Childhood Memories
by Ronald Mortenson

"Jeanne and I closed the door so no one knew we were in the room and then we got on the bed and started jumping."

Collecting various memories and stories from life growing up in rural Wisconsin in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, the author shares his firsthand experiences to show the younger generations how much has changed in so short a time. From hijinks around the farm to hunting trips with family, each memory is presented as a brief vignette, often with photos of the people and places in question. The story begins with the details of his grandparents emigrating from Austria-Hungary and acquiring land for timber purposes as they create a large family. With aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents around, there’s always something going on for Mortenson to get involved in. Sometimes tragic, sometimes mischievous, and always informative and honest, these stories give the reader a firsthand account of simpler but certainly not easier times.

The author has an affable nonchalance that makes his storytelling feel direct and sincere. Because the main aim of this book is to explain what life was like nearly a century ago, there are lots of details concerning daily life on the farm—from pumping well water to constructing barns that keep weather and animals out before being wired for electricity. Technology is not the only thing that has changed during this time, and the author shares plenty of bittersweet stories about the freedoms he had growing up but also the different family dynamic that led to some tough love. These memories create a document that is sentimental and personal while still valuably historical. And while it may have been written with the author’s family in mind, there’s plenty to enjoy for all readers.

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