I have changed my “M.O.” with regard to my library visits. Now I am going for $.25 treasures within a certain period, preferably anywhere from the 1930’s through the early 60’s. My reason for this, is that I feel as if I have stumbled onto a wondrous window into a different America, a past that I have over this year, began to realize actually existed, and I have been enjoying it through the “View-Masters” of the fictional writers of that time. One such writer, I have discovered is Loula Grace Erdman. I just today, finished her 273 page compilation work, published in 1962, by Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, “The Man Who Told the Truth, with Six Short Stories.” This is a collection of seven short stories written by Ms. Erdman, (truly Ms., as she never married in her 78 years upon this earth). The stories were written between the years 1947 through 1961, several originally appearing in Redbook Magazine, and Woman’s Day. Good thing I didn’t find this out before reading the first story, or my ego would have cried, “NO! It’s a woman’s book!” But, after reading a few pages, I was captured. Ms, Loula Grace Erdman, was a wonderful fictional writer.
Her book, “The Man Who Told The Truth…” is about small town life, slower, more thoughtful,and peaceful than today. Each story has a unique personality of it’s own, but as a collection can be seen like a family, where all the members resemble one another, so that you know that they belong together.
The first and title story, that is really more like a short novel, (58% of the book,) “The Man Who Told the Truth,” is about a stranger that comes to a close knit Texas town, and what the residents learn about themselves as they learn about him.
The remaining stories that follow, “The Voyager,” “Thanks to Aunt Millicent,” “The New House,” “The Boy in the Back Seat,” “Bonus of Happiness,” and “The Halfway Tree,” may make you cheer, and sometimes even a tear or two might find it’s way down your cheek.
One of my favorite passages, is found in the story, “Bonus of Happiness,” about a teacher who must find his way through unique and compromising circumstances, and is now trying to to decide what to say to a student who is struggling with uninvited discouragment:
“It would be his heart-wisdom that would speak to Bill Gregory now, telling him he must not ask perfection of this imperfect world, nor of himself, nor of the things that come to him. One cannot die inside himself because his dreams have died. There are still glories to be found, if only one can recognize them. There are still beautiful things left in the world – profound things, like the gold of an ash tree in fall; simple things, like the knowledge that there is more to life than the things one wants for oneself. And, best of all perhaps, the realization that maybe it is only in imperfection that one can find the real meaning of life, since life, itself, is rooted in imperfection.”
Although, I do take a slight exception to the end of this statement, for if we are found in Christ, then the deepest tap root of our being, is actually rooted in Perfection. But with regard to the former portion of this passage, it found my heart! How many times has discouragement clouded my own eyes, that I could not see the glory that was right before me, in that very moment. Looking to Christ, however, even the most dampening circumstances can yield great promise. I think that Ms. Erdman, surely must have known our Lord, because when you read her, you cannot help but see His hand, if you know Him at all.
I am so glad my library is so kind and generous, through it’s overstock practices, to affordably introduce patrons like me to writers such as Ms. Loula Grace Erdman. Her prespective is a gentle and welcome rest, from this tumultuous world that we reside in today at the end of 2012.
If you are looking for time machine to take you back to a simpler and quieter peace of mind, then pick up a copy of “The Man Who Told The Truth.”
Interestingly, the price printed on the inside of the jacket, is $3.95, (remember this was 1962.) Also, this work was dedicated to Lilian Kastendyke, with admiration and appreciation.
Oh, and support your local libraries. We would be lost without them!