Thank you, Joy, for the great post about Adirondack Bear Tales and a few “interesting” facts about me. Your friendship and support means a great deal. And yes, more memoirs are coming …
Did you know Darren Gilbert played guitar in a rock band while in high school?
Here is a short excerpt from her post:
This guitar-playing, ballroom-dance-winning hitchhiker was born in Ilion, NY, but grew up in North Adams, Massachusetts, nestled in the heart of the Berkshire Mountains. An avid reader, Darren Gilbert particularly enjoys military history, epic sagas, spy novels, and historical fiction.
Joy Neal Kidney
Please click here to read the rest of Joy’s great post!
Joy Neal Kidney is a fellow blogger and author. Her two works, Leora’s Letters and Leora’s Dexter Stories are great reads for anyone interested in American history and the sacrifices earlier generations made so we could have the country most of us are so proud of today.
Please visit Joy Neal Kidney’s Amazon Author Page. And if you haven’t read Adirondack Bear Tales, check it out here!
The undertow of the Great Depression becomes poignantly personal as we experience the travails of Leora and Clabe Wilson, a displaced Iowa farm family. Gritty determination fuels this family’s journey of loss and hope, a reflection of what many American families endured during those challenging times.
In this true story the Wilsons slowly slide into unemployment and poverty. Leora must find ways to keep her dreams alive while making a haven for her flock of seven children in one run-down house after another.
My Thoughts …
Author Joy Neal Kidney has done it again.
After enjoying her first book, Leora’s Letters, I ordered a signed copy from the author when Leora’s Dexter Stories was released. I was not disappointed.
In this amazing second book, Author Joy Neal Kidney shares the struggles, trials, and heartbreaks her family experienced during the Great Depression while living in rural small-town Iowa. Leora’s Dexter Stories is a touching and enlightening story of family, struggle, pain, perseverance, and success.
Joy is the oldest granddaughter of Leora Wilson, who in this true story, faces the daily challenges of keeping a roof over her family’s head, putting food on the table, dealing with tragic losses, and ensuring her seven children’s dreams of success remain in focus. Along with her husband, Clabe, Leora Wilson exemplify what so many American families endured during this difficult period in American history.
However, it was not all gloom and despair. There were also times of fellowship, caring friends and family; and yes, moments of joy. Family trips to the fair, children’s school sports activities and other accomplishments are recounted, as well as moments of humor and laughter (I loved Rusty the Squirrel). Leora’s Dexter Stories is a book that will touch your heart.
While not a collection of short stories, each chapter is short enough and so well crafted, the reader can easily read a them one at a time, and return later to continue with no trouble picking up where they left off. Because of vacation and a crisis at work, this is exactly how I read this book. However, at the same time, it is a book you will not want to put down.
I highly recommend this wonderful book. It is my opinion that this book should be required reading in America’s school systems. I can’t help but think that learning and remembering a bit of what the parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of this current generation endured and sacrificed to provide them with the freedoms they take for granted, and a country they often misunderstand, would be a good thing.
About the Author
Joy Neal Kidney, is the oldest granddaughter of the book’s heroine, and is the author of Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss For an Iowa Family During World War II. She is a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa and married to a Vietnam War Air Force veteran. Joy lives in central Iowa and is a regular storyteller for “Our American Stories.”
I just got my signed copy in the mail! Joy is a great author and I count her among my author friends. I am looking forward to digging into this book. So far, I have only read the back cover, the reviews, and the Foreward by John Busbee, but I can already tell it is going to be great.
I read Joy’s earlier work, Leora’s Letters, which is an amazing tale of this same family’s patriotism, struggle, sacrifice, and pain during World War II. All five of Leora and Clabe Wilsons’s sons went off to serve in the military. They did not all come home. It was a story that broke my heart, made me smile, and stirred my pride all at the same time. If you haven’t read Leora’s Letters, you really should. It is an American story about an America we all need to be remind of these days.
