His name is Ralph and his stories are true. This is an engaging book of memoirs, collected from letters submitted to local newspapers. Lavishly illustrated with 101 vintage and contemporary photographs, these entertaining and heartfelt stories reflect an ordinary man’s extraordinary observations. Enjoy the good ol’ days as Ralph revisits his youth growing up in rural Pennsylvania. Ralph relates episodes from school days in a one-room schoolhouse, farming and starting a business during the Great Depression, plus dating in the 1940s. There are lively accounts of parenting from the 1950s through the 1980s, as well as current chronicles and anecdotal observations of life. And there are tales of unusual pets, truncated vacations, and clever inventions narrated by a man whose life seems to continually offer up entertaining material. Follow Ralph’s adventures as he describes his money-making schemes as a child during the Great Depression, trading his cantankerous horse for a bicycle, keeping kids in line on his school bus, and rescuing his grandson from the top of a fire tower. Enjoy witty insights into the life of a landlord. Share Ralph’s enthusiasm for his new career as a writer for the local newspapers, begun when he was 81. These great stories are sure to stimulate your own personal memories and recollections and inspire many intergenerational conversations.
One day, after walking home from my one-room school, Dad met me at the barn. He said, "The cows broke down the barnyard fence and got out. I want you to go get them." I saddled up old George and started the round-up. We were going pretty fast when he tripped on something and went down head first, throwing me out over his head. I landed on my stomach. Old George turned a somersault and landed on top of me. I couldn't yell because my mouth was full of ground. He casually turned his head over and started eating grass. My dad ran over and rolled George off of me. I blacked out when he picked me up. He carried me to the house, and my mom started to doctor me up. My ankle swelled up like a balloon and my hips were all black-and-blue. By Sunday afternoon, I was still unable to walk. I told my dad, "I have to go to school." I had never missed a day since I started first grade, and I was in seventh grade by then. "I don't want to break my record," I said. At this time, Dad had a contract with the school to haul eight high school kids to Rockville High School. It paid $45 per month. He said, "I will haul you to school before my morning run and pick you up after my evening run." He had to carry me inside the school and set me on a pillow. When I had to "go," the big boys would carry me outside to the privy. That summer, after I got healed up, I decided to ride old George down to the pasture field and bring in the cows. We had to cross a good-sized creek. When we got to the middle of it, George, for some unknown reason, decided to lie down. I hopped off and ran, soaking wet, up to the house screaming. I told my dad, "I want to get rid of that horse and get a bicycle!" I sold George for $20. With that and the $10 I had saved from my job as school janitor, I bought my first bicycle for $30, complete with horn and lights. P.S. I am still horse-free.
Ralph Bowersox has been a farmer, a mechanic, a welder, and a school bus driver. Five years ago, he began a new career as a writer. His stories are published weekly in the local newspapers. When not writing, he passes time managing his rental properties. He lives in Clarion, Pennsylvania.