4 out of 4 stars
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"I am certainly prone to nostalgia and find reminiscing to be a welcome relief to the challenges of my daily life. I realize that when I think back to the days of my youth the sun seemed to shine brighter, the grass was greener, the breeze was so much cooler in the summer and the house was toasty warm during the bitter winter." Tony E. Windsor
I Think My Dad Was Born in a Barn by Tony E. Windsor, as compiled by Aaron Windsor, is a humorous collection of memories based on newspaper columns. Although Aaron wasn't particularly interested in his father's columns when he was younger, he has since come to appreciate the humor and insight offered by his father's trips down memory lane.
In the foreword written by Aaron, he relates trying to persuade his father to write a book featuring his newspaper columns. Tony replied, "That would certainly be egotistical, now wouldn't it?" When Aaron realized his father wasn't going to budge, he compiled the columns himself. The result is 282 pages of heartwarming tales complemented by occasional family photographs. The featured columns fill chapters with reflections on humble beginnings, a childhood spent primarily outdoors, and humorous poetic idioms spoken by the adults in his life. Other highlights include Tony's love and admiration for his grandmother, his lifelong nostalgia for the home he grew up in, and snippets from his mother's diary when she was dating his father. He also conveys his respect for his father, Tom. As a former state trooper, Crisfield Chief of Police, and Somerset County Sheriff, Tony compares his father to the popular Gunsmoke character, Matt Dillon. "Everything that I have accomplished today and whatever I am that is good in a man, I owe to my father."
I found this nostalgic collection to be a breath of fresh air. I most liked Windsor's gift for storytelling. As I read his memories of growing up during simpler times, I could practically hear the narrator's voice from The Wonder Years. I can't remember the last time I laughed so much while reading a book. My favorite story involving a portable record player had me in stitches. In another instance, Windsor described the unorthodox moving methods of his father and uncles. "I think I recall heading down the highway with the stove in the back of the truck with biscuits still baking in the oven and a bed with my brother still sleeping in it." Windsor's recollections of "spider monkey" antics climbing a less-than-sturdy staircase banister with his brothers, musings on the necessity of an outhouse until their family got indoor plumbing, and speculations about Miss Addie's "two-seater" kept the laughter coming. It was professionally edited, and I can't think of a thing I disliked about the book.
Additionally, Windsor responded to readers who may object to his casual depictions of the "whoopings" and "beatings" that were a normal part of his childhood. "I guess there are some who feel we were 'abused.' I disagree. No, it was not child abuse, it was discipline, and I cannot recall any time that I got it that I had not needed it for several weeks." As someone who was also spanked with a belt in the late 60s, I can relate. However, while there was a different mindset then, I disciplined my own children differently.
Overall, I am pleased to rate the book 4 out of 4 stars for its humor and entertaining stroll down memory lane. I recommend it to readers who enjoy nostalgic reads. It will appeal to fans of The Wonder Years and A Christmas Story. Aaron suggests a recommended audience of 35 and older, and I agree; many of the nostalgic references may be lost on younger readers. Also, those who may be triggered by Windsor's depictions of discipline may prefer to pass on this one.
I Think My Dad Was Born in a Barn
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