Book Report 2022

I loved my summertime trips to the library as a kid. There wasn’t an Encyclopedia Brown book in the Franklin, Tennessee library that I hadn’t read at least once, some twice. Reading for pleasure much less personal growth wasn’t something I did much beyond those early summers. There are some books I read for school that come to mind. Where the Red Ferm Grows. And Then There Were None. Red Badge of Courage. Reading just wasn’t a priority beyond Sports Illustrated. Even less so in college, all textbooks and report research.

After college I spent time as a consultant and traveling made trips to the bookstore in a strange town a highlight. Reading books for both pleasure and personal growth became a hobby.

When my youngest was born in October 2016 I took four months of leave to bond. I have extremely fond memories of sitting on the couch in the living room holding Hanna and reading for hours. I cleared many books, including Patrick Rothfuss’s “The Name of the Wind” (662 pages) and “The Wise Man’s Fear” (994 pager).

I might have read a dozen other fiction book in print since. Why? The magic of audio books! I can “read” when I’m in the car, doing yardwork, or exercising. The time really adds up. Audible is great. Libby is life changing. My goal is to balance my reading by going from fiction to non-fiction and repeat. I can read a few fiction books all in a row, but I start to get anxious when I’ve ready too many non-fiction books without a break in between.

From January to December

  1. Start With Why – Simon Sinek
  2. The Checklist Manifesto – Atul Gawande
  3. Effortless – Greg McKeown
  4. Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
  5. The Island of Sea Women – Lisa See
  6. Sacred Hoops – Phil Jackson
  7. The Martian – Andy Weir
  8. Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan
  9. More Than A Game – Phil Jackson
  10. Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari
  11. Project Hail Mary – Andy Weir
  12. The Guest List – Gillian Flynn
  13. Everything is F*cked – Mark Manson
  14. Wrong Place Wrong Time – Gillian McAllister
  15. Artemis – Andy Weir
  16. Daily Rituals – Mason Currey
  17. Rogue Lawyer – John Grisham
  18. The Reckoning – John Grisham
  19. Wired to Eat – Robb Wolf
  20. The Racketeer – John Grisham
  21. Ansani Boys – Neil Gaiman
  22. Darth Plagueis – James Luceno
  23. The Boys of Biloxi – John Grisham

I didn’t include books I started and didn’t finish. I also didn’t include any Blinkist books summaries, which is magical for so many reasons. I’ve had a free account for years and in 2022 finally splurged and paid for the premium membership. Lightening in a bottle.

Owen

Chapter 1 Harold Brown Memoir – Prologue

Originally posted on December 24, 2018

My Dad wrote his memoir during the last several years of his life.

The stories and characters and places with rare exception come from his childhood. Mostly characters from Hamburg, Arkansas. But it does explain a lot about why he became the man he was. Yin and yang. If you are interested in that, here’s a gift.

I have this to share because I made a copy of Dad’s iMac hard drive. He wrote it to be found and shared, I have no doubt. I found Dad’s working copy during a digital spring cleaning, easy enough. So here it is, with minor editorial. These are his words in his voice.

His name was Harold Allen Brown. Born in 1946 to Dallas Brown and Ozell Walker Brown. Enjoy his stories. Enjoy his story.

Owen W Brown

—-

This is my story. These are my memories. Memories. We all have them. The trick is to find the key that unlocks what we have stored in our memory bank. I am trying to remember, not to forget.

Harold A Brown

—-

“Would you do it again?” I asked Mother. “No.” was her solemn reply. “No.” I’d thought when I asked the question about her marriage she would affirm my importance. She did not. Her thoughts were on the hardships she’d endured over the many years following my father Dallas’ death. How could you blame her for such an honest answer. She did the best she could under the circumstances.

There was a time before I was born when Mother rocked my brother Garvis and sister Miriam to sleep hours before their bedtime because there wasn’t enough food in the house to feed them. How painful would it be to listen to your small children cry because you could not feed them?

Throughout my life with mother, I never remember her throwing out food. Now I understand why. Some answers can’t be reached until we understand the problem. I still practice her methods. I turn off lights, adjust the temperature in the house, save food for later consumption, and save money for a rainey day.

I have seen many with far more advantages do much less.

If Mother ever felt sorry for herself and the situation she was in, it was only shown to me through that one statement, “No”.

Her courage didn’t indicate that she had no fear. Her courage was shown through the action she took in the face of fear.

We can only hope that we have done the things that will bring honor to those that have sacrificed for our survival. I love you Mother and pray that I have not let you down.

This is my story. It may differ with the memories of others. That’s okay. This is still my story. My hope is it should cause others to return to their past.

How much you care is more important than how much you know.

Looking for the best in someone else often brings out the best in you.

Chapter 2 Harold Brown Memoir – 1946

I don’t know what days were like in Southern California after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Our family was there during that time and my big brother Garvis told me he talked with our father Dallas about the implications of what had happened.

My father was not called into military duty, because of his age as I understand things.

Garvis was intensely proud of his father and was sure that nothing could ever happen to him. Before our father died he and Garvis were sitting together and he showed Garvis a small stone that he was holding between his thumb and one finger. He told Garvis he could see the stone, but could not feel it. At that point he lost his invincabality and became just another mortal.

Japan surrendered in August of 1945, just about six months before my birth. I’m Harold. Six months after my birth our father Dallas died.

