defy the stereotypes. Just as she defies her own.
Running On Red Dog Road is proof that truth is stranger than fiction, especially when it comes to life and faith in an Appalachian childhood.
|Product dimensions:||8.30(w) x 5.50(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
Bailey Carr is a New York City-based audiobook narrator. She graduated with a BFA in acting from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Bailey has narrated audiobooks for multiple New York Times bestselling authors.
Table of Contents
A Note from the Author 13
Prologue: In the Beginning 17
1 I Come from Coal 19
2 Washed in the Blood 23
3 The Color of India Ink 29
4 Strung on Fine Wire 33
5 Forcing the Forsythia 41
6 A Hobo's Prayer 49
7 The Spirit is Willing 57
8 Only the Essence Remained 63
9 Mistook for a Haint 68
10 Most Call Me Tolly 71
11 Survivors Will Be Shot 76
12 A Handful of the Mountain 80
13 Lead a Horse to Water 84
14 A Gizzard on My Fork 92
15 Suffer the Little Children 96
16 The Flesh is Weak 103
17 Ladies Don't Sweat 109
18 Gypsy Skirt 114
19 Birds of a Feather 124
20 The Living and the Deaf 130
21 Lonely Hearts Club Man 139
22 There Be Dragons 151
23 Mr. Parsleys World 158
24 The River Ran Cold 165
25 The Mountain Fell Away 175
26 All the Bells Were Ringing 188
Epilogue: We Are Going Home 197
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A Loved this book about my home state
Running on Red Dog Road is the story of author Drema Hall Berkheimer’s idiosyncratic childhood in 1940’s West Virginia. Filled with odd and yet lovable characters like the hobos that visited and worked for a free meal, the gypsies that set up camp in town each year, and the snake charming church her grandmother makes her swear to avoid, Berkheimer’s memoir is an unusual blend of bizarre, hilarious and heartwarming memories. Reading much like a real life rendition of The Truth According to Us, Running on Red Dog Road is infused with the smell of the savory cooking of Berkheimer’s grandmother, and the patient instruction and strength of her preacher grandfather. Though her father passed away when Berkheimer was young, her mother was alive, but for much of Berkheimer’s narrative she was away working as a riveter in the war effort. Untouched by the war aside from the absence of her mother, Berkheimer’s childhood was happy despite the odd little touches of the area. I admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this narrative. Some Christian narratives I’ve read in the past have tended towards preachiness, however this one was full of substance and yet such a fun and lovable little book. Berkheimer has a gift for a yarn and her touches of humor in the childish interpretations she had of everyday life were truly hilarious. The family and friends she paints a picture of are larger than life and so lovable the reader will want to revisit them in later readings. Hopefully Berkheimer has more memories she can share in a future book. A fun and humorous read with a lot of heart. Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
This is a collection of stories about the author's childhood in the Appalachian Mountains in the 1940s. I enjoyed reading this book, because it is about a simpler lifestyle, that no longer exists. The author lived with her grandparents much of the time. They had chickens and pigs,and a cow. They made their own butter and molasses. They were poor, but they had plenty of food. The grandfather was a country preacher. The father, a coal miner, died in the mine. Although life was hard, it sounds like the author had a very happy childhood. She certainly had many stories to tell in this book. Reading this book was an adventure back in time.
Hanging laundry this morning to riotous birdsong, I carefully secured the corner of each bath towel, and then smiled, thinking of Nana. “You go out there, and you hang that laundry so it looks right.” I can’t remember — did we roll our eyes back in the seventies? “But it will dry just fine the way it is,” I protested. (I’m sure that we whined back in the seventies.) “Nobody cares what our laundry looks like on the clothesline!” “Don’t you kid yourself . . .” Having grown up in the home of my grandparents, I have a shared perspective with author Drema Hall Berkheimer. Her grandma, lovingly portrayed in Running on Red Dog Road, had the same “what-will-the-neighbors-think” basis for morality, but shored up with a hearty dose of Pentecostal Holiness doctrine. There was no question about it: in Drema’s growing-up world, Grandma was in charge of things. Not only did Grandma always know God’s opinion on every topic, but she also knew when it was inappropriate to draw attention to oneself, how Grandpa should drive, and, above all, what kind of quiet dignity should characterize a preacher’s family. Her vigilance particularly applied to little girls who should, under no circumstances, be seen running down Fourth Avenue in small town East Beckley, West Virginia. Fourth Avenue was a red dog road, covered with the colorful waste products of the area’s robust coal mining industry, the industry that had claimed the life of the author’s father. When her mother took a “Rosie the Riveter” job in New York, the center of Drema’s world shifted to her grandparents’ home. Berkheimer’s memoir comes from the perspective of a precocious nine-year-old, sharing insights, sometimes hilarious and sometimes jarring, of life in World War II era America with its proud frugality and its humble abundance. She attests to the fact that children could and did find ways to get into trouble back then and has peopled her tales with colorful characters that stay with the reader even after the last page has been read. History lovers who enjoy period recipes will enjoy reading about Grandma’s policy to feed everyone, thoroughly and often. Making a feast out of the tail end of a garden or slaughtering and then boiling the carcasses of an entire flock of chickens and then canning the meat, Grandma elevated “making do” to banquet fare. Parents and teachers will enjoy reading a child’s perspective on the Christian faith. Drema was convinced that sanctification was somehow tied up with the absence of feathers in ones wardrobe, and, based on what she had observed in church, she defined a testimony as “when someone got up and said what a terrible person he had been until he got saved.” She worried that playing gin rummy might possible send her straight to hell — until she developed the fall-back plan of converting to Methodism when she grew up. (Methodists were, apparently, allowed to play cards.) Already well-versed in theodicy, she “suspected that God wasn’t always fair [based on] dealings I’d had with him,” and her top priority in Sunday worship was nabbing the pew fan with the picture of the blue-eyed Jesus. Humor tinged with melancholy, stories that carry a quiet moral without preaching, and an understanding that the gifts of God are all good, Drema Berkheimer shares with her readers the “gracious plenty” of her own childhood and opens our eyes to the “wild, whooping” extravagance of God all around us, waiting to be seen in our own sacred places. // T
Very descriptive novel of the author's childhood in Appalachia in the forties. She writes honestly about being raised by Pentecostal grandparents and writes richly of that time. *I was provided with a copy by Net Galley in exchange for my review.
Every once in a while, a voice comes along that makes you yearn for a childhood you never lived. Author Drema Hall Berkheimer invites you to skip along with her, big sis Vonnie, and best friend Sissy into the coal mining hills and hollers of West Virginia, at a time when gypsies and hobos were as common as doctors who made house calls. My husband is a longtime fan of Drema's work. Tom calls Running On Red Dog Road "The Waltons meet Little House on the Prairie told with Mark Twain’s humor." We both highly recommend this book. Drema and I met at the The Writer's Garret in 2008. I fell in love with this book the moment she started reading those early chapters in critique. Kathleen M. Rodgers, award-winning author of Johnnie Come Lately