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Book details
  • Genre:HISTORY
  • SubGenre:Modern / 20th Century
  • Language:English
  • Pages:244
  • Paperback ISBN:9781098320614

My Blendville

by Harry Gossett

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My Blendville is a trip to a magical place. It was a very real neighborhood 75 years ago, but now it lives on in the memory of a little boy who grew up there. For those who had similar experiences in the 1940s and 1950s it will be a fun reminder of the good, the bad, the ugly, and the sexy. People born later might be amazed at the antics of free ranging children back when there were fewer people, more animals, and no air-conditioning or home insulation to muffle the sounds of whatever was going on in the vicinity. Harry Gossett and his sister Annie are the central characters in this memoir. They encouraged one another as playmates, inventors, urban farmers, entrepreneurs, and writers, all before they started high school. The gender relations, child rearing, and schooling they experienced will seem medieval to 21st century readers, but those draconian measures only enhanced the joy of accomplishment for the kids who somehow survived playing in abandoned mines, vacant houses, and empty barns, while keeping most of their activities secret from grownups.
My Blendville tells quirky tales of growing up the son of parents who delayed having children until the Great Depression ended. Their version of parenting was based on their own experiences which was separated from that of their children by two World Wars, a pandemic, and the worst economic struggles of the century. They lived in a community that was established by miners of lead and zinc for bullets and brass needed by the military. When WWII ended, the many mines, several houses, a few barns, and some wells were abandoned, creating a dystopian landscape where children ran free, between meals, school, and bedtimes. Helicopter parenting was unknown in Blendville, but spanking was commonplace, for wives as well as children. A sinister pale hung over the place. Youthful enthusiasm could not be suppressed, however. Kids kept their activities secret from adults, who did not worry much about their offspring so long as they knew where they were. The lack of adult supervision allowed the youngsters to invent their own toys, games, gardens, gangs, firearms, and businesses, with spectacular successes and failures. Harry Gossett and his sister Annie explored the many home-based companies in their neighborhood. They learned to save their money for long bus trips on Saturdays to visit other cities. Their parents thought they were playing a park near their home when, in fact, they were sometimes hundreds of miles away. They had to come to terms with the deaths of pets, schoolmates, neighbors, and relatives. Catastrophic diseases, such as polio, took a toll on the community. Lacking experience to base their judgment on, the children saw everything as normal. Harry had a paper route. Daily, he saw the crime scene where Bonnie and Clyde shot it out with law enforcement officers, killed two lawmen, and got away. His earning allowed him to buy a dilapidated, three-wheeled, motor scooter, which expanded his world considerably. Growing up includes puberty. The boys and girls in the author's world started to see one another as different animals, in a good way. Readers get the benefit of his recounting how girls looked to a boy in the 1950s. Christian music beckoned two elementary school children, who brought their parents to church only to discover both parents had considerable knowledge of the faith. The family got seriously involved in religion and the author later became a professional gospel singer. He vividly recalls the things he learned from the old people. They had time to spend with grandchildren and the like. When his father was unemployed, desperation set in, and a Christmas miracle occurred. These recollections do not proceed in chronological order, but rather by subject matter. For example, high school football coincided with helping triple the size of the family home, but those topics are the subjects of different chapters.
About the author
After he left Blendville at the age of 15, Harry Gossett has supported himself, repeatedly declining offers of money from his father. His parents always knew where he was and what he was doing. For years, they saw one another at church every Sunday morning. Harry's next seven decades have been as offbeat as his first decade and a half. He served in the United States Marine Corp during the Vietnam war, but not in Vietnam. Harry helped keep California safe from invaders. During 20 years in the FBI he progressed from Security Patrol to Special Agent Field Supervisor, managing undercover operations, overseeing the development of Confidential Human Sources and training other agents in the esoteric arts involved in taking down sophisticated criminal cabals, neutralizing hostile intelligence efforts and dismantling terrorist organizations. Then, Mr. Gossett, and his wife, the love of his life, traveled the world unraveling commercial conspiracies and locating missing heirs and witnesses. He continued to train federal agents as a contractor and taught fraud auditing techniques to Certified Public Accountants.