In this series you are invited to share an extract of 500 words from your most recent book published within the last 12 months. Details at the end of the post.
The aim of the series
- To showcase your latest book and sell some more copies.
- Gain more reviews for the book.
- Promote a selection of your other books that are available.
Today an extract from the historical biography Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression (Leora’s Stories) by Joy Neal Kidney
About the book
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.
An extract from Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression
Clabe boosted Junior into his highchair and cut up some green beans and sausage for him. Twelve-year-old Delbert kept Danny on his lap as he ate. Danny wasn’t very hungry.
After the meal, Clabe raked back his chair, reached for his pipe and Prince Albert. He tamped a little tobacco into the bowl of pipe. He struck a wooden match on the bottom of his shoe. It popped into flame, which he held into the pipe. Clabe inhaled through the stem several times until it caught.
“Danny, come here.” Pipe in hand, Clabe reached for the mewling boy. Danny held up his arms for a lift onto his father’s lap. “What’s the problem, little feller? Did you miss your momma?”
Danny leaned against his dad, quietly pulling on an ear.
“Leora, do you think he might have an earache?”
“Might be. Why don’t you try warm smoke and see if it helps.”
Clabe had Danny sit up so he could blow warm smoke in his ear. All the eyes at the table watched. Danny settled back against the bib of his dad’s overalls, seemingly better.
After dinner, the older boys left for the barn with their dad, while Doris and Darlene helped their mother scrape dishes as water heated to wash them. The three younger boys played with Husky right outside.
“Yoo-hoo, Mrs. Wilson!” Mrs. Wolfe appeared at the door. She’d walked up the dusty road. “Are you done with dinner? Is this a good time for a little visit?”
“You bet. I just put the dishes in the sink to soak. Let’s rest our bones on the porch where it’s cooler.” Flanked by Leora’s stickery ferns and Moses-in-the-Cradle plants, the chairs groaned like weary floorboards as the friends rocked.
“I want to hear all about your trip to Kansas City.”
Danny shuffled around the corner of the house to find his mother.
“Oh, we just love Willis’s new wife.” Leora gathered the unhappy boy into her lap. “Her folks are just as nice as they can be, and live in a dandy house.” Danny held his ear while she rocked.
“Does your son have an earache?” asked Mrs. Wolfe.
“Maybe so. Clabe blew warm smoke in it after dinner. It seemed to soothe but I guess it didn’t last.”
“Let me see,” the neighbor offered. “Oh, Mrs. Wilson, there’s a bulge. I think your boy may have a mastoid infection.”
“Land sakes! There is a bulge. Doris!” she called. Doris appeared at the screen door. “Go find your dad in the barn. We need to take Danny to the doctor.”
Clabe quickly changed out of his overalls and cranked up the Model T. He and little Danny made haste up the gravel road to town.
The doctor confirmed Mrs. Wolfe’s diagnosis. Mastoiditis.
Clabe and Leora Wilson, along with their three oldest children, drove to Des Moines to bring little Danny home after his mastoidectomy. 1927
One of the recent reviews for the book
After reading Joy Neal Kidney’s first book, Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family in World War II, I eagerly awaited the follow-up. I am happy to report that Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression did not disappoint.
The Leora of both books was Kidney’s maternal grandmother, Leora Goff Wilson, who was born in 1890 and died in 1987. Through reading about her, I feel I have come to know her almost as a member of my own family. I am quite fond of her, in fact.
In the the preface, Kidney provides this description of the woman you will meet in Leora’s Dexter Stories:
“She was an uncomplicated woman with straightforward goals: a home of their own, surrounded by family, and high school diplomas for her children. She was determined to do the hard work to accomplish her mission.”
Leora documented her family’s life and her own experiences through letters and journals. Kidney’s mother Doris provided her own first-hand accounts, and Kidney supplemented the family stories with extensive historical research. Family photographs are also included in the book, which further contributes to giving the reader a real sense of the individual members of the Wilson family and the family as a whole.
The book uses the techniques of creative nonfiction–story narration, scene, description, and dialog–to bring the Wilson family and their experiences during the Depression to life. One particularly striking example of Kidney’s adeptness with creative nonfiction is how the same belongings reappear throughout the book as the Wilsons move from one rundown house lacking indoor plumbing to another. At each new place, they are home when Clabe, the father, hangs “the velvet Home Sweet Home picture, the plate rail, and their familiar family photos” on the wall.
The section that made the biggest impression on me came early in the book: In the time before vaccines for childhood illnesses, having nine children come down with whooping cough at the same time, the two youngest, five-week-old twins, dying from it. There were several other experiences that stayed with me long after I finished reading the book: the sense of being looked down on by people in town for being on relief; how it broke a man’s spirit to be unable to provide for his family, no matter how hard he tried; the two eldest sons joining the Navy, marveling at the abundance of good food and sending money home to the family.
The book is balanced with some light moments, my favorite of which is Clabe’s impulsive decision to lop off the top of the family’s Model T truck to make a “sports roadster.” The photo of the roadster with youngest son Junior on the hood and pet squirrel Rusty on the front fender is not to be missed.
In addition to highly recommending Leora’s Dexter Stories to readers interested in the heartwarming story of a family struggling to overcome economic adversity, I would urge teachers of 20th-century US history classes to assign the book as supplemental reading. (A set of discussion questions is included at the end of the book to assist teachers and book club leaders.)
Also by Joy Neal Kidney
Connect to Joy and buy her books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – More reviews: Goodreads – Website: Joy Neal Kidney – Facebook: Joy Neal Kidney Author –
Twitter: @JoyNealKidney – Instagram: Joy Neal Kidney
About Joy Neal Kidney
Joy was born two days before D-Day to an Iowa farmer who became an Army Air Corps pilot, then an instructor–with orders for combat when the war ended–and an Iowa waitress who lost three of her five brothers during that war. She spent her childhood in an Iowa farmhouse with a front porch. Now I live with my husband, a Vietnam veteran, in a suburban house with a front porch.
She’s published two books (“Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II” and “Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression.”) Joy is a regular contributor to Our American Stories.
Awards: 2021 Great American Storyteller Award by Our American Stories and WHO NEWSRADIO 1040
2021 – First place Our Iowa Stories award named for Joy Neal Kidney
Joy posts regularly on her website, administers several Facebook history pages, and contributes to more.
Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books.. Sally
What will be in the post and how to get in touch
- I will top and tail in the usual way with your other books and links, bio, photo and social media.
- I will also select a review from Amazon or Goodreads that I feel has the best selling pitch for the book.
- If your book is very recent and as yet has not received a review then I will share one from a previous book.
- This series is open to all authors both those on the Bookshelf or new to the blog
- I suggest an extract of approximately 500 words or a poem that you feel best reflects the theme of your collection.
- If you have an illustration or images you can attach to the email for me to include. No need to send the cover as I will have that or will access from Amazon.
- If you have not featured on the blog before then I will need Amazon link, Goodreads, blog or website plus your social media links (main three you use)
- Please send your extract and any accompanying images to email@example.com