Gary Broughman’s Indie Book Watch
How do we define an era or a generation? Presidents? Wars just completed, being fought or on the horizon? Or maybe it’s cultural markers like popular music, TV shows or movies. That’s a fair enough method and gives us common ground on which to discuss or debate exactly what happened in those times. But a top down, common denominator approach has its limitations. It misses many of the nuances better viewed from the ground up. Daily life—families and individuals —is “where the rubber meets the road,” as one tire maker of the babyboom era liked to say.
I’ve been delighted recently to read several memoirs which tell the inside story of real families during the post World War II decades of the 50s and 60s, families of the so-called babyboom generation. One of my favorites is The Shoebox by Stephanie DeBry. Subtitled Growing up with America in the Babyboom South, The Shoebox exposes the inner joys and struggles of a working class, white Georgia family fighting ever day to make their mark on America’s expanding landscape. Fortunately for Ms. DeBry and her readers, she comes from a family of characters and brings them on stage from every angle. They never fail to surprise and entertain.
Morgan Blake, the “daddy” of the Shoebox story, returns from naval service in the South Pacific to marry Elizabeth, have babies, and together find their place in a country that’s buzzing with optimism, but is still a land in which opportunity must be sought out and seized. The Blakes are an eccentric bunch but they are also resilient. Morgan stumbles often, moving impulsively from one job to another, trying to find his way up. When he falls, Elizabeth is there to pick him up.
Morgan’s five children—four girls and a boy—simply adore him. Yes, five children. As with most couples in those days, they couldn’t seem to stop themselves—no matter how stretched their finances were. They worked hard at making life comfortable and tried to give their kids a “Christian upbringing.” Whatever they lacked in material stuff, Morgan replaced with contagious energy and song, leading evening gatherings around the piano. Aunts and uncles would join them on the weekends and when they drank too much it just added to the raucous atmosphere. Of course, that was before they got so broke they had to sell the piano.
Feeding a family of seven was a challenge in those days and probably still is. On some days the cupboards were bare. Ms. DeBry tells it well and shows it all: the excitement when things went smoothly, and the stress of hard times when they were forced to accept help from other family members—but never from the government! Each of Ms. DeBry’s siblings gets their time in her spotlight, and somehow their stories coalesce to create an image of a family with a remarkable past and an optimistic future.
Most of us have some connection to the babyboom era—whether as a parent, a babyboomer, or the child or grandchild of a boomer. Even if your family was nothing like the feisty Blakes, you will recognize the America of those times as told in the Shoebox. Maybe you’ll even see a little of yourself.
The Shoebox is available online at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, and upon request in most bookstores. The 278-page paperback is priced at $14.99. Stephanie DeBry lives and works in New Smyrna Beach. If you would like a signed copy of The Shoebox write to me at email@example.com and I will help.
Visit Stephanie’s website to read selected chapters from the book.
Read Views, Stephanie’s inspirational blog including a recent posting, Scribbling in the Dark.
Affordable Care Act: Get Enrollment Help in December at the Library
Friday Afternoon Movies
Dec. 6, Bless Me Ultima
Dec. 13, We're the Millers
Dec. 20, Christmas Story
Dec. 27, Hangover III
Films begin at 2pm
Admission: Free of charge!
Check out movie posters and more on our homepage.
HAPPENINGS: January 2014
The monthly Happenings fliers are available online.
HAPPENINGS January 2014: Click here.
Happenings Kids and Teens
Looking for something?
Online Membership Form