The Back of the Book: ‘There were memorable occasions when Mother would give us a penny to spend on the way to school. Sometimes the penny was saved for future investment, but when the penny was too hot to keep in our pocket, we would buy two sticks of licorice root (real root) or two horehound sticks. The licorice roots would last for days because we could bite a small piece and chew it for hours; the remaining dry root went into a pocket for another day.” – Eric Fowler, Small-town Boy
‘I was fifteen and feeling pretty one daywhile we were sitting in the car outside Father’s office waiting for him to come out. Down the street I spied a cute boy from my class and got ready to wave coyly at him. Mother suddenly reach out, got my head in a hammer-lock and, pulling out one of her pretty handkerchiefs, spit o it and began scrubbing my ears. ‘Sheila,’ she said loud enough for him to hear, ‘you always forget your ears!’ Oh, the horror!’ – Sheila Delaney, Small-town Girl
Why (and how) I got this book: As regular readers will know, I’ve recently re-read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. If I remember correctly, she lived in South Dakota for a period so I was very interested to see this book, covering a more recent era, offered on LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer Club and I was lucky enough to be sent a Review Copy.
NotJustLaura’s Review: I was right! The town in South Dakota where Laura and her family lived is actually mentioned in this book.
Small-town Boy, Small-town Girl is actually two memoirs placed back-to-back. They would both have got on fine alone but, together, they work to highlight the differences in the authors’ experiences.
Eric B Fowler’s family was poor when his father was alive and working. When Mr Fowler Senior suffered an accident, however, things became desperate. These were hard years for Eric although they were not without moments of fun.
Sheila Delaney, in contrast, was born into a Doctor’s family and, in the Depression, they were comfortable enough for her father to treat ‘his people’ free. Sheila’s story is more light-hearted and I found it easier reading.