One of the things that immediately captured me was the definate small town feel. I sat outside in the sun reading & had to be dragged inside. I had a huge smile on my face & when Mike asked me why, I told him stories of swimming holes, carnivals, life lessons & basically, the all around small town stories that both he & I have always aspired for our children to grow up in.
Rick Niece writes the tales of his childhood, his unexpected friend names Bernie, and his life in Degraff Ohio.
A poignant memoir of one man’s childhood adventures with a wheelchair-bound boy CLARKSVILLE, Ark. – Imagine a place where everyone knows everyone, kids go to school with the same group from first grade through high school, a place where paperboys and paper routes still exist,and the highlight of your day is reading Dick Tracy comics and riding your bike with man’s best friend. For author and educator Rick D. Niece, Ph.D., this is not just an Andy Griffith Show-like dream, but a childhood reality. In his new book, The Side-Yard Superhero (Synergy Books, March 2009), Niece comically recounts his childhood experiences as a paperboy in small-town DeGraff, Ohio, and the special relationship he forms with Bernie Jones, a teenage boy with severe cerebral palsy. Taking the reader back to the small-town life of the 1950's and '60's, Niece shares the lessons learned from cherished friendships that still inspire him today. A university president and true storyteller, Niece shares an assortment of childhood memories, ranging from the eccentric and humorous (the trendsetting Fern Burdette who only wore a brassiere from the waist up) to the heartwarming and poignant (the reclusive Miss Lizzie who made the best pumpkin bread in the Midwest) to the true bittersweet moments, including Dick Tracy comic lover and wheelchair bound, Bernie Jones. “Being friends with Bernie Jones was no different than being friends with any other boy in town. Although Bernie’s world was confined to a wheelchair, it did not stop him from being an intrepid daydreamer, adventurer and hero,” says Niece. “I learned more from Bernie on how to live life than from any other person.” Raised in a town of 900 residents, Niece learned the true sense of community and trust, a theme that runs throughout his memoir. “The memories I share in The Side-Yard Superhero are about capturing a time of pure innocence and simplicity,” says Niece. “I wanted to write a book that appealed to grandparents and grandchildren alike,opening the dialogue about the time when life was simple and people were downright good.” With more than 40 years as an educator, Rick D. Niece, Ph.D. currently serves as the president of the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Ark. He, along with his wife Sherée, work to provide intellectual and cultural enrichment for the 675 students of the University, preparing them for graduate school and professional employment success as well as establishing lifelong values. Niece is currently working on part two and three of the “Life in DeGraff, Ohio” trilogy.
Unfortunately it took me awhile to get through this book because my reading time has been limited but I had tears in my eyes by the end & found myself anxious to read part two. For anyone in need of a reminder what the sweet, quiet, old life neighborhood could be like, anyone who desires to be taken back to that place & touched to the core with this story of a young boy, who turns into a man before our eyes while learning important life lessons, this book is for you. I absolutely loved The Side-Yard Superhero. One of my favorite parts is when the authors family moves to the very town I live in now! It made me hopeful to know this town he had was a stones throw from mine & gave me an awesome sense of appreciation for these small Ohio towns.
Check out The Side-Yard Superhero if you're looking for a good book to read this Spring!!