Thursday, August 30, 2018

Review of "Gems of Murray’s Hill," by John C. Murray

Review of
Gems of Murray’s Hill, by John C. Murray 

Four out of five stars
 The author was born in Fayette Township in Linn County, Iowa in December of 1868 and when this book was published (1941) was living on the farm that his parents acquired in 1880. When he was young, steamboats moved on the Cedar River and the captain would blow the ship’s whistle to let him know it was time to go to the dock and help the crew load prepared wood on the boat. While the movement of steam boats on the Cedar River up to Cedar Rapids and beyond is mentioned in the history books, it is a fact that few modern people in the area are aware of.
 These poems are not spectacular, just good descriptors of life in Eastern Iowa in the decades after the author’s birth. He witnessed dramatic changes, and some are humorously described in verse. “My Old Tin Box” appears on page 32 and describers an early car. On page 43 there is “Mr. Ford Did Not Make a Lady Out of Liz” and is a description of the author’s affection for his car.
 On page 35 there is the poignant “The Closed Bank,” about the only bank in town closing due to bankruptcy. There is no time reference, so the verse may describe a bank closing before the F. D. I. C. existed to protect depositors.  It would be difficult to lose all your money like that.
 As someone that grew up about a mile from the border of Fayette Township, I recognized many of the location references made in the work. That is always a pleasure and it helps to set the context for what was what the author admits was an enjoyable life. That much is clear from the light-hearted and simple nature of the verse.

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