by Norman Verl Stones
Trafford Publishing

"I only remember butchering a beef one time. Again it was very cold weather. The animal was killed by hitting it on top of the head with an ax."

Norman Verl Stones wrote Experiences for his grandchildren, to give them insight into his life, their familial history, and a sense of what conditions were like in an era before the Internet and iPhones: "It was tough back then." Stones was born in a north central Kansas farmhouse without electricity or running water built by his great grandfather in 1880, ten miles away from the closest town. He relates many experiences that seem archaic in this day and age, such as the aforementioned beef slaughter. He recalls undergoing a relatively new mastoid operation at the age of six, for which his father had to jack up the car and patch the inner tube in preparation for the then imposing sixty mile drive to the hospital (the bill was $32.60, included as an illustration). He held down the farm's pigs for his father to castrate. He walked to school and pumped water from the school well to drink during the day from a tin cup.

Experiences is peppered with illustrations, the most interesting of which are photos of his grandmother's wind-up phonograph. About half way through, the narrative of this short book changes from the author's recollections to information about his predecessors, starting with the birth of his great-grandfather in 1828. There are personal letters produced in full, depicting early settlement joys and woes: "You asked for the particulars of our trip. There was nothing special about it but mud which came near killing my horses." Although this memoir was written by a man wishing to share his memories with his grandchildren, readers will include those interested in Americana.

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