The Early Years: A Road Less Traveled
by Dennis Damp
Bookhaven Press

"This sometimes haphazard journey took on a life of its own, with diverse paths others may have found difficult to navigate."

Author and publisher Damp recalls the first thirty years of his life, a fascinating series of twists and turns that began with an upbringing as the fourth child in a problem-ridden family coping with economic insecurity, living "paycheck to paycheck." After his father's death when he was a toddler, his mother struggled, once chastising her son for straining their budget by asking for twenty-five cents to go to the movies. He and various members of the family moved more than a dozen times, seeking a safe, decent, secure home. He took on any odd jobs he could find, developing a strong work ethic from early childhood. He was fortunate to attend the Hershey School, a boarding facility for disadvantaged boys. After meeting and marrying Mary, the love of his life, he served on active duty in the military and then was employed in technical work for the Air National Guard, the Department of Defense, and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Now retired from government service, Damp still works—with the same pride and push that characterized his previous endeavors—in his self-created business, Bookhaven Press, authoring and publishing numerous works offering detailed assistance for navigating complex federal systems at all levels. This new work stands out as intensely personal, painting views of American home life, imbued with both city and rural values, common in the mid-twentieth century. It also demonstrates how some Americans have coped with straitened circumstances of family loss and financial insecurity. He presents his mother as a deserving example of determination to support her children after sudden widowhood. Experiences surrounding his children's growth and the peripatetic lifestyle required by military service add interest, while many photos bring the characters into vibrant focus. Damp clearly wishes to share his administrative acuity with others and, as importantly, his love of family and home. His memoir can serve as encouragement and example to a wide audience.

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