The Old Man and Me by RC (Chuck) Larlham is a memoir of growing up on a farm in Ohio during the post-World War II years. But it’s more than that. It’s an amazing tribute to the author’s father and to a lifestyle that most of us have never experienced. I found myself becoming more and more immersed in the life of a rural farm and the relationships with his father, mother, and two siblings. Larlham’s effortless prose brings you into his family, into his adventures, and into the stall of the little blind pony (including the mucking).
As the title suggests the focus is on Chuck’s ever-complicated relationship with his father. The Old Man is sometimes gruff, sometimes thoughtful, but it’s clear he was always admired by Larlham and his younger brother. Larlham reveals his own childhood insecurities, like competing in his first 4-H competitions with his “Black Leghorns,” followed the next year by capons (look it up). He reveals his futile attempt to learn piano, a losing cause that somehow ended with a different kind of prize, and his equally futile bout at boxing. We learn about his “best birthday ever” (which was also his last birthday ever) and his first experiences with a new car (okay, series of old cars). Holidays, horses, and hunting all get treated to Larlham’s sometimes whimsical, and always readable, storytelling.
A sense of how this book will affect you can be derived from the fact that about two-thirds of the way through I was inspired to write down some memories of my own childhood, my own father, and my own nostalgia. Each chapter of Larlham’s book is a vignette of life, and each chapter will inspire the reader to appreciate life itself. I read the last third of the book in one sitting; I couldn’t put it down.
The Old Man and Me is the first of what will be a series of memoirs covering Larlham’s life, a life that moves from the farm into the classroom as he becomes what he terms “an educated hick.” The book makes me want to hear more. I look forward to the next one.
Larlham notes that “it’s time to leave a legacy” to his children and grandchildren. The Old Man and Me is a fine legacy.
David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity. You can order a signed copy directly from me, download the ebook at barnesandnoble.com, and find hard copies exclusively at Barnes and Noble bookstores.