In Leora’s Dexter Stories – The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression, Joy Neal Kidney now shares with her readers the lives of Leora and Clabe Wilson and their displaced Iowa farm family during a time of great struggle and sacrifice. It is an American history, a history of hardworking common folk in America’s heartland during the Great Depression told through the memories and stories of Leora Wilson. And it is, by all accounts, a great collection of stories about love, survival, determination, sacrifice, and perhaps most importantly, hope.
Of course, when I finish the book, I will be posting a review here. I just could not wait that long to say something.
But, of course, you don’t have to wait for my review. Check it out. I promise it will be good.
History is often where you find it, sometimes even in old rocking chairs!
The story of this rocking chair essentially begins with the Barringer family for whom Barringer Road in Ilion, NY is named. The Barringers were one of Ilion’s wealthier families and lived in a mansion in the village of Ilion. They also owned a dairy farm out on Barringer Road. I assume the road was named Barringer Road because of the farm. However, the Barringers were not farmers, so they hired a family to live on the farm and work it. My great grandparents, Irving and Kathryn Klippel, worked that farm for years.
In fact, during the depression, my great-grandfather, Irving Klippel, would save the butter milk left over from the process of making butter, and try to deliver it for free to poorer families in Ilion with young children. While some would thankfully accept it, others would not. Since it was essentially a by-product and was often fed to pigs, many were scared to give it to their children, which was too bad.
My grandfather, Erwin Klippel and his brother, Wagner, helped work the farm for many years. After my grandfather married Eileen Gardinier, they moved into a tiny house farther down Barringer Rd, and he eventually went to work for Remington Arms because he wanted a more steady paycheck to support his family than working the farm provided.
My great grandmother, Kathryn Klippel, received several pieces of furniture from the Barringers including a very nice hand-carved oak bed and dresser which my brother, Dan, has in a guest bedroom to this day (The few times I have slept in it over the years, I had to sleep diagonally across it, because, back in the day, people were a lot shorter. Another piece of furniture given to Kathryn Klippel by the Barringers was this old Queen Anne rocking chair.
A historic home
The house my Grandparents moved into on Barringer Rd was built in the 1700s, and survived the Revolutionary War. It was tiny but we still had many great family gatherings there for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We all got quite adept at maneuvering through tight, crowded areas. I remember fighting for a spot on the couch to watch football games with my grandfather. This was when I became a Vikings fan … it was the Fran Tarkington era!
This is a relatively current picture of the house, but it hasn’t changed much. My Grandfather and his brother, Great Uncle Wagner, rebuilt the stone fireplace with stones they hauled back from the Ilion Gorge. And back then, most of the houses currently found on Barringer Rd were not there. When my mother was a little girl and growing up there, it was surrounded by woods, fields, and a pond they would skate on on the winter when it froze over. When I came along and got old enough, we used to ride snowmobiles in the fields behind the house.
You can’t tell because of the tree, but the only real difference in the house today, is that there was once an old wooden “fan” pattern decoration over the front door that also dated back to the American Revolution. It was taken down by the family who purchased this house from my grandparents. I am sure by then it was pretty-well rotted and needed to come down. It is still a bit sad.
The Old Rocker
My mother always told me that my Aunt Carol once rocked me to sleep in this rocker when I was a baby. I guess Aunt Carol would have been in her teens at the time.
Years later, I held my very first baby in my arms, sitting in that very same rocking chair. I was maybe 10-or-12-years old at the time, and the baby was Aunt Carol’s daughter; my cousin Kristine.
This picture was taken in my grandparents house on Barringer Rd. I still remember the old rocking chair with this fabric. Over the years, it has been reupholstered a few times. I seem to remember a blue and gold pattern, maybe a red velvet, and the floral print it currently has.
The foot stool doesn’t match the rocking chair. I vaguely remember a foot stool that did go with the rocking chair, but I have no idea what became of it. The foot stool that is currently used with the rocking chair was made by my great Grandfather Gilbert, my father’s grandfather. But, that is a story for another day.
So, here you go, Joy. Just for you. One more picture of the rocking chair. And this time, I am smiling!