Saturday, August 29, 2009

Good review for Ozarker's autobiography

Jim Hamilton, publisher of the Bolivar Herald-Free Press has written a review of Rocky Comfort, by Wayne Holmes, a book he calls an "episodic autobiography."

An excerpt:

Holmes grew up poor and tough on various farms around Marionville and Aurora. Not quite 3 years old in the spring of 1933 when the family moved by wagon from western Kansas to the Ozarks, Holmes experienced on one hand an idyllic backwoods childhood — running the trails with his dog Tuffy, hunting ’possums, skipping school and going fishing in Honey Creek. His pictures in the early chapters are invariably of a grinning youngster in overalls — the stereotypic carefree, country boy of those much-romanticized “good ol’ days” in the Ozarks.

On the other hand, Holmes recounts the embarrassment of eating biscuits in school when other kids had store-bought bread and of wearing striped “relief overalls.” He cites an episode during the war while the family worked in Wichita, Kan., in which he was beat up by city toughs and berated as a “Missouri hillbilly.” He still despises the epithet, “hillbilly.”

Holmes is a former Drury University professor; that's an important credential for many people, especially those who are outsiders looking to move to the Ozarks. For me, it's unimportant, but the book sounds good; I'll see if the Rolla Public Library can get it for me.--R.D. Hohenfeldt

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