Running on Red Dog Road: And Other Perils of an Appalachian Childhood by Drema Hall Berkheimer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Gypsies, faith-healers, moonshiners, and snake handlers weave through Drema’s childhood in 1940s Appalachia after Drema’s father is killed in the coal mines, her mother goes off to work as a Rosie the Riveter, and she is left in the care of devout Pentecostal grandparents. What follows is a spitfire of a memoir that reads like a novel with intrigue, sweeping emotion, and indisputable charm. Drema’s coming of age is colored by tent revivals with Grandpa, jitterbug lessons, and traveling carnivals, and though it all, she serves witness to a multi-generational family of saints and sinners whose lives defy the stereotypes. Just as she defies her own.
Running on Red Dog Road and an interesting first hand account of life in Appalachia (specifically West Virginia). We are transported back in time to the 40's and 50's when coal was still the primary source of energy, the war separated families, and (as is still the case in many Appalachian families today) grandparents raised the grandchildren.
Berkheimer walks us through her past is a personal and real way. She brings to life the truth of her grandfather's teaching that, "the places and people we come from sear into our very being and follow us all the days of our lives". Written in a simple, conversational manner you can't help but fall in love with the story. And for those of us who grew up in Appalachia, it is nice to see a story come out that highlights the beauty of that life.
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