The family looked toward the future as our Mother, Ozell Walker Brown started the rebuilding process. Tomorrow would have to be the day our dreams started coming true.

Mother was a proud independent woman. It wouldn’t do for her brothers to come to California and help her transport my father’s body back home. She, as I have been told, took the train with her deceased husband and their three children back to southern Arkansas for his burial.

It was never been made clear to me what caused my father’s death. I think he had a brain tumor. Is time our friend or foe? I think that it is what we make it. My father, mother, and a second brother are all buried together.

The U.S. Navy was testing the atomic bomb in the South Pacific at Bikini. We burn the tree after we gather the fruit. Are we here to produce and die? Our fruit should offer new life for all those that are to come.

Tenderly was one of the songs that entertained us that year. I can’t remember when I first started humming that tune but it has always been a favorite of mine.

Harry S. Truman was President of the United States when I started having birthdays. He moved into his new office after Roosevelt died early in his fourth term. To celebrate my birth he signed a directive that was the birth of the Central Intelligence Group that would later be called the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). The first electric clothes dryers were in use. How was I to know that we were ahead of our time when we used our solar dryer. A piece of long wire and clothes pins!

When I was very young, mother would drive me to the cemetery. It took a long time to understand what we were doing there. The building that served as the church burned years later, but the grounds have been maintained religiously.

My sister always looked out for me. What else is a sister suppose to do! She claims that while I was just a baby she changed my diapers. Does that sound like your sister? I don’t think we could afford diapers. Anyway, I don’t remember those kinds of things. My sister was training to succeed and practicing for that success.

On October 2, 1946 Leon and Sally Evans introduced their first born to the world. They named him Tommy. He would have many different titles over the years, son, brother, nephew, student, husband, provider, soldier, father, employee, employer,fisherman, hunter, carpenter, farmer, uncle, grandfather, caregiver, just to name a few. Happy birthday old friend.

Chapter 3 Harold Brown Memoir – 1947

My first remembered home was an old shot-gun house. The planks were rough sawed timber that shrunk as they cured. The shrinking boards left a gap that could be seen through when the newspaper that was used as wall paper began to tear away from the wall.

The floor wasn’t much better. In fact I’m sure it must have been worse. My sister tells of seeing a chicken come in and roost under the house in the late afternoon. She was inside the house looking down through the floor! Hey, in the words of some commercial I remember seeing on television,“It doesn’t get any better than this”. I think it does!

After one overnight trip we came home to find those same birds roosting inside the house. I don’t know who left the door open and I can’t tell you who cleaned up, but I can tell you that my sister and brother never forgot how dirty it was.

Jackie Robinson was the first negro baseball player to play in the major leagues. Was his housing as bad as ours? The real challenge comes from within for all of us. Some paths are just more difficult than others. Heads or tails, it’s still the same coin.

My brother was always giving me helpful instructions. One frosty morning on his way to catch the school bus he gave me some valuable advice. I know he had to get up early and split fire wood for the pot belly stove that we had in the tiny living room. Maybe that was part of his reason for being so helpful that morning. He was probably tired before he ever got to school.

For some reason that escapes me, I wanted to catch a bird. The first flying saucer sighting was documented this year. Do you think there is any connection? Every child thinks they need a pet. Something to love and be loved in return. Sounds like the words to a song doesn’t it. Big brother says to me, “what ya doing” and I informed him that I wanted to catch a bird, but they would not stay still long enough for me to grab one. He says, “pour salt on its tail”. How stupid of me. Everyone in the world probably knew how to catch a bird but me. Why hadn’t I asked my brother before. He knew every- thing.

Mother was more than happy to share her salt with me. She never asked what I wanted with it and I didn’t tell her until I came in hours later. Mother could tell that her baby boy was very unhappy about the days events. “What’s the matter Little Harold Boy?” she asked. That’s when I learned that it wasn’t a physical problem but a mental one. It was a lesson well learned and I was well on my way to an education worth bragging about.

Earl Tupper probably had the same problem when he tried to catch birds. That is most likely why he invented Tupperware and started having Tupperware party’s. He took his life in his own hands and made our lives better with his special touch. The drive-in theater was becoming the business of choice. What a year! Our lives will be measured by how we treated those that could do us absolutely no good.

Henry Ford died and didn’t leave us one cent of his six hundred million dollar fortune.

Chapter 4 Harold Brown Memoir – 1948

Babe Ruth died and I didn’t even know who he was, but I knew that my brother Garvis was the man of the house. Never confuse what you think with fact! I don’t know when we got electricity, I just remember the electric wire that hung down from the ceiling. It had a string that when pulled would make the glass ball glow taking away the dark. That light was never left on during the day and certainly turned off when the last person departed the room.

Garvis dug the two foot deep quarter mile long ditch that brought running water to our back porch. We had water to drink and bath all under one tap. When the pan was full or the water was dirty you simply threw it in the back yard and started over again. The dipper was there for family and guests to use, just drink and replace. Could anyone ask for more than running water and electricity! As we raised our expectations our achievements became greater.

The garden in the back yard wasn’t for looks. It was a matter of survival. We had squash two times a day when squash was in season. I loved it, hated it, then loved it again years later. Same with turnip greens. I never remember seeing watermelons in mother’s garden. Nature Boy was a popular song that year. Could they have been talking about me? How far apart can our lives be from our dreams?