We All Wrote on the Same Outhouse Walls
by Larry M. Farrar
Stratton Press Publishing

"Back home, back then, it was a simple matter of right and wrong, beliefs and standards."

Farrar’s early memories of life in a tiny, historic village—West Middletown, Pennsylvania—begin when he was five, and the schoolhouse burned down. His secret happiness at the possibility of dodging education that fall was dampened when a new school location, Possum Hollow, was selected. In its one room, Farrar swears he never learned to spell. Remarkably, from such a humble beginning, he secured excellent employment after a stint as a baseball player and several years in the military. His first year at school was shadowed by the bombing of Pearl Harbor, evoking memories of rationing and other consequences of war. When he was 14, the family, whose income derived from his father’s general store, finally acquired indoor plumbing. Farrar’s boyhood years included delivering newspapers, sledding in the snow, hunting, fishing, playing pool, sneaking off to drive-in movies, and dreaming of big-league baseball.

Farrar’s reminiscences charm, amuse, and educate, providing focused reminders of simpler times. Women stayed at home, men were the breadwinners, and children like Farrar might walk a mile or more to school and play unsupervised in woods and fields. Short vignettes from military service, a few from his career life, and some well-considered opinions that verge on the political are included, but most pungent are such choice depictions as Sunday dinners, visits to the “big city” of Washington, PA, and being trusted by his father to pay himself whatever he felt he’d earned helping in the store. Conveying his recollections almost dreamily but with wit and organization, Farrar concludes that his small-town upbringing gave him “a better than average shot at a decent life.” This window on idyllic days of long ago will enchant those who lived through them and may prompt younger readers to try to recoup some of that essence.

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