Last One In Iowa, by Arnold M. Bucksbaum, ISBN 9781943842810
Four out of five stars
In his ninth decade when he penned this collection of short stories about his life, Bucksbaum gives us a glance into growing up in small town Iowa in the 1930’s and 1940’s. His parents and other family members came to the United States from Eastern Europe and they were Jewish. Which meant that they had experience in dealing with sometimes virulent anti-Semitism. Therefore, the author provides some points of interesting perspective of a Jewish boy growing up in Grinnell, Iowa. His father was the owner of a store and like so many children in that situation, Bucksbaum began working in the store at a very young age.
Like all boys, he did some stupid things, yet his depth of trouble was not that significant. He was very much a town boy, many boys that grew up in small town Iowa had some farm experience. For there was always a labor shortage on most farms and many city children were recruited to help out in exchange for a big meal and small financial payments. In the depths of the Depression, the payments were often in the form of farm goods such as eggs, milk or chickens.
The prices of some of the goods are amazing to read about, even to people that are knowledgeable about the Depression. A solid hamburger was five cents and a hot dog or a big dish of ice cream with toppings ten cents.
However, this book suffers from the affliction that many autobiographies of people that did not do things that made them famous have. Their exploits are interesting to them because it is their life, yet not so much to the stranger reader. It is not dull by any means, yet the stories are not gripping.