I grew up in the neighborhood described in my book: a blue-collar neighborhood on the edge of town. Our neighborhood had dirt streets, no sewer service, and one street light on the corner. Beyond my block was prairie leading to East Helena about three miles away. There wasn’t a college degree within at least six square blocks. Many parents didn’t have a high school diploma, including my own.
In ways, the neighborhood was a tough one, but as I look back on it now I can see just how ideal it was and the times were, for personal development.
Other than the threat of thermonuclear war, and we were way too young and active to think on that much, the time was one of general contentment and positive reinforcement. America had won the big war; we were the economic engine of the world; we were told daily how incredibly lucky we were to have been born in America. I felt secure and safe and I would stay in this cocoon until I left for the service.
We had little beyond our friends to keep us occupied or entertained. My folks had one of the first TVs in our neighborhood. But TV in those days consisted of about three channels and there was rarely anything good on it. There were no cell phones, Gameboys, computers or internet. No, all we had were friends and time to play. There was no lack of kids to play with, either. In my neighborhood, mostly the block I lived in, there were 31 kids within three or four years of my own age. We were the boomers. We played hard from early morning until our mom’s called us home at bedtime.
Mel’s first novel, NAM, The Story of a Generation, is an historical fiction during the Vietnam war. (September 2017).
BOOKS BY MEL SMITH